CPUs, FPGAs and Software Come Together at CES to Bolster Automated Driving

Programmable Chips and CPUs Combine to Make Cars Smarter and Safer; Denso Selects Intel FPGAs


January 4, 2017

By Dan McNamara

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is abuzz every January with the newest technologies aimed at exciting and engaging the consumer. Of course, this includes the latest cars and automotive technology, and we are seeing strong demand for our field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) in the automotive market. In fact, our FPGAs are solving intricate processing challenges in our customers’ automotive advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) being introduced at CES. Some of the details include:

Specifically, the new automotive-grade Arria® 10GX mid-range FPGA for autonomous driving is up to 40 percent lower power than previous generation FPGAs and features the industry’s only hard floating-point digital signal processing (DSP) blocks. This enables developers to design to the strictest requirements. In addition, the Arria 10 automotive-grade FPGA offers more than 320 Gbps of DDR4 bandwidth and more than 200 Gbps of transceiver bandwidth. It also supports 12G serial protocols, 1.5K variable-precision DSP blocks and up to 24 transceivers.

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Now, let me share a bit about our work with Denso, a forward-thinking and innovative automotive supplier with a global reach. Denso has been working for several years on enabling technology that makes cars “see” by using sensors that pull in visual data and process that data in rapid fashion. This kind of technology enables a car to help make decisions for the driver (autonomous driving) or with the driver (automated).

The technology behind Denso’s offering, which it calls the world’s smallest size form factor stereo camera system, is the Automated Emergency Braking ECU (AEB) for image recognition and processing that assists in automated emergency braking applicable for both pedestrians (up to 50 km/h) and obstacles (up to 80 km/h), brake assist systems and adaptive headlamp systems – all running on Intel’s Cyclone V SoC FPGA.

Officials with Denso’s Driving Assist and Safety Engineering department revealed to me that their technology teams worked to deliver an in-car stereo vision system to get the most accurate and reliable result for this automotive braking system. A lot of visual image processing is required, and they shared that Intel‘s FPGA proved to be the only suitable silicon solution available to perform such intensive computational processing while also meeting their power and cost requirements.

The stereo vision system is controlled by the Cyclone V SoC FPGA, which acts as a single-chip programmable high-performance computer to handle the intensive signal processing. Denso says this programmability is key because it lets automakers offer a differentiated solution from their competitors, as well as providing flexibility to vary the board across their own makes and models of cars.

In summary, we are seeing tremendous interest and adoption of Intel FPGAs across the automotive market including discrete ECU solutions, to the fully autonomous and centralized computing like the Intel GO platform. These are just a few examples of how Intel FPGA technology is helping advance driving systems as the industry moves toward the brave new world of ADAS.


Dan McNamara is a corporate vice president and general manager of the Programmable Solutions Group at Intel Corporation.

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