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Cars are the next chip battleground

by Scott Bicheno on 23 March 2010, 12:34

Tags: ARM

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Car wars

UK chip designer ARM announced yesterday that it had become a charter member of an organization called the GENIVI Alliance. We'd never heard of this organization, so we spoke to Kevin Smith, VP of segment marketing at ARM, to find out what the big deal is.

The IVI part of GENIVI stands for ‘in-vehicle infotainment' and refers to the whole ecosystem around networked products and services designed for use in the car. GENIVI was created a year ago, with the stated aim of: "...driving the development and broad adoption of an open source IVI reference platform."

Among the founder members were Intel and embedded software giant Wind River, which Intel acquired a few months later. In fact they were the only technology generalists among the founder members, the rest all specialising in the automotive industry in one way or another.

Well it looks like ARM's ecosystem, which includes pretty much every low-power chip maker apart from Intel, is not happy with its lack of representation in GENIVI. "Our membership has been driven by our partners, such as Texas Instruments, NEC and Freescale," said Smith. "The industry needs balance and ARM's membership adds legitimacy."

Not every ARM partner is so keen on GENIVI, it seems. NVIDIA and Qualcomm, both of whom have been crowing about their partnerships with Audi at CES and MWC respectively, are conspicuously absent from the membership list. However, the group is still young.

We asked Smith what kind of technologies we can expect to result from this alliance and he pointed towards vehicle-to-vehicle communication. In future a vast network of connected vehicles will be able to share real-time information about driving conditions and their navigation systems will be able to use this to make decisions. There are also vast possibilities for location based services and secure mobile commerce.

Not only is this alliance yet another example of the tech industry collaborating to grow the overall market, it's also a reminder of why competition is good. ARM and Intel are in direct competition with each other in the mobile phone, TV and mobile computing markets, this looks like another front in that battle.

If Intel wasn't a member of GENIVI, who's to say ARM would have bothered joining? By having both on board, GENIVI is much better positioned to deliver useful in-car technology to everyone.


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