Hypervisor brings virtualization to ARM Cortex-R52

January 18, 2017 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
In automotive electronics, virtualization is currently one of the most discussed techniques because it enables design engineers to implement formerly mechatronic functions in software and run it on a central multitasking computer, using a hypervisor software level. Software company OpenSynergy (Berlin, Germany) is providing a significant building block to the virtualization ecosystem: A hypervisor for the ARM Cortex-R52 processor who is known as a rather advanced real-time safety processor. The move will bring hypervisor technology to a much wider set of automotive devices.

The hypervisor turns any chip based on the Cortex-R52 into several virtual machines capable of simultaneously executing separate software tasks. To address increasing software complexity in devices such as autonomous vehicles and industrial control systems, this approach allows for the isolation of safety-critical functions from those that require less stringent control. In addition, it enables the consolidation of applications onto fewer electronic control units (ECUs) to both manage complexity and reduce cost.

“Mass-market autonomous vehicles will be engineered with greatly enhanced ECU compute capabilities and the ability to safely manage far more complex software stacks,” commented Richard York, vice president of embedded marketing, ARM. "The Cortex-R52 was purpose-built for this task, with hypervisor-enabled software separation protecting critical safety features while ensuring fast task execution. This will enable highly performant vehicles that can be trusted to take over from the driver.”

The Cortex-R52 introduces hardware support for virtualization to the Cortex-R family of processors while maintaining all the functionality required for hard real-time systems. The ability to maintain deterministic execution within a hypervisor provides an ideal solution to the challenge of concurrent real-time systems in a wide array of robotic applications.

OpenSynergy’s software architecture targets microcontrollers such as domain controllers. The hypervisor technology enables several real-time operating systems and AUTOSAR systems at different ASIL levels to run in parallel on the Cortex-R52.

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