Automotive Challenges -- Security, Mount Times & Updates

Posted by: Thom Denholm

Automobiles and Trucks have gone from simple contraptions to full blown multi-processor networks in just the last few years. Between M2M and the Internet of Things, today's vehicles are communicating more than ever. Here are some of the challenges we have observed in this industry.

When the power comes on, the system head unit is the first to boot. What the user sees first, besides the dash default display, is the infotainment console - and in a most cases, the image from the reverse camera. A strict requirement in Europe is to display this within 3 seconds of vehicle power up.

From the perspective of system internals, this means the file system and flash must mount very quickly. Only a very small portion of these three seconds is available here - the rest are used to mount an OS kernel and bring up other system resources. There is no time to resynchronize a journal or catalog each flash region. Datalight software is designed to meet these requirements at both the file system and flash driver level.

Vehicle consumers expect some of the same experience in their car as on their smart phones. This includes the latest version of software and installable applications - with both available over-the-air. Embedded software updates can be risky, especially in an environment where power is not guaranteed. The ideal system would perform the software update on blocks not in use for the media, then switch to the new system in one operation. Reliance Nitro does this and more.

Security is being talked about a lot, and covers many things for automotive. One of these is the security of networks, keeping packets confidential and preventing malware injection. As we approach drive by wire, this one is really important! Talked about less but of equal concern is the confidentiality of user data. When you sell your car, you don't want your private data going with it! Today's eMMC media provides a Secure Delete option to remove data from the media completely. Datalight products support this hardware completely, allowing full application control of these important functions.

One important topic receiving a lot of press in other embedded devices is the shrinking lifetime of the flash media. NAND flash, the internal storage on many devices and automotive embedded as well, has a limited life span which is measured in program/erase cycles. Software designed to understand this can reduce the amount of write amplification, or in other words minimize the additional write cycles generated by each media write. Once again, Datalight's software stack comes through for the automotive embedded designer.

While these may be new challenges for the automotive market, they are for the most part old challenges for the embedded world. You don't necessarily need to reinvent the wheel (pun intended) when there are suppliers such as Datalight with a proven track record and industry recognized customer support.

Read more about Datalight Automotive Solutions

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