The Xen Project is commonly used in embedded scenarios due to its security features, light-weight architecture and open source community. These core attributes are now making it more pervasive in the automotive industry, which has similar demands to the embedded industry, especially when it comes to security requirements.
To better understand how the Xen Project is used in the automotive space, we sat down with the folks at GlobalLogic to discuss updates on its Nautilus platform, which uses the Xen Project hypervisor; why they originally chose Xen; how hypervisors generally work in the automotive space; and the company’s upcoming plans with automotive virtualization.
Last year when we talked to GlobalLogic, you mentioned that GPU Virtualization was the next phase of automotive innovation. Where are you at in terms of implementing GPU Virtualization?
We have successfully implemented our Nautilus platform’s GPU virtualization feature for several Tier 1 automotive vendors (located in Japan, the US, and Europe). This was a big win for us and we learned a lot along the way and experienced some major benefits. Mainly, GPU virtualization has eliminated almost all performance degradation during the rendering of heavy 3D graphics scenes, allowing us to create a new level of IVI systems.
Why is the hypervisor important for automotive virtualization and GPU Virtualization in general? Why is Xen Project the hypervisor of choice for you within this space?
The hypervisor allows a significant decrease to the cost of automotive production and reduces the cost of BOM because the functions that were previously executed on different CPUs can be run on separate VMs. At the same time, GPU virtualization is beneficial in the process of 2D/3D graphics rendering. Therefore, the use of hypervisor enables building systems that perform better than their more expensive completely-hardware analogues.
Moreover, there are less processors per board, which leads to higher fail-safety. Essentially, a virtual system divided into a number of small subsystems is cheaper to maintain.
At the dawn of our project, GlobalLogic engineers considered various hypervisors, and finally decided that Xen Project was the most suitable solution because it is open source and has a rich history of application in various fields. Using the Xen Project, lets us concentrate on specific vehicle-related challenges instead of reinventing a virtualization solution.
What are the top three benefits you get from using the Xen hypervisor?
The first benefit that we have experienced is the decreased time to market for the manufacturers. Secondly, our customers get demos for free – if we used a proprietary product, we couldn’t afford this. Finally, it is great to experience the constant support of the global community and the community-driven approach to vulnerability detecting and fixing that we get with the Xen Project.
Were there any challenges with implementing Xen? How did you overcome these challenges?
The main challenges that we had with Xen and GPU virtualization was related to the different based ARM platforms. To overcome this, we developed a bench of drivers and extended the environment around them.
What are the next stages of growth for with automotive virtualization? Any trends that we should watch out for?
GlobalLogic is actively working on the commercialization of the Nautilus platform. We are expanding the GPU feature to a network of customers and vehicle models. At the same time, we are expanding the functionality of virtualization in areas like self-driving, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), connected services, safety, etc.