Wednesday, September 4, 2013

TI and QNX: driving infotainment forward

Guest post by Robert Tolbert of Texas Instruments Incorporated

Robert Tolbert
My role as a business development and product marketing manager in Texas Instruments’ (TI) automotive infotainment processor business allows me the opportunity to travel the globe, discussing technology with the brightest minds in automotive infotainment.

I've learned that no matter where the discussion begins — replacing the vehicle boot microcontroller in Detroit, choosing between MOST-MLB and Ethernet AVB in Japan, blending FM and DAB radio in Germany, or fire-walling the vehicle CAN bus in Korea — the conversation always loops back to software, or even more pointedly, hardware and software systems. Inevitably, at this point, the customer begins to tense up and I in turn get a chance to relax and explain the value of the well-established relationship between QNX Software Systems and TI.

OEMs and tier one suppliers place an extremely high value on trust, dependability, and commitment to excellence when choosing their partners. Vehicle owners are no different. It is easy for QNX and TI to show OEMs that our longstanding relationship embodies all these attributes.

A matter of trust
Jacinto 6 is designed for advanced 
HMI and navigation, digital and 
analog radio, and multimedia
QNX Software Systems and TI have been working together for more than 10 years, and the longevity of the relationship is based on the premise that industry-leading automotive infotainment processors (i.e. TI’s DRA74x “Jacinto 6”) and industry leading software platforms (i.e. QNX CAR Platform) are somewhat diminished if they aren’t harmonized to take full advantage of all the hardware has to offer.

Once a customer decides to work with QNX Software Systems and TI, they can trust that both companies have spent numerous years and countless hours working together to extract the maximum performance out of the SoC platform. It is easy to see that QNX is there with TI when a new SoC first arrives, working alongside TI’s engineers to get the latest QNX software running on Jacinto within days. OEMs and tier ones can trust that engineers from both companies have collaborated with one another to deliver QNX board support packages on Jacinto with optimized drivers and integrated middleware. This collaboration saves tier one suppliers precious time when doing their own board bring-up or board support package.

Integrated SDR
An example is in order. To accelerate time to market and reduce tier one integration efforts, TI and QNX Software Systems have integrated software defined radio running on the Jacinto C66x DSP into the QNX CAR Platform. This pre-integration step minimizes the amount of effort that tier ones expend when integrating HD and DAB radio functions into their head unit designs.

TI and QNX can build a longstanding relationship with customers by demonstrating the number of products tailored for automotive that both companies have released over the years. Developing automotive products is a strand in the DNA of both companies, not this year’s latest venture.

With trust comes the expectation of dependability, and I expect nothing less when making my own automobile purchasing decisions. I want to know that I can depend on the dealer and the manufacturer when I encounter any issue with my vehicle. I see and hear that same belief when speaking with our customers as they go through their vendor selection process. Customers want to know can they depend on TI and QNX Software Systems to help them solve critical problems during their design cycle. They want to hear how the two companies triage issues together.

Reducing boot time
Recently, TI and QNX Software Systems were tasked by a mutual customer using a DRA62x “Jacinto 5 Eco” platform to reduce the HMI boot time and to display the vehicle splash screen within a very short time frame. Our teams attacked this requirement head on and held various architecture reviews, ultimately restructuring the Jacinto 5 Eco / QNX boot process to have critical elements running in parallel, while taking advantage of the Cortex M3 cores and the QNX microkernel architecture. After careful optimization we achieved a boot time and a splash screen appearance in line with the customer requirements. The customer was extremely pleased with our collaborative efforts.

Timely resolution
TI and QNX Software Systems have an established process for joint debug sessions with customers to aid in timely resolution of issues. Our customer support engineers pull from their vast experience in solving automotive issues, along with the knowledge gained from joint architecture and design reviews. By seeing that TI and QNX know how to solve automotive issues and have shown the propensity to work together over the years, customers quickly realize that they can depend on us.

QNX technology concept car: an
example of what's possible when
you integrate QNX and TI
Finally there is value placed on the commitment to excellence. When someone has a commitment to excellence it is not only visible in their past and present but you can see it in their future as well. Most recently, QNX Software Systems and TI collaborated for a glimpse into the not-so-distant future when QNX unveiled the QNX technology concept car powered by OMAP™ processors and DLP™ technologies.

It doesn’t take OEMs and tier ones long to realize that the attributes vehicle owners demand of them are present in the collaboration between QNX Software Systems and TI. To view more blogs from my team and I, please be sure to check out Behind The Wheel.

I can’t wait to get back on the road again to tell our joint customers our story.

More about Robert
In his current role as product management director for OMAP™ applications processors at TI, Robert is responsible for identifying target markets, defining product roadmaps, and implementing strategic marketing efforts for TI’s industry-proven OMAP applications processors. He also develops promotion and branding activities, and drives business models for OMAP products.

Prior to this role, Robert was the worldwide director for OMAP business development. Through his hard work, the OMAP product line had one of the highest revenue-generating standard products in TI’s portfolio.

Previously, Robert served as an account product marketing and business development engineer for TI’s wireless products. In this role, he managed relationships with key TI customers, worked with the sales team to identify potential business opportunities for TI’s wireless products, negotiated pricing and contracts with customers, and drove execution of product schedules and ramp-to-production activities from a business perspective on custom engagements. He also coordinated communication strategies to the customers and aided in worldwide strategic alignment across multiple TI teams.

In 2008 Robert was honored nationally as the 2008 Black Engineer of the Year for Technical Sales and Marketing by U.S. Black Engineer magazine. He graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

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