Shaping Real-Time Systems Engineering of Tomorrow

Embedded Hypervisor Technology - A Key Enabler for Autonomous Driving

The software component that provides all the virtualization capabilities is called a hypervisor. It creates and runs virtual machines, and it controls how the hardware resources are being shared.

Advantages of Virtualization

Virtualization provides unique advantages:

  • Security and safety:
    Virtualization provides strong protection of one application against all applications running on all other virtual machines.
  • Reduced number of microprocessors:
    Applications developed by different suppliers can run in parallel on the same hardware, but on separate virtual machines. There is no need to worry about applications interfering with each other. Each application just runs on the operating system it is designed for.

  • Reduced verification efforts due to strict separation of applications by virtual machines.

Hypervisor Technology Meets Progress in Semiconductor Industry

While the basic concepts behind virtualization are known since decades and virtualization is in practical use for many years, virtualization is not yet used widely across the world of embedded systems. As virtualization requires a memory management unit or at least a memory protection unit, it is the low-end (microcontroller based) embedded systems segment that did not follow the virtualization trend so far.

But the game is changing, driven by faster and cheaper microcontrollers, and by customers requesting higher levels of safety, security, usability and convenience. The automotive industry, for instance, is progressing from advanced driver assistance systems towards autonomous driving, thus facing a huge increase in technical complexity that calls for new approaches in embedded systems design.

While the benefit of reduced hardware cost is realized in volume production, the transition towards real-time virtualization requires considerable one-time software development effort. All timing requirements of the system, that has previously been distributed across multiple microcontrollers, have to be met by the virtualized system, too. For this purpose, a comprehensive timing analysis has to be performed in the early design phase. Based on lessons learned from such projects, we strongly recommend to develop a timing model to manage the high degree of complexity of the dynamic architecture. The dynamic architecture can be optimized efficiently by using an automated simulation environment like the INCHRON Tool-Suite.

Further Reading

Coming soon:
Elektronik Automotive, a German magazine for professional automotive electronics, publishes our paper "Virtualisierung für Mikrocontroller-Hardware - Zeit und Kosten sparen" (in German only) in its Embedded World 2017 issue. This paper was jointly written by OpenSynergy and INCHRON. It discusses important technical aspects of real-time virtualization for automotive applications, and it explains how to successfully manage the transition from highly distributed systems of dedicated electronic control units (ECUs) towards less distributed, virtualized systems.

See also:
Combining Forces: Optimized Hypervisor Technology - INCHRON and OpenSynergy Announce Cooperation

See You at Embedded World 2017

Meet INCHRON and OpenSynergy at Embedded World 2017, hall 4, stand 4-300, and learn more about hypervisors and optimization of real-time systems.

To schedule an appointment at our booth, please contact us and let us know the topics you are interested in: 

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