For the dedicated Automotive Investor Day, Qualcomm gave an initial preview of a “Flex SoC” processor in the automotive segment, which will serve as the central computer in the automobile defined by software and will therefore take over all tasks . In addition, Mercedes-Benz is now a customer for infotainment and telematics.
Flex-SoC as a central computer in the car
Qualcomm is taking the same path that Nvidia had announced with Drive Thor a few days earlier. In the future, both companies will have a powerful central computer that will take over all tasks in the car. Instead of numerous control units in the past or fewer processors distributed across the car for dedicated zones in current vehicles, the new Snapdragon Ride processor, dubbed “Flex SoC”, will handle everything from assisted and automated driving to the digital instrument clusters, the digital mirrors, parking, monitoring of the driver and other people in the car through to playback of the infotainment system and rear-seat entertainment. The individual functions should be able to be executed in isolation on the hardware, defined by software. However, there should not be a “single point of failure” because redundancy should also be used with these solutions.
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Hardware details for CES
Qualcomm has not yet revealed at the Automotive Investor Day what is in the Flex-SoC from a technical perspective. A first diagram shows the features typical of Snapdragon processors such as a Kryo CPU, an Adreno GPU, the Spectra ISP or the Hexagon DSP. It is currently unknown whether certain designations, for example, refer to the Arm Cortex AE cores for the automotive segment or in-house developments based on the company's own Nuvia CPU. Qualcomm plans to give more details about the Flex SoC at CES in January 2023. There are already “design wins” for the Flex SoC from large OEMs, i.e. customers of the solution, but Qualcomm has not yet given a chronological classification of the chip.
2,000 TOPS for level 4 and 5
However, this fact does not prevent Qualcomm from giving an initial preview of possible configurations and the performance of the platform for different autonomy levels. With 2,000 TOPS, it is probably no coincidence that the company is advancing into an area that Nvidia recently targeted for the GTC with Drive Thor. Qualcomm's Level 2 diagram shows a smaller version of the Flex SoC paired with a Snapdragon Ride Vision processor. Larger configurations are used in the variant for Level 2+, 3 and 4. At levels 4 and 5, Qualcomm, each with two large processors, reaches the mentioned range of 2,000 TOPS.
Mercedes-Benz won as a customer for the cockpit and telematics
In addition, Qualcomm has won Mercedes-Benz as a new customer for the Snapdragon Cockpit Platforms and Snapdragon Automotive Connectivity Platforms. As early as next year, the first Mercedes-Benz models are to be based on Qualcomm solutions for infotainment and telematics. The editors are in contact with the car manufacturer to find out what this means for the current partnership with Nvidia. At CES 2018, Mercedes-Benz and Nvidia announced the cooperation for the then new MBUX, which was continued with the MBUX 2 of the S-Class (test) and later expansion stages in the EQS or in the C-Class and other models. ComputerBase asked the manufacturer whether they would be driving on two tracks with Nvidia and Qualcomm in the future or whether they would switch completely to Qualcomm.
Snapdragon Ride planned at BMW
However, the use of Drive Orin for automated driving planned for 2024 shows that Nvidia will also be used in the future, at least in other areas at Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz did not opt for the Snapdragon Ride offered by Qualcomm. BMW, on the other hand, will rely on this platform from 2025 with the “New Class”.
Design-Win pipeline raised
For Automotive Investor Day, Qualcomm also upgraded the design-win pipeline for the Snapdragon Digital Chassis, which includes all of the company's automotive solutions, from $19 billion to $30 billion customized. Due to new customers, the group expects higher sales than was announced when the last quarterly results were announced. The design-win pipeline includes all contracts concluded over the entire term. In relation to the entire market, Qualcomm expects a potential of 100 billion US dollars (TAM, Total Addressable Market) by 2030, which it would like to participate in with the Digital Chassis.