The Role of S32Z/E Real-Time Processors in the Software-Defined Vehicle

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The Role of S32Z/E Real-Time Processors in the Software-Defined Vehicle

NXP Employee
NXP Employee
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What is the Software-Defined Vehicle?

Owners of modern vehicles are demanding more from their cars. OEM’s are delivering by enabling a marketplace for cloud-connected services ready to be deployed over-the-air to their vehicles. They deliver features in areas such as drivers’ comfort, as well as improvements in the safety and efficiency of the journey.  Software is the driving force which is enabling a host of new features deployed to the vehicle via OTA updates.  

A perfect storm for technical disruption in the automotive industry is happening in the frontiers of automotive computation and automotive networking technologies. 

What software architectures and industry standardizations will be required to open up the developer marketplace? Proposed architectures often use the following terminology: 

Micro-services architecture – By breaking up a monolithic software block into graphs of connected micro-services and applying service oriented communications, you open the door to scalable re-use of software, rapid deployment of software/updates and new features. You also greatly improve software development efficiency by adopting a Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) policy. 

Containerization – Containerization is a concept that enables rapid deployment of newly developed workloads by packaging together everything a specific workload requires into an isolated run-time environment.  It is also about improving the efficiency and accuracy of environmental parity based validation workflows. 

Orchestrator – The Orchestrator manages the lifecycle of the containerized workloads. It has full system-level awareness of the processing resources and network topology available within the vehicle and determines how all the communications channels are established. 


Service Extension to Baseline Vehicle Feature-set 

Let us take the example of an innovative new service to be deployed over the air for a subscription fee.  

Our car, like any other, has been delivered with a stable baseline feature set. This includes a driver monitoring system, in vehicle infotainment and navigation subsystems. In the diagram below we conceptualize these functions as service graphs which are implemented at different layers of the vehicle architecture, from sensor/actuator layer, through strategic control and up to the cloud. 

Shown in red is the conceptual extension of the baseline with a new service which uses the existing data from the driver monitoring processing and the vehicle navigation and telemetry data to generate behavior and mood metrics. These can be used to calculate behavior-based scores for dynamic insurance models but could also be used to make subtle changes to the environment of the car, for example to create a soft lighting environment if the metrics detect agitation. The lighting and volume of the infotainment system could also be adjusted if the driver drowsiness score is declining. 

It is the service-based communication model which allows this flexible use of existing data within the vehicle. When we map this onto the physical network, we see the potential complexity.  

These workloads can scan a range of heterogeneous processing elements including Linux-based application cores and real-time Cortex-R52 cores.


Now we can also map these services onto physical architecture based around centralized high-performance computing and Zonal Gateways managing the Edge. Now begins the design, validation, and deployment workflow. 



What are the Challenges? 

The model for developing in this way depends on environmental parity, which ensures that service-oriented features are pre-validated in a model-based environment before deploying to a hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) system. 

Workload and Network Configuration manifest files are generated out of the workflow below, which can be imported into HiL platform systems, such as the GreenBox 3 and the GoldBox. 



Where do the S32 real-time processors family play a role?

The S32Z and S32E families are designed to deliver the highest performance, real-time processing, and virtualization capabilities with TSN networking capabilities. 

Firstly, S32Z and S32E are well placed to operate both as part of a scalable real-time compute cluster, playing host to the stable vehicle functions which are not expected to change or be updated on a recurring basis. These can execute in a deterministic, isolated, and monitored way in the central computer. Its communications over the network to the edge can be easily reinforced through time sensitive networking protocols such as managing mixed critically traffic classes over a shared network. 

  • IEEE 802.1CB – which provides stream replication and elimination over the network for fully redundant communication 
  • IEEE 802.1AS – providing time synchronization and time awareness across the system 
  • IEEE 802.1Qav – Credit based traffic shaping - which can ensure that multiple traffic classes may share the bandwidth of the network without low priority traffic being staved 
  • IEEE 802.1Qbv – Time aware shaper – A protocol which can be configured to deliver the lowest latency communication over a shared network for time-bound communications 

The S32Z and S32E families also have its place as a zone controller, managing the interface between the signal-oriented world and the central domain 

  • Their isolated processing environment allows multiple processing tasks to be gathered and executed in one place. Their high-performance virtual processing environment ensures that its processing tasks are complete within their required deadline. 
  • Their modern interfaces enable the connection of new service-based network connections such as CAN XL and 10BASE-T1S Ethernet. 
  • Their flexible I/O allow the connection of a broad variety of sensors and actuators for hybrid domain/zone controllers. 
  • Their dedicated network accelerators, that ensure the tunnelling of signal-based communication from one bus to another, are complete in a tight deadline. 
  • Their integrated software stack ensures the translation from signal to service abstraction and can also be conducted with minimal time penalty. 
  • Their built-in support for TSN protocols such as Time-Aware Shaper and 802.1CB make it possible to take up a critical role in the zone network by managing dynamic and mixed critical ethernet backbone traffic. 


NXP is not only delivering the next-generation of high-performance real-time processors into the market to meet the versatile demands of the industry. NXP is also developing integrated software stacks and working with the ecosystem to ensure rapid innovation can continue to take place and we can all enjoy the best evolving software features in our car for years to come in a safe and secure fashion. 

Find out more about S32Z and S32E at

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