From Silicon To Software


How the Triple Shift Left Approach Drives the Auto Industry Forward

connected vehicle technology

By Chris Clark, Senior Manager of Embedded Ecosystems

While it may be 2020 and there are no flying cars to be found, it’s safe to say that a car isn’t just a mode of transportation anymore. Today’s vehicles represent so much more — a holistic view of the car reveals everything from lighting controls, engine control modules and communication interfaces all the way to infotainment systems and other personalized settings that make the ride more comfortable and enjoyable than ever before.

The auto industry is one of the most fast-moving, dynamic industries in the marketplace and is one that requires equally fast-paced technology solutions to shorten development cycles and enable vehicles that meet both consumer demands and safety standards to hit the market (and road) faster.

So, how do auto design teams build safety and reliability into the SOCs from the very beginning and identify issues sooner in the process? Synopsys’ answer is Triple Shift Left.

What is Triple Shift Left?

Triple Shift Left transforms a traditionally linear automotive development process into a parallel one. This enables designers to find mistakes earlier in the design process where they are cheaper to fix and allows OEMs to have visibility into the earliest parts of the design through virtual models.

Design teams using Triple Shift Left are empowered to identify problems up to 18 months earlier — before hardware is available — and build security and quality into their software during development and testing, across the supply chain.

Triple Shift Left Involves Three Steps:

  1. Shift Left I: Use auto-grade IP (pre-designed, pre-verified, reusable building blocks) to implement dedicated functions of silicon such as safety islands and processors with embedded vision, neural network and sensor fusion capabilities.
  2. Shift Left II: Use simulation and shared models to develop software early on a virtual platform, enabling parallel software and hardware development.
  3. Shift Left III: Increase coverage, accelerate test cycles for applications, power electronics and wire harness simulations, etc., and use automated regression to allow frequent software updates.

SOC Security is King

Designers prioritize developing automotive solutions that are secure, reliable and deliver the capability that’s requested/required for that particular component. Before cars became connected, automakers only had to focus on whether each component was functionally safe (i.e., making sure a brake controller always stops the vehicle).

Today, the main focus is on cybersecurity as vehicles become an integral part of our connected world. Automakers need to ensure that vehicle software is operating in a safe, secure environment, validate that the software performs as expected, and proactively protect it from any type of malicious activity that may try to take advantage of it.

engine control module security

That’s where Triple Shift Left comes into play. Using and reusing pre-designed blocks of standardized IP saves a lot of time and cost, and allows designers to optimize their systems for functional safety, security and reliability from the start of the design process.

Additionally, using a common component strategy also speeds the process of integrating redundancy into a chip. This redundancy is crucial to increase reliability rates and drive the failure rate toward zero. By replicating functionality as a backup, failures of individual components will not cause a failure of the entire vehicle system. We help customers build security, quality and compliance into their automotive software lifecycle. Our solutions detect third-party components, security vulnerabilities, license use and code weaknesses to help our customers align with ISO 26262, MISRA and other emerging cybersecurity standards.

Shifting the Design Conversation

Major players in the auto industry are taking a closer look at how they develop vehicles that meet their customers’ expectations. Traditionally, these conversations start with the OEM because they lay out what the design criteria is for the vehicle before their robust supply chain fills in the gaps.

However, we are now seeing the conversation starting to happen much earlier; instead of looking to their top-tier providers only, OEMs are starting to look deeper into the supply chain to other providers and asking more questions about the level of quality and capability they are able to supply.

Instead of merely relying on the look of a vehicle to sell (i.e., the color, interior styling, etc.), automakers are starting to differentiate themselves from competitors through how the car connects with the driver and the driver’s data. Does the car automatically connect with the driver’s phone, smart home and more? Does it know your route to work, and can it make music suggestions? In the next five years, automakers need to provide both the electronic features that the consumer is looking for in addition to refining the overall look and feel of the vehicle.

Take Audi for example, which took both form and function into consideration during the creation of their intelligent lighting features. With functionality driven by both software and hardware, Audi’s adaptive lighting improves safety while driving at night and maintains the stylish Audi design customer have come to expect. Watch the video below for more details.

As Synopsys continues to develop leading automotive solutions, we use input from players in the auto arena both large and small. The conversations we have with small startup disruptors and major OEMs are very different and allow us to help more customers achieve their specific needs and overcome unique challenges. Through initiatives like joining the new Autonomous Vehicle Computing Consortium and attending industry events, we are helping shape the future of the automotive industry, one SOC at a time.