Renesas Increases Its Focus on Platforms

Renesas and several partners developed a vehicle platform that will provide reference designs for developers who are creating advanced driver assistance systems.

Electronics and software complexity is ratcheting up as autonomy, connectivity, and increased comfort and convenience features move forward. Renesas Electronics America is responding with a platforms approach aimed at simplifying systems development efforts.

Renesas and other CPU makers have for years offered design platforms while teaming up with a number of tool suppliers to help developers get to market. The largest automotive semiconductor supplier, according to IHS, is expanding its view of platforms to include an autonomous vehicle and a simplified licensing structure for chips and development tools.

“The proliferation of Internet of Things-enabled networks enables a new era of embedded computing, the platform era, where establishing seamless and efficient connections between platforms will enable companies to focus more on core competencies and less on building infrastructure,” said Ali Sebt, President of Renesas Electronics America.

As part of its focus on automated driving and autonomous vehicles, Renesas teamed up with several partners to equip an SUV with sensors and computers to help its customers accelerate their advanced driving programs. Harbrick, NewFoundry, Arada Systems, eTrans, and Cogent Embedded helped Renesas develop cars that will operate as a modular and open laboratory for customers.

A new licensing program is another aspect of this focus on platforms. NewFoundry, a startup that helps companies complete programs in short timeframes, is putting the finishing touches on a Website/cloud service that will let users access any development tools for a single licensing fee.

The service, called Ovasys, is set to debut early in 2016. It will help customers find products and tools and let them work on their design in the cloud without the hassle of getting licenses from each supplier.

“We want to make this self service, letting people use Ovasys to try things out,” said Amrit Vivekanand, Segment Marketing Manager at Renesas Electronics America. “The apps on Ovasys let them run snippets of their code and see how much time it takes to run. Now they can easily get the chips and boards and license the software so they can test chips before they make design decisions. Potential customers can do a lot of research on Ovasys before they need to make a call and start more serious discussions.”

Design-tool providers involved with the program say it will open new doors for them.

“As a tool provider, this is a new channel for us to get to customers,” said Stefan Skarin, IAR Systems’ CEO. “For customers, when they buy access to Ovasys, they have all their licensing done at once. Using the cloud is good for developers; they can create a product without having to spend thousands of dollars on development packages.”

Other partners feel that the ability to easily use tools that are compatible will be prompt many design teams to explore the Ovasys offering. It’s yet another way that cloud services are gaining acceptance in design programs.

“As part of the platform, we’re only as good as the ecosystem around us,” said Josh Hartung, CEO of Harbrick, which makes an operating system for autonomous vehicles. “The platform needs to be easy to use, secure, safe, and stable. It’s part of the push to turnkey tools.”