Bridging the fragmented automotive OS landscape
May 14, 2018
In-vehicle infotainment turns your car into a mobile office, if everything works as expected.
How much does the average person spend behind the wheel daily? According to a study done by the Harvard Health Watch, average Americans spend 101 minutes per day driving. Considering this, today’s car is not just a means of transportation, but also a place where you want to maximum comfort or even a transitional office.
USB ports and Bluetooth are becoming standard features, even at the lower end of the car market. Whether commuting or going to a business meeting, the possibility to connect your favorite music or a business presentation recording is an option many would like to have. Sharing data across multiple devices, including your vehicle, is no longer an alternative or a luxury—it’s a must.
Today’s automotive operating system landscape, however, remains fragmented, which causes frustration for consumers using removable storage media with their in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems when on the road.
According to a new study by Grand View Research, Inc., the global automotive infotainment market is expected to reach $37.62 billion by 2025. However, most removable storage media formatted with Apple’s or Microsoft’s file systems, such as HFS+, APFS, NTFS, exFAT, or FAT32 can’t be recognized by IVI systems which are typically run on Linux. This frustrates car owners. Embedding drivers for full read-and-write access to any file system would be a relief to auto makers and end-users looking for maximum comfort and user experience.
Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), one of the much-anticipated projects of the Linux Foundation, could be the remedy to the fragmented automotive operating-system ecosystem. Most major car manufacturers support the project. One of AGL’s focuses is to build the operating system that would control everything from connected-car features to autonomous vehicles.
The deployment of drivers to access exFAT, NTFS, FAT32, HFS+, and APFS-formatted storage on IVI systems will allow automotive suppliers to deliver the most cutting-edge infotainment systems to OEMs, without having to worry about file system format compatibility, full HD or 4K data transfer speeds, and high CPU loads. Car owners will have the freedom to connect USBs, SD cards, digital assistants, or other external storage media directly to IVI systems and instantly enjoy audio and video recordings, regardless of file format.
Last year, Volvo took steps toward integrating Android-based infotainment systems into its cars. Google Maps, the Google Play Store, and Google Assistant and, consequently, thousands of apps will be available in future versions of Volvo’s Sensus infotainment systems directly from their IVI systems. Some Google content has already been made available to Volvo owners through the mobile app Android Auto. In the near future, however, drivers will be able to access all apps directly from their IVI systems, instead of managing the content through a mobile device.
Drivers from Paragon Software are used by millions of users world-wide and have been already successfully preinstalled on major HDD storage products. Random users statistics of the consumer edition of Microsoft exFAT/NTFS for USB by Paragon Software (available on GooglePlay) revealed that NTFS remains the most popular file system that Android users need to access. In terms of file operations, when connecting external storage media to their Android systems, 66% of users had to overview the directory list, 26% copied files, 14% deleted files, 8,8% moved files, 7% viewed picture files, and surprisingly, only 1.9% read music files. Out of 44% users mounting volumes, 61% needed to access NTFS-formatted volumes, 30% needed to access FAT, 8.5% needed to access exFAT, and just 0.5% needed to read and write to HFS+. Participants used Android versions 6.0 and above.
In summary, Android users most often need to copy, move, and delete files. The majority of Android users need to access pictures, videos, and audio files.
This is just an example of how consumer trends can correlate with IVI development for the future car. The collected statistics clearly show the need for cross-platform software integration. Paragon Software has joined Renesas R-Car Consortium and Automotive Grade Linux to support automotive semiconductor manufacturers in delivering next-generation data storage for future vehicles.
File System Link by Paragon Software is already available for integration with SoCs running automotive OSs, including Android, Linux, Integrity, and QNX. Paragon’s drivers provide reliable and high data throughput speeds, while also ensuring a low CPU load. The software enables direct access to physical drives as well as buffered I/O access, making it possible to process unsupported partitions and to perform any operation from browsing content to reading and modifying files, and copying and creating new files and folders all while maintaining a satisfactory performance level. The company is the first to bring to the market APFS support for Linux systems with the release of APFS for Linux.