What kind of autonomous driving chips do we need in the next decade? | Exclusive Interview with Ten Chinese Autonomous Drivers


Release time:

2023-02-16

Realizing autonomous driving is like climbing Mount Everest. There are at least two routes to choose from on the road we want to walk, the south slope and the north slope, and there will always be pioneers and latecomers. Although there is only one mountain top, the experiences of the climbers and the stories during the climbing process often emerge in endlessly, which are fascinating and fascinating.

What kind of autonomous driving chips do we need in the next decade? | Exclusive Interview with Ten Chinese Autonomous Drivers

Realizing autonomous driving is like climbing Mount Everest. There are at least two routes to choose from on the road we want to walk, the south slope and the north slope, and there will always be pioneers and latecomers. Although there is only one mountain top, the experiences of the climbers and the stories during the climbing process often emerge in endlessly, which are fascinating and fascinating.

Looking at the history of the past ten years, we have found that there are constantly innovators who have bravely climbed the peak of autonomous driving, and are working hard to reach the top. Therefore, 36 Krypton decided to select 10 high-quality representatives in the field of autonomous driving in China - among them are the leaders of giant companies like Baidu and Huawei, as well as the helmsmen of many start-up companies with a spirit of transformation, and there are countless people who have devoted themselves to research. scholar scientist. We gathered exclusive news, exclusive interviews, dialogue reviews, etc. in the topic selection column of "Ten People in China's Autonomous Driving". 

We hope that through this topic selection, we will present the current domestic development of autonomous driving technology to the industry, and share the applications and breakthroughs in each segment of autonomous driving.

Looking back at the past ten years, the autonomous driving revolution has swept the world, and the "new four modernizations" of automobiles have become the era symbol of the fourth industrial revolution. Domestically-produced cars, which have followed suit in the fuel age, have also become leading players in the new energy era. 

2016 is the starting point for the autonomous driving industry to take off. 

In 2016, Google's autonomous driving department officially became independent and became the world-renowned Waymo in the future. This year, Tesla, the "whistleblower" who has changed the car for a century, produced a total of 83,900 new cars, a year-on-year surge of 64%. Nvidia released the second-generation autonomous driving platform Drive PX2, and Mobileye is about to launch the fifth-generation product. The giant ship of the times is vigorously sailing towards a new future. 

This year, Liu Weihong resigned from the enviable position of president of the Asia-Pacific region of Bosch's chassis brake division, and together with his long-time friend Shan Jizhang, established a self-driving chip company: Black Sesame Smart .

2023: The year of mass production

The industrial revolution of autonomous driving is a full-cycle and full-industrial chain transformation involving from chips to chassis, from hardware to software, and from OEMs to suppliers. 

Chips are the cornerstone of this technological revolution. 

Although the global autopilot chip market has been booming in recent years, the technology threshold, market threshold, and capital threshold of this track are high, and there are very few companies that actually produce energy. 

Black Sesame Smart is one of them. 

Why is it so difficult for autonomous driving chips to land? As the former president of the Asia-Pacific region of the Bosch Chassis Brake Division and an expert in the automotive supply chain, Liu Weihong summarized the following points to 36 Krypton: 

1. The threshold of the industry is high, and the landing cycle is long

The particularity of the automobile industry makes the supply chain threshold of this industry extremely high. The products of chip companies not only need to meet strict product consistency and product quality control standards, but also need to guarantee a supply cycle of at least 10 to 15 years. 

In the process of cooperation between chip companies and car companies, Tier 1, and Tier 2 suppliers, a large number of testing, communication, polishing, feedback, and modification processes are involved. The product landing cycle is extremely long and difficult. 

This has also made it difficult for a large number of chip start-up companies to land products. 

Black Sesame Smart is an exception. 

Not long ago, at the end of December, Black Sesame Smart just announced that it had reached a platform-level strategic cooperation with Sany Special Purpose Vehicle Co., Ltd., becoming Sany Special Auto’s first local car-grade high-performance autonomous driving chip supplier. 

And in 2023—that is, this year—SANY commercial vehicles equipped with Huashan No. 2 A1000 chips will be mass-produced. 

This is another landing project of Black Sesame Smart following partners such as Jiangqi Group, Dongfeng Group, China FAW, Bosch, SAIC-GM-Wuling, Jika Smart, and Dongfeng Yuexiang. 

Liu Weihong told 36 Krypton that last year, Black Sesame Smart completed the mass production of more than 15 projects. For example, Black Sesame Smart reached a strategic cooperation with Jiangqi Group, and a variety of Sihao brand mass-produced models will be equipped with Huashan No. 2 A1000 chips; Dongfeng Group will not only equip the Huashan No. 2 A1000 on the first pure electric car and the first pure electric SUV of its Dongfeng Passenger Vehicle, but also make a strategic investment in Black Sesame Smart through its Dongfeng Asset Management, and continue to cooperate in depth. 

Since entering 2020, major chip start-up companies have significantly accelerated their pace of landing. There are not only the development of technology and products, but also the urgency of capital competition. However, more importantly, with the further maturity of the autonomous driving industry, large computing power autonomous driving chips have become the "just needed" consensus of car companies. This is a definite development direction. 

2023 will be a critical year for the mass production of domestic self-driving chips. 

2. Rapid technological innovation and strong product complexity

As a special application of artificial intelligence technology, the chips required for autonomous driving require powerful computing power, but it is not just a simple stack of AI computing units. 

Chip companies need to have the same strong research and development capabilities in order to have autonomous driving technology that can match today's rapid development and iteration. 

At present, the generally accepted view in the domestic autonomous driving market is that L5-level "unmanned driving" has a lot of challenges that are difficult to overcome in the short term, both in terms of laws and regulations and application implementation. 

然而,L2-L3级别的智能驾驶、辅助驾驶却迎来了高速的创新与迭代周期,产品飞速落地。 

举个例子,行泊一体是近两年来最火的辅助驾驶技术之一。根据高工智能汽车研究院预测,从2023年开始,新车行泊一体前装搭载率将快速上升,这一数据到2025年将超过40%,未来三年市场空间将高达1000万辆。 

市场风向的变化,最先触到水温的是供应链。近两年间,自动驾驶方案商、车企、Tier-1供应商、域控制器厂商、芯片厂商,产业各个环节都在加紧研发,迅速推出产品。 

密集的产业热度,正是技术创新的土壤。 

去年,黑芝麻智能推出了基于华山二号A1000芯片打造的Drive Sensing解决方案。刘卫红告诉36氪,这是业界唯一可量产的、搭载单SoC芯片的高阶行泊一体方案,它支持L2++行车领航NOA、泊车HPA/AVP、3D 360环视全景、多路DVR众多功能,能够将智能驾驶的行车和泊车从两套单独的系统整合为一套,降低成本、减轻重量、提高性能。 

与市场上其他的双芯片或三芯片方案相比,“单芯片”成为了这一方案的关键词。 

单芯片方案,意味着更加深度的软硬件融合,需要将行车与泊车所涉及的所有传感器信号接入到一块SoC芯片为主的域控制器上,配合专用的软件算法,并兼顾性能、功能、可靠性、成本等综合考量,才能最终实现传感器与计算资源的深度复用,难度极大。 

但与之相对应的,单芯片方案的优势也显而易见。 

刘卫红告诉36氪,作为业界唯一可量产搭载单SoC芯片的高阶行泊一体方案,黑芝麻智能的Drive Sensing解决方案除了在性能、成本等方面拥有优势之外,还将极大地降低行泊一体算法与产品的研发复杂度,提高开发效率,简化开发周期,并提供更强的稳定性,高度适配行泊一体方案的需求。 

3、安全要求高

Safety certification is a common topic in the automotive supply chain, but it is also a mountain that all startup companies cannot avoid. Auto parts, especially the lowest level of automotive chips, have surprisingly high product safety requirements. 

At present, the global automobile industry mainly relies on the International Automotive Electronics Council (AEC) as the vehicle specification verification standard. The AEC-Q series certification is recognized as a common test standard for global automotive components. 

Automotive-grade chips have extremely strict requirements on environmental requirements, vibration and shock resistance, reliability, and consistency. Any chip company that wants to enter the automotive supply chain must have AEC-Q100 reliability certification and ISO series supply chain quality management standards , Only then has the possibility of being considered by customers. 

In addition, there are various functional safety team certifications, product certifications, process certifications, ASPICE (Automotive Software Process Improvement and Capacity Determination) and a series of complicated but necessary safety certifications. 

Industry giants have many years of experience and complete licenses, but start-up companies need to "gnaw" down one by one, which is difficult, takes a long time, and requires in-depth industry know-how. 

There is no doubt that the autonomous driving chip industry has a high threshold and is difficult to implement, but at the same time, the market demand is large and the prospects are broad. In recent years, the advancement of technology and the development of market education have led to the rapid development of my country's autonomous driving industry, especially the assisted driving industry. In 2023, we will usher in the year of mass production of autonomous driving chips.

What kind of self-driving chips do we need in the next ten years?

In the era of "new four modernizations", cars are gradually moving from functional cars to smart cars. In addition to autonomous driving, the chip, chassis, and electrical architecture of the entire automotive supply chain have ushered in a comprehensive reform. The focus of competition in the automobile industry has changed from automobile manufacturing to the core technology of the new era of modernization. 

And this is why, in the past, car companies that focused on lean production and were not sensitive to chip supply, in today's autonomous driving revolution, continue to actively reach out to chip factories, and are even willing to become Alpha customers of domestic chip start-up companies to jointly promote industry change. 

At present, whether it is autonomous driving technology or chip semiconductor technology, it is still in the process of continuous redefinition and continuous development and iteration. 

You know, ten years ago, deep learning algorithms had just emerged in academia; five years ago, the peak computing power of the strongest autonomous driving chip was only 32 TOPS. But now, the industry has long since changed. 

Regarding the future development direction of autonomous driving chips, Liu Weihong gave his answer to 36 Krypton: 

1. The computing power has been greatly improved. With the continuous development of the current semiconductor industry technology, the emergence of advanced packaging, Chiplet and other high-end processes and emerging technologies, it is possible to realize the ultra-large computing power autonomous driving chip that can meet the power consumption of the terminal, and it also enables higher-order and smarter. Human-computer interaction, in-cabin applications, and automatic driving functions have the opportunity to become a reality. 

2. The integration level of the chip is further improved, and the security level of the chip is strengthened in all aspects. In addition to the chip, the entire automotive electronic and electrical architecture has ushered in unprecedented changes in recent years. In the future, the status of the chip as the central computing platform of the automotive electronic architecture will be further strengthened, which not only puts forward higher requirements for chip integration, but also Higher requirements are placed on the security level of chips and algorithms.

We can see from the product planning map of the Black Sesame Smart Huashan series chips that the Black Sesame Smart A2000, which is scheduled to be released in 2023, is expected to become the first domestic autonomous driving chip with a large computing power of more than 250 TOPS, and will also meet higher-level requirements. safety certification standards.

agitation, big time

In this century-long transformation of the automobile industry, the Chinese market is undoubtedly at the forefront of the world. The rise of new domestic car companies and domestic self-driving chips marks the full blooming of China's auto industry from sales to R&D. 

According to Marklines data, from January to September 2022, the global sales of new energy vehicles will increase collectively. Among them, the global sales in the Chinese market accounted for as high as 44.4%, and the year-on-year growth rate reached an astonishing 109.3%. World number one. 

At the end of the interview, Liu Weihong sighed to 36 Krypton: "I am a traditional car person and have deep feelings for cars. Unfortunately, I have watched the Chinese auto industry struggle for decades, (but still) can't develop my own. The engine, its own gearbox."

"However, in the era of intelligent driving, we have seen the possibility of Chinese cars leading the world. This new round of industrial and technological changes is a godsend opportunity for every practitioner."