The car is undergoing a massive change driven by an increase of electronics systems being designed in to make the experience of driving a car safer, more secure, more connected and more convenient.  Car markets in emerging countries such as China, India, Russia, Brazil and Indonesia are exploding and while the overall number of cars is increasing incrementally, the amount of chips in each car is expanding fast with an average of 40+ microprocessors in a mid-range car.

There are several areas that are coming through as important over the next decade. We believe that we are the best placed of the IP companies to deliver complete solutions to our licensee partners and others in the value chain so they can build towards the multimedia rich, secure, connected, autonomous car.

Cluster (HMI/HUDs)

Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) are being transformed by using the latest graphics technology including multiple screens, support for up to 4K displays, advanced shaders, ray tracing and frame rates up to 60fps.  Head Up Displays (HUDs) use technology pioneered in aeroplanes to project useful information on the windscreen and let drivers keep their eyes on the road.


The dashboard is being transformed into an internet connected multimedia experience. Many new technologies are being deployed or connected to, such as Apple CarPlay, MirrorLink and Android  Auto.  Latest video technology requires use of advanced video  processors to encode and decode camera inputs but also decoding for back seat entertainment systems.


(Automatic Driver Assist Systems) ADAS is the first set of building blocks towards a fully autonomous car. The car is now being covered in sensors: multiple cameras giving 360 degree viewing, short and long range radar, LIDAR for millimetre accurate point-cloud creation. Infrared for parking and sonar for short range detection – all of these require massive amounts of processing.


With the rise of electric/hybrid electric vehicles, largely driven by government subsidy and legislation for cars with low/no emissions, more electronics are required to control all aspects of the control of charging and discharging of the latest batteries.

Connected car

Vehicles can now have up to 11 different wireless interfaces and standards supported. Technologies such as LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE, NFC, RFID and GPS are now deployed throughout cars. This enables vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to -infrastructure (V2I) communications, where cars and roadside installations can communicate and transfer useful information.


With the increase in wireless technologies, comes the ability for them to be compromised.  The more wireless interfaces the greater the number of attack surfaces. There are recent examples of cars being taken over remotely by attacks on something as mundane as the tyre pressure monitors.  We now also have to take into consideration the roadside infrastructure and smart cities/highways that are coming in. Many jurisdictions like EU, NHTSA and Japanese equivalent are spending a huge amount of resource understanding the liability of such security issues.  Imagination understands these issues well and have the OmniShield platform,  a hardware virtualized solution backed up by a root of trust embedded core  that enables our customers to feel confident in delivering a secure solution from the silicon up.


The safety angle is being addressed by standards, notably ISO 26262, which defines a level of functional safety, with ASIL D being at a level where an unknown fault, that is likely, can cause a fatal accident. Much effort is now being put into ensuring that our cores meet the requirements for supporting ASIL levels so that it is easier for our partners to deliver on their safety promise.

Learn more about FuSa (Functional Safety) and ISO 26262

To address these areas we have a range of scalable technologies that can be combined to enable low cost, low power, code efficient systems all the way up to graphics and processing intensive high-end systems.

PowerVR GPU: PowerVR’s flexible XE and XT architectures mean that we can easily address a broad portfolio of cluster needs from a basic analogue/digital cluster with only a central unit needing to be animated, to advanced HMI/UX filling multiple screens, up to 4K resolution requiring huge fill rates, massive GFlops budgets but with low power options. They also allow fine grained scheduling and virtualization so that the cluster can operate independently of e.g. the infotainment system. The cluster can run at 40K60 fixed whilst the navigation and infotainment systems can run at lower priority on a variable rate around 30fps.

PowerVR GPU compute: With the higher number of cores there is a linear increase in the amount of flops available for GPU compute.  At the very top level this is upwards of 1 teraflop. ADAS algorithms are highly intensive, being run in real time on raw video data. The highly parallelised nature of the GPU lends itself to implementation of such algorithms.

PowerVR Vision: Our imaging pipeline that can be used to interface from camera sensor to the processing elements within the device.

MIPS 32-bit MCU, MPU: Ideal for electronic control units within the car. Mainly in body electronics i.e. windscreen wipers, electric windows etc. and in electric/hybrid powertrain where there can be several separate microcontrollers. The vast majority of MCU/MPUs in a car are in the chassis/body/powertrain electronics.

MIPS 64-bit: Mainly targeted at ADAS and infotainment functions either running some of the complex algorithms or making decisions based on the object recognition performed by GPU compute or hardware accelerators. MIPS devices support hardware virtualization which allows for multiple OS, in separate containers, running completely independently of each other i.e. ‘virtual sandboxing’.

Ensigma: With the connected car talking to infrastructure as well as other vehicles (V2V) via wireless LAN, low power, efficient Ensigma devices can deliver both this and Bluetooth LE from the same design as well as providing DTV and DAB radio demodulation.

OmniShield: Our recently defined secure platform. It is based on hardware virtualization and a hardware root of trust as well as other encryption and secure technologies. Any devices will boot from secure ROM into a secure state, verified at each level ensure a trusted device onto which our partners can develop.