Volvo, Qualcomm, Google, and Apple are working together to create an even better experience for drivers using their smartphones inside cars. So if Windows was the operating system for PCs during the PC era, and iOS was the mobile OS for iPhones, then Google’s Android must be the OS for smartphones today. And since Apple uses ARM chips, its phones use an architecture called “Qualcomm Snapdragon.” Qualdroid?). Volvo has announced plans for an electrified version of its XC40 crossover called the Polestar 2, set to debut at next year’s Geneva Motor Show. It will be followed by another vehicle later in 2020 We were able to get a glimpse of what the new user interface might look like. Volvo’s Polestars were the first cars to come preloaded with Google’s Android Auto operating system. Unlike Apple’s CarPlay, Google’s Android Automotive OS runs its own customized version of Android on the vehicle itself instead of running on an iPhone or iPad connected via Bluetooth. If you own an Apple device, even though your phone may run iOS, your vehicle probably has some form of Android installed. Now Volvo has paired a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with Android Oreo for use in their new Polestar 2 electric car. The new Polestar 3 will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 processor, which has been rebranded for Volvo Cars’ use. While that might sound exciting, it’s actually nothing special at all.
Integrating computers into vehicles has been difficult for years. It seems impossible for car development to keep up with smartphone and computer developments. Qualcomm says its Gen 3 automotive platform is built on top of the Snapdragon 855 SoC, which is based on the company’s latest mobile chipset technology. You might recall this chip from smartphones including the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, the Huawei Mate 20 X Pro, and the Google Pixel 4 XL. The Polestar 1 had an older version of Intel’s Atom processor.
The Gen 3 may not be the latest generation of chips from Intel, but they’re still using the same operating system (OS) as smartphones. Now that Android has become an open source platform, there’s no reason why any phone manufacturer shouldn’t be able to offer upgrades for their devices without having to worry about licensing fees. Let’s hope this consistency helps us get our product into people’s hands sooner. At last year’s CES, Qualcomm already announced its next generation automotive platform. It hasn’t yet been released into production cars but we expect it to be available within two years. However, regarding its additional features, the Gen 3 offers better radio frequency (RF) performance than the previous generation. For example, it supports Wi‑Fi 6, 5G and Bluetooth v4.2. To run Android apps in a VM requires supporting both hardware and software virtualization technologies. Android can run the Infotainment System, but something else must run the Gauge Cluster Display behind the Steering Wheel. Regulations require that the gauge cluster cannot be used for running an operating system different from Windows 10. Because Android doesn’t run at 100% CPU utilization constantly, it won’t be able to keep up with everything else running on the car computer. To solve this problem, we need to have the Snapdragon 810 run two operating systems (OS) using virtualization technology. One OS runs the infotainment system for the driver’s dashboard and another one runs the gauges. You can use the carputer app to display some basic vehicle information (like fuel level) from an external source, but the speedometer isn’t available.
Reusing the Snapdragon 810 for a new product would be an interesting proposition for Qualcomm if they could get away with it. For smartphone manufacturers, Qualcomm’s product support has been cited as one of the biggest barriers for phone longevity. So if we were using an earlier version of Android than Marshmallow (Android 5), then we could support up to 3 different versions of Android at once. Qualcomm would have stopped supporting its chips by then, which means they were probably going to be replaced at some point. While Apple might kill off its smartphone business, it seems unlikely that Android development for this chip has completely ceased. And since the Polestar 3 will probably be using an older version of Android than the iPhone XS Max (which uses iOS 13), there may well be some compatibility issues when running apps from Google Play Store.
For phones, today Qualcomm has an official release schedule for its chip technology: Three years of major operating system upgrades and four years of security patches. Asked whether there were any plans for extending its chip supply contracts beyond phones, Qualcomm said it would continue supporting car chips for longer than smartphone chips, but didn’t give details. Putting a smartphone chip into cars gives Qualcomm a fast route to market because smartphones are their largest current market. However, the solution isn’t perfect. A smartphone chip was never intended for use inside a vehicle; they were built solely for smartphones. A car is big. All floors are batteries. You don’t necessarily need a huge cooling system for small offices. Qualcomm has run into the same issue most chip makers face today: smartphones use their own processors, but they’re not making enough for everyone else. Apple is leading the way by making its own chips for desktops and laptops, but it can do so because it has an advanced chip design team. Other companies usually don’t. Qualcomm has been working hard to get its Snapdragon 835 chip into smartphones, but now it’s planning to design even better processors for laptops and cars.