What might chip design company Arm and manufacturing conglomerate Siemens gain from a wide-ranging technology partnership? According to the two titans, which jointly announced the newfound collaboration today during CES 2020, quite a lot. In the coming weeks, Arm says it’ll adapt some of its methodologies and tools to help automakers, integrators, and suppliers bring their next-gen platforms to market. As for Siemens, it asserts that Arm’s intellectual property will help address the challenges facing the automotive industry, specifically with respect to developing platforms that realize advanced driver assistance systems, in-vehicle infotainment platforms, digital cockpits, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, and self-driving vehicles.
To this end, Siemens’ Pave360 digital twin product — which incorporates Arm technologies — applies high-fidelity modeling techniques, incorporating everything from sensors and integrated circuits to vehicle dynamics and the environment cars operate in. (“Digital twin” in this context refers to virtual automotive chips, such as AI accelerators.) The models can run entire software stacks, providing early metrics of power and performance, and they enable automakers to simulate sub-system designs to better understand how they perform in situ.
The hope is that models like those created by Pave360 will foster the development of integrated circuit designs that allow car manufacturers to consolidate electronic control units. (Electronic control units are the embedded systems in vehicle electronics that control one or more of the electrical systems.) The result could be thousands of dollars in cost savings per vehicle, thanks to a reduction in the number of circuit boards and meters of wire within the vehicle design.
“In all we do at Siemens, our goal is to provide transportation companies and suppliers the most comprehensive digital twin solutions, from the design and development of semiconductors to advanced manufacturing and deployment of vehicles and services within cities,” said Tony Hemmelgarn, president and CEO of Siemens’ digital industries software division, in a statement. “Siemens believes collaboration with Arm is a win for the entire industry. Carmakers, their suppliers, and [integrated circuit] design companies all can benefit from the collaboration, new methodologies, and insight now sparking new innovations.”
The “digital twins” approach to modeling has gained currency in other domains, chiefly industry and energy. For instance, London-based SenSat helps clients in construction, mining, energy, and other industries create models of locations relevant to projects they’re working on, translating the real world into a version that can be understood by machines. For its part, GE offers technology that allows companies to model digital twins of actual machines, whose performance is closely tracked. And Oracle offers services that rely on virtual representations of objects, equipment, and work environments.
In fact, the market for digital twin solutions like those developed by SenSat, GE, Oracle, and Siemens is estimated to grow from $3.8 billion in 2019 to $35.8 billion by 2025. According to Report Linker, key factors driving the uptick include the declining time and cost of product development and unplanned downtime with the adoption of digital twins, increasing adoption of emerging technologies such as the internet of things (IoT) and cloud, and growing use of models for predictive maintenance.