Volkswagen partners with STMicro to develop chip to overcome component shortages

Volkswagen, through its software development subsidiary Cariad, is partnering with STMicroelectronics. The goal is to jointly develop it for their software-defined vehicles. This is a major first for Volkswagen, which announced on July 20, 2022 that it will establish direct relationships with Tier 2 and Tier 3 semiconductor manufacturers for the first time. The financial details of this agreement were not specified.

One chip for all cars

Cariad and STMicroelectronics will develop a new SoC to equip Volkswagen vehicles. Communications, power management, or even remote updating of on-board systems are included in the program of this new chip. It will integrate the next generation of Volkswagen Group vehicles, which will be based on a single software platform that the Cariad teams are working on. “The system-on-a-chip will be optimally designed to match our software without any compromise,” Dirk Hilgenberg, CEO of Cariad, said in a press release.

Thanks to the unique hardware architecture, the Cariad team will be able to develop a single basic software for all electronic control units (ECUs). “Using a single, optimized architecture for all Volkswagen ECUs will be a huge boost to the efficient development of our software platform,” he adds.

Volkswagen specifies that the architecture developed by Cariad will also use standard microcontrollers from the Stellar family from STMicroelectronics. This new chip will complement STMicroelectronics’ Stellar family with deeper real-time processing capabilities.

TSMC in production

To ensure supply, TSMC must manufacture SoC wafers for STMicroelectronics. “With our anticipated direct collaboration with STMicroelectronics and TSMC, we are actively building our complete semiconductor supply chain,” explains Murat Axel, Member of the Board of Directors in charge of Volkswagen Procurement. “We ensure that we manufacture exactly the chips we need for our vehicles and ensure the supply of critical microchips for years to come.”

What about Qualcom? Cariad announced last May that it would approach Qualcomm for its SAE Level 4 autonomous driving systems. The goal is to use the SoC (system-on-a-chip) of the Qualcomm Snapdragon Ride platform to power its software solution for autonomous driving functionality. This partnership is not affected by the merger with STMicroelectronics, a Cariad spokesman told Reuters.

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