Volvo shows off the Polestar 3’s sweet new Android Automotive interface

Enlarge / The full Polestar Three design is not revealed but, however Volvo launched this camouflaged picture.


Volvo, Qualcomm, Google are teaming up to make automotive infotainment much more smartphone-like than ever. If Wintel (Windows plus Intel) is the default software program+{hardware} combo of the PC period, then the smartphone equal has received to be Android and Qualcomm (Andcom? Qualdroid?). Volvo is bringing this combo to the upcoming Polestar 3 electrical SUV, which is due someday in 2022. We additionally received a sneak peek at what the new interface would appear like.

Volvo’s Polestar 2 was the first to ship Google’s Android Automotive OS in a automotive. Unlike Android Auto or Apple’s CarPlay, which run in your smartphone, Android Automotive OS has a customized model of Android preinstalled on the automotive, as the principal automotive infotainment OS. Even you probably have an iPhone, your automotive nonetheless runs Android. The Polestar 2 used an x86 chip (an Intel Atom A3900), however now Volvo is pairing a Qualcomm smartphone chip with its Google smartphone OS. The Polestar Three will ship with Qualcomm’s “Snapdragon Cockpit Platform Gen 3,” and whereas that sounds distinctive, it’s actually only a repackaged smartphone chip with a number of additional options.

The integration of cars with pc technology is all the time powerful. Car improvement takes round 5 years, which might appear virtually incompatible with the improvement tempo of smartphones and computer systems. That’s nonetheless true of the 2022 Polestar 3. Qualcomm’s Gen Three automotive platform was truly introduced back in 2019, however design wins for the platform are simply now being introduced at CES 2022. Qualcomm says the Gen Three automotive platform relies on the Snapdragon 820 SoC, an ARM flagship smartphone chip from 2016. You may remember this chip from telephones akin to the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Google Pixel 1. The Polestar 2’s Intel Atom was additionally from 2016.

The Gen Three may not be the latest chip in the world, however nonetheless, Volvo is on the similar {hardware} and software program platform as smartphones. Volvo ought to now have a useless easy, constant ARM improve path, due to the smartphone improvement that occurs yearly. Here’s hoping this consistency results in a quicker path to marketplace for the {hardware}. Qualcomm already announced the Gen four automotive platform eventually 12 months’s CES—it simply will not pop up in a automotive for some time.

But about the Gen 3’s additional options: it has upgraded RF capabilities like Wi-Fi 6, 5G, and newer Bluetooth, which you could not get on the Snapdragon 820. Supporting a automotive, particularly an Android automotive, additionally means needing assist for virtualization. Android can run the infotainment system, however one thing else must run the gauge cluster show behind the steering wheel. Safety rules mandate that the gauge cluster cannot run Android. Android is not a real-time OS, which means it might probably lag if the processor is simply too sluggish, and that is not allowed for crucial driving parts like the speedometer. The answer is to have the Snapdragon 820 run two OSes through virtualization, with Android working the heart infotainment display screen and another OS working the gauge cluster show. Android can nonetheless ship the gauge cluster a UI overlay for issues like media information and Google Maps data, however the speedo is off-limits.

The Polestar 3 driver display. Android provides a Google Maps overlay and media info, while a real-time OS handles the speedometer.
Enlarge / The Polestar Three driver show. Android offers a Google Maps overlay and media information, whereas a real-time OS handles the speedometer.


Resurrecting the Snapdragon 820 for a contemporary product is an fascinating proposition for Qualcomm. On smartphones, Qualcomm’s product assist is commonly cited as a major barrier for the longevity of Android telephones. The Snapdragon 820 would have supported one thing like three main Android variations, so Android 6, 7, and eight. Qualcomm would have shut down assist someday round 2019, precisely when the Snapdragon 820-based third-generation automotive chip was introduced. So whereas Qualcomm would have killed your cellphone, it doesn’t appear to be Android improvement for this chip ever truly stopped. The Polestar Three will most probably begin with Android 11 or 12, and assist might want to proceed for years, though the firm would not wish to move that work on to smartphones.

Today, Qualcomm has a public support timeline for cellphone chips: three years of main OS updates and 4 years of safety updates. When requested if there was the same plan for automotive assist, Qualcomm stated it will assist automotive chips for longer than cellphone chips, however the firm would not supply specifics.

Shoving a smartphone chip in a automotive offers Qualcomm a fast approach to get to market, since telephones are at present its largest market. But the answer isn’t preferrred. Smartphone chips are designed completely round the dimension and energy restrictions of a smartphone, none of which exist in a automotive. A automotive is large. The whole flooring is a battery. The cooling might be as large as you want it to be. Qualcomm is working into the similar drawback many corporations in the trade are working into: the largest ARM chips are nonetheless largely simply the smartphone chips. Apple is setting the development by scaling up ARM to desktop and laptop computer computer systems, however it might probably do this as a result of it has a customized chip-design division. Most different corporations do not. Qualcomm is working on getting there although, and it plans to start out designing extra highly effective ARM chips for laptops (and cars?) in the future.

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