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How Many OSs Make an SDV Run?

Green Hills discusses the layers of software inside SDVs, and how they enforce "freedom from interference" between software.
How Many OSs Make an SDV Run?

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By Junko Yoshida

Automakers keep claiming development of a fleetwide “unified operating system” for their vehicles. Take that with a grain of salt. They probably don’t mean just “ONE operating system.”

The Episode 6 guest in our weekly “Dig Deeper on SDV” video podcasts is Dan Mender, vice president, business development at Green Hills Software.

Airing at 9:00AM PT, Tuesday, July 9, this episode focuses on the many layers of software that need to be installed, updated and maintained inside SDVs.

Explaining the intricacy of these software pieces, Mender asks us to visualize the car sliced into a top and bottom half. What does the top-half software enable, and what roles does the software on the bottom play?

Seriously, how many operating systems are running inside today’s cars? It’s a lot more than you think.

Does all this software get updated at the same time (unlikely) or at different cadences (likely)? How does the updated software get along with software yet to be updated?

How does one software element “share” hardware resources – memory, processing power, interconnects, etc. – with other software? Is it even allowed to share?

Take Dan Mender’s tour of the mind-boggling maze in software-defined vehicles in our final episode “Dig Deeper SDV,” Season 1.

Our previous episodes on this Dig Deeper on SDVs series are now available for on-demand playback.

Phil Amsrud, associate director, Automotive, S&P Global Mobility, set the stage with an overview of software-defined vehicles, including solutions to mysteries like: What is it? Who’s it for? and Why do we need it?
Episode 1Plabyback for Episode 1

Jack Weast, Intel Fellow and VP and GM at Intel Automotive, discuss why Intel is back in the automotive market, and how the processor giant believes it can leverage its data center experience to SDVs. Episode 2 is a unique opportunity to hear from Weast, who’s now shepherding Intel’s global automotive business from Beijing. 
Episode 2Playback for Episode 2

Phil Koopman, professor at Carnegie Mellon Univ., best known for his expertise in autonomous vehicle safety, teaches embedded system design and leads research on safe and secure embedded systems. In this episode, he weighs in on the SDV by asking his signature question: #didyouthinkofthat?
Episode 3: Playback for Episode 3

Sebastien Clamagirand, senior vice president, automotive system engineering & marketing at NXP Semiconductors, discusses how NXP takes pride in having led the charge on the evolution of the MPUs that must come deeply integrated with safety and security. Integrating cores is hard, but “the hardest is to ensure freedom from interference,” said Clamagirand.
Episode 4: Playback for Episode 4

Jeffrey Chou, CEO at Sonatus, armed with deep roots in the data center world, explains why hardware-based server farms had to become software-defined data centers a few decades ago, and how the auto industry now faces the same transition. “There is a clear parallel,” Chou noted. 
Episode 5: Playback for Episode 5

Junko Yoshida is the editor in chief of The Ojo-Yoshida Report. She can be reached at

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