Intel has announced a new family of products aimed at the automotive industry. Intel’s platform is designed for entertainment, navigation and there are some “smartcar” features, too.
The first product is basically a board with an Intel processor on top, but its real value is in the software, not hardware. Intel is developing a Linux-based environment for auto applications and it does not appear to have much in common with Intel’s previous efforts in the field. Intel's extensive experience in bringing new x86 platforms to market and backing them with the necessary software is unmatched. In addition, Intel should have no problem offering support for a wide range of software platforms down the road.
Significant investment, potentially huge market
Intel Capital started making significant investments in the automotive space two years ago, with the creation of the Intel Capital Connected Car Fund, a $100 million fund tasked with accelerating development in the automotive niche.
The automotive infotainment market is growing at a healthy rate. There is no consensus on the CAGR, but most research firms put it in double digit territory. Growth is picking up, too. GSMA believes the market will grow threefold in just five years, eventually hitting $38 billion by 2018.
The automotive niche is getting a lot of attention from leading chipmakers such as Texas Instruments and Nvidia. In fact, Nvidia is in the process of reshaping its SoC strategy to better tap this market, shifting focus away from smartphones in the process.
Speeding up time-to-market
Intel is touting speed as its key differentiator. The chipmaker believes it can drastically reduce infotainment development time, allowing carmakers to bring their solutions to market faster than the competition. Intel claims it can reduce development time by more than a year and cut costs by as much as 50 percent.
It is not just about music and navigation. Smart cars are the next big step and Intel wants to be a part of the self-driving car revolution.
"Our goal is to fuel the evolution from convenience features available in the car today to enhanced safety features of tomorrow and eventually self-driving capabilities," said Doug Davis, Intel VP, IoT group.
In spite of the mobile boom witnessed over the past decade, most cars in showrooms today are ‘dumb’, not to mention older vehicles on the road. It is not just about making parallel parking a breeze. Smart automotive platforms promise to deliver huge improvements in terms of efficiency and safety. Convenience is just one small part of the puzzle.