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Automotive electronics are ubiquitous

Electronics first appeared in cars in 1968 when Volkswagen installed an electronic control unit (ECU) in the VW 1600 sedan’s engine to help control fuel injection. Today, automotive electronics are ubiquitous, controlling or assisting with every aspect of the vehicle’s operation and performance. Electronics now account for over 40 percent of a new vehicle’s total cost, having grown from just 18 percent in 2000, according to Deloitte.

Integration of computing technology into every aspect of the car has transformed how automotive OEMs approach design, engineering and manufacturing. Up until the past decade, vehicle electronics used a flat architecture where embedded ECUs operated together in a limited way. The advancement toward connected cars and AVs led to a divergence in how carmakers approached the communication architecture of a vehicle’s electronics.

Concurrently, the introduction of sensors into the vehicle architecture further accelerated the need for greater computing power to process and analyze the resulting data. These new aspects of the vehicle’s brain led to differing design philosophies toward designing modern vehicles, from the domain architecture to newer zonal and central architectures.

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