Tesla China Uses AMD Ryzen Series Graphics Card in Model Y While Zhidou Motors Unveils its First High-Performance Smart Cockpit Chip

Author: Chris Zheng

On November 29, Zhidou Motors announced that it will jointly cooperate with Baidu and Qualcomm to launch the Snapdragon SA8295P chip, which is the Snapdragon 888 mobile platform for vehicles, in the first mass-produced car to be delivered in 2023 for the Chinese market. This is another important move for Zhidou Motors following the release of the JET electronic electrical architecture, mud model wind tunnel experiment, and SIMUCar software integrated simulation sample car dynamic test.

Snapdragon SA8295P

You may wonder what the series of numbers and letters in SA8295 represent.

As the latest flagship chip of Qualcomm’s digital cockpit product line for vehicles, the SA should refer to the first letters of Snapdragon and Automotive, the mobile chip platform of Qualcomm, respectively. 8295 is the code name for the vehicle version of the Snapdragon 888 mobile phone chip by Qualcomm. As for the letter P, Qualcomm provides three levels of the 4th generation digital cockpit platform, including the Performance-level for entry-level platforms, the Premiere-level for mid-level platforms, and the Paramount-level for supercomputing platforms. The Zhidou car is equipped with the Paramount-level SA8295P chip.

Zhidou Motors Chip

Let’s briefly summarize the correspondence between Qualcomm’s mobile phone chips and digital cockpit chips.

  • Snapdragon 820-820A
  • Snapdragon 855-SA8155
  • Snapdragon 888-SA8295

According to Qualcomm’s division, Snapdragon 820A, SA8155, and SA8295 belong to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generations of the digital cockpit platform, respectively.

Due to Qualcomm’s dominant position in the Android field and the friendly cockpit ecosystem development environment it brings, Snapdragon 820A and SA8155 have been successful in the smart car market.

Among the popular models, the 820A is equipped with the Ideal One, XPeng P7, G3i, Lynk & Co 05, Audi A4L, and Skywell ME7, etc.And SA8155 is penetrating even stronger, with new cars launching in 2022 including NIO ET7, ZhiJi L7, and XPeng P5, while GAC Aion LX and WM W6 have already achieved mass production. Statistics from Qualcomm show that out of the world’s top 25 automotive companies, 20 have adopted the third-generation Snapdragon digital cockpit platform, i.e. the 8155 series.

Under such an offensive, it is almost predictable for Snapdragon 888, also known as the SA8295 series that has already gained a dominant position in the flagship smartphone market, to make greater progress in the automotive market.

From the perspective of the chip itself, industry insiders revealed that SA8295 is built on a 5nm process, with CPU performance exceeding 200K DMIPS, GPU performance exceeding 3000 GFLOPS, supporting WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2, and the AI computing power of NPU reaching 30 Tops.

This 30 Tops of AI computing power has already caught up with Nvidia’s previous generation of intelligent driving chip Xavier, which was previously installed on XPeng P7 and powered XPeng’s XPILOT 3.0 architecture to provide NGP high-speed navigation assistance driving and VPA parking memory parking, achieving the phase’s best experience in the Chinese intelligent driving market.

Now, just within the cockpit, the aggregate computing power has reached an extraordinary 30 Tops. There is no doubt that the aggregate has made a heavy bet in the cockpit field.

Of course, hardware only determines the lower limit of the experience, while software and interaction are the upper limit. On the SA8295 platform, there is still a lot of work for the aggregate to do.

Qualcomm, Baidu, and the Aggregate

In the field of intelligent electric vehicles, China’s entrepreneurial ecology is significantly more active than in Europe and America. To give just one example, NIO, XPeng, and Li Auto have formed a gradual leading position in the industry. So why did Qualcomm bypass these brands and give the Chinese debut of SA8295 to the young company Aggregate?

Qualcomm’s attention and support for startup companies have roots in history. Ten years ago, the Xiaomi 1 smartphone was launched with the Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM 8260 processor. The support of MSM 8260 helped Xiaomi 1 become the only dual-core processor model in the same price range at that time.# In the next decade, Xiaomi has repeatedly taken the lead in the release of flagship Qualcomm processors, according to Gartner’s data for Q3 2021, Xiaomi has become the world’s third largest smartphone manufacturer.

The first launch of SA8295 in China represents Qualcomm’s judgment on China’s intelligent electric vehicle market for the next decade.

In terms of technical trends, SA8295’s key is not high performance or high energy efficiency, but the “central processing center” in the evolution of regional system architecture, according to Qualcomm’s official PPT.

In the history of the automotive industry, the electronic and electrical architecture used to be a distributed “one carrot, one pit” approach, where every function required a corresponding sensor, computing chip, and actuator. With the development of technology and the complexity of application scenarios, software and hardware decoupling and service-oriented programming (SOA) became the trend.

A large number of ECUs have been “merged and reorganized” into a large computing platform, supporting flexible communication and calling between different controllers. In this process, electronic harnesses weighing up to tens of kilograms are no longer needed, achieving higher computing efficiency and integration. Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s “100-meter harness” goal is a judgment under this trend.

SA8295 supports the fusion of multiple ECUs and domains, covering instrument panels, cabins, AR-HUD augmented reality head-up displays, information and entertainment, rear displays, electronic mirrors, in-cabin detection, driving records, and driver monitoring, among others. These systems that required different ECUs or even independent controllers for control in the past can now be “handled in one fell swoop” by SA8295.

This is in line with the JET electronic and electrical architecture released by Jidu Auto in June of this year, which is designed for L4 level self-driving. At the time of its release, Jidu Auto explicitly stated that it would jointly develop an SOA software architecture based on the JET architecture with Baidu Apollo and Geely to better decouple hardware and software.# Talking about Baidu and Jietu

Jietu CEO Xia Yiping once stated at a media communication meeting in June that “Jietu carries all the technological landing of Baidu.”

Returning to the intelligent cockpit field, Baidu has accumulated a large amount of basic capabilities and rich pre-installation production experience in the digital cockpit field. Including voice engines, scene engines, extensive content and service capabilities, and so on.

Although Jietu has this big tree, the work they have to do is not simple. After several years of development, Baidu Apollo’s basic capabilities are large and comprehensive, and obviously, a copy-paste approach is not feasible. If what Jietu wants to do is a Lego toy, Baidu Apollo’s role is more like a Lego model toy library. What kind of model is useful, practical, and crucial to Jietu is the key question that Jietu needs to answer.

Perhaps this is also the important reason why Jietu started developing the software integration simulated car (SIMUCar) before the development of the digital cockpit.

At the end of the second Chongli Tire event in December 2019, Baidu CEO Robin Li mentioned his idea for the intelligent cockpit:

“In the next ten years, I have a judgment: our reliance on mobile phones will decrease gradually. Why?
Let’s think about this: when you enter your car, your car has a screen that is larger than a mobile phone, high-grade speakers, and various types of cameras and other sensors…

So, in the car, any device corresponding to the mobile phone should have higher quality than the mobile phone. There is no reason why you still need to hold a mobile phone in the car.”

As a new car company controlled by Baidu, Jietu’s intelligent cockpit is believed to largely carry out Robin Li’s idea. With Baidu’s AI capabilities and Qualcomm’s top-level computing power platform, gradually replacing mobile phones in driving scenarios.

“Replacing mobile phones,” even if limited to driving scenarios, is still a grand topic. Fortunately, 2023 is not too far away, and even the concept car design of Jietu’s mass-produced models will be released and unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show as early as April 2022.## Until Then, Let’s Look Forward to Discovering the True Face of Jidu Digital Cockpit

This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email bd@42how.com.