GM rolls out new digital architecture to underpin future vehicles

The words “platform” and “architecture”, when used in the auto industry, typically refer to physical structures like the body-in-white, the hard points that determine what components fit where. General Motors revealed a new use for the terms when it introduced its new “digital vehicle platform.” It refers to the electronic architecture that will underpin GM cars as the industry embraces electric vehicles, active safety, connectivity and autonomous driving.

The electronics package will first appear on the new 2020 Cadillac CT5 sedan and then proliferate across GM’s global product range by 2023. The automaker says that its goal is “a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.” To reach that goal, it’s going to need a lot of computing power.

Connectivity, electric drive, self-driving systems, and advanced driver assists all rely on the movement of electrons, both for motive power and in terms of computer signals. GM wants to be sure its vehicles have enough electrical bandwidth to meet those needs. The new system is capable of handling up to 4.5 terabytes of data processing power per hour (a terabyte is 1024 gigabytes). That’s five times the capacity of GM’s current electronics, accelerating communications between vehicle systems and between the vehicle and the outside world. The new electronics platform can connect to the internet at speeds of 100Mbps, 1Gbps, and 10Gbps, allowing for quick over-the-air software and functionality upgrades to the vehicle.

Because of that connectivity, a major focus of the new digital architecture is cybersecurity. The fear of an outside agent hacking and/or taking control of your automobile is not science fiction when that vehicle is online all the time. GM says its new electronics are hardened with protective features in both the hardware and software.

In introducing the new electronics architecture, GM president Mark Reuss said, “The critical role of software and its importance to our vehicles, both now and for years to come, cannot be overstated. Our new digital vehicle platform and its eventual successors will underpin all our future innovations across a wide range of technological advancements, including EVs and expanded automated driving.”

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