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ABI Research forecasts that the number of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) installed connected car infotainment systems with multiple OS architectures shipped globally will reach 34.2 million units at the end of 2018 with secure container-type units accounting for 57.3% of shipments and virtual machine-type units accounting for the remaining 42.7%.
Multimedia sophistication is growing rapidly in cars with in-car infotainment systems running incredibly sophisticated software stacks, according to the research group. This, coupled with the increasing complexity of other electronic systems such as ADAS technologies, is driving the need for electronic processor consolidation. As a result, the automotive world is moving inexorably towards mixed criticality systems in which real-time safety and security components must co-exist with other less critical components on the same platform.
Linking vehicles to the Internet and allowing software to be downloaded to an infotainment system can make vehicles susceptible to security breaches. Malicious software could be installed that causes infotainment systems to crash, or more seriously, affect other parts of the vehicle such as the safety systems.
"The high degree of fragmentation and the use of proprietary computing and electronics in cars today offers good protection against cybercrime, which is probably why no major incidences of car hacking have been reported yet," said Gareth Owen, in-car infotainment analyst at ABI Research. "However, the adoption of open source platforms such as those based on GENIVI and Android is likely to increase vulnerabilities in the future as more of these platforms are deployed in the market place."
Car OEMs are looking at various techniques to allow multiple OSes to run concurrently on the same hardware platform including the sandboxed approach where the guest OS is hosted on top of the main OS in a secure container (e.g. Linux container); and hypervisor virtualization where each OS runs side-by-side on a dedicated virtual machine layer with the hardware resources of the host platform being shared between them.