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Sonatus Zonal Architecture Solution

Feb 21, 2023

Zonal architectures are a key building block for Software-Defined Vehicles

The concept of the Zonal Architecture to support the needs of future software-defined vehicles (SDV) has become an important topic. A recent blog from Sonatus partner NXP Semiconductors provides a good overview of the motivation for zonal architectures and how they will enable SDV.  In this blog, we expand further on some of the critical protocols and configuration aspects needed to deploy a zonal architecture and how we are working to provide many of these software capabilities.

At Sonatus, we’re accelerating vehicle software innovation by delivering key software building blocks that enable OEMs to shift to software-defined vehicles faster and at lower costs.  These building blocks allow OEMs to continually improve and enhance their vehicles at any time, even after they are sold. Sonatus offers a range of products and solutions to speed vehicle manufacturers’ journey towards SDV in areas like data collection, vehicle automation, vehicle network control, cybersecurity and others. One such offering is the Sonatus Zonal Architecture Solution which provides key network control features to support and enable new features and applications in a zonal network architecture. This solution is built using Sonatus Foundation which delivers the critical pieces to enable a flexible vehicle software architecture like the Sonatus Zonal Architecture Solution.

Flexible and application-aware

A zonal network enabled SDV is required to support a wide variety of application traffic including external vehicle traffic such as HTTP and MQTT, SOA (SOME/IP), Audio & Video, Diagnostics and CAN-over-Ethernet, all with mixed levels of criticality. And the promise of SDV is that these applications can be continuously updated, which means the network must be flexible and application-aware to ensure critical vehicle functions are not impacted with each new update.

Dynamically configurable

All of this requires the network to be dynamically configurable, making the management of the network control plane an essential element of the zonal network.  Legacy, domain-based architectures typically have one ethernet switch and each domain is isolated on a dedicated CAN bus. The network is provisioned statically. With zonal, there are multiple ethernet switches in a richly connected topology and the ethernet links between the switches may carry mixed criticality traffic from multiple domains or applications.

Mixed criticality support

Support for mixed criticality requires topology and traffic aware provisioning of switch classification, policing and scheduling resources. These mechanisms are required to ensure high priority traffic is delivered according to its service requirements and that bursty, high volume traffic will not adversely affect critical traffic.

Furthermore, in-vehicle networks place additional safety requirements typically not present in traditional data networks, like support for link-level redundancy.  And last but not least, multiple ethernet switches also introduce the need for time synchronization across the switches.

The Sonatus Zonal Architecture Solution employs modern, Software Defined Networking concepts to provision the network from a centralized Network Controller. The Network Controller is topology and service-aware and can be dynamically updated with lightweight policies deployed from the cloud to support diverse application traffic of mixed-criticality while meeting reliability and performance requirements essential for vehicle safety.  It provisions the network to handle link outages and reconfigures the network dynamically should such events occur. The protocols and mechanisms deployed by the Controller are guided by the recommendations from 802.1DG TSN Profile for Automotive.

Zonal architectures are a key building block for the Software Defined Vehicle and they enable an application environment in the vehicle where new features and applications can be continuously updated.  Supporting such a dynamic environment requires the network to be dynamically configurable while meeting the performance and safety requirements essential to operating a vehicle.  Sontatus Zonal Network Solution and its Network Controller allows OEMs and Tier-1s to build a zonal architecture that fulfills those key requirements.

Check out this overview video about the Sonatus Zonal Architecture Solution and for a more in-depth discussion about accelerating the shift to zonal architectures, watch this free webinar presented by experts from NXP and Sonatus.

James Murphy
Member of Technical Staff, Sonatus

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