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MediaTek Enters Automotive Digital Cockpit Riding on Holistic Solution, Strategic Partnerships



MediaTek has strengthened its automotive product portfolio by launching four auto cockpit chipsets. Dimensity Auto branding now spans from entry-level to premium-level vehicles.

Partnership with NVIDIA for ADAS/ADS GPUs and a prudent go-to-market strategy to fill the symbiotic capability gap with NVIDIA will help in competing head-on with Qualcomm.

Building upon last year’s unveiling of its flagship automotive compute platform Dimensity Auto, in addition to 4G/5G/Wi-Fi connectivity solutions, MediaTek aims to become a one-stop solution provider for major automotive electronic components from compute to connectivity, targeting digital cockpit, infotainment and telematics units.

End-to-end portfolio from automotive compute to connectivity

Dimensity Auto Cockpit: This platform supports multiple displays, cameras and theatre-quality surround sound. It offers a comprehensive portfolio from hardware to software, laying the foundation for software-defined vehicles (SDVs). The platform is based on the TSMC 3nm process node.

Dimensity Auto Connect: Providing 5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) satellite communications, this product supports cockpit connectivity, multiple displays and hotspots and offers speeds 4x to 5x faster than home gateways.

Dimensity Auto Components: MediaTeksupplies various components that experienced severe shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, including power management ICs, display driver ICs, GNSS, camera ISP and Ethernet networking solutions.

MediaTek Dimensity Auto

Source: MediaTek

Dimensity Auto Drive: It is an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) solution featuring time-of-flight solutions, LiDAR, radar, and 60GHz support. This product will be manufactured in collaboration with partner companies.

NVIDIA partnership bringing AI and ADAS/ADS capabilities to cars

During last week’s NVIDIA GTC event, MediaTekunveiled four auto cockpit SoCs – CV-1, CM-1, CY-1 and CX-1, designed for entry-level to premium-level vehicles. These SoCs are compatible with NVIDIA OS as well as other operating systems such as QNX, Linux and Android, enabling automakers to support various applications. Built on ARMv9 architecture and powered by NVIDIA RTX graphics, these cockpit chipsets promise enhanced performance.

The collaboration with NVIDIA will facilitate the integration of large language models (LLMs) into cars, enabling them to support a wide range of AI-based applications, including chatbots, rich content across multiple displays, personalized user interfaces, safety features and gaming. These solutions will offer generative AI-based applications, taking the in-cabin experience to the next level.

Dimensity Auto Cockpit Overview

Source: MediaTek

How will these products fuel competition in automotive chipset market?

As the automotive industry shifts from distributed to centralized architecture, the need for domain controllers is becoming apparent. Typically, domain controllers integrate various functions such as Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS), Occupant Monitoring Systems (OMS), Head-Up Displays (HUD), displays, voice interaction, and other functionalities with the assistance of domain processors, operating systems (OS) and application software. The development of domain controllers presents challenges for traditional Microcontroller Unit (MCU) players such as Texas Instruments, STMicroelectronics, NXP, Bosch, Visteon, Panasonic and Renesas, which are revamping their portfolios as we write.

With this change in architecture where central compute is becoming important, smartphone and PC chipset providers, notably Qualcomm, NVIDIA, AMD, Samsung, Intel and MediaTek, have been venturing into the automotive cockpit SoC market to drive the trend with their compute capabilities. Arm-based advanced compute designs are proliferating beyond successful smartphone and PC segments to the automotive segment.

As the automotive industry progresses toward Software-Defined Vehicles (SDVs), we anticipate the entry of non-traditional tech companies in this space directly or through co-development or co-branding partnerships. This spans players such as Sony, Apple, Baidu, Alibaba, Xiaomi and Amazon (Rivian), offering more opportunities to the likes of MediaTek, Qualcomm and Tier-2 players to directly get involved in the development with the OEM or the car brand to drive time-to-market perspective. The Qualcomm-MediaTek rivalry will thus expand now from smartphones to the automotive segment.

The cockpit domain controller market is still in its nascent stage, with early adoption driven by new-age Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers like Li Auto, Xpeng, NIO, IM Motors, HiPhi and Leapmotor. Nonetheless, some traditional players such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Geely, Dongfeng Nissan, SAIC GM, Changan Auto and FAW are also incorporating this feature to differentiate premium vehicles from entry-level ones. Tesla initiated the development of its own chipset in 2016, inspiring Chinese new-age EV companies to do the same. MediaTek has the potential to collaborate with both Chinese and international auto OEMs and offer customized solutions at competitive prices while upholding industry standards. As the market matures, MediaTek stands to become one of the major beneficiaries in the mainstream-to-mass-market cockpit chipset segment by the end of this decade.

Having said that, with growing geopolitical turbulence and export controls, the OEM-supplier relationship is changing based on their origins. For example, the automotive semiconductor market is dominated by European, American and Japanese players such as Infineon, NXP, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments, Renesas, Onsemi, Analog Devices, Intel Mobileye, Qualcomm and NVIDIA. However, there is a growing wave of homegrown automotive chipset players in China such as Huawei, Rockchip, SemiDrive, UNISOC, SiEngine and AutoChips. At the same time, some of the upstart as well as traditional companies, in order to control the automotive stack, are designing their own chip solutions. Examples include Tesla, Nio and BYD. This trend can inhibit MediaTek’s growth in some geographies while offering an opportunity as well. This dichotomy will prevail and MediaTek’s ability to maneuver this trend as a new entrant will be keenly watched.

Automotive Cockpit Chipset Space Draws Diverse Industry Players

Counterpoint’s takeaways

With the expansion of MediaTek’s automotivechipset solution portfolio, the focus will shift to the chipset supplier creating the most value in terms of overall stack contribution to integration with the cloud to overall support. However, just as in the case of smartphones, MediaTek will try to democratize the mainstream smart cockpit market, while the partnership with NVIDIA will help it bag a slot in the premium segment as well.

Whether MediaTek will launch GPU/NPU capabilities for the mainstream automotive segment will be keenly watched, considering the lucrative growth opportunities in the AI-driven autonomous vehicle and smart cockpitmarkets in the coming decade.

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