E/E automotive


Software-defined vehicles (SDVs) create significant benefits for drivers, OEMs and the automotive ecosystem as a whole. But, there are substantial challenges to overcome before SDVs can be a reality. Vehicle design will need to be completely revamped from both a hardware and software perspective, requiring adjustments to the roles played by OEMs, Tier 1s and other suppliers in the automotive supply chain to align with this new paradigm.



  • UNECE 155
  • UNECE 156

  • ISO 21434
  • ISO 26262

  • Semiconductor costs, sourcing
  • Harness manufacturing and final vehicle assembly
  • Development speed in an agile world
  • New revenue stream, subscription revenue post-production

  • Smartphonization
  • ADAS/Autonomy
  • Paving the way for ridesharing
  • Connectivity
    • OTA
    • C2X
    • Infotainment


A Software-Defined Vehicle (SDV) is a vehicle that is built primarily on software and where the operations and functions of the vehicle are managed and driven by software instead of hardware. The vehicle’s software plays the main role in enhancing existing features ‌and introducing new capabilities, allowing for customization of the vehicle without changing the underlying hardware. The SDV signifies a major shift in the automotive world, moving from the traditional vehicle approach with dozens or hundreds of ECUs to the ‘computer on wheels’ that is updated and improved throughout the vehicle’s lifecycle.

The rise of the SDV is a result of three automotive trends leading the paradigm shift: electrification, automation‌ and connectivity. These trends answer the needs of modern drivers resulting in a renewed OEM-Consumer relationship.


Data is more than a buzzword, it is the lifeblood of modern business and the automotive industry is no different. Software-Defined Vehicles produce extensive data not only for continued improvement of vehicle testing and design optimization, but also opening the door for new data-driven business models:

Predictive Maintenance

Real-time data analytics can offer early warning prognostics, allowing for preemptive maintenance measures that enhance vehicle longevity and safety.

Quickturn Deployment

Digital twinning allows OEMs to accumulate massive amounts of data much quicker than they can today. This creates a more efficient development cycle, reducing costs and time to market.

Improved Performance

Innovative applications can be added to the vehicle throughout its life while data can be utilized to improve safety and security.

Personalized Driving Experiences

By creating unique driver profiles, AI algorithms can offer real-time recommendations, from optimal routes to personalized infotainment, enhancing the overall driving experience.

Additional Revenue Streams

The data generated by SDVs opens up new avenues for monetization, from value-added services to data brokerage, offering OEMs many opportunities for data monetization.

Security and Compliance

As data collection intensifies, so does the need for robust cybersecurity measures and privacy safeguards to protect both drivers and OEMs.


To truly reach its potential, the software-defined vehicle must be able to provide:

  • E2E capabilities that can seamlessly deploy software updates and new features to vehicles even after production (including after sale)

  • Adoption of middleware frameworks across all automotive domains

  • A shorter time-to-market for new features and updates - from ideation to deployment

Today, vehicle software is distributed over 100+ ECUs using monolithic blocks of code which cannot support such functionalities. It is developed in a deeply embedded process where software is designed to perform specific, dedicated functions on particular cost-optimized micro-controllers within a larger system.

To support a fully-functioning SDV, software development must shift to the newer practices that have become commonplace in the IT world: creating applications that run on general-purpose computing systems.

The adoption of IT style development will lead to:

Faster deployment

Streamlined testing

Reduced time to market

Reduced testing costs

Choosing the best hardware vendor

The new software design will require OTA updates, which will offer the OEM the opportunity to reduce or even eliminate new vehicle recalls, ultimately leading to cost savings.

This innovative approach to automotive software development enables remote fixes and upgrades through the cloud, opening up new possibilities for drivers and additional revenue streams for OEMs.


Right now, most cars are built around microcontrollers or are still heavily reliant on microcontrollers for many of the hardware components. They’re good for specific tasks but lack flexibility. The SDV requires a microprocessor-centric design which allows parts of the system to be updated without affecting the whole. This makes it much easier to add new features over time. Now instead of a 3-5 year manufacturing timeline, vehicles can align with silicon frameworks of 18 months.

From a financial perspective, one microprocessor can do the job of multiple microcontrollers but with more flexibility. So with SDVs we can replace the 100+ microcontrollers with a much smaller number of microprocessors. While microprocessors are more expensive per unit, the huge difference in the quantity needed more than makes up for it.

The flexibility offered by microprocessors is vital for vehicles to provide for the trends of data analytics, cybersecurity, and personalized user experiences.

However, this potential will only be achievable if a centralized Zonal E/E Architecture with fully decoupled hardware and software is adopted.


For the last several decades, Tier 1 suppliers have been responsible for a large portion of both hardware and software in vehicles. However, the automotive industry’s shift towards microprocessor-centric systems in Software-Defined Vehicles has fostered a closer relationship between OEMs and technology companies while also leading OEMs to establish software departments in-house.

The emerging SDV model is evolving in the direction of a smartphone-like build approach, where hardware components are outsourced. As hardware is fully decoupled from software in Software-Defined Vehicles, Tier 1 suppliers can no longer dictate the hardware requirements of an OEM based on compatibility with their proprietary software. This creates an opportunity for new manufacturers to enter the supply chain and compete directly with ‌established Tier 1 suppliers.

While Tier 1 suppliers have historically been essential in manufacturing and quality control, this new model could relegate them to the role of a contract manufacturer. While their expertise in meeting automotive quality and safety standards remains invaluable, Tier 1 suppliers must adapt to these changes in the supply chain to stay relevant.


Electric and autonomous vehicles have paved the way for the return of a niche automotive player, a role that hasn’t existed in a significant way in the automotive ecosystem for decades.

These new OEMs have the advantage of building vehicles from scratch, with no cumbersome legacy systems or existing vendor relationships. This has allowed them to push the boundaries in two key areas of vehicle architecture:

  • Microcontroller-centric design
  • Zonal Architecture

OEMs need to transition their vehicle architectures to align with these new architecture approaches.


SDVs require the seamless management of mixed-criticality systems (often running on the same hardware), and the ability to easily shift resources between software services in multiple domains or applications. For this to happen, the traditional silos need to be broken down and a domain-agnostic solution must be implemented.

As all software is now running on shared resources, it is imperative that the “least privileges” concept is maintained. OEMs must also comply with UNECE R155 making security-by-design an essential part of any automotive design.

  • CommEngineTM

    Our single chip solution provides ultra-fast communication routing inside the vehicle to allow more functionality to run on the same hardware.

  • Learn More >
  • Secure SOA Framework

    Using our Secure SOA Framework Suite, OEMs and Tier-1s can streamline their software development to decrease complexity and redundancy and increase time to market for new features and updates.

  • Learn More >
  • Secure By Design

    Our products are secure by design and eliminate risks while maintaining flexibility and scalability for the software-defined vehicle and next-gen E/E architectures.

  • Learn More >


Want to hear more?

Contact us to learn how GuardKnox can help you streamline the shift to the software-defined vehicle.

Contact Us
automotive ethernet company