Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Sunday, May 26, 2024

New Arm Processors Boost Security for AI-enabled SDVs 

The auto industry is going through a major transformation. The emergence of software-defined vehicles (SDVs) is reshaping the industry and radically changing how people interact with vehicles. Just like how the advent of smartphones revolutionized our interaction with technology, transforming a communication device into a versatile tool of countless functions, SDVs are also redefining our relationship with vehicles.  

According to BCG, SDVs are poised to create more than $650B for the auto industry by 2030. One of the reasons for the popularity of AI-enabled SDVs is their ability to continuously upgrade by adding new features or rectifying issues through over-the-air updates. There are also numerous other benefits in the form of autonomous driving, dynamic routing, and an enhanced user experience. 

However, with billions of lines of code in an AI-enabled SDV and the potential integration into the Internet of Things (IoT), the automotive attack surface continues to grow and evolve. The larger code base means a higher risk of cyber security threats, and this has profound implications for the automotive sector

Source: Nvidia

To combat this threat, Arm has launched a range of new Armv9-based Automotive Enhanced (AE) IP processors that are geared towards enhancing security.  Founded in 1992, Arm is one of the leading providers of security-based architecture. Its product lineup includes processors, graphics and camera technology, physical and system IP, and software development tools.  

The latest Armv9 architecture features Branch Target Identification (BTI), Pointer Authentication (PAC), and Memory Tagging Extension (MTE) tools to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks in SDVs without compromising performance. Arm claims that the Armv9 has the potential to boost CPU performance by more than 30% over the next two generations.  

Typically, the software stack used in SDVs is proprietary, making it more challenging for bad actors to find vulnerabilities in the code. However, similar software that is being used in adjacent markets, such as consumer tech and IoT, could be leveraged and exploited to target SDVs.

The SDV users can also inadvertently increase the risks of cyberattacks by attempting to bypass vehicle security controls to enable premium features without having to pay for them. In addition, consumers may use cheaper non-genuine components in SDVs, undermining the overall security of the systems in the vehicle.  

The enormous size and complexity of the automotive supply chain market add to the challenge, making it extremely difficult to identify security vulnerabilities through the supply chain. Along with supply chain risks, there are also concerns about data security, data privacy, and secure communication with SDVs.  

Some of the more advanced systems in an SDV, such as the advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and the digital cockpit/ in-vehicle infotainment (IVI), have significant security implications for the SDV. For example, the IVI system consists of several components including cloud storage, USB plug-in, and connectivity for personal devices, such as smartphones. Hackers could potentially gain unauthorized access to sensitive data or find a gateway to remotely control the vehicle. Similarly, the ADAS system could be hacked to gain direct influence over vehicle control. 

To help mitigate some of the key security risks, Arm strictly follows state-of-the-art security standards, such as the ISO/SAE 21434. The company also provides various security materials to help its automotive partners simplify the integration of components while staying compliant with strict quality and safety standards. 

It is common practice in the automotive industry to run mutually distrusted software components from different sources. To address this issue, Arm architecture uses scalable isolation technologies that can segregate workloads to ensure minimal performance impact of any security vulnerabilities.  

To further reinforce the security system, Arm products have a sophisticated software ecosystem that combines standard security APIs and custom-designed firmware. This allows for maximum ease of integration while maintaining security standards. 

As the automotive industry makes rapid progress in terms of new technology and innovations,  the stakes for security have never been higher. Arm has the expertise that can help secure the future of the automotive industry and keep SDV users safe from cyberattacks. 

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