A brief overview of the top auto industry trends relevant to embedded data storage and networking.

The greatest trends we’re seeing in the automotive industry are electrification of vehicles and, of course, software-defined vehicles. Combustion engines and hardware defined the vehicle of the near past, but today and looking ahead, the software-defined experience is becoming the main differentiator between automakers.

Personalization with software-defined architecture

Just like in the mobile device market, the auto industry is shifting from hardware to software. Drivers can personalize and upgrade their experience with software updates for services like safety cameras, drive recorders, adaptive suspension, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), and even heated steering wheels.

Decoupling hardware from software means moving towards as-a-service models, in this case software-as-a-service or, more broadly, mobility-as-a-service. Software-defined architecture and Over-The-Air (OTA) updates means more data management challenges. Networks need to handle bigger chunks of data while maintaining robustness and reliability.


The modern vehicle requires modern cybersecurity like end-to-end encryption and threat detection mechanisms. The industry is aware of the issue: the ISO/SAE 21434 Road Vehicles – Cybersecurity Engineering standard is being quickly adopted. The UN Economic Commission for Europe and the National Highway Traffic Safety Admission in America both cite the new standard as industry best practices.

Enhanced connectivity

The amount of data created by vehicles is increasing exponentially. Already back in 2021, we covered how autonomous cars generated more than 300 TB of data annually. While most of this data generated by vehicle systems is in the cloud, this means that the role of the ethernet backbone is more and more critical to ensure the data is safely transmitted to the cloud. This does mean some more challenges with additional complexity to vehicle architectures. For instance, each electronic control unit (ECU) with its embedded software needs to store and communicate data with other ECUs to ensure the vehicle runs smoothly. How do those ECUs convey their data when they are simultaneously communicating? Which one gets priority – and how? This is just one aspect of a many-faceted, hyper-complex system. As connectivity demands increase in the quite near future, these sorts of challenges will expand and create new challenges.

Legacy protocols to be replaced by 10BASE-T1S ethernet standard

Traditionally, lower-bandwidth communication in vehicles has used CAN/CAN FD, LIN, or FlexRay, but the new Ethernet standard 10BASE-T1S can be used to replace the majority of the use cases with legacy protocols. This has the potential to revolutionize the whole communication in a vehicle. Using Ethernet will reduce the number of gateways used in the communication as the higher-bandwidth communication has been done with higher-bandwidth Ethernet standards like the 100BASE-T1 and 1000BASE-T1. In current designs, to get the sensor and actuator data transferred to other systems via the Ethernet backbone has required using gateways.

The majority of the communication in a car, 75 to 85% depending on the car’s E/E design, is in the lower bandwidths, meaning below 10 Mbit/s, and one of the Ethernet drawbacks have been that it is not able to handle multiple nodes without using switches. The 10BASE-T1S will bring in the ability to multidrop to multiple nodes without using switches. The multidrop has been combined with a feature called PLCA (physical layer collision avoidance) for arbitration in wire. 10BASE-T1S supports sending the data to multiple nodes simultaneously. A good example is if there are multiple ECUs using the same data from one sensor.

The future of zonal architecture

Already today, the modern vehicles have hundreds of ECUs, which makes the wiring expensive, adds more weight to the vehicles and more complexity to the production process. One way to simplify this complexity is through zonal architecture. This architecture includes zone control units (ZCU) that act as gateways to translate service level domains to a function level. The sensors and actuators in different areas of the car are divided into zones and the data is transmitted to the brain of the car where most of the computing happens. These computing units are typically referred to as High Performance Computers (HPCs). There can be single or multiple HPCs within a zonal architecture.

The zonal architecture is not a completely new approach and there isn’t a single way of designing the zonal architecture. Each OEM is approaching it differently based on their perception of simplifying the system by gradually evolving towards their ideal version of the ‘zonal architecture’.

S&P believes 38% of vehicles produced by year 2034 will have a zonal architecture, up from 2% in 2022.

In the future, we plan to write more about this topic as more and more OEMs adapt a version of the zonal architectures.

Final thoughts

A modern vehicle could have over 1 TB of storage for the increasing data. How to ensure that this storage continues to work over the lifetime of the car, which could be several decades? This is where Tuxera brings our expertise of data resilience and knowledge of File Systems and networking to customers, helping to ensure that the data is always safely stored and securely transferred and shared with other systems. Automotive OEMs and suppliers now have new kinds of challenges to face and opportunities to grasp – and we believe our solutions will help them with both.

If you’d like to learn more about our automotive data storage and networking software, take a look at our solutions. Or, better yet, get in touch with one of our experts.

Percent of cars using zonal architecture

ISO standard for cybersecurity best practices

CRA non-embedded software

BMW parking assistant, safety camera information, drive recorder, adaptive M suspension, active cruise control: BMW ConnectedDrive | BMW UK

BMW heated seats and heated steering wheel subscription: BMW Heated Seats Subscription (bmwblog.com)

Some other examples of subscription based features by Automakers: Tesla and other carmakers want you to pay monthly for feature subscriptions | Mashable

Example of one particular zonal architecture and more on this topic here:

IBM Engineering Lifecycle Management Automotive Compliance now supports the cybersecurity standards ISO 21434 for compliance with UNECE WP.29/R155

Synopsys discusses the promise of ISO/SAE 21434 for automotive cybersecurity