Qualcomm Ventures Invests in ThunderX, a Company Developing a Domain Controller-based Intelligent Vehicle Compute Platform

Qualcomm Ventures Invests in ThunderX, a Company Developing a Domain Controller-based Intelligent Vehicle Compute Platform

Author: Eric Walz   

New electric and connected vehicles are becoming more like smartphones on wheels, so chip makers and hardware developers like Qualcomm Technologies, Nvidia and Intel Corp are becoming important suppliers to automakers

As the auto industry transitions to building electric vehicles powered by software that can be updated over-the-air and come packed with computers and electronics for autonomous driving, the automotive business of companies like Qualcomm is growing.

Qualcomm Ventures, the venture capital arm of Qualcomm, has made an investment in ThunderX, a subsidiary of Thunder Software Technology Co.,Ltd. (ThunderSoft), which is a China-based company specializing in vehicle computing platforms. 

ThunderX says it has already established in-depth strategic cooperation with the leading manufacturers and suppliers of chips, sensing devices, hardware and algorithms to power intelligent vehicles. 

ThunderX specializes in autonomous driving domain control and intelligent vehicle high performance computing (HPC) software and hardware platforms in domain controllers and integrated domain controllers. The company plans to develop an open intelligent driving platform for automakers that can be mass produced.

"Intelligent driving is a technology with broad applications and future growth potential," said James Shen, Vice President, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and Managing Director of Qualcomm Ventures China. "ThunderX's solution can bring industry-leading products that offer more customized and advanced driving experiences to the market. We are excited to invest in ThunderX and support their innovation in intelligent driving solutions".

The centralization of functions into domain controllers that meet the highest level of functional safety is the next step for the development of advanced electrical/electronic architectures for intelligent vehicles capable of autonomous driving.

Vehicles with domain controllers have a more centralized architecture with a fewer number of individual electronic control units (ECUs). A traditional vehicle architecture can use 50 to 100 individual ECUs. The benefits of using domain controllers are lower complexity that's more cost-efficient for automakers, as well as greater flexibility, scalability and the ability to be updated with over-the-air software.

ThunderX aims to become the world's leading provider of intelligent vehicle computing platforms. The company says the funding will go toward R&D investment in autonomous driving core technologies, mass production, and a talent training system.

"We appreciate Qualcomm Ventures for their recognition and support for ThunderX through their investment. In the future, we will seize opportunities in the era of intelligent driving to further increase investment in research and development in intelligent driving," said Wenguang Wu, Chairman of ThunderX. "We will continuously push for technological innovations and breakthroughs to accelerate the commercialization and mass production of technologies."

ThunderX says it will make full use of its core technology to promote the mass production of intelligent driving and accelerate intelligent transformation of the automotive industry.

Qualcomm's collaboration with Thundersoft goes back to 2016, when the two companies formed the joint venture company Thundercomm, which has since become a leading IoT product and solution provider. The company specializes in combining disruptive technologies like AI, 5G, IoT and cloud computing for OEM, enterprises and developers in the IoT space.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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