Renesas’ New AI Development Environment Supports Auto Industry’s Digital Transformation

AI Workbench, a new tool from chipmaker Renesas, is designed to help engineers develop AI programs faster to support hot features like autonomous driving.

Today’s cars are smarter than ever before. But they aren’t as smart as the vehicles of tomorrow. With a growing emphasis on “smart” features, the importance of high-quality software development tools tailored toward the automotive industry can’t be understated. Japan’s Renesas Electronics has unveiled a new platform designed to help automotive artificial intelligence (AI) engineers work faster and more efficiently.  

Dubbed AI Workbench, the cloud-based tool is designed to accelerate AI software development and evaluation. The tool leverages Microsoft’s Azure services as well as built-in VSCode and Renesas’ new SDK. This allows engineers to launch their development environment from the cloud in minutes and start working through any web browser.  

Faster AI Development

With the introduction of self-driving, artificial intelligence has become an integral part of today’s most advanced vehicles. However, the software to support such features is still being developed and frequently iterated on. Engineers need fast, fluid tools to keep up the pace of development.  

In a press release, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President & Distinguished Architect of Cloud and AI, Ulrich Homann, said, “Cloud-based development is a secure and cost-effective method to address the increasing complexities of today’s embedded projects. The collaboration between Renesas and Microsoft aims to tackle this challenge and accelerate the digital transformation of the automotive industry.”  

“With Renesas’ AI Workbench, developers can now efficiently build and test software for a myriad of applications using Renesas SoCs in a cloud-based environment powered by Azure,” he adds.  

AI Workbench is available this month in a limited preview, and Renesas plans to roll out the tool further starting in the second quarter of 2024. The press release also mentions plans to “build similar environments for other major cloud services in the future.”  

AI Workbench allows developers to perform performance evaluation, debugging, and verification tasks efficiently from one location. Renesas touts the tool as an ally for the “Shift-Left” approach that aims to bring software creation into the design cycle earlier. Indeed, developers will now be able to build AI-enabled software for autonomous driving even before samples of the supporting hardware are available.  

Bundle of Features

AI Workbench is launching with four functional blocks that will be added to over time. The first is an upgrade to Renesas’ SoC AI Compiler toolchain. This upgrade gives developers access to more AI models and operators.  

Secondly, AI Workbench features an online test environment for AI models called NNPerf. This tool works with models running on live Renesas SoCs located in the company’s global device farm. As a result, developers can perform real-time testing and analyze performance across different AI models to optimize their products.  

In addition to the mentioned built-in development environment, AI Workbench also boasts a software and evaluation environment. It includes multiple simulators for verifying operations based on specific AI applications based on R-Car chips.  

Ultimately, Renesas’ new AI Workbench is a big step forward for software developers in the automotive industry. Expect more tools like this to become available as manufacturers place a growing emphasis on features like autonomous driving and advanced driver assistance programs.  

Author of article
Sourceability Team
The Sourceability Team is a group of writers, engineers, and industry experts with decades of experience within the electronic component industry from design to distribution.
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