These days, motorsports are not simply focused on driving skills. Instead, your driver has to be able to understand and work complex systems while computer systems monitor and relay data back to their team.
The connection of car and analytics is now an important part of formula one — where data is integral to deciding racing strategy and adapting the vehicle to compete well against competitors. But when each car has up to 150 sensors and over a gigabyte of data is transmitted through wireless networks each race, the processors have to be intelligent and quick enough to cope.
Smart engine control units (ECUs) are tasked with such data collection. Texan chip maker Freescale’s processors, part of the ECU developed and used by McLaren, are part of such systems. Although the company creates processors suitable for multiple uses, McLaren uses processors not designed for automotive applications, but for telecom base stations — as the ECU has to be able to provide the processing throughput for precise control.
As an avid F1 fan, I could wax eloquent about DRS systems and rear-wing modifications, but the ECU is the most important element of racing today. Being able to balance the car, such as adjusting fuel consumption and power, is made possible through the system, as well as give the team back in the barn information to play with for the next race.
The racing industry is an interesting testbed for chip makers to experiment with their designs. As lucrative as Formula One racing is, the sport is constantly evolving and changing due to technological advancements, and chip makers are well positioned to cash in — whether or not the rules of the sport are now so complex that new viewers find it difficult to grasp.
Image credit: Freescale