At the Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas, BlackBerry QNX has today revealed details of its new 64-bit, high performance, secure operating system, QNX 7.0. QNX 7.0 has been designed with the auto industry in mind and builds upon the considerable experience BlackBerry QNX has using the platform for a number of safety critical industries, most notably the medical devices and healthcare sector, as well as forming the foundation for BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry’s new generation operating system. BlackBerry QNX is demonstrating a number of QNX 7.0 features using two vehicles at its stand - a 2016 Jaguar XJ and a 2017 Lincoln MKZ concept car. When discussing the new operating system, John Wall, BlackBerry QNX’s senior vice president, explained that the company realized how the automobile electronic architecture has evolved away from interconnecting a number of less powerful, dedicated control chips assigned to a particular function, towards the car consisting of a network with a smaller number of powerful and flexible System-on-Chips - running a single operating system platform.
QNX 7.0 has been designed to be that platform and is only available in a 64-bit version, compatible with either ARM v8 or Intel x86-64 chips. This covers most modern mobile chipsets from the last two years and the software is directly supported by a number of industry chip designers including NXP, NVIDIA and Qualcomm. In particular, Qualcomm have a dedicated auto industry booth at this year’s CES and are keen to highlight how the new QNX 7.0 software works well with their automobile-focused Qualcomm Snapdragon 820A chipset as it “enables automakers to realize this next-generation digital cockpit experience.”
BlackBerry QNX 7.0 includes a number of important subsystems and features designed with safety critical use in mind. These include the integrated QNX Momentics Tool Suite, an advanced security suite designed to protect the operating system from malware and other cyber threats. Another reason why the platform is favored for critical safety systems is that the operating system includes built-in virtualization software called BlackBerry QNX hypervisor. This means that multiple instances of the operating system can be run on the same hardware. The Jaguar XJ demonstration vehicle shows off how one System-on-Chip can run two instances of QNX 7.0. One controls the digital cockpit instrumentation and the other controls the infotainment system. Each operating system can be independently rebooted or shut down with no impact on the other. This means that the infotainment system can be restarted with no interruption in the vehicle’s instruments. The same Jaguar XJ also includes the BlackBerry's QNX Acoustics Management Platform, or AMP, which is being billed as being able to provide high quality in-car communication, actively suppressed road and wind noise together with engine sound enhancement to help customers better enjoy their premium luxury car.
BlackBerry QNX is also demonstrating the autonomous Lincoln MKZ concept car, again based around QNX 7.0. The Lincoln MKZ includes LiDAR, radar, cameras, GPS and IMU (inertial measurement units) sensors so as to detect obstacles or dangerous driving situations and is able to warn the driver. As a result, the Lincoln MKZ has been given the Level 4 autonomous driving certification from the Society of Automotive Engineers. The BlackBerry QNX SDP 7.0 beta software is already available for “evaluation and product development” and the company explain that a general release expected during the first quarter 2017. QNX 7.0 has already been given a number of prestigious safety certifications, including ISO 26262 ASIL D, the highest safety award possible for a vehicle. Given the platform’s pedigree and support for a large number of chipsets, it is likely that QNX 7.0 will attract a lot of interest.