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Hardware Enablement Program

The hardware enablement program is thoughtfully crafted to foster collaboration and enable the development of intelligent and connected vehicle applications. Its primary objective is to streamline and facilitate the process of enabling and certifying1 reference hardware platforms for the Red Hat In-Vehicle Operating System (OS). By embracing an open source approach, we believe hardware suppliers can reap numerous benefits while contributing to a vibrant ecosystem.

Our program empowers Silicon partners to bring their hardware platforms into CentOS Automotive Stream Distribution (AutoSD) and the Red Hat In-Vehicle OS. AutoSD functions as an upstream repository to the Red Hat automotive product, comparable to how CentOS Stream operates in relation to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). AutoSD, although based on CentOS Stream with a few divergences, serves as our community presence. The Red Hat In-Vehicle OS is Red Hat’s software-defined vehicle functionally safe certified OS solution (currently in development).

To cater to different silicon partner needs, we have established two distinct tracks:

  • the experimental/development track
  • the production track.

The experimental/development track is ideal for partners who prefer to embark on the process independently, providing them with the opportunity to test the compatibility of their hardware with AutoSD. This initial testing phase allows silicon partners to gain valuable insights and make adjustments as needed.

The production track offers a comprehensive solution for silicon partners ready to release their hardware platforms to the market, supported by Red Hat In-Vehicle OS. This track encompasses enablement, integration, and a rigorous hardware certification process that ensures the reference platform meets Red Hat’s stringent stability, reliability, and security requirements that the automotive industry expects from us. Once certified, the hardware platform will proudly join the official list of supported devices, thereby becoming accessible to Red Hat In-Vehicle OS customers.

Our hardware enablement program aims to provide silicon partners with an efficient and straightforward process to seamlessly integrate their hardware platforms into the Red Hat In-Vehicle OS ecosystem. By adopting an open source model, we can leverage the collective knowledge and expertise of the community, fueling innovation and continuous improvement. Engaging with open source technologies not only encourages collaboration and knowledge sharing but also enhances the quality and reliability of the solutions we create together.

It is important to note that hardware suppliers have the flexibility to work on one or multiple tracks simultaneously if they wish. For instance, a partner might opt to begin with the experimental/development track to swiftly validate a proof of concept while concurrently dedicating efforts to upstream their drivers and initiate progress on the production track. This parallel approach allows silicon partners to explore different avenues and tailor their journey to best suit their unique requirements.

Upstreaming of hardware drivers to the Linux kernel mainline provides hardware suppliers with tangible advantages:

  1. Improved Compatibility: Inclusion in the mainline kernel ensures broader Linux distribution support and provides hardware compatibility out-of-the-box. Out-of-tree drivers will continuously need to maintain compatibility with the baseline.
  2. Reduced Maintenance Burden: Linux community support means shared responsibility for driver maintenance, freeing up silicon partner resources for other critical areas. Includes the capability to maintain fewer versions of OS in-house and it allows for broader testing.
  3. Increased Visibility and Market Adoption: Mainline inclusion boosts mindshare and compatibility of hardware, leading to greater market adoption and brand recognition
  4. Collaboration and Feedback: Community collaboration provides valuable feedback, leading to higher quality drivers improved performance, and enhanced reliability

The Ideal Hardware

The following represents a set of requirements and desires for the reference hardware and enabling software. In the spirit of collaboration, these points will be considered as aspirations during the experimental/development track. However, as we progress towards the production track, these items will be treated more definitively as requirements (exceptions will be discussed on a case-by-case basis).

  1. It is highly desirable that hardware drivers are well-supported and meet the standards set by Red Hat2 in the upstream relevant to the RHEL/Red Hat In-Vehicle OS stack. By aligning with Red Hat’s acceptable driver criteria, hardware suppliers can ensure seamless integration and compatibility with our software ecosystem.
  2. Hardware suppliers are encouraged to collaborate and work with current Red Hat build environment technology, leveraging tools such as RPM ( Red Hat Package Manager) and OSTree. This compatibility facilitates a smooth and efficient integration process, reducing complexities and enhancing interoperability.
  3. To enable advanced virtualization capabilities, the hardware platform should provide EL2 privileges for aarch64 architecture or “ring-1” for the x86 architecture. This allows the implementation of KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) and enables the launching of virtual machines, thus expanding the possibilities for intelligent and connected vehicle applications.
  4. It is advantageous for the hardware to include a capable GPU that has been upstreamed. This ensures optimal performance and support for graphics-intensive applications, contributing to a richer user experience and opening doors to a broader range of automotive use cases.
  5. The hardware (specifically aarch64 architecture) should support one of the standard ARM SystemReady profiles. For example, compliance with profiles like SystemReady-IR or SystemReady-ES would enhance the system’s reliability, robustness, and compatibility with industry standards

Workflow for Hardware Enablement

The diagram below describes the different tracks for hardware enablement. The experimental/development track allows the hardware suppliers to work mostly independently to enable hardware to work with CentOS AutoSD.

The hardware supplier will have several options to get to their preferred solution within the experimental track. The supplier may choose to develop their drivers in either Linux mainline, Fedora, or CentOS AutoSD. Red Hat recommends that even within the experimental track, the hardware drivers are upstreamed to Linux mainline to speed up production enablement.

Once the hardware supplier and Red Hat agree to move forward with the production track, it is expected that the drivers are upstreamed (see High-Level Guidance for Upstreaming of Drivers) into the Linux mainline kernel, and Red Hat will backport them in the next possible Red Hat In-Vehicle OS kernel release.

Red Hat will provide the silicon partner with a Hardware Test Suite to be run during the Production Track. The Test Suite consists of procedures necessary to certify hardware on Red Hat software. A Test Suite guide gives an overview of the entire certification process, explains how to set up the certification environment, test the systems or components being certified, and submit the results to Red Hat for verification. The guide also provides background information including the test methodology and results evaluation.

Once these test results are reviewed and approved by Red Hat, the hardware platform will be published in the Red Hat catalog.

Workflow Diagram

High-Level Guidance for Upstreaming of Drivers

As a hardware supplier, upstreaming hardware drivers is crucial for seamless integration into the open source ecosystem. Here’s a quick guide outlining the steps hardware suppliers can take to upstream their hardware drivers effectively. For Fedora development, see Fedora/ARK Kernel documentation.

  1. Start by checking out Linus’s master branch, using the following command:

    git clone git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/torvalds/linux.git
    
  2. Begin with the upstream arm64 defconfig kernel configuration. If necessary, you can add options for your specific board that may be missing. Note: If you compile your drivers with the kernel source, it may mask any changes made to the core parts of the kernel that Red Hat ships.

  3. If you need to make code changes to the kernel sources in step 2, you have some options available:

    1. modify the architecture of the module to avoid the need to change the kernel itself
    2. propose changes to the upstream kernel to accommodate the specific needs of your module
    3. upstream the driver. This involves contributing the driver code to the mainline Linux kernel sources, making it available to the broader open source community
  4. For kernel modules that aren’t yet upstream and that you plan to ship independently, you can compile them as out-of-tree modules. The process for this can be found in detail at https://docs.kernel.org/kbuild/modules.html

  5. You are in good shape if you don’t need to make any code changes to the kernel source in step 2.

For a complete guide on how to upstream drivers into the Linus Kernel, see A guide to the Kernel Development Process.

Getting Started

If you are interested in working within the experimental/development track, send a request to the Automotive SIG mailing list. If you are interested in inquiring about the production track, please email automotive-requests@redhat.com.


  1. Note that Functional Safety certification is done separately, but relies on hardware certification 

  2. Some out-of-tree drivers can be discussed on a case-by-case basis 


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