Overlooking thermal design in today’s truck-mounted advanced driver assistance systems can cripple performance, cause critical safety problems, and expose vehicle operators and vendors to liability. Technical leads for autonomous trucks should carefully review ADAS vendors’ thermal design to ensure it meets their performance, durability, and safety requirements. The self-contained ADAS generates enormous heat due to its advanced graphics processing units, which enable the real-time AI inferencing that’s essential for autonomous driving. The heat from these compute units is so high that it strains conventional air-cooling. Liquid cooling is fast becoming a requirement in this emerging automotive market.
In the real world, the goal of putting more power into less space has been thwarted by heat dissipation since the first steam engines. In 1999 the Porsche car company was faced with getting more horsepower out of their air-cooled, 3-liter engine. Acknowledging that heat was their issue, Porsche moved from an air-cooled solution to a water-cooled solution, in concert with a dry oil sump injection system. This allowed Porsche to have extremely high performance for the engine size, with a nimble car that continues to have a power-to-weight ratio that still beats all comers in the market.
PCIe Gen 5 is a key technology for driving transportable or edge AI systems to higher performance, especially those with demanding space, environmental or cooling needs. But AI program managers should evaluate their technology suppliers’ Gen 5 implementations to ensure they fully realize the technology’s benefits.