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Leading automobile manufacturers and suppliers announced today the formation of the GENIVI Alliance, a non-profit organization committed to driving the development and broad adoption of an open source In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) reference platform. The new alliance hopes to reduce time-to-market and cost of in-vehicle infotainment systems.

GENIVI Alliance founding members are BMW Group, Delphi, General Motors, Intel, Magneti Marelli, Peugeot Citroën, Visteon and Wind River. They are collaborating to create a common software architecture that is scalable across product lines and generations.

“Having a common reference platform will be critical for the greater auto ecosystem in developing innovative and sophisticated in-car entertainment applications,” said Hans-Georg Frischkorn, Executive Director of Global Electrical Systems, Controls and Software at GM.

Development of the open source GENIVI platform is well underway, with a summer 2009 launch for the first technical deliverable. The prototype – running on the Intel Atom™ processor and Wind River Linux – was developed over the last 18 months by GENIVI members. The reference implementation will be made available as open source code to stimulate innovation among developers.

The Open Source software approach will build a Linux stack that will provide a common architecture for automotive infotainment systems.

Chrysler’s UConnect Web system, available with new Chysler, Jeep and Dodge models, costs $450, not including an installation fee and a monthly access fee of about $30.

It is offered on ‘09 models as a dealer-installed aftermarket item through Mopar and uses a cellular-connected mobile router from Autonet.

Microsoft has a different approach. This spring Microsoft will release version 4.0 of its automotive platform, on which Ford’s Sync and Fiat’s Blue & Me systems are based. It’s an upgrade to Microsoft Auto version 3.0.

The new Microsoft platform now supports Intel chip architecture and includes standard modules for integrating CD playback and ripping. Version 4.0 will also support a common voice command structure that works for typical car applications such as navigation and Bluetooth cell phones, so users won’t have to go back to a top-level tree structure to issue commands for different in-car applications.

Both Genivi and the Microsoft’s Automotive platform intend to make it easier to integrate cell phones and MP3 players into the system, speeding up development and making mid-cycle updates easier.

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