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CES 2013: Infotainmnet in New Audi A3 & Q7 Sound Concept Set the Standard

The modular infotainment platform
The new A3 and the new A3 Sportback are the first Audi models to have the new modular infotainment platform on board. Audi is using this radically new architecture to solve a challenge that is becoming increasingly urgent – innovations in consumer electronics and rapid gains in computing power are being introduced at speeds that are much faster than the product cycles of automotive manufacturers.

The central computer in the modular infotainment platform, which is housed in the glove box of the A3, comprises two main units in a single housing – the Radio Car Control Unit and the MMX (Multi-Media eXtension) board. Along with its working and flash memories, the plug-in module integrates the latest Tegra processor from Nvidia, which can handle all online, media, voice control, navigation and telephone functions. The new architecture makes it easy to update the hardware; the fact that the MMX board can be swapped out ensures the system is always up to date.

The new Audi A3 and the Audi A3 Sportback feature the Tegra 2 series T 20 processor from market leader Nvidia – a dual-core processor with 1.2 GHz clock frequency and high-speed graphics card. It accelerates playback of many audio and video formats such as mp3 audio and mpeg4 video, which now dominate in the world of mobile entertainment.

The T 20 processor works together with a graphics program from the specialist Rightware; with this combination, Audi is the first carmaker with the capability of displaying three-dimensional graphics in the MMI. The new A3 is stored in the system as a data model, allowing the driver and passengers to explore it virtually.

And the next generation of processors is already in the starting blocks: the Tegra 30, which features quad-core technology, runs at a clock frequency of up to 1.4 GHz. As in the T 20, its power requirements are minimal – which fits in perfectly with Audi’s efficiency strategy.

Nvidia plans to regularly release ever more powerful chips in the years to come, and Audi will fit them in its cars as soon as the new chips are available.

The modular infotainment platform architecture signals a transition into a new era, paving the way for groundbreaking speed and flexibility. Audi is driving forward the integration of components on a broad front. A multichip module will be the next development step in the modular infotainment platform.

3-D sound – the next dimension in music playback
Audi has long since consistently set the benchmark for in-car sound systems. 2005 saw the launch of high-end sound with the Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system in the Audi A8. The launch of the new A3 saw the inspirational Bang & Olufsen premium sound system enter the compact class for the very first time, offering a superb combination of resolution, dynamism and bass performance familiar from full-size and mid-range categories.

With the addition of 3-D music reproduction, Audi is now planning another major step forward. The brand will be showcasing for the first time in-car 3-D sound at the CES. Visitors will be able to experience first-hand this innovation in an Audi Q7 prototype, dubbed the “Audi Q7 sound concept”, and as part of a sound experience on the Audi booth. With stereo and 5.1 surround sound the music is reproduced in a single plane and thus ignores the 3-D information included in the music recordings. In the case of concerts the sound waves are reflected on the floor and ceiling and to a certain extent are specifically reproduced through loudspeakers above the stage. The 3-D acoustic dimension of the music recording is reproduced more naturally and more inspirationally than ever through 3-D sound. This produces an airiness and openness of the acoustics which corresponds to human hearing.

The new technology that is currently being rolled out in movie theaters and living rooms provides a third dimension – height – in addition to the familiar 5.1 surround sound. Audi has developed the technology together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS) in Erlangen, Germany, for use in the car interior. The current Advanced Sound System in the Audi Q7 provided the basis.

The “Audi Q7 sound concept” prototype, however, features 23 loudspeakers with an amplifier output of over 1,400 watts. In particular, four special loudspeakers have been integrated for the 3-D sound, including two tweeters located in the top section of the roof pillars. A sophisticated algorithm has been used to extract information on the third dimension from conventional stereo or 5.1 recordings, which is then prepared for the height loudspeakers.

3-D sound is set to make its debut in a new Audi model as early as next year.

The Audi Phone Box
As an option, Audi can deliver the new A3 and the new A3 Sportback with the Audi Phone Box, which conveniently links cell phones to the vehicle. Its key component is a universal planar antenna, which is integrated in the center armrest’s phone storage tray. The telephone utilizes near-field coupling to communicate with the flat planar antenna, which routes signals via an amplifier to the vehicle antenna. The cell phone is powered via a USB socket in the Audi Phone Box. For the medium term, Audi is working on a solution for contactless charging of cell phones.

The equipment and data specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.

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