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Khronos Safety Critical Advisory Forum: Details and Why You Should Join

Collaboration is very much the ethos of the Khronos™ Group and the Khronos Safety Critical Advisory Forum, as working together to reach common goals has a great potential for rewards.

In April, we introduced the Khronos Safety Critical Advisory Forum and discussed the importance of Khronos open standards with a safety critical focus. The forum does more than help make current open standards more compatible with the various functional safety standards that exist today. In this blog, we share the benefits that forum participants receive from cooperating with like-minded engineers from other companies and domains. There are many advantages to being a member of Khronos, but you or your company does not need to be a member to participate in the forum.

There is a growing interest from the automotive domain in using OpenCL™ and SYCL™ implementations on their SoCs to provide solutions for their ADAS (Automotive Driver Assist Systems) components. Such systems require data sensor fusion and decision-making capabilities for vision or autonomous decisions making neural networks; however, the current API specifications necessitate extra safety assurances to be applied, which require extra design features to address safety concerns inherent in the specifications.

Khronos and its members are moving toward providing safer versions of compute-type open-standard APIs like OpenCL and SYCL. This is an opportunity to further diversify the adoption of open standards beyond traditional media, mobile, and gaming streams where it has already shown success. Khronos has already entered the safety critical (SC) domain by providing safety critical versions of OpenGL® ES 2.0 for the avionics and other industries.

The concerns and demands of functional safety standards on both hardware and software are wide and varied for developers. As not all Khronos members are from the SC development domain, the advice and support that the Safety Critical Advisory Forum provides to the Khronos Working Groups (WGs) is valuable and directly contributes to creating SC APIs. The forum provides this support through creating and maintaining two documents: SC API Design Requirements and SC API Design Guidelines, which are available to all Khronos WGs developing an SC standard. Forum members are encouraged to attend SC WGs so they can see issues being addressed first-hand, and to bring concerns and ideas for discussion amongst the SC experts in the forum so that they can formulate advice and feed into either the Requirements or Guidelines documents.

There is no minimum input required to participate; those who contribute are helping to build multi-platform SC APIs that are reliable, stable, and responsive to their market needs. A frequent question about participating in the forum is: “What’s in it for me?” It’s a valid question from those who are volunteering their time, and the benefits vary whether you’re part of a Khronos member company or a non-member company.

For Khronos and its members, benefits include:

  • Development of SC APIs which are compatible with a range of functional safety standards,
  • Reference knowledge on SC concerns and demands available to WGs, and
  • Internal experience complemented with real use cases.

For non-member companies figure 1 below captures the benefits of participation:

Figure 1: Cycle of benefits
Figure 1: Cycle of benefits

Additional benefits for participating companies include:

  • Contribution to the safety case for item development,
  • Confidence that the SC API addresses the concerns of a particular functional safety standard,
  • More immediate availability of the API through accelerating the development of its specification,
  • Khronos-ratified APIs bring the assurance of compatibility on different hardware, and
  • Reduced costs by sharing concerns between many companies and driving volume.

With the growing need for neural network processing and multi-layer data compute stacks for ADAS components, there is also a need for layers in the system to be safety compatible, as well as technically efficient compatibility. Khronos provides the platform for collaboration between WGs so that both safety and technical issues can be addressed together to provide a completely safe compute stack based on open standards for the future.

To further support the safety development processes that some domains require, Khronos also reaches out to other standards organizations to ensure that future standards and programming languages are approaching safety and compatibility in the same way. For example, at this time an ISO C++ committee member attends the SC forum, and the forum’s chairman liaises with the automotive industry's MISRA working group. This enables a three-way communication, ensuring that not only is the SC forum aware of proposals and comments with respect to SC API development, but also that any input that could affect MISRA support or compatibility with future versions of C++ is brought back to those committees.

Participation in the Khronos Safety Critical Advisory Forum gives you an opportunity to make a larger industry impact, yet it only takes a few hours per month. We welcome experienced safety functional engineers or safety critical developers in hardware or software to join us.