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Microsoft to Supply Electronics to Formula 1 433

Posted by samzenpus
from the blue-car-of-death dept.
Yooden_Vranx writes "speedtv.com reports that beginning in 2008, Microsoft will be the sole supplier of Engine Control Units to Formula 1. Apparently, moving to a single supplier is part of the FIA's (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) attempts to cut costs. The article does not clarify whether this cost reduction is enabled by cutting back on tech support, what percentage of the engine's power will be required to run all the 'features' embedded in the device, or whether 'crash' will now refer primarily to software behavior rather than driving incidents."
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Microsoft to Supply Electronics to Formula 1

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  • by brownsteve (673529) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:16PM (#15664609) Homepage
    I hope it doesn't crash!
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:33PM (#15664703)
      Rotate the tires, sometimes that helps.
      • by Crayon Kid (700279) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @07:56AM (#15666297)
        <F1 cockpit> "Where do you want to go today?"
        <F1 driver> *gasp*
        <Clippy> "I've noticed you are having some trouble. Would you like me to: drive the car for you; show you a map of the circuit; wipe your helmet's visor; stop by the pitstop for a fresh change of underwear; search the help files for '300kph collision'?"

        *SLAM*
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Lets see....
      Instead of the Andromeda Strain Virus it would be the Andretti Strain...

      Blue Screen Error... Begining dump of physical memory and fuel. Please reboot

      This Device driver has not passed WQC Program , press continue to install Device: ABS Braking System

      Keyboard not connected please press "F1" To conintue....
      • by tibike77 (611880) <tibikegamez AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday July 06, 2006 @01:30AM (#15665274) Journal
        New hardware found: opponent's front wing, inserted in rear spoiler.
        Do you want your car to connect to the Internet and search for (new/other/replacement) drivers ? ..and so on and so forth, the jokes come to mind (this being a benign one).

        HOWEVER

        Keep in mind we're not talking about something as complex (or rather said, HUGE, not just complex) as Windows, so basically you could assume they're going to be able to do a much better job (wether or not they'll actually manage to do it, that's different).
        I'm all for bashing Windows as a soulles corp that profits from the user's misfortune, but even I draw the line somewhere between reality and cruel jokes.

        If you imagine for a second Microsoft will afford to make a critical mistake in putting this together and having it as reliable as one would expect, you're probably making the worst assumption of your life.
        If for nothing else, then for the insanely bad publicity if something bad happens... and for the awesome good publicity they'll get after one season IF they manage to have a "flawless operation of Microsoft ECUs in this season of F1" kind of record.

        IMHO, this will actually be one of the most reliable things Microsoft ever produced (or will ever produce) :p
        • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @07:44AM (#15666233) Journal
          Where I work at, we (not me, but the company) approached MS about getting windows Do-178B certified so as to be able to use in cockpits. After MS read the requirements they laughed us out of the office and told us that none of their OS can meet the conditions. Now we use Linux for the critical OSs.

          As to the publicity, I suspect that you will never know if there was an issue. MS is bigger than governments economies. Few countries take them on. EU as a whole does, but most of the countries do not. Unless a death occurs, they can, and will see to it, that any issues from them do not get out.
    • by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:13PM (#15664860)
      Hahahahahahahaha! It's funny because it's 1998! Oh, wait.

      Well, it's still funny because it's the same joke from the summary! Things are always funny if you say them twice.
    • by j79zlr (930600) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:18PM (#15664874) Homepage
      Gentlemen, restart your engines!!!!!!!!!
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:34PM (#15664923) Journal
      News Circa 2002
      Approved use of commercial embedded technology brings innovation to motor racing

      The FIA approved the use of programmable electronics, or embedded systems, to aid the driver in Formula One racing, subject to exact traceability of the source code.

      http://atlasf1.autosport.com/ref/scrutiny.html [autosport.com]
      2. Software validation:
      All computer systems on board the car, or which can be connected to the car, have to be validated before they can be used at an Event.

      The software validation involves a complete check of all the source code of the computer programmes, including off-car units, to ensure that all aspects of the software comply with the Technical Regulations. The programmes are then copied and held by the FIA. Subsequently, when programmes are uploaded at race meetings they are compared with the reference copy to ensure no changes to the approved software have been made.


      If a Team wishes to make changes to the software during the season a re-inspection has to take place prior to use.

      When programmes are uploaded at a race meeting the copies are kept by the FIA indefinitely. The copies, which are kept, may be inspected in detail at anytime, including after the season has finished.

      In addition to this all hardware has to be inspected and documented in order that all changes can be monitored during the season.
      Safety is everything for Forumula One. Anything Microsoft writes will get inspected with fine tooth combs, then inspected again just to be sure.

      The secondary reason behind their strict protocols is that it heads off cheating. No buried/hidden code that only activates in certain situations.
      • by toQDuj (806112) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @02:39AM (#15665448) Homepage Journal
        Hmm. where is the time that the only requirement was that you could get your car down the track as fast as possible?

        I think they overregulated formula 1. Too many restrictions on engine, fuel type, gearbox type, wing type, tire type, everything.

        They should reinvent something like formula 0, with the only restriction of getting round the track as fast as possible.

        B.
        • F0 (Score:4, Interesting)

          by dwandy (907337) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @05:41AM (#15665865) Homepage Journal
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formula_One [wikipedia.org]
          The FIA, due to complaints that technology was determining the outcome of races more than driver skill, banned many such aids in 1994.
          Your "Formula 0" would quickly be a human-aided computer, and eventually the human would be reduced to the title "passenger".
          • Re:F0 (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Steinfiend (700505) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:06AM (#15665910)
            Being an avid F1 fan up until the mid 90's, I'd have to disagree with that. If anyone remembers 'back in the day', drivers had the option of turning up or down their turbo boost to gain speed but at a great cost to fuel. This definitely was technology taken to the N'th degree, but it was still the drivers decision when/if to turn up or down that affected the outcome. It may not be a physical skill, but driving is as much, if not more, mental than physical.

            Right now the drivers are much better than the cars, so the limiting factor is the cars. Rather than the drivers skill then deciding outcomes, its the cars lack of skill that decides who wins.

            I'm all for making F1 more exciting for fans, and increasing the field sizes (remember pre-qualifying?!), but this isn't the way to do it. Compare the tapes of Senna vs Piquet, against Schumacher vs Alonso and you might as well be watching two different sports.
            • Re:F0 (Score:4, Informative)

              by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday July 06, 2006 @11:08AM (#15667594) Homepage Journal
              If anyone remembers 'back in the day', drivers had the option of turning up or down their turbo boost to gain speed but at a great cost to fuel. This definitely was technology taken to the N'th degree

              Actually, this was a manual boost controller. You can mail-order them for about fifty bucks.

              More interesting is that some aircraft have a timing adjustment knob. Think it's running a little funny? Just tweak it. This is what predated automatic altitude compensation.

              Even more interesting than that is the fact that a lot of ECUs let you tweak all kinds of things through a software interface. Nissan ECUs from about 1991 to 1995 (late model OBD-I) have a "CONSULT" port that's basically an externally clocked serial port, which will run up to about 19.2kbps. Using it, you can bump timing forward and backward in half-degree increments, increase or decrease fuel delivery by 5% increments, and make a bunch of other tweaks.

              But anyway, no matter what year you're talking about, a wastegate with adjustment from the dashboard is not a stunning achievement. Wastegate adjustment consists of driving in a machine screw, or backing it out.

          • Re:F0 (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Itchy Rich (818896)

            Your "Formula 0" would quickly be a human-aided computer, and eventually the human would be reduced to the title "passenger".

            ...or since nothing ever runs to plan, especially at 200mph, the human would br reduced to the title "grease stain".

        • by zanderredux (564003) * on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:32AM (#15666863)

          Have someone noticed how the western public (cannot tell about the rest of the world) has become more and more sensitive to "horrible accidents"?

          In the old days, racing events that ended up with deaths, sometimes gruesome and very graphical (ground meat all around), were relatively common, as I can tell from watching F1 and WRC documentaries. And the public seemed to like it.

          If you think that this was bad -- "sports should be safe for everyone" -- think for a moment that the pilots themselves might never have considered the inherent danger of their trade as "bad". Think on how many women the pilots could score when they told them they could die the next day. It's a typical James Bond-ish scenario, prevalent in the racing sports of the 50's and 60's. It is sexy, I won't deny it.

          The last big racing accident I remember is Ayrton Senna's. It wasn't particularly gory (seems that a driving shaft pierced his skull through his helmet, but the helmet never came off until rescue arrived and the car was in one piece, no gory stuff scattered), but the media made it look worse.

          In Brazil, that event took epic proportions. The country seemed to slow down for couple days, so they could follow the drama on TV. It was an interesting day for TV as well, since the official broadcasting had higher than usual ratings for that week. A week or so later, the body was brought back to Brazil for burial. The guy received official honors, the country was mourning the F1 pilot who was treated like a president (mostly TV-induced hype, that TV channel must have made a lot of money that year). Up to this date, there are private foundations dedicated to the cause of preserving his legacy for generations to come. Kids that barely remember who he was or how well he raced (it is controversial, IMO. I think his success was 95% his cars' in a time when racers clustered in two groups -- turbo and aspirated -- and, well, non-turbo cars never stood a chance and few teams had resources to turbocharge their cars. Just observe how Senna was never able to get an expressive result after FIA's ban on turbo cars.) cry when they visit the foundation's sponsored exhibits, an odd thing since they really do not remember crap about this guy and, for their existence, think that cellphones, broadband and wireless always existed since time immemorial.

          Therefore, I think that, while the TV features more and more violence and gore, due to the same TV, the audience grew extremely sensitive to accidents due to the extreme spin TV (and modern media, to a lesser degree) gives to these incidents. People die every year in those super fast boat races, but nobody seems to care and it doesn't preclude the continuation of the sport.

          Weird, huh?

      • The cars could be anything the engineers could come up with to go faster. Each car unique, a prototype with parts made for the purpose. The idea that you can cheat by using different software at different points during the race is ridiculous, the idea that it should be safe is also ridiculous, they are by definition supposed to be racing at the extreme limits of physical and mental performance.

        Now Formula 1 is terminally boring, it's about going round a track and coining in as much advertising and TV revenu
        • by BenBenBen (249969) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:31AM (#15665727)
          The idea that you can cheat by using different software at different points during the race is ridiculous
          This is patently untrue, and a ridiculous thing to posit. In fact, one of the teams got into trouble a while ago for having code on their car that was stored in volatile ROM, such that when they reached park fermé it vanished forever.
    • You know, the scary thing is that they're doing this so they can eliminate *TRACTION CONTROL* from the race, and make it more of a level field, or so they say.

      Anyone who thinks this is about cutting costs is a moron. Seriously, even if the freaking ECU and associated stuff cost $300,000 (which it dosen't) it would still be a drop in the bucket for ANY F1 team considering the millions and millions of dollars it takes to engineer a car that will compete, which will include hiring a good driver, a good crew,
    • They're always trying to find ways of slowing the cars down more and more, so adding Windows to the ECU is probably the logical next step...
  • by Dynamoo (527749) * on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:16PM (#15664610) Homepage
    To paraphrase Chandler when Joey turns up in the Elf costume in Friends.. "Too many jokes.. must mock Microsoft". Awww shucks. Let's start with having to press CTRL-ALT-DEL on the steering wheel at 200 MPH and take it from there..
  • by headkase (533448) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:17PM (#15664613)
    This is a good chance for Microsoft to show off their embedded systems (Maybe WinCE? The article doesn't say.). Now as long as the race cars don't suddenly blow up ;)
    • by pchan- (118053) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:36PM (#15664712) Journal
      This is a good chance for Microsoft to show off their embedded systems (Maybe WinCE? The article doesn't say.)

      Of course WinCE (it's their only embedded OS, not counting the XBOX OS and WinXP embedded). The real point of this exercise is to get Microsoft software in *production* automobiles. Technology developed or refined in F1 and other racing leagues often makes its way down to consumer vehicles (antilock brakes, stability control systems, variable valve timing, hydraulic clutch, ...). Microsoft wants new engine control technology developed on and tied into WinCE. When the time comes to transfer that to the production world, WinCE will come along with it.

      Having worked with WinCE, this is a very scary proposition. I'd be terrified of putting it on any device that doesn't have a RESET button (hmm, why do all WinCE phones have reset buttons but Symbian ones don't?). One can only imagine how much they paid the F1 people to "standardize" on a software platform that is individually and independently developed by each team/manufacturer.
      • by Nutria (679911) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:20PM (#15664882)
        Of course WinCE (it's their only embedded OS, not counting the XBOX OS and WinXP embedded).

        Gee, I guess that means it's not their only embedded OS, then, does it?

        Even a Republican like me can figure that out...

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Your point about how much they paid F-1 is VERY valid. Bernie Ecclestone who runs F1 (and pretty much what he says goes) is one more money-grubbing SOB. He wouldn't be bought easy though, I suspect it took M$ a couple hundred million to get the deal. The thing is there are several different engines in F1 and they need to be tuned for each track so the software has to be parameterized and quite flexible as each engine mfg may like to have a different chipset (Intel, AMD, PowerPC, etc) in the Engine Controlle
      • why do all WinCE phones have reset buttons but Symbian ones don't?.

        I havn't worked with WinCE, but I'm working with Symbian. The luck of restart button is an inconvinience, because Symbian device had to be restarted too. [sarcasm] But fortunately it restart itself quite often on it's own accord [/sarcasm]. Overall I have impression of Symbian being bloated, bugged and memory leaking. And now with Symbian Signed and Developer Certificates it's hassle to develop too. In fact I'm anticipating switching my

  • by ryen (684684) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:18PM (#15664621)
    Something tells me this is going to be bad...

    Engine Control Unit: Pressure is rising abnormally in main engine block. Would you like Windows to attempt to fix the problem?
    Driver: *OK*
    Engine Control Unit:This feature requires the latest service pack from windowsupdate.com. Would you like to download and install?"
    Driver: shit.
  • by slashjunkie (800216) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:19PM (#15664624)
    ... to turn the engine off?

    or, be prompted with dialogs along the lines of "Applying the brakes will cause temporary loss of your vehicle's speed. Are you sure, Y/N?"
  • by mgemmons (972332) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:26PM (#15664658) Homepage
    As McLaren rounds turn number 5 at Jerez, a small balloon pops up in his HUD:

    You may be a victim of software counterfeiting. This copy of Windows is not genuine and is not eligible to receive all updates and product support from Microsoft.

    Click Get Genuine now to get more information and resolve this issue.
  • Hello there! :) Looks like your braking system just failed!

    (ten seconds later...)

    Looks like you're losing a lot of blood! Would you like to...
  • Great (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:28PM (#15664663)
    Now blue screens are going to involve hemoglobin.
    • No, F1 crashes are more likely to encounter the new Red Screen of Death, which is the new Microsoft screen for those really, really, really bad crashes.
  • by RallyDriver (49641) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:29PM (#15664675) Homepage
    It would be interesting to get more tech specs. Would they even seriously consider running Windows on the main processor?

    There is little or no value for an engine ECU like this to run an OS at all, the acme of simplicity in time and safety critcal software is a single hardcoded loop ... far less opportunity for bugs and (pun) race conditions.

    Perhaps it will simply be a branding thing for MS, c.f. the McLaren "Mercedes" engine of a few years ago which was actually built by Ilmor and only ever entered Germany if there was a race there :-)

    • Like it or not, Microsoft employs many of the smartest programmers and engineers out there, and they offer a lot more services and products than just Windows.

      I don't think they will use Windows for this, but maybe I am underestimating the complexity of what they need in these cars.
      • "Microsoft employs many of the smartest programmers and engineers out there"

        Yes, but what do they DO to them?

        "a lot more services and products than just Windows"

        Most of which suck pretty badly. What's your point?
    • Yours is the only proposal I've heard so far that makes any sense - what ECU designer in their right mind would want an OS in the way? A quick look through Google shows that WinCE makes claims of being an RTOS, but I can't seem to believe it, nor can I find actual specs on what exactly are their definitions of "real time". Quite frankly, I just don't believe it, nor would I personally trust any mission-critical, timing-critical functionality to an operating system that wasn't specifically written for it (
    • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:32PM (#15664916) Homepage
      Perhaps it will simply be a branding thing for MS, c.f. the McLaren "Mercedes" engine of a few years ago which was actually built by Ilmor and only ever entered Germany if there was a race there :-)

      Microsoft is undoubtedly paying a lot of money to do this, probably in the tens of millions plus the engineering time. Formula one is the most expensive sponsorship platform there is.

      The benefit to the sport is partly cost but mostly to ensure that the teams own software can be kept within limits. In particular Microsoft can use their trusted computing environment to ensure that the teams only run the homologated code they have submitted to FISA for signing. So after the race there can be no questions as to whether they used driver aids like traction control or remote engine management.

      Contrary to assertions an F1 car does need an O/S. It is not like a street car. The engine itself is not the issue, it is the wireless link, the telemetry, the fuel management and so on that is critical.

      I could see Microsoft using a stock Windows kernel as a start but I suspect that most of this is going to be about custom coding the system to develop a new breed of O/S.

      • Contrary to assertions an F1 car does need an O/S. It is not like a street car. The engine itself is not the issue, it is the wireless link, the telemetry, the fuel management and so on that is critical.

        Partially correct.

        The main ECU is much better off running a hard-coded looping program programmed to a set of default behaviours. Datalogging, fuel management, and possibly modifying those default behaviours within limits is best left to another processor. Basically, compartmentalize essential and non-

      • However, the news blurb specifically says they are to be the sole supplier of ECUs. I belive telemetry systems are separate from the ECU.
    • Perhaps it will simply be a branding thing for MS,

      It's the entre for Microsoft into a new industry where they can attempt to become the defacto platform. You're right in that this has nothing to do with Windows, or at least Windows on the desktop, there is little call for a printer driver interface in an engine control unit. F1 is generally regarded as the pinnacle of automotive engineering, with tight turnaround times on modification of parts, little margin for error and generally employing the most a

  • by HomerJ (11142) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:29PM (#15664677)
    At least something other than Takuma Sato will be the cause of a crash on an F1 circuit.
  • Typical of Microsoft: "Microsoft have been granted exclusive contracts to be the sole suppliers" sounds like anticompetative to me... look out... here comes the Justice Dept with a Sherman Tank
  • by djupedal (584558) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:32PM (#15664697)
    What do you mean it just stopped?

    I'm telling you... I was entering turn 3, off the throttle for just a 1/1000th of a second, and when I tried to bring the revs back up, the damn car just stopped.

    Ok, Mr. Schumacher, please sit tight and give us a moment to check the logs....

    ...moment later..

    We think we've located the issue, Sir. Since you crashed the A car during practice, you're in the backup car. We cloned the race configuration from the computer off the A car to the B car, but we neglected to refresh the hardware/software credentials.

    Yes....and...

    ...and when WGA's routine credential check ran, it determined that the software was illegal per contract and shut everything down.

    ...and...

    And...you want we should kick Massa out of his ride so you can finish the qualifying session?

    Actually....no. I think I'll just sit here and block the track so nobody else can get in a run :)
  • Seeing as there's plenty of crash-related jokes already, I'll just skip to the chase and ask the question most on my mind:

    WTF???

    I can't honestly believe this ECU will be running some flavor of windows (NT Embedded? Win2k embedded? XP embedded? WinCE?) and what they bring to the table. Microsoft went on about how WinCE 3.0 was a "real time" OS, but what other than the PocketPC has it been used for?

    And while we're at it, what's the point of an OS in a car in the first place? I would think that the number of i
    • Re:What? Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by fredNonesuch (927976)
      It's painfully obvious if you step back and think a bit. They sell game software. Marketing, in it's usual tortured logic, sees an opportunity for tie-ins with racing gameware.

      It's highly unlikely that Microsoft will actually source the parts - they'll just subcontract out the actual work and slap their name on it. It's no different than laser printers and many other tech in that sense.
    • Re:What? Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rolfwind (528248)

      And while we're at it, what's the point of an OS in a car in the first place? I would think that the number of items that a computer has to deal with are fixed (I'm sure there's a lot, but it's not like you're going to install software on a car) and presumably the OS is some unbelievably simple scheduler a la the DSKY of the Apollo days ... a simple interrupt mechanism, a priority queue, and lots of inputs...

      The only type of OS you want in a car, if any and as in any mission critical application, is a micro

  • This automobile has encountered an illegal instruction and will be shut down.
  • microsoft automotive. It's not going to be running win xp.
  • Not up to the FIA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Quick Reply (688867)
    It shouldn't be up to the FIA to decide, the teams should make their own decisions, whether that be choosing a Microsoft OS or another.
    • It shouldn't be up to the FIA to decide, the teams should make their own decisions, whether that be choosing a Microsoft OS or another.

      That's a great political slogan - but it flies in the face of reality. The FIA, and many other racing supervisory bodies, routinely specify how the cars are built in order to ensure the playing field is reasonably level.
  • what the hell do Microsoft know about real-time anything?
    Also, who was the moron at the FIA that actually made this decision and by what criteria did they decide Microsoft could actually do a good job?

  • Unfair bashing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LanimilbusLE (793833) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:49PM (#15664776) Homepage
    Maybe Im wrong, but I feel like there has been a huge influx of blatant Microsoft bashing lately in the article descriptions. Some of it is humorous, some of it may be true, but it just seems like Ive been reading some OSS-Microsoft-hating version of Fox news. I dont remember it always being this way. Seriously, what gives?
  • Siemens/MES (Score:5, Informative)

    by archdetector (876357) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:50PM (#15664784)
    The contract was awarded to Microsoft MES, not Microsoft Automotive. I believe MES is a joint venture with Siemens, the technology partner to Mclaren (The shiny silver cars, for those who don't follow racing. Philistines.). Since McLaren already supplies a good deal of motorsports electronic components, this isn't much of a surprise.
  • by JonMartin (123209) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:53PM (#15664788) Homepage
    As a longtime F1 fan I am not surprised. The FIA (and Bernie and Max) have been out of touch with the needs of the sport for quite a while. The "cost-cutting" move to V8s from the nice V10s ended up costing a lot of money and angering the teams. They pushed out Michelin because Michelin wouldn't toe the line. They won't restructure the revenue stream to help the teams and then blame the teams for making the sport too expensive. They create the two race engine rule that reduces the spectacle for little cost saving. All while ignoring one of the biggest expenses: testing. It is so simple: take away in-season private testing, make Friday an open test day and have one engine for qualifying and race (don't get me started on how messed up qualifying is).
    • by mi11house (978673) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @12:34AM (#15665128)
      While I agree completely with all of your points (make Friday spectacular again!), I suspect what the FIA are trying to do is simplify some of their own procedures and reduce some of their costs. Currently all code on board an F1 car goes through pre- and post-race scrutineering just like every other part. Looking over the (compiled!) code for illegalities is a true nightmare.

      Now imagine everyone is running ECU-OS 1.0 (ignoring all MS jokes for the time being)... The "OS" is exactly the same (i.e. it checksums to the same value) for all, only the various configuration parameters (held in RAM?) vary. Now the scrutineering effort becomes: hook up to ECU ROM, download code (or do a boundary scan), perform checksum. If the checksum isn't right - bang - you're disqualified.

      To a lesser extent it will also save the teams some money. Rich teams might currently have 200 engine parameters that they can tweak. Poorer teams might have only been able to afford to develop 50. If everyone gets 100 parameters, it comes down to engineering quality rather than quantity to work out what works best.

      Maybe... :-)
  • by hpavc (129350)
    I cannot see this being for real, like so many other f1 rumors during the season. Single supplier brakes and tires have been talked about quite a bit. Anything, anything at all to do with the engine seems very far fetched.

    Side note microsoft's has botched a lot of the honda/bar electronics when two way telemetry was allowed involving stalling cars.
  • Anything with a lesser engine couldn't render the Aero theme and apply brakes at the same time.
  • by cyberjessy (444290) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:03PM (#15664820) Homepage
    MS has been active in the Automotive sector for quite some time now, and is one of the biggest players in the market. They have a full fledged Automotive Division [microsoft.com], and some of their systems based on CE go into Fiat, Volvo and others I dont know.

    So if you think they just jumped into it, well no. They've been there for a long time now. And seem to be doing quite well. This will buy them lots of publicity.

    And anyway, safety on F1 cars are multiple times redundant and even if the software fails there is a mechanical framework protecting the driver. The software largely handles monitoring tasks, warnings and such.
    • And anyway, safety on F1 cars are multiple times redundant and even if the software fails there is a mechanical framework protecting the driver. The software largely handles monitoring tasks, warnings and such.

      Ever even seen a F1 steering wheel? $50 grand. I would not seriously trust anything from MS for this. Think of it this way: you're trusting you're life to a company known to have shit ass software, yet you're trusting them to provide security and no "issues" at 200 mph? Not me, never.
    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:49PM (#15664975)

      MS has been active in the Automotive sector for quite some time now, and is one of the biggest players in the market. They have a full fledged Automotive Division, and some of their systems based on CE go into Fiat, Volvo and others I dont know. So if you think they just jumped into it, well no.

      Far as I can see, Microsoft's only products are "entertainment units" and software for managing the manufacturing end. This wasn't a jump; it was a leap into an empty swimming pool, naked, in the dark, off the high board. This is what I used to refer to as a "Greens Deal"- ie, two honchos on the golf course shake hands on a deal that doesn't make the slightest sense (sample: conglomerate I worked for was not allowed to purchase any LCD panels except HP LCD panels- and we didn't get a very good discount, either.) Someone at F1 shook hands with someone at MS on the golf course, a suitcase of money went to F1 (Bernie Ecclestone NEVER met a dollar he didn't like, despite having billions of them) and as a result, F1 engine technology just took a massive step backwards.

      They're not even remotely qualified to make real-time software, much less real-time hardware. When you have an engine with 8-12 cylinders that revs to over 15,000 RPMs and pushes the absolute limit of performance, timing is beyond critical. Race cars are torture on electronics; vibration, temperature, and TONS of electrical interference. MS has never worked on something like this. Ever.

      Prediction: MS will try to use all sorts of DSPs and such to do signal processing instead of discreet circuits. The cars will run very poorly- and it will be nearly impossible for the team race engineers to figure out why. That's if the electronics themselves even survive the environment.

      Hilarity will ensue, like MS engineers telling teams, "well, why don't you just shield all the wiring and run more grounds?" "Because that would add 50 pounds of weight." "So?" Or..."what do you mean, there's no chassis ground?" "Which part of CARBON FIBER IS NOT CONDUCTIVE DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?!" I would pay good money to hear tape recordings from Northampton, Maranello, etc...I'd learn all sorts of new swear words.

      Two companies that are infinitely more qualified come to mind immediately- Bosch and MOTEC (Magneti Marelli is a little too tied to Ferrari, I think.) 3/4 of the world's auto racing engineers cut their teeth and/or use MOTEC ECUs. Companies like Bosch and MOTEC have engineers that have the necessary signal processing down pat, and they've been doing this stuff for decades. I don't see fresh grads having the skills, nor do I see seasoned engineers as being willing to take a big risk with MS...and F1 isn't the kind of place where you can grab a bunch of programmers and EEs, hand them books about racing electronics, and expect results. Where is MS going to get the talent for this?

      • Two companies that are infinitely more qualified come to mind immediately- Bosch and MOTEC (Magneti Marelli is a little too tied to Ferrari, I think.) 3/4 of the world's auto racing engineers cut their teeth and/or use MOTEC ECUs.

        More qualified still are the two companies (alongside Magnetti Marelli) which actually _do_ make ECUs for Formula 1 - TAG and Pi Research. (Bosch and Motec electronics get used in other formulae.) I'd add that Honda and Williams make their own ECUs. I've been out of the game for a

      • Why do you insist that Microsoft would have to produce anything?

        It says "Microsoft will supply". This is only a sponsorship deal. The Microsoft name will appear somewhere on the car and will be mentioned by commenters when talking about ECUs, but of course Microsoft will not get a Windows CE copy and hack it to be used in an ECU.

        They will just outsource the coding to an established manufacturer, or even buy one.

        It is just like all the "engine manufacturers". There are many big car makes that "supply engi
    • Hell of a difference in turning on the "Check Engine Soon" light and monitoring the systems of a passenger car engine at 3-4K RPM and doing all of the things needed for a racing engine at 15K RPM for the duration of an F-1 race and not miss a thing. A race engine needs a hard realtime system, where if you don't do something NOW there are failure consequences. Tell the transmission to downshift to 3rd when you really meant shift up to 5th and you just blew up a very expensive engine and fell out of a very cr
    • MS has been active in the Automotive sector for quite some time now, and is one of the biggest players in the market. They have a full fledged Automotive Division, and some of their systems based on CE go into Fiat, Volvo and others I dont know.

      The problem is that cars have too much stupid tech. and gadgetry in them these days, not too little. I'm all for modern drivetrains, and the Toyota hybrid system is actually pretty cool since it's a CVT with no clutches or belts to wear out. Same with ABS brakes,

  • by gvc (167165) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:23PM (#15664886)
    FIA have been trying to handicap the teams -- in particular the winning teams -- for years. They have required barge boards on the cars' bellies, smaller tires, grooved tires, inferior brakes, smaller engines.

    They have also had difficulty stating and enforcing meaningful restrictions on driver aids like automatic transmissions, traction control and anti-lock brakes.

    There's nothing new about FIA mandating a lame standardized component, ostensibly to level the playing field.

    The same article mentions Michelin being squeezed out of F1 (i.e. Bridgestone being the only supplier). Competition provides too much incentive for improvement, and, I daresay, too little cash flow from suppliers to FIA.
  • Just listen to how much I Love Microsoft [hackingbluegrass.com]

    TechGranny is mean ornery and horny! She is also old, and slow, like windows.

    A match made in heaven if there ever was one. TechGranny is OEM windows certified. TechGranny can come to your house!

    peace out, its a joke folks. Don't take it seriously. I had some slack time, and recorded her.

  • by Robot Randy (982296) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:27PM (#15664902)
    Gentlemen, Restart your Engines!
  • BSOD at 200 mph - where do you want to go today? don' matter, boy, you're headed for a crash!
  • I've heard that some people use normal Wi-Fi to transmit telemetry to mechanics in the pits. I was told this by a mechanic that works in a racing league that's not F1, but I'm not sure which league (even if they are called leagues) so take it with a grain of salt. If you start exposing all these cars with windows (one version or the other) things might get funny. Even if you encrypt everything, some bored hacker will probably get through, specially with a lot of traffic. Crashing the telemetry is not a
  • This whole thing is a publicity stunt/joke to make Microsoft look like they can be run on automobile control systems. In the real world, power and CPU utilization are primary factors considered in the design phase of any of these types of projects. Microsoft would never be even considered on the drawing board for anything like this in the real world. When you build a system half assed from the ground up, it tends to fail sooner at a faster rate than if you designed it properly from the beginning. This
  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @12:10AM (#15665054)
    MS aside, Formula One has had a huge problem keeping driver aids out of the sport. Driver aids do not belong in a series that is supposed to be the ultimate test of a driver.

    The only series that has had any luck keeping driver aids out is NASCAR, because they don't allow any kind of tech (even fuel injection).

    If this allows Formula 1 to get traction control, antilock brakes, launch control and other stuff out of F1, this will be a good thing.

    I'm not sure if I believe it though. The excuse for allowing traction control was because they said they couldn't figure out how to keep it out. And yet I can see telemetry of the pedal position in the car, see the revs climb and even hear the TC cut in and out. It's simple. Monitor the telemetry and if the engine acceleration drops without the pedal moving, DQ the car.

    Formula 1 is a shadow of its former self. It's still fast and expensive, but all passing is gone. And allowing tire changes during the race again just made the marbles problem much bigger, as anyone could have predicted, decreasing the passing even more.

    Okay, that's enough. This isn't the right place to complain about this anyway.
  • I forsee a lot more engines going "Ker-Blammo!" as Steve Matchett puts it..
  • by nebbian (564148) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @01:06AM (#15665218) Homepage Journal
    I've tuned engines on racing cars. Firstly a little formula SAE racer, later V8 supercars.

    Those Engine Control Units need to be bulletproof. And by bulletproof, I mean being able to handle being short circuited, reverse polarity applied, handle vibration, lots of heat, have weird settings applied, and generally being totally mistreated.

    There are so many things that can go wrong on an engine, that to troubleshoot a problem you need to have 100% faith in the ECU. I don't mean 99.999%, I really do mean 100%! If there's a tiny little nagging doubt in your mind that the ECU might be at fault, then it throws your faultfinding completely out the window. Most of the time when there's a problem you need to fix it RIGHT NOW, normally this is at the start of a practice session, and the engineers want to get some tuning data for the suspension, the driver wants to practice the track, and every second of downtime means lots of stress for everyone in the team, including the manager and sponsorship guys. If you haven't worked in motorsport you have no idea what stress is all about. It's hardcore.

    Why didn't they go with an established manufacturer such as MoTeC or Magneti Marelli? Those guys really know what's what when it comes to making an ECU.

    I don't care how much experience or money Microsoft has, making a realtime OS for an ECU is no trivial matter. It's extremely difficult! You can't just whack a desktop OS like Windows CE or linux onto a small computer, things really and truly don't work like that. It will only take a couple of bugs before the engineers in F1 will be tearing their hair out, going on strike, and trying to retrofit their old ECUs into the cars. I really don't think that this idea will fly.
  • by WhatDoIKnow (962719) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @01:25AM (#15665264)


    "In addition, the WMSC also announced that due to a significant increase in cornering speeds in F1 this season, the sport's Technical Working Group will be consulted regarding possible measures to slow the cars down."

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