BMW has signed on suppliers for the next generation iDrive system set to debut in both BMW and MINI vehicles from 2013 onwards. The lucky suppliers are Harman and Magneti Marelli. According to a joint press release by the two suppliers, BMW’s next generation iDrive is said to blend open-platform technology from Magneti Marelli with Harman connectivity and mobile office expertise.

The system will be powered by NVIDIA’s system-on-a-chip (SOC) technology for scalable microprocessor power and graphic performance at cost effective price. Navigation data will be stored on flash memory. The current iDrive system either stores its map data on hard drives or DVDs.

In addition to developing the system together, Harman will manufacture the new infotainment system for BMW vehicles in the Asian markets while Magneti Marelli will take care of the European markets. The system will support multiple-language speech and navigation including the all important Chinese language navigation module for the growing Chinese market.

I’m not sure whether QNX will continue to be used for iDrive, since Harman no longer owners QNX. They’ve sold QNX off to Blackberry maker RIM not too long ago. We cannot rule out the new system to be based on QNX once again since Harman are buddies with with RIM – “This move allows Harman to continue its relationship with QNX and the advanced software solutions it provides to Harman and our customers,” said Harman CEO Dinesh C. Paliwal.

Magneti Marelli has had a history of using Microsoft Auto in the past for in-car computer systems developed for Ford, and they’ve also used Wind River’s VxWorks. Previous generations of iDrive have been built on various platforms that include Windows CE, VxWorks, and QNX. The latest iDrive uses QNX and is made by Harman’s Becker unit while the first horrible version used Windows CE.

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