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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee: Refined Just Right; Raw Where It Counts

Inside Of Uconnect Access: TI's OMAP-DM3730

Uconnect Access relies on Texas Instruments' OMAP-DM3730 SoC, which an evolution of the OMAP 3530 in Hyundai's current-generation Genesis Coupe. TI shrank the manufacturing process from 65 to 45 nm and ratcheted up the clock rates of its memory controller, 2D/3D graphics, and IVA 2.2 advanced imaging, video, and audio engine. The same PowerVR SGX530 graphics core remains. The frequency increases are actually pretty substantial, representing a 50-percent speed-up to the IVA 2.2 subsystem, an 80-percent increase to the PowerVR SGX530 engine, and a 20-percent boost to the memory controller.

There's a single Cortex-A8 core at the heart of TI's DM3730, sporting a couple of errata fixes. Maximum clock rate jumps 39%, from the OMAP3530's 720 MHz up to 1 GHz. We aren't sure if Jeep's implementation takes full advantage of the SoC's peak frequency though, or if it's scaled back for heat and power reasons.

Although the hardware at the heart of Uconnect Access seems ancient compared to the latest smartphone and tablet platforms, it's plenty adequate to run an infotainment system. Remember that these embedded systems undergo long development times, and they employ SoCs with long-life support. This allows manufacturers to maintain an inventory of repair parts for up to a decade after the last vehicle rolls off of the assembly line. Thus, a mature product like the DM3730 makes more sense in the automotive world than Qualcomm's or Samsung's latest.

The DM3730 is complemented by 512 MB of memory, which we have to imagine is sufficient for the closed platform. That capacity isn't surprising; it's the same amount of RAM that Parrot used in its Asteroid Smart double-DUN head unit (see Parrot Asteroid Smart Review: Android In Your Car's Dash? for more detail). You do get plenty of on-board storage, though. Uconnect Access features 16 GB of eMMC flash for the operating system, maps, and apps. There weren’t any downloads available during our week with the Grand Cherokee, but Chrysler promises that Pandora, Aha, iHeartRadio, and Slacker Radio are coming soon.

Powering the Uconnect Access system is QNX Neutrino RTOS 6.5.0. It’s not as sexy as the latest QNX CAR Platform, but it does the job well. All of this is connected by Harman, in cooperation with Chrysler. Yes, that’s the same Harman as Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon, and Mark Levinson. Interestingly enough, Harman also develops infotainment systems for virtually every other automotive manufacturer as well, including the Toyota Display Audio 6.1 with Entune system we evaluated in 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE: Technology In A Mid-Size Sedan.

  • cheesyboy
    I hope the sponsorship money from Jeep helps pay for good stuff elsewhere on the site, because this was a damned boring article.
    Reply
  • sanilmahambre
    other then all those tech-check the actual thing that attracts customers towards Jeep is the front trademark spiral grill.
    I drove it in Far cry 2
    Reply
  • vertexx
    What's up with the miss-fitting front lighting? It looks like they re-designed all the front lighting and didn't bother fitting the front-end cutouts to the new lighting. Looks terrible.
    Reply
  • MU_Engineer
    This has to be the only car review article where the only performance graphs are for how quickly the infotainment system starts up. At the very least time it going 0-60 (it *does* have a Hemi after all), do a slalom test to see how well you can avoid text-addled drivers weaving in and out of their lane at 50 mph on the interstate, and see how many Antec 1200s fit in the back. (shakes head)
    Reply
  • poik
    How do the gauges work with polarized glasses?
    Reply
  • tuanies
    11512660 said:
    This has to be the only car review article where the only performance graphs are for how quickly the infotainment system starts up. At the very least time it going 0-60 (it *does* have a Hemi after all), do a slalom test to see how well you can avoid text-addled drivers weaving in and out of their lane at 50 mph on the interstate, and see how many Antec 1200s fit in the back. (shakes head)

    We do not have a track to test 0-60 on while maintaining consistency, nor do we have accurate equipment to test such feats. Speed limit here is 60 and most people do 70-80 weaving in and out of traffic ;). I deny going those "speeds" but the Jeep is quite competent and that HEMI, every press of the gas pedal makes me shed a tear for the fuel economy while enjoying the thrust. Either way we have a SRT8 booked next month for a quick follow up. Hopefully the Pandora and other apps work by then.

    I don't have enough Antec 1200s to test, but that's a pretty good idea for testing methods :).

    11512907 said:
    How do the gauges work with polarized glasses?

    I do not wear polarized glasses so I can't really tell you - mine are just transitions. I don't see them being a problem though. You could always just turn up the brightness on the LCD. It gets very bright.
    Reply
  • cheesyboy
    11512660 said:
    This has to be the only car review article where the only performance graphs are for how quickly the infotainment system starts up. At the very least time it going 0-60 (it *does* have a Hemi after all), do a slalom test to see how well you can avoid text-addled drivers weaving in and out of their lane at 50 mph on the interstate, and see how many Antec 1200s fit in the back. (shakes head)

    Slalom test, you say? Hope it does better than its predecessor;
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaYFLb8WMGM
    Reply
  • rezzahd
    I honestly feel like this article is a waste of time. not on my part for reading it, but on Tom's part for producing an article on a site that attracts people more towards hardware specs. If I wanna read I car review I will go to Car & Driver not Tom's Hardware.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    11513248 said:
    I honestly feel like this article is a waste of time. not on my part for reading it, but on Tom's part for producing an article on a site that attracts people more towards hardware specs. If I wanna read I car review I will go to Car & Driver not Tom's Hardware.

    We have 6 pages dedicated to the tech inside the car that traditional publications just gloss over...
    Reply
  • rezzahd
    11513294 said:
    11513248 said:
    I honestly feel like this article is a waste of time. not on my part for reading it, but on Tom's part for producing an article on a site that attracts people more towards hardware specs. If I wanna read I car review I will go to Car & Driver not Tom's Hardware.

    We have 6 pages dedicated to the tech inside the car that traditional publications just gloss over...

    Okay, sorry got a little ahead of myself. I was just saying when I think car reviews in general I just mean there are other sources I would go to. I tend not to look at the tech in cars. I actually prefer to see how well things like the motor and transmission are built over how fast boot times are for a camera.
    Reply