Car information computer (CIC)

The Car Information Computer (CIC) control unit is used as a headunit. The Car Information Computer is available in the following national-market versions:

European version

Japanese version

US version

The button located below the MODE button is assigned different functions on the various national-market versions.

The design of the Car Information Computer (CIC) is basically the same as that of a personal computer (PC). Like a personal computer, the Car Information Computer contains the following components:


Working memory

Hard disk


Other peripheral components

The Car Information Computer (CIC) has its own USB interface in the vehicle's glove box. It is used for importing and exporting music files and metadata for the music library. It is not possible to import such data via the USB audio interface on the centre console. This interface is still only intended for playback of external audio sources.

The hard disk in the headunit is used to store the application software and other data.

The following applications are installed on the hard disk:

Music library

The music library is based on the audio data stored on the integrated hard disk.

Music track database

Title detection software aided by a music track database (Gracenote®)

Navigation system (map data) and software (application software)

Full-screen mode possible; assistance window with map view that can be zoomed independently of main window; journey planner; map data stored on hard disk

Voice processing system

Contacts (database of names and addresses)

The data is used for the phone and navigation system, for example.

The Car Information Computer is the central control unit for the applications listed. For the purposes of picture signal transmission, the Car Information Computer is linked to the Central Information Display (CID). The Car Information Computer is also connected to the Controller (CON). The Controller serves as the selection and input device for the user interface.

The submenus of the main menu are arranged linear fashion in lists. By turning the Controller knob when the start screen main menu is showing, one of the submenus listed can be highlighted. Pressing the Controller knob then opens the selected submenu. Some submenus can also be selected by means of the direct access keys on the Controller. Pushing the Controller knob then navigates through the submenu. The windows of the selected submenu are laid horizontally on top of one another.

Functional description

The operating facility with the favourites buttons is not connected directly to the Car Information Computer (CIC). The operating facility is integrated in the control panel for the integrated climate control system (IHKA). The electrical connection is by means of a ribbon cable leading to the IHKA control unit. The IHKA control unit broadcasts the signals as a message on the K-CAN.

The Car Information Computer (CIC) has 8 user-programmable favourites buttons. The favourites buttons enable the following functions to be stored for faster access (depending on optional equipment fitted):

Storage of radio stations

Access to CD/DVD or CD changer

Phone numbers

AUX-IN connection

Journey destinations (must have been previously saved in Contacts or entered from "Last destination")

TV channels

The favourite buttons contain a capacitive sensor that reacts to contact. The buttons can be operated in the following ways:

Quick touch:

Short description of key assignment

Long touch:

Details description of key assignment

Quick keystroke:

Activates key assignment

Long keystroke:

Stores function currently displayed on Central Information Display (CID).

The functions of the Car Information Computer are described in detail in the Owner's Handbook. As a brief summary, the following functions are provided:

DVD drive

The DVD drive (ROM) drive enables playback of the following media:

- Audio CDs and home-made CD-R/DVD-R recordings containing compressed audio files

- Video DVDs

The DVD drive is not used for the navigation system except for updating the map data. Therefore, the drive can be used to play back audio and video sources. As on earlier BMW models, video images can only be displayed when the vehicle is stationary (driving speed less than 3 kph).

Hard disk

The hard disk is a 2.5 inch unit with a memory capacity of 80 gigabytes. The hard disk is used to load application software and as a data memory. That enables the rendering of complex graphics (e.g. 3D images for the navigation system perspective view). In addition, it has also been possible to implement a music library with a music track database (Gracenote®).

- Music library

The music library provides a facility for storing audio data. There is also a music search facility which can be used to find information (metadata) about individual music tracks (artist, album, etc.). A music track database (Gracenote®) stored on the hard disk provides a repository of information (metadata) for the music search facility.

The following options for storing audio files on the hard disk are provided:

Rip function

This function "rips" conventional audio CDs (marked with the Compact Disc Digital Audio symbol), i.e. converts them into compressed music files. The tracks on the CD can also be played back at the same time as the rip function is converting them into files and saving them.

After conversion, the audio data are saved as WMA files (128 kbit/s) on the hard disk. The album is then listed in the music library as a file folder. The folder is identified by the name of the album and a round CD symbol. Following the conversion process, the files can be individually selected in the music search facility.

Copying from the DVD drive

Home-made CD/DVD compilations of audio files in the format MP3, WMA or AAC (e.g. M4A) can be read, copied and saved from the DVD drive. All CD/DVD formats are supported (from CD-R to DVD double layer) except DVD-RAM.

Copying from the USB connecting socketin the glove box

Data on a USB stick (audio files in the format MP3, WMA or AAC) can be imported via the special USB port in the glove box.

The file folder in which the converted or copied music files are placed can be renamed afterwards using the Options menu. To do so, the album entry concerned must be selected in the music library and then the Option menu opened.

Copies of music files with digital rights management (DRM) are critical for the music library. AAC audio files in protected format M4P can not be copied to the hard disk.

WMA-format audio files with copy protection can be copied. They are also displayed in the music library and music search. However, these music tracks can not be played back. Instead, a different, unprotected music track is played. The background to this is that authentication of the user is not possible on the Car Information Computer (CIC). It is not possible to establish a connection to the online provider.

For managing music files, the music library provides the submenu "Music search". The music search is performed according to a special filtering method. The search can be performed on the basis of any particular music track attribute. If, for example, you select the attribute "Genre", the list shows all albums and music tracks of all artists in the selected music genre. In the next step "Interpret" is selected. All of its available albums are displayed. With each subsequent step, the search is further refined. Finally, a precise track is located. The information for the music search is stored in the form of a metafile, similar to the ID3 tags in a MP3 file.

To be able to identify complete albums from ripped audio CDs, the Car Information Computer has been provided with special software from the company Gracenote®. It supplements the music tracks in the WMA files created from digital audio CDs with additional information. The music track database (Gracenote®) contains identification patterns in the form of TOCs (tables of contents). That means that complete albums on digital audio CDs are recognised on the basis of the number and length of the music tracks. Normally, that will only function with original digital audio CDs or identical copies created by special CD burning programs. Afterwards, the corresponding data (music track, artist, etc.) is entered in the music search database. The directory structure in the music search is automatically updated with the new metadata after conversion of an audio CD to WMA files. Subsequent editing of the metadata is not possible.

However, any new albums released after the vehicle delivery can not be identified nor their metadata provided. Such a capability would require a permanent connection between the music track database and a server in order to keep it up to date. Therefore, digital audio CDs which are not recognised and for which metadata can not be provided are stored in the music library as Audio-CD 1, Audio-CD 2, etc. and the CD symbol.

The metadata for the music track database from copied CD/DVD-ROMs or USB sticks is copied unchanged. This metadata does not originate from the music track database but from the user. It can not be edited on the Car Information Computer. To obtain metadata matching the structure of the music search facility, the incorrect metadata (music files) must first be deleted from the hard disk. That metadata then has to be edited/completed by the user to match the structure of the music track database (genre, artist, album, track). In other words, those files have to be edited on a PC. This adaptation can be made in Windows Explorer, for instance, by selecting "Properties". That is the only way to ensure that, when the audio files/metadata are copied again, they are correctly saved to the hard disk. And that is the only way to ensure that the music search facility can identify the audio files on the basis of track title, artist, etc.

With vehicle delivery, the latest version of the music track database is stored on it. That means that music CDs (digital audio CDs) released after vehicle delivery will not be included in the vehicle's music track database. The metadata for music files created from such new releases can be added to the database by an online update performed from the vehicle. The process can only be carried out album by album. However, it is only possible if the Telematic Control Unit (TCU) is fitted and the online function enabled. Another precondition for the process is that an original digital audio CD has been used. Only original digital audio CDs have a recognisable TOC pattern. That pattern is used to identify the album during the update process. Home-made audio CDs do not have that TOC pattern.

In order to be able to update the entire contents of the music search database, BMW Service is provided with the latest DVD of the music track database (Gracenote®). The update is carried out in conjunction with the media package. The DVD can be placed directly in the DVD drive and activated from the Service menu on the Car Information Computer.

If the update DVD is a newer version than on the CIC, the latest version of the Gracenote music track database is copied over once "Start installation" is selected. The previous version is overwritten in the process. However, unrecognised music titles are not completed. The update is only for the purposes of identifying music titles converted into audio files using the rip function in the future.

Files that have been ripped before updating the music track database (Gracenote®) do not have their metadata completed. The reason is that the music track database is only queried when a digital audio CD is inserted and then ripped. Consequently, unknown albums/music tracks can only be completed with metadata by an online update or importing the metadata via the BMW Online Portal.

Note data backup option

The ”Options” submenu provides the possibility to back up the complete music collection. Here, the data must be stored on a USB stick. This function was already displayed as of 03/2008 but was only enabled as of 09/2008. Data backup is only possible if the hard disk of the Car Information Computer has not been damaged and the interfaces with the Car Information Computer are still in perfect working order. There is no agreement with the manufacturer of the Car Information Computer (Harman/Becker) for restoring the music files. This means that without a data backup the music files are irrevocably lost. For copyright reasons, Service staff are not allowed to perform the backup for customers. However, they are permitted to provide instruction for customers during the backup process. Instructions for users on how, where and by what means a backup can be made are provide in the Owner's Handbook for the vehicle.

Navigation computer, HIP module as well as yaw sensor

The HIP module (HIP stands for "host independent positioning") receives data from the GPS aerial such as: date, time display and locations of the GPS satellites. The navigation system uses the data from the HIP module to calculate the vehicle position. The yaw sensor delivers the data regarding a change in driving direction. This data is required for a more accurate location determination, as satellite signals cannot be received everywhere (e.g. tunnels, underground vehicle parks).

Tuner for FM, AM and TMC

A twin tuner has been fitted for the AM/FM function. While one tuner is receiving the desired radio station, the second tuner works in the background. It searches the reception area for additional signals and shows them on the display (menu option "All stations"). This function is already familiar on the FM wave band and is now available on AM as well. The third module in the tuner network enables extended FM and TMC functions. As a result, the TMC messages are faster and more accurate. Together, the FM/AM modules and the FM TMC unit form a so-called triple tuner.

Radio Data System (RDS)

With AF (Alternative Frequency) following, the tuner checks whether the station being received is transmitting a stronger signal on another frequency. If it is, the tuner automatically switches to that frequency. The TP and TA service (traffic reports) provide information about traffic jams and hazards by means of traffic reports. The volume is raised when the report is broadcast. The PS service (Programme Service Name) provides station name information by displaying up to eight alphanumeric characters. The TMC (traffic information channel) messages are used by the navigation system to display information about traffic conditions and hold-ups in the form of symbols.

DAB tuner

The DAB tuner is a twin tuner. One tuner plays the digital audio signals of the selected radio station. The other tuner constantly updates the list of available stations in the background. All receivable DAB radio stations and ensembles are displayed in a list sorted in alphabetical order.

The radio stations can also broadcast additional information about the current transmission (e.g. music track/artist being played, up-to-date informations about weather, traffic, etc.).

If one of the stations in a DAB ensemble fails, reception is automatically switched to the corresponding FM station (if available). Alternatively, the system tunes to a receivable FM station. When the DAB signal is available again, reception is automatically changed over to the DAB station. This function is activated from the submenu "Options".

IBOC system/HD radio

On the US version, the digital radio uses the IBOC system (IBOC stands for digital tuner US) instead of a DAB tuner. The IBOC system control unit is integrated in the Car Information Computer (CIC) as an IBOC decoder.

With the aid of a decoder used in conjunction with the AM/FM twin tuner, the IBOC system enables reception of HD radio (high definition radio).

HD radio transmissions simultaneously broadcast an analogue and a digital signal. The IBOC system receives those signals with the aid of the twin tuner. They are then passed on to the IBOC decoder, which then converts the digital data stream into recognisable audio signals.

Two types of service are broadcast:

- MPS = Main Program Service

- SPS = Secondary Program Service

The two services differ by virtue of the fact that the MPS uses the digital form of the analogue signal transmitted first. The decoder delays the digital signal for a few seconds until it is back in sync with the analogue signal already received. SPS offers additional radio stations broadcast in digital form only.

If the digital signal is not available, the system automatically switches to the analogue FM reception. HD radio is also available on the AM frequency range. In this case, the digital signals are transmitted on frequencies immediately adjacent to the analogue transmission. The content of the digitally broadcast transmission is the same as the analogue transmission. With HD radio, AM radio stations can be played in near-FM quality and FM stations in near-CD quality.

Personalisation of settings

For BMW vehicles, the personalisation of functions is known as a Personal Profile. Here, individual settings are stored in the vehicle on a key-dependent basis. The settings are called up again on unlocking the vehicle.

Since the advent of the Car Information Computer (CIC), mobile profiles have become possible. Definition of Mobile Profile: a mobile profile is a set of Personal Profile you can take with you to another vehicle. With the Mobile Profile function, the user's personal profile can be transferred across the following interfaces:

External USB memory

Online via the BMW Portal

Subsequently, the Personal Profile can be imported into another BMW vehicle. A service function in the diagnosis system can be used to reset the settings of the Personal Profile. Moreover, a service function can be used to read out and change the profile numbers.

In the event of a customer complaint or malfunctions, the Service menu provides the facility to check some of the main functions directly on the Car Information Computer (CIC). A diagnosis system is not necessary. In addition, settings that are not intended to be visible to the customer can also be made.

To open the Service menu:

Call up the main menu

Push Controller knob up and hold for at least 10 seconds

Turn Controller knob 3 positions clockwise

Turn Controller knob 3 positions anticlockwise

Turn Controller knob 1 position clockwise

Turn Controller knob 1 position anticlockwise

Turn Controller knob 1 position clockwise

Press the controller once.

The Service menu then appears as the last submenu under "Settings". The Car Information Computer's Service menu offers the following submenus for selection:


Telephone and BMW Service

TV Function

Grace note

Pressing and holding (for approx. 25 seconds) the rotary push-button on the control panel performs a reset on the Car Information Computer (CIC). The Control Display screen then goes dark. The Car Information Computer is then restarted.

Index Explanation

A> Car Information Computer (CIC), front view

B> Car Information Computer (CIC), rear view (Europe version)

1> Rotary push-button for volume control and switching on/off

2> DVD drive

3> Eject button

4> Tuning seek button, up and down

5> Favourite buttons

6> IHKA controls

7> European version: TP button

US > version: FM/AM button

Japan> version: TRF button

8> MODE button

9> Connection of LVDS data line

10> USB connection

11> Ethernet connection

12> MOST interface

13> 12-pin plug connection for microphone connection and FBAS signals

14> 12-pin plug connection for video signals

15> 16‐pin plug connection with K-CAN connection

16> Aerial connections, dependent on national-market version

Structure and inner electrical connection

The Car Information Computer (CIC) is connected to Terminal 30B via the rear power distribution box. The terminal status (Terminal R or Terminal 15) is signalled to the Car Information Computer via the bus system.

The LVDS (Low Voltage Differential Signalling) data line is used to transmit the video data from the Car Information Computer to the Central Information Display (CID).

The Car Information Computer is a bus user on the K-CAN and in the MOST network.

In order to transmit the extended functions and high data volumes quickly and in high quality, the Car Information Computer also has an Ethernet connection to the Central Gateway Module (ZGM) and the rear entertainment system (RSE, stands for "Rear Seat Entertainment").

The diagnostic connector is connected via Ethernet to the Car Information Computer.

Index Explanation

1 Car information computer (CIC)

Pin assignments

The graphic above shows only the supply and bus connection. The current pin assignment is recorded on the wiring diagrams in the ISTA diagnosis system (Integrated Service Technical Application). Click on the component code in the wiring diagram to activate the "Installation location" and "Pin assignment" tabs.

Nominal values

Observe the following specified parameters for the Car Information Computer (CIC):

Size Value

Supply voltage 9 to 16 volts

Temperature range -40 to 65 deg C

Diagnosis instructions

Failure of the component

If communication with the car information computer (CIC) fails, run the standard checks (global testing procedure). If there is an internal control unit fault, the following behaviour is to be expected:

Fault entry on Car Information Computer (CIC)

A service function in the diagnosis system can be used to reset the settings of the Personal Profile.

Path: Service functions > Body > Headunit > Restore delivery status

We can assume no liability for printing errors or inaccuracies in this document and reserve the right to introduce technical modifications at any time.

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