Features that not long ago were limited to luxury vehicles are working their way toward the mainstream. Increasingly powerful microcontrollers (MCUs), often integrating functions that were formerly discrete, are helping to make that happen.
Take Freescale Semiconductor’s 32-bit Qorivva line, for example. Earlier this month Freescale launched the MPC5604E, targeting surround-camera parking assist systems, and the MPC5645S, for next-generation automotive instrument cluster applications. In March, the company announced the MCP567xK family, optimized for camera and radar-based ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) applications, the MPC560xD for cost-sensitive door and seat applications, and the MPC564xB/C, which integrate a cryptographic services engine (CSE) for in-vehicle information security.
Freescale collaborated with BMW on the 5604E, which helps reduce bill of materials costs by compressing and transmitting video data over Fast Ethernet versus low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) cables. Thomas Koenigseder, senior systems architect for networks at BMW, says the MCU “will help establish Ethernet as a dependable long-term solution for broadcast of video and other forms of data around the automobile.”
Where instrument clusters were relatively simple, vehicles today need more powerful graphics processors with more RAM (random access memory) to control complex displays. Compared with earlier devices, 5654S MCUs are faster (125MHz versus 64MHz), offer twice the internal flash content and about six times as much internal graphics RAM, support dual displays versus a single display, and feature an OpenVG graphics processing unit based on a Z160 core.
Freescale’s MCP567xK MCUs are for automakers who want to migrate ADAS applications from high-end vehicles to the mass market. The devices help reduce if not eliminate the need for external signal processing components.
Entry-level MPC560xD devices, featuring low power consumption, small footprints, and several communications interfaces, are optimized for use as body control end nodes in door and seat applications.
MPC564xB/C devices implement security provisions in hardware that, until now, have primarily been implemented in software. Freescale says that moving security from software to hardware provides greater protection against tampering, which is a growing concern.