Engineers are adding more electronic features to cars, but at the same time engineers – not necessarily the same ones – are trying to reduce vehicle weight and improve mileage. I’ve been wondering how they do that.
This week Freescale Semiconductor provided a clue. The company introduced a microcontroller (MCU) billed as a network gatekeeper (the Qorivva MPC5748G) and LIN and CAN satellite nodes (MagniV S12ZVL and S12ZVC respectively).
Freescale notes a correlation between the growing need for connectivity and the number of electronic control units (ECUs) in a car. It estimates that the average vehicle includes several miles of copper wire weighing 150 pounds or more.
Integrating more functionality into a vehicle’s ECUs and increasing the intelligence of its satellite nodes can help reduce the number of ECUs and the amount of associated wiring required, eliminating weight in the vehicle wiring harness and helping to improve fuel economy.
Freescale says its new MCUs, intended to streamline body control networks, integrate connectivity, functional safety, security and network management capability. It estimates that the new products will enable automakers to shed up to 20 pounds of copper wiring and board components, and also to reduce board sizes by up to 30 percent. Other benefits include simplified vehicle network design and increased manufacturing efficiency.
The single-chip gatekeeper MCU is said to provide “an unprecedented level of integration” plus innovative low-power management modes, support for functional safety, and security features. It includes support for Ethernet with Audio Video Bridging (AVB), FlexRay™, Media Local Bus (MLB), USB, CAN FD (Flexible Data Rate) and up to 18 LIN controllers. It can be configured with up to 6 MB of flash and 768 KB of RAM, and it leverages Freescale’s SafeAssure technology to address the ISO 26262 standard. Safety functions include self-testing and end-to-end error correction coding.
The LIN and CAN satellite nodes, which are also SafeAssure devices, are said to allow engineers to achieve the smallest possible LIN and CAN termination nodes, thus helping to reduce PC board sizes by as much as 30 percent. High voltage signals and power supplies can be connected directly to the nodes, which trims the need for additional discrete devices.