Automotive MCUs speed & simplify software development

24th June 2015
Posted By : Barney Scott
Automotive MCUs speed & simplify software development

As silicon content and complexity continue to rise in cars, the future of automotive advancement increasingly depends on software. New vehicles commonly incorporate more than 100m lines of embedded code – more than most passenger aircraft. While offering exciting opportunities for innovation, software increases complexity and creates significant code maintenance and time-to-market challenges.

As a result, automotive electronics suppliers today dedicate more of their development resources to software than hardware. To address these challenges, Freescale Semiconductor introduces the S32K – the first automotive MCU product line designed to significantly speed and simplify software development.

The S32K is based on the widely adopted ARM Cortex architecture, which delivers exceptional scalability and compatibility for a range of automotive electronics applications traditionally served by a heterogeneous and incongruous mix of 8-, 16- and 32-bit MCUs, while providing a strong foundation for advanced tools and software platforms.

To streamline software engineering and advance automotive software development technology beyond the traditional Autosar Microcontroller Abstraction Layer (MCAL), Freescale is introducing a comprehensive, automotive-grade SDK providing critical middleware for a set of drivers necessary to operate S32K MCUs. In addition, Freescale has created an open integration environment for developers targeting S32K MCUs. The S32 Design Studio (DS) provides an easy-to-use platform capable of supporting a host of time-saving software and tools. DS is engineered to eliminate months of R&D time across all phases of development, from rapid prototyping to production readiness and re-use on the next project.

Freescale also works in close collaboration with IAR Systems on high-end development tools and AUTOSAR support. IAR provides a reliable set of software tools for developing safety applications, including a C/C++ compiler and debugger tool chain.

With the combination of Freescale’s existing Cortex-M0+-based KEA MCU family and the new, more powerful Cortex-M4-based S32K product line, Freescale now offers an extremely scalable ARM Cortex-based portfolio for automotive applications ranging from body and chassis control to touch-sensing interfaces, to communication gateways and applications requiring electrical motor control features. Sharing the same ARM Cortex architecture, customer software written for these product lines is compatible across numerous MCUs and automotive applications, allowing customers to dramatically extend the value of automotive software investments via code reuse. Freescale’s combined Cortex M0+ and M4-based automotive MCU offerings span a broad memory space and include package options from 8K to 2MByte with 16 to 176 pins initially.

“Freescale is taking a significant step in enabling the rapid development of automotive software and we are proud to be a part of this breakthrough of empowering software engineers,” said Robert DeOliveira, director of Global Strategic Sales, IAR Systems. “The S32K product line, in combination with the IAR Embedded Workbench, will offer a compelling option for customers demanding high performance AUTOSAR support and functional safety in their designs.”

"Freescale ships more than 1m units per day into the general purpose automotive microcontroller market," said Manuel Alves, Global Product Line Manager, Automotive MCU Group, Freescale. "The volume and diversity of software running in automobiles around the world continues to grow. There's a tremendous opportunity for building more reusable software platforms, and S32K provides a very compelling hardware basis for it. The new S32K MCUs are Freescale’s response to the market shifting from optimizing bits and bytes to optimizing software investments for the long term.”

In addition to software hurdles, automotive engineers can also face challenges associated with designing systems that comply with current and future standards. Freescale’s S32K MCUs are designed to help simplify and speed ISO26262 assessments by applying Freescale’s best-in-class SafeAssure functional safety programme throughout the portfolio. The increasingly interconnected nature of a vehicle’s control modules means there is no safety without security. Consequently, to support broad vehicle-level functional safety and security, S32K MCUs incorporate a Secure Hardware Extension (SHE) compliant module to help secure communications and protect the integrity of subsystems.

The S32K supports CAN Flexible Data rate (CAN-FD) as well as the FlexIO configurable peripheral, allowing customers to implement future communication protocols not yet invented, as well as to expand channels to existing on-chip hardware protocol controllers. The S32K MCUs’ ARM Cortex-M4 core architecture includes an IEEE-754 compliant Floating Point Unit (FPU), unleashing the full potential of model-based design flows. The combination of a fast CPU with flexible low-power modes and low-leakage process technology means customers need not compromise performance to realise power efficiency.

Sampling of S32K devices is planned for Alpha customers in Q3 2015. General availability is planned for 2016.

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