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Dual-core MCUs meet automotive safety standards

Posted: 07 Nov 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:dual-core MCU? IEC safety standard? automotive application?


Texas Instruments Inc. has launched what it claims to be the first ARM Cortex-R4F processor-based floating point, lock step dual-core automotive MCU.

Based on two Cortex-R4F processors, the TMS570F MCUs were designed specifically for applications required to meet the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61508 SIL3 or ISO26262 ASIL D safety standards. An increasing number of manufacturers demand these stringent standards as more automotive applications become safety-critical.

"According to Strategy Analytics, the number of microcontrollers per car is forecast to double by 2012," said Wayne Lyons, director, embedded solutions, ARM. "Added to this growth, the sophistication of safety control functions is expected to increase substantially. TI's Cortex-R4F processor-based TMS570F MCUs offer designers a way to reduce that complexity while offering top-notch performance and the ability to differentiate their solutions."

Added precision, differentiation
The TMS570F MCU allows automotive system designers to implement both single and double precision floating point math depending on performance requirements. Accelerated multiply, divide and square root functions enable physical model-based control through development environments like The Mathworks Real Time Workshop and ETAS ASCET. These graphical-based environments help engineers accelerate complex safety application designs and add differentiation through custom vehicle control algorithms for unique handling, ride and user experience. As the demand for differentiated, safety-critical automotive applications increases, MCU-based systems that can meet these performance demands via integrated, intelligent systems will become increasingly important.

"Embedded control will continue to be a primary driver of high-end automotive microcontroller performance and functional development," said Mark Fitzgerald, senior analyst with Strategy Analytics. "However, going forward, multi-sensor advanced driver assistance system applications will increasingly emerge as high performance processor drivers. As a result, multicore designs will increase for greater computational performance."

Developers typically begin creating algorithms in a floating point environment for validation and then convert the code to run on fixed-point devices. Using the TMS570F MCU, however, developers can now eliminate the weeksand often monthsof time spent contending with scaling, saturation and adjustment of numerical resolution required in fixed point implementations. The dual core lockstep implementation also simplifies software development by removing redundant safety system requirements.

Safety guarantee
Hardware BIST of both memory and CPU functions further increases integration and lets designers detect latent defects without using complex safety software drivers that reduce performance and have significant code size overhead. Hardware comparison of the CPU's outputs provides on line diagnostics with exceptional safety response time and no additional software overhead.

The Cortex-R4F processor-based MCU is designed to meet error-free automotive safety standards and provide system-wide protection through seamless support for error detection from the processor, through the interconnect and into the memories. The error correction code (ECC) logic is integrated into the Cortex-R4F CPU, which protects both the memories and busses. Because ECC is evaluated within the CPU, the system takes advantage of the eight-stage pipeline to allow time for ECC evaluation with no performance impact. In the event of a memory error, the ECC logic will correct it, rather than just communicating the error and stopping the system.

The TMS570F MCU platform uses two identical ARM Cortex-R4F processors combined with an initial 2Mbyte on-chip flash memory. Industry standard peripherals include FlexRay protocol controller, up to three CAN and two LIN modules along with TI's high-end timer co-processor and two 12bit ADC. Targeted applications include chassis control, braking, electronic vehicle stability and steering as well as advanced driver assistance with higher and lower memory and performance variations in development.

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