Freescale S32 ups automotive ante
Freescale Semiconductor is already supplying microcontrollers for the high-end functions — about 70% of the job — but now it wants to tackle the low-end functions too, with its new family of S32K microcontrollers–derived from its eight-bit S08 and 12-bit S12 families, but now 32-bits wide.
"Freescale has created a new 32-bit ARM-based hardware platform–the S32K–for automotive applications which can perform about 30% of the operations needed in a modern car," Manuel Alves, global product line manager at Freescale told EE Times in advance of the announcement at the Freescale Technology Forum 2015 (FTF, June 22-25, Austin, Texas).
Freescale will also offer a functional-safety compliant software design studio free of charge to "make the life of the software engineer much easier by providing an open-source software-tool environment." The design studio will include reusable modules from Freescale and third parties that are all compatible with the whole spectrum of ARM-based ecosystem partners, ultimately shortening the product development cycle.
The entire software development kit — from drivers, to middleware (Core Self Test, LIN Stack, Automotive Math and Motor Control Library), to the real time operating system — are all provided open-source and for free including the application-programmer interfaces to premium tools ecosystem partners such as IAR Systems and Cosmic Software.
"What this proves is that Freescale is still fully committed to automotive market–in fact automotive is key to Freescale since they ship a million units per day to automotive manufacturers–second only to Renesas–and when they merge with NXP, Freescale will be number one in automotive," Jim McGregor, founder and principal analyst at Tirias Research (Phoenix, Ariz.) told EE Times. "Today’s cars are more like smartphones that mechanical beasts. The other big attraction about Freescale for automotive is their on-chip security measures. There have been several hacks in the last year alone and when you connect the infotainment system to the command-and-control systems, you are just opening the door to hackers."
With the addition of the S32K to Freescale’s i.MX and Kinetis lines, an entire car could conceivably be run by Freescale microcontrollers all using the free reusable components of its software development kit and free real time operating system including a Secure Hardware Extension (SHE) compliant module.
The S32K itself houses a 112 megaHertz ARM Cortex-M4 with a built-in digital signal processor and floating point unit and from 8-kilobytes to 2 megabytes (in nine steps–8k-, 16k-, 32k-, 64k-, 128k, 256k-, 512k-, 1M-, or 2Mega-bytes) for 18 models total today with over 100 more models on the way, according to Alves who called the series "future proof." On-chip hardware encryption/decryption for security also prevents counterfeit modules from being passed off as originals by crooks.
The S32K is also pre-validated to meet the required functional-safety standards including self-test for failure prevention, and security-key management along with an automotive-grade software development kit and S32 Design Studio that it claims is "beyond" the traditional Autosar Microcontroller Abstraction Layer, in collaboration with IAR Systems which supplies a compatible C++ compiler and debugger.
Article courtesy of EE Times
R. Colin Johnson is Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times