MCU supports high data rate communications for next-gen vehicles

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By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics has unveiled new microcontrollers (MCUs) for the future electrified powertrains and domain-oriented, over-the-air updatable systems that will form the basis for the next generation of electric vehicles (EVs). These vehicles will generate, process and transmit significantly larger amounts of data than today’s cars. ST’s new Stellar P6 series automotive MCUs support these data rates. According to the manufacturer, they are the industry’s first qualifiable devices for 2024 model year vehicles that integrate the new CAN-XL on-board communications standard. This technology will enable the new vehicle platforms to handle the increasing volume of data so that the vehicles reach their maximum performance.

“The Stellar P6 series of real-time, energy-efficient automotive microcontrollers combines advanced motion control and power management integration with new update capabilities, setting the stage for a seamless transition from traditional internal combustion engine and electric drive vehicles to the new propulsion and traction architecture concepts of software-defined vehicles,” said Luca Rodeschini, automotive and discrete vice president, strategic business development and automotive processing and RF general manager at STMicroelectronics.

ST designed its Stellar family of automotive MCUs to help automakers and Tier 1 suppliers transition to software-defined vehicles.

Meanwhile, the Stellar family consists of several series:

  • – The Stellar Series E represents fast real-time control and system miniaturization in power conversion applications, maximizing the benefits of SiC and GaN power technologies in on-board charging systems, DC/DC converters and EV traction inverters, to name a few applications.
  • – The Stellar G Series MCUs act as secure data hubs and real-time collection points for body functions, primarily for zonal architectures. The series implements best-in-class OTA updates, low-power modes of operation and data routing over a wide range of on-board communication protocols.
  • – The new Stellar P6 Series automotive MCUs include qualifiable devices that combine advanced actuation capabilities with high-performance functional integration. The Stellar P6 series targets emerging powertrain trends for electric vehicles and domain-oriented architectures to achieve optimum real-time performance and power management.

Samples of the Stellar P6 Series are now available for 2024 model year vehicles.

The Stellar P6 series is manufactured in ST’s own wafer fabs using an energy-efficient FD-SOI (28 nm) technology and contains up to 20 Mbytes of non-volatile phase-change memory (PCM). ST’s PCM memory has been designed and tested to meet automotive industry requirements for high temperature operation, radiation resistance and data retention. With its single-bit overwrite capability, not offered by flash memory otherwise commonly used for such applications, it also achieves shorter access times. In addition, over-the-air updates, which do not require a system shutdown, use a pioneering mechanism to reduce memory requirements. To do this, memory is dynamically allocated to the newly downloaded software image until it is validated. All this happens while the application currently running in real time is being processed from the remaining memory.

The Stellar P6 series MCUs contain up to six Arm Cortex R52 processor cores, some of which operate in lockstep mode and some in split-lock mode to provide fail-safe redundancy. The new devices thus achieve high performance, real-time determinism and upgradeability for the next generation of automotive powertrains, electrification solutions and domain-oriented systems. Using the features of the Cortex-R52 and with firewalls for resource access, the Stellar P6 series also coordinates hardware virtualization (sandboxing). This simplifies the development and integration of software from multiple sources on the same chip, while providing secure isolation and performance.

State-of-the-art security measures at all levels of the architecture are designed to ensure particularly efficient implementation of ISO 26262 ASIL-D-compliant functions. Apart from this, the FD-SOI technology offers, by principle, very high radiation immunity and outstanding protection against system unavailability, while ensuring compliance with the most stringent security standards.

A fast Hardware Security Module (HSM), complemented by cryptographic units operating in lockstep mode, supports secure ASIL-D functions and sets the stage for enhanced, comprehensive EVITA security features. Last but not least, fast security cryptography functions and secure network authentication are offered to provide additional protection for the manufacturer’s firmware and end-user data.

Related articles:

ST starts shipments of its Stellar microcontrollers to selected customers

UDE 2022 supports ST’s Stellar E-MCU family with dedicated features

ST fleshes out Stellar automotive MCU features

VW software subsidiary Cariad, ST co-develop high-performance automotive SoC



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