New NXP real-time processors pave the way to software-defined vehicle

New NXP real-time processors pave the way to software-defined vehicle

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By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The evolution in automotive electronics toward domain and zone architectures is in full swing. Drivers include wire harness savings opportunities and cost and weight reductions. More importantly, these architectures enable a scalable and cost-effective software-centric approach to developing and upgrading smart vehicles. This fundamental shift requires new processors that offer higher performance, application isolation, and memory expansion capabilities because it means that ECUs traditionally implemented as stand-alone devices with dedicated microcontrollers will in the future be implemented “virtually,” i.e., as software tasks on high-performance hardware.

The development of real-time processors with the necessary performance and deterministic behavior requires intensive cooperation throughout the automotive sector. NXP has brought Robert Bosch GmbH on board as a development partner in this rigorous process. “We worked closely with NXP on the two new processor families,” said Axel Aue, VP of engineering at Bosch. “The S32Z and S32E processors offer a performance increase of a factor of 2 compared to embedded NVM MCUs, key integration platform features, and scalable memory. It also enables consolidation and isolation of vehicle functions that previously required multiple MCUs.”

NXP’s S32Z and S32E processors, with their eight Arm Cortex-R52 processor cores with split-lock support operating at up to 1 GHz, provide capabilities beyond today’s automotive microcontrollers to address the challenges of securely integrating deterministic, high-performance, real-time applications. The processors isolate independent real-time applications with “core-to-pin” hardware virtualization and resource firewalls for interference-free operation.

With up to 64 MB of built-in flash memory, the processors are designed for large-scale over-the-air (OTA) updates and support LPDDR4 DRAM and flash expansion memory with execute-in-place (XiP) mode for large applications and Autosar Adaptive applications. A communication accelerator (FlexLLCE) supporting 24 CAN interfaces and a Gigabit Ethernet switch supporting Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) seamlessly deliver vehicle data to the now virtualized ECUs, contributing to better efficiency while enabling software development to be optimized. A hardware security engine (HSE) supports secure boot, accelerated security services and key management. The S32Z and S32E processors are certified to ISO/SAE 21434 for cybersecurity and ISO 26262 for ASIL D functional safety.

NXP provides system support for S32Z and S32E processors to accelerate customer designs. These include the jointly developed FS86 ASIL D Safety System Basis Chip (SBC) and PF5030 Power Management IC (PMIC) with enhanced safety features and support for in-vehicle networking with Ethernet switches and PHYs and CAN transceivers, as well as other companion analog chips such as the GD3160 IGBT/SiC high-voltage inverter gate driver and MC3377x battery cell controller.

The S32Z280 and S32E288 are the first two devices available immediately to customers. Silicon evaluation, software development and rapid prototyping can be accelerated using GreenVIP Vehicle Integration Platform software with the GreenBox 3 development platform, supported by a wide range of software and tools and a strong partner ecosystem.

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