Higher computing performance is rapidly becoming a necessity for automakers as they seek to optimize the air-fuel mixture and injection timing of today's engines. Using a scheme called direct injection, in which gas is injected into the combustion chamber via a common fuel rail (instead of into a cylinder port), automakers say they can boost their fuel efficiency by as much as 10 percent to 20 percent, in some cases.
The new MCU could help automakers do that because it enables them to boost the sampling rate from the engine's sensors and crunch the necessary numbers more quickly. Freescale said the sampling rate is a function of the 5746M's advanced sigma-delta analog-to-digital converters. The number-crunching capabilities are directly attributable to the device's three 200-MHz cores.
Freescale said its new device was also designed comply with the new ISO 26262 safety standard. ISO 26262 enables automakers to develop electronic systems that can prevent dangerous failures of airbags and steering, among other automotive systems.
The move to multicore is expected to gain momentum over the next two years as the auto industry migrates to more complex hybrid powertrains and higher-level safety and security systems. Other electronics suppliers are said to be targeting those areas with the development of their own multicore MCUs. In an email to Design News, a spokesman for Renesas Electronics said that automotive "multicore is on the roadmap" for the company.
Freescale said it expects the demand for the devices to increase quickly, especially in powertrain, largely because the technology gives automakers the opportunity to keep power consumption under control. "Low power has always been important in (automotive) body control," Veri said. "But it hasn't been as big a deal in powertrain until now."