Other semiconductor makers are rolling out similar solutions. Late last year, Renesas Electronics introduced its RH850 32-bit RISC MCUs, which incorporate up to 8 MB of Flash memory. It also rolled out the RZ family of ARM-based microprocessors, aimed at applications requiring up to 300 MHz of performance.
For end node communication, Freescale also recently unveiled its S12 MagniV microcontroller portfolio. MagniV is targeted at the end nodes on LIN body networks (which handle doors, windows, and lighting), as well as CAN networks (which control onboard diagnostics and powertrain). Freescale says the new MagniV family will enable automotive engineers to use fewer components and cut board sizes at the end nodes, possibly removing as much as 20 pounds of copper wiring from vehicles.
To be sure, the auto industry still has a major challenge in its ongoing electronic clean-up efforts. Vehicles use MCUs in virtually every major auto system, ranging from engines and transmissions to air bags and instrument clusters. Moreover, the list is growing, as processors migrate out to ignitions, horns, phones, headlights, heaters, seat motors, turn signals, dome lights, DVD players, window lifts, navigation products, power steering systems, and tire pressure management devices, to name just a few.
But suppliers believe that the latest generation of their MCUs can make in-roads. “There’s a way to reduce the number of modules and gateways,” Loane told us. “Hypothetically, if we could get it down to a single module that integrates all the functionality, that would be ideal.”
Chuck, Excellent article. It's amazing that high end vehicles could have as many as 100 microcontrollers but it makes sense. Infotainment and new "smart" features just add to the load. Will be interesting to see how quickly there could be some combining of functions. I assume that is a trend for the future?
Five years ago, optical heart rate tracking seemed like an obvious successor to the popular chest straps used by many fitness buffs, but the technology has faced myriad engineering challenges on its way to market acceptance.
Design engineers need to prepare for a future in which their electronic products will use not just one or two, but possibly many user interfaces that involve touch, vision, gestures, and even eye movements.
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