A new processor family could help automakers and tier-one suppliers deal with rapidly changing electronic design standards in the dashboard by integrating a wide array of peripherals and multimedia support elements.
Analog Devices' new Blackfin ADSP-BF54x family incorporates CAN (Control Area Network) and MOST (Media-Oriented System Transport) databus peripherals and supports an alphabet soup of electronic device standards for cameras, MP3 players and video systems.
“We're focusing on the issues that automotive manufacturers are having right now, and we're trying to help them solve their problems,” says Dan Callen, senior product manager for Analog Devices Inc.
Specifically, the new processor family is targeting the well-known cycle time differential that has befuddled automakers during the past five years. Automakers are now increasingly moving away from the permanent embedding of electronic consumer products in their vehicles, mainly because those products are often obsolete by the time vehicles reach the streets. Most automakers and tier-one suppliers are now creating electrical architectures that enable consumers to bring their handheld devices — hands-free phones, iPods, MP3 players, cameras, navigation devices and video players — into their vehicles, as a means of so-called “future-proofing.”
Analog Devices' new Blackfin family could serve as an adjunct to that effort by incorporating many of the necessary peripherals needed to support those devices. The ADSP-BF54x, for example, includes support for USB On The Go, a standard that allows USB devices to talk to one another, and MXVR (Media Transfer), an interface that integrates automotive telematics systems and infotainment systems through a MOST 2 network.
Callen says up until now, vehicle manufacturers had to use multiple chips — ranging from specialized audio and video processors to dedicated devices for cell phones and navigation systems — to accomplish all that. With the new processor family, he says, that will change.
“The piece that engineers didn't have before was a single processor that could do multimedia processing while supporting an operating system and doing multimode communications,” Callen says. “Now, they can do it with one device.”