At Convergence 2008 Fujitsu Microelectronics America introduced a new graphics display controller, the MB88F322. Combined with a low-cost MCU, the device provides a two-chip solution for a variety of low-cost cluster configurations including instrument clusters, heads-up displays, central information displays, and rear-seat entertainment systems.
Functioning as an engine optimized to process and animate sprites and bitmaps in a variety of sizes and color depths, the MB88F322 includes on-board features that reduce bill-of-materials cost, form factor, and total system power consumption.
The graphics display controller does not include a traditional 2D/3D rendering engine, so it can operate at frequencies of just 80 MHz with reduced power consumption. It also does not require the frame buffer memory typically needed for graphics rendering units but instead uses a less-expensive, line-buffering technique that requires minimal on-board memory – more than enough to support the bit maps and sprites typical in automotive applications, according to Fujitsu. For splash screens and other more complex content, the MB88F322 features run-time data compression for expansion of run-length encoded data.
The MB88F322 supports Inova Semiconductors’ Automotive Pixel Link (APIX) a serial gigabit interface that enables multiple remote display subsystems to be managed by one controller. Fujitsu said it is among the first silicon vendors to integrate the new image and peripheral data transmission standard into a portfolio of microcontrollers and graphics controllers. The MB88F322 couples the APIX interface with other interfaces to control LEDs, display backlights, stepper motors to control mechanical gauges, an enhanced sound generator and on-board memory.
The image-processing system in the MB88F322 provides 1-, 2-, 4-, and 8-bit indirect color palettes, along with 14-bit and 16-bit direct color modes for finer gradient coloring. A 4/8 bit alpha-plane and dithering-and-gamma unit ensures high image quality. The display controller supports a variety of display sizes with resolutions up to 800 x 600 and color depths of 8-, 16- and 24-bits. An integrated programmable timing control unit (TCON) enables the device to be interfaced directly with a bare display panel, significantly reducing overall system cost.
An industry common 5-volt device, the MB88F322 includes six on-chip stepper motor controllers (SMC), enabling its use in mixed clusters that feature both TFT and traditional mechanical gauges. The controller also integrates on-chip pulse width modulators (PWM), A/D converters, I2C, UARTs, and a sound generator, allowing control of all the peripheral functions (including backlight circuits, LEDs, sensors and on-board communication) in a display subsystem.
Dan Landeck, senior manager of Automotive Solutions for Fujitsu Microelectronics America’s Automotive Business Group, said the combination of advanced functionality and the elimination of frame-buffer memory means new designs can be deployed on low-cost, two-layer boards with a minimum of external components. “The MB88F322 supports the APIX interface and eliminates unnecessary memory while incorporating a comprehensive set of functions that take the development of vehicle information and entertainment systems to a new level of low power and high performance.”