NXP is delivering a range of solutions to address the exploding automotive electronics market, starting with components through platforms like its BlueBox designed to support software development of self-driving cars. The BlueBox handles machine learning (ML) and other applications needed by such autonomous cars. It was based on NXP’s S32 family of processors.
Self-driving cars tend to be electric or hybrid vehicles that require a good bit of computing power to manage the numerous subsystems (Fig. 1). The BlueBox typically hooks into the control system for the vehicles rather than directly manage these control functions.
1. Hybrid and electric vehicles need a wide range of software control services.
On that front, at this year’s Embedded World conference, NXP was showing off its GreenBox (Fig. 2). The GreenBox is a software-development platform for electric, internal combustion, and hybrid vehicles that would manage vehicle functions like battery management, electric motors, and engine.
2. NXP’s GreenBox software-development platform manage vehicle functions such as battery management, electric motors, and the engine.
The GreenBox is also based on S32 processors, but it will eventually house a yet-to-be-announced SoC that targets the automotive space. In the meantime, the GreenBox provides the same functionality so that developers can get started now and easily transition to the new hardware platform when it’s available.
The GreenBox contains a 64-bit, quad-core, ARM Cortex-A system (Fig. 3). This is surrounded by connectivity and peripheral interfaces needed in an automotive environment. Communication services include support for Gigabit Ethernet, FlexRay, and CAN FD, as well as SPI, LIN, I2C, and Zipwire. In terms of analog interfaces, there’s a sigma-delta ADC and an eQADC. The memory is ECC protected and hardware security support features a secure enclave.
3. The GreenBox contains a 64-bit, quad-core, ARM Cortex-A system with interfaces and analog support.
The system comes with an AUTOSAR operating system and MCAL drivers. Developers have access to the S32 Design Studio tool suite. A Quick Start Guide provides a simple out-of-box experience. It includes software examples for many control scenarios, from motor control to battery management.