The first 65nm ARM Cortex safety microcontrollers equipped with flash technology have arrived and gone into volume production, thanks to a collaborative effort between automotive-supply company Continental and Texas Instruments (TI).
The 65nm flash technology serves as the foundation for TI’s Hercules safety MCU products. A processor developed by Continental, which brings electronic-braking-system (PACE) applications into the mix, also is used in the Continental MK 100 family of electronic-stability-control (ESC) systems.
Continental maintains that its MK 100 ESC systems have a special quality to them due to the high level of safety integration. On top of that, the system’s safety MCU architecture, combined with TI’s 65nm embedded flash, should provide design benefits for car manufacturers.
One example is the integration of MK 100 ESC sensors onto a controller’s circuit board that’s aimed at future generations of electric parking brakes. Such integration reduces the amount of controllers currently required, says the company. The technology also is expected to provide a modular approach along with a greater number of automotive-safety functions, including active rollover protection, trailer stability assist, and hill start assistance.
In addition to claiming competitive performance-to-cost ratios, these safety MCUs follow a development flow and architecture aligned with ISO 26262 and IEC61508 standards, which helps with system integration.
Another facet of TI’s automotive safety portfolio involves its work on car vision control systems. These systems are designed to process digital information from sources like digital cameras, lasers, radar, and other sensors to perform various tasks ranging from lane-departure warning and drowsiness sensors to parking assistance. The processed information can be displayed on screens or announced via acoustic warning signals.
In-car communication systems enable transmission of information between electronic modules in the car, such as the remote sub-modules of the infotainment system, as well as external devices (e.g., USB memory or video sources). Connecting these modules requires fast CAN in the form of a two-wire, fault-tolerant differential bus.
Moreover, LIN is implemented to support low-speed (up to 20kbps) single-bus wire networks, which in turn communicate with remote sub-functions of the infotainment system. Low-voltage differential-signaling interfaces are utilised to transfer large amounts of data via a high-speed serial connection to a video screen.
Safety MCUs offering an ARM Cortex-R4F based solution are certified suitable for systems that need to achieve IEC61508 SIL-3 safety levels. These MCUs feature integrated floating-point, 12bit ADCs, motor-control-specific PWMs, and encoder inputs via its flexible HET Timer co-processor.
Hercules Safety MCUs also can be used to implement scalar and vector-control techniques, and support a range of performance requirements.