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Microcontroller Invasion!

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David Ashton
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re: Microcontroller Invasion!
David Ashton   7/2/2012 12:13:00 AM
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Well if you're using a desktop PC you'd have the main processor, a graphics processor, one in the display, one in the keyboard and like as not one in the mouse as well. There'd be one in your desk phone too. That's 6 without even getting out of your chair. "Japanese company called Kyrocera" - this should be Kyocera (no R). They used to make nice cellphones, but you don't see much of them these days. I had one once, but the speech recognition didn't like Zimbabwean accents.....

Brian@BDH
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re: Microcontroller Invasion!
Brian@BDH   7/2/2012 4:11:39 AM
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Here are the statistics I found from 2009 (see "Ref" link below). I couldn't find anything newer. However, from my experience, the estimates seems in-line with current vehicles (not including EVs, Hybrids, etc. - they would have more.) - Most automakers say that today's average car uses between 35 and 45 microcontrollers. - Luxury automakers employ 40 to 50. - BMW's 7 Series is said to have topped out at 70. Ref: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=228519

Max The Magnificent
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re: Microcontroller Invasion!
Max The Magnificent   7/2/2012 12:38:29 PM
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Good Grief!!! 70 MCUs in a single vehicle ... my mind is well and truly boggled...

Max The Magnificent
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re: Microcontroller Invasion!
Max The Magnificent   7/2/2012 12:39:14 PM
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What I want to know is what your current Zimbabwean-Australian Accent sounds like!

antedeluvian
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re: Microcontroller Invasion!
antedeluvian   7/2/2012 2:20:09 PM
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The Zimabwean accent sticks fast. Not even 22 Canadian winters have dislodged mine!

Paul A. Clayton
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re: Microcontroller Invasion!
Paul A. Clayton   7/3/2012 3:38:18 AM
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You forgot the disk drive. I suspect that I/O Hub chips also commonly contain at least one processor, but I do not recall reading anything confirming that suspicion. In addition, if separate processors in a SoC are counted separately, then the individual cores of a more recent CPU should be counted separately. PC GPUs also tend to have more than one core (in the sense of independent hardware for instruction fetching, not the execution units which NVIDIA calls "CUDA cores").

Paul A. Clayton
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re: Microcontroller Invasion!
Paul A. Clayton   7/3/2012 4:08:35 AM
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Based on the article, it sounds like a lot of processors are special purpose (along the lines of one for each power window motor control and door lock). Some of this excess probably comes from a separation of design (intended to reduce communication requirements among design groups). It is not clear from the article why a centralized control would require more wiring since (I assume) the electricity has a central supply anyway. With a desire for whole-system monitoring (so a single interface could probe faults in any component), a distributed system would seem to require at least as much networking as a more centralized system. It seems extremely unlikely that the designers would do something stupid, though internal politics (e.g., "if we merge these functions, Manager X have fewer workers/less status") and poor communication can breed stupid choices.

Paul A. Clayton
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re: Microcontroller Invasion!
Paul A. Clayton   7/3/2012 4:14:58 AM
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Nice article. While multicore and coarse-grained time multiplexed processors (by implication in use of more powerful processors for multiple tasks) were mentioned, I was a little disappointed that fine grained and simultaneous multithreading were not mentioned.

Brian@BDH
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re: Microcontroller Invasion!
Brian@BDH   7/3/2012 6:43:53 AM
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Actually, I believe it as to do with the large number of applications and ECUs in vehicles. Yes, there could be some duplication (door zone modules as you mention); however, most people do not realize how many ECUs are in vehicles. Here's a few lists of application examples. 1) Expand each of the Subcategories at the Infineon link below. http://www.infineon.com/cms/en/product/applications/automotive/index.html 2) Expand the "Automotive Applications" at the Freescale link below. http://www.freescale.com/webapp/sps/site/homepage.jsp?code=IFATOATMTV 3) Scroll down to page 2 on the Atmel link below. And note, that doesn't include any chassis ECUs, safety ECUs, driver assistance, ABS/Braking, missing engine/trans under Powertrain category, etc. http://www.atmel.com/Images/doc4073.pdf

ftuccio
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re: Microcontroller Invasion!
ftuccio   7/3/2012 10:50:47 AM
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I'm reminded of a Sci-Fi novel I read many years ago, titled "The day the machines stopped" by Christorpher Anvil (sp?), wherein after some catastrophy, all the machines in the wotld stopped working, and no one remembered how to do anything. If we're not careful, we could end up like that someday.

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