PORTLAND, Ore.--Freescale Semiconductor Inc. claims to have the world's first single-chip microcontroller capable of rendering analog automotive gauges, complete with 3-D shadows, as well as complex informatics such as iTunes-like "cover flows."
Automotive enthusiasts often lament the by-gone days of analog dashboards, which have largely been replaced with microcontrolled displays flashing numbers. Some high-end vehicles have replaced the flashing numbers with simulated analog gauges by adding expensive graphics accelerators.
"Freescale has the first automotive-qualified single-chip solution to provide high-end graphics for analog functions on advanced instrument cluster dashboards," said John Vincent, product manager of driver information systems at Freescale.
Freescale's single-chip solution houses two display controllers and a graphics accelerator block capable of on-the-fly scaling of polygons that is fast enough to provide the realistic shading and texturing necessary to make the needles on simulated analog gauges, according to Vincent.
"We can also render cover-flow type animations--like those featured by iTunes--for the secondary multi-media display," said Vincent.
Freescale's Qorivva MPC5645S also handles realtime video from backup cameras while simultaneously rendering analog instrument clusters including speed, RPM, fuel level and other safety functions.
Freescale claims world's first single-chip microcontrollers to enable shaded analog gauges and ultra-cool iTunes-like cover flow animations for low-end dashboards, thanks to the dual display controllers with graphics acceleration.
Regarding analog gauges, many believe people glean information from them more quickly than a flashing number that the brain must interpret using slower acting language center (as opposed to motion and position which are faster acting brain functions). If you are referring to the iTunes-like cover-flow capability, then it is definitely the "cool factor" that is the draw :)
While it may be more efficient for the machine, Humans were designed for an analog world. Humans read analog gauges far faster than they can read a digital readout. This is important when travelling at 88 feet per second down a backroad.
It's the reason race cars used to turn their gauges so normal operation pointed straight up.