SAN ANTONIO, Texas—Automobile makers worldwide are grappling with meeting the safety standards set by the International Standards Organization (ISO 26262), which sets a high bar for automotive system failures that could cause injuries. Freescale Semiconductor aims to help auto makers meet the emerging safety mandate with a new system basic chip (SBC) which works hand-in-hand with its Power Architecture Qorivva MPC574x microcontrollers which provide a lock-step "checker" core to meet ISO 26262.
SBC works hand-in-hand with Qorivva MPC574x microcontrollers
"As the first members of our SafeAssure family of microcontrollers and peripheral chips, we are demystifying what manufacturers have to do to comply with the new ISO standards," said Mark O'Donnell, automotive marketing microcontroller solutions manager.
Freescale's SafeAssure program was initiated before the finalization of the ISO 26262 standard last year, but has just recently gotten specific microcontroller support from Freescale. The SafeAssure program includes not just microcontrollers and peripheral chip support, but also a provides a selection of sensors and analog ICs that aid in ISO 26262 compliance, along with training, safety documentation and technical support for functional safety application design (see details here).
Finalized late last year, automobile manufacturers worldwide are scrambling to meet the new standards, which provide four levels of safety compliance for critical systems including electric power steering, electronic stability control, vehicle dynamic and chassis control, safety domain control, adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection.
"Our new SBC and MPC574xP 32-bit microcontrollers work together to simplify compliance with all levels ISO 26262 compliance, right up to the most stringent one, Automotive Safety Integrity Level D," said David Lopez, product line manager for analog, mixed-signal and power.
The Qorivva MPC574x microcontrollers, built on a 55 nanometer process and running at up to 180 MHz, includes a lock-step "checker" core that runs two clock steps behind the main core, allowing errors to be quickly detected and corrected before safety issues can crop up. The SBC chip provides failsafe power to the Qorivva microcontroller, optimizes energy consumption, plus provides a serial peripheral interface to allow control and diagnostics as well as other safety measures.
Lock-step "checker" cores running two steps behind sound like a good way to detect hardware failures, power glitches, or electrical interference that corrupt data processing. Can they help with hackers or malicious disruption? It would seem that whatever mechanism exists to allow software upgrades to alter the master and checker software could be exploited by hackers.
Certifying ISO 26262 compliance in order to meet worldwide mandates for tougher safety and security standards should get a leg up from Freescale's SafeAssure program, which also covers International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61508 and other emerging standard. Details at: