Chip makers are hoping a new breed of microcontrollers (MCUs) will begin laying the foundation for a solution to one of the auto industry's most vexing design problems -- electronic complexity.
Using more cores, bandwidth, Flash memory, and onboard intelligence, the new MCUs could begin to chip away at the complexity issue, which is growing worse, even as suppliers struggle to make in-roads. "It's out of control," Brad Loane, auto body microcontroller product manager for Freescale Semiconductor, told Design News. "There's so much more lighting, so many new user interfaces, so many more sensors and actuators. It's getting so complex that it's driving up the weight and the cost."
Indeed, automotive electronics are now so pervasive that they account for at least 30 percent of the overall cost of a vehicle -- and some experts suggest that's a conservative figure. For hybrids, it could be as high as 45 percent. And, in a few years, hybrids could reach as high as 80 percent.
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