DALLAS — Freescale Semiconductor has rolled out the triple-core ARM-based MAC57D5xx microcontroller family, built to bring sharper graphics and higher-end automotive instrument clusters to mid-level and economy cars. The product was born from direct collaboration between a European car company and Freescale's Automotive MCU group.
The company says MAC57D5xx, which Freescale announced this past week at the Freescale Technology Forum in Dallas, is faster than the nearest MCU equivalent on the market.
"We're not only a higher clock rate but architecturally we have more compute units," said Bob Conrad, senior vice president and general manager of Freescale's Automotive MCU group, in an interview with EE Times. Freescale has clocked it at 1.7 DMIPS (Dhrystone millions of instructions per second) faster.
Bob Conrad, senior vice president and general manager, Freescale's Automotive MCU group, introduces MAC575Dxx family at Freescale Technology Forum, on April 9, 2014.
(Source: EE Times/Susan Rambo)
On a single chip, the MAC57D5xx has three ARM cores, a 2D graphics accelerator, SRAM, and other perks, such as Freescale's stall detection for any mechanical instruments with stepper motors. The idea is to have all the components on the chip to streamline development of the instrument cluster design.
MAC57D5xx is Freescale's first instrument cluster MCU based on ARM and multicore, said Conrad. The MCU uses ARM Cortex-M (M4 and M0+) for real-time applications and ARM Cortex-A for applications and human machine interface (HMI). The MCU supports single or dual screens and one has inline head-up display (HUD) hardware warping. MAC57D5XX's direct descendent is Freescale's Qorivva MPC564xS MCUs for instrument clusters (Power architecture) and its high-end cousin is the ARM-based i.MX.
From pre-production overview:
- ARM-based multi-core architecture platform
- ARM Cortex-A5, 32-bit CPU (application processor)
- ARM Cortex-M4, 32-bit CPU (vehicle processor)
- ARM Cortex-M0+, 32-bit CPU (I/O processor)
- Intelligent stepper motor drive with stepper stall detect
- Low-power mode peripheral management
- Supports 2 WVGA displays
- On-the-fly Head Up Display (HUD) warping engine
- Functional safety and security compliant
- Ethernet 10/100 + AVB (ENET)
- Autonomous real-time clock (self calibrating)
Block diagram of MAC57D5xx automotive DIS MCU for instrument clusters.
Integrated stepper motor drivers with stepper stall detect are included because "there are still some mechanical gauges on the dash panel; the stall detection is periodically checking those stepper motors to see if they are working." said Conrad.
Collaborating with chip companies
Unique with this chip: Freescale worked directly with the car company to define the chips. "It's a purpose-built evolution like [Freescale's] i.MX, but at a different price point. The definition we get tends to come through Tier 1 electronics makers." Conrad would not name the car company but said it is European and will be in its cars next year.
Although Freescale has relationship with car companies and always seeks to collaborate with them, "Each car company has a different personality," said Conrad.
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