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Spansion makes headway with Cortex-R5-based automotive MCUs

Posted: 21 May 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Spansion  Cortex-R5  automotive MCU  flash memory  twin-motor controller 

Spansion Inc. has pushed out the door a family of automotive MCUs, called Traveo, based on ARM Cortex 5 cores, that seeks to grab a substantial share in the growing automotive chip market. The move leverages the MCU and analog businesses Spansion acquired from Fujitsu, combining them with its own flash memory technology.

Saied Tehrani, SVP and CTO at Spansion stated, "I believe we're the first company to use ARM's Cortex-R5 in automotive MCUs." The higher performance of the Cortex-R5 core, its speed in particular, will be a real advantage for the company's new automotive MCUs, said Tehrani. Further, the Cortex-R5 processor's dual core configurations, which allow lock-step redundant core for safety critical applications, are also effective for the two cores "to monitor each other," Tehrani added.

According to IHS, a market research company, Spansion entered the top 20 rankings for automotive MCUs in 2013 in seventh place.

Spansion still remains a niche player in the overall automotive MCU market, since the company participates only in certain segments. However, the Spansion CTO emphasised that his company's products are "well represented" (sometimes with a 35-45 per cent share) in specific automotive segments such as cluster/dashboard, HVAC and body electronics.

Spansion, throughout this year, plans to launch different members of the Traveo family, each dedicated to a specific segment of the automotive applications. The MCUs include twin motors, body electronics and cluster.

Spansion has unveiled its first Traveo MCU, called MB9D560, designed as a twin-motor controller for hybrid vehicles (HEV) and electrical vehicles (EV).

It will be first deployed in a 2015 model car by a Japanese automaker. Tehrani, who declined to name names, said the Japanese company will launch within the next few months a car with Spansion's twin-motor controller.

Traveo MCU automotive application

How Spansion's Traveo family of automotive MCUs will be used in a car (Source: Spansion)

In the MCU's dual structure, one core looks after the motor of a car while another monitors the generator. Integrated on the MB9D560 MCU are resolver sensors for motor control and unique hardware IP for motor control operations, according to the company. The sensors, while the car is driving, identify the exact position of the motor, and feed it back to the MCU. That information, in return, helps coordinate the power provided by the generator.

With the MB9D560, Spansion offers a single-chip solution that used to be implemented by four separate chips, two MCUs and two resolver digital converters (RDCs), according to Tehrani. He claimed that this is the first time RDCs have been integrated into a twin-motor controller.

Tom Hackenberg, principal analyst responsible for MCUs and DSPs at IHS, described the MB9D560 as "an elegant solution for EV motor control."

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