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Software solution enables rapid prototyping of automotive apps

Posted: 19 Oct 2006     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Freescale Semiconductor  RAppID ToolBox  automotive microcontroller 

To help automotive customers streamline model-based software development, Freescale Semiconductor Inc. has introduced the RAppID ToolBox, a software solution that supports on-target, rapid prototyping for Freescale's 32-bit MPC5500 automotive microcontroller (MCU) family.

The RAppID ToolBox is designed to help control engineers reduce development time and cost when migrating from their application modelling environment to real-world implementations on automotive MCU platforms intended for production. The tool-box provides prototyping solutions for a variety of automotive applications, such as engine and transmission control, anti-lock braking systems and chassis/suspension systems. Developers also can use the tool-box for non-automotive applications ranging from avionic systems to industrial printers to power generators.

"As microcontrollers become more powerful and feature-rich to address more complex applications, developers need access to more sophisticated yet easy to use prototyping solutions like the RAppID ToolBox," said Salim Momin, director of Freescale's Virtual Garage software and services business unit. "Control engineers can use the RAppID ToolBox to determine how their applications will perform on target MCUs early in the development cycle and then work on optimisation at the model level rather than at the code level."

Control engineers often validate their control models functionally by running auto-generated C code on commercially available rapid prototyping hardware. However, the prototyping hardware usually does not represent the MCU targeted for production. As a result, the engineers may not know the control algorithm's actual performance on the production MCU. In addition, engineers prefer to run their control algorithms on target MCUs early in the development cycle to validate their device selection. However, this can be a difficult, time-consuming task if they have to write the initialisation, device drivers and scheduler code by hand, which adds to the development cycle time.

Freescale's RAppID ToolBox addresses these challenges by enabling engineers to execute their control models on MPC5500 MCU family hardware without writing code and to profile the execution of the code on their target MCU. The RAppID ToolBox thus helps reduce development time by allowing engineers to work in their actual, real-world control environment.

Using the profiling feature of the RAppID ToolBox, application developers can study the performance of their control strategy on the target microcontroller early in the design cycle. The tool-box eliminates the need to invest in expensive prototyping hardware by supporting rapid prototyping on cost-effective evaluation boards for MPC5500 family devices, such as the MPC5554 MCU. Optimised DSP blocks enable developers to take advantage of the single-instruction/multiple-data (SIMD) capabilities of the MPC5554.

The RAppID ToolBox leverages the powerful modelling and simulation environment provided by The MathWorks product family with an add-on block set for MATLAB and Simulink, and an embedded target for Real-Time Workshop and Real-Time Workshop Embedded Coder. It supports Signal Processing Toolbox for optimised SIMD functions and Stateflow for interactive design and simulation.

Using the RAppID ToolBox, developers can quickly execute and evaluate their complex control algorithms on MPC5500 family platforms. The tool-box automatically generates the necessary software, from initialisation to device drivers to schedulers, including support for Freescale's OSEKturbo real-time operating system. The tool-box-generated code integrates seamlessly with commercial automatic code generation tools, such as TargetLink from dSPACE and Real-Time Workshop and Real-Time Workshop Embedded Coder.

The first RAppID ToolBox offering for the MPC5554 MCU is available now from Freescale's Virtual Garage.

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