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Freescale expands 16bit automotive MCU portfolio

Posted: 06 Dec 2006     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Freescale Semiconductor  FlexRay technology  flash memory scaling  MC9S12XF  S12XF 

With the market debut of FlexRay technology in 2007 model vehicles, high-speed communications networks are redefining automotive safety and performance. To help drive next-generation vehicle network architectures forward, Freescale Semiconductor has expanded its family of 16bit automotive microcontrollers (MCUs) with FlexRay technology and flash memory scaling to 512K.

Based on Freescale's widely used, high-volume S12 architecture, the MC9S12XF family provides a high-performance distributed control solution for embedded nodes on FlexRay networks used in body, chassis and safety applications. FlexRay technology provides up to 10 times the speed of existing communications protocols for automotive networks. This leap in network performance can enable more nimble and versatile stability control systems, more precise engine management and weight-saving electronic "brake-by-wire" systems that eventually may replace bulky hydraulic brakes.

"FlexRay technology provides the high-speed communications bandwidth required by today's active driving systems and tomorrow's autonomous cars with drive-by-wire capabilities," said Ray Cornyn, Freescale's global manager of automotive microcontrollers. "To help proliferate this innovative technology, Freescale offers a growing portfolio of stand-alone FlexRay controllers and 16- and 32-bit FlexRay embedded MCUs. Today's S12XF family expansion broadens the choice of FlexRay solutions for automotive system designers."

The S12XF family features four highly integrated MCUs offering a variety of memory configurations and Freescale's performance-boosting XGATE coprocessor. Package options range from the 112-pin low-profile quad flat-pack (LQFP) device to the 10-by-10mm 64-pin LQFP–the smallest FlexRay controller available.

The small-footprint S12XF MCUs are ideal for space-restricted applications, such as distributed actuator and sensor control modules that communicate with 32-bit central controllers on a FlexRay network. The 16-bit S12XF devices can serve as end nodes for a wide range of advanced safety and active driving applications, such as suspension control, active rollover prevention, active breaking, lane departure warning, parking manoeuvre assistance and electronic parking brakes.

FlexRay technology is a deterministic, fault-tolerant communications protocol that supports data rates of 10Mbps for advanced control applications. By offering increased network throughput, this high-speed communications technology can help enable system cost reductions by reducing the number of parallel controller area networks (CAN) used to solve bandwidth bottlenecks. The high bandwidth of FlexRay technology makes it an ideal protocol for vehicle-wide network backbones, and the dual-channel architecture addresses the redundancy requirements of advanced safety systems. The combination of these benefits enables next-generation vehicle designs that are safer, more responsive, more reliable and more environmentally friendly.

In addition to offering FlexRay technology, the S12XF family integrates Freescale's XGATE coprocessor module, which functions like a dedicated coprocessor for the main CPU. Introduced on the S12X architecture in 2004, the RISC-based XGATE coprocessor addresses the design challenge of achieving higher MCU performance without the cost and complexity of adding separate processors.

Running at twice the speed of the main CPU without any CPU processing overhead, the XGATE coprocessor is engineered to boost system performance by up to 100 MIPS at peak operation. As a result of this coprocessor architecture, S12XF devices can deliver performance similar to many 32-bit MCUs while retaining the benefits of Freescale's successful S12X architecture, such as low system cost and high code efficiency.

Freescale plans to offer samples of MC9S12XF family devices (MC9S12XF512, MC9S12XF384, MC9S12XF256 and MC9S12XF128) and evaluation boards in Q1 2007.

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