IC Does Management for 14 Series-Connected Li-ion Battery Cells

Renesas Electronics has announced its fourth-generation lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery management IC that offers unmatched lifetime accuracy. The ISL78714 provides accurate cell voltage and temperature monitoring, along with cell balancing and extensive system diagnostics to protect 14-cell Li-ion battery packs while maximizing driving time and range for hybrid and electric vehicles (HEV/MHEV/PHEV/BEV).

The feature-rich ISL78714 monitors and balances up to 14 series connected cells with ±2mV accuracy across automotive temperature ranges, letting system designers make informed decisions based on absolute voltage levels. The ISL78714 includes a precision 14-bit analog-to-digital converter and associated data acquisition circuitry. The device also offers up to six external temperature inputs (two available from GPIOs) and includes fault detection and diagnostics for all key internal functions.

The ISL78714 meets the stringent reliability and performance requirements of battery pack systems for all EV variants including HEV/PHEV, with safety features enabling automotive manufacturers to achieve the ISO 26262 automotive safety integrity level (ASIL D). In addition, the ISL78714 monitors and reads back over/under voltage, temperature, open wire conditions, and fault status for 112 cells in less than 10 ms, or 70 cells in 6.5 ms.

Multiple ISL78714’s can be connected together via a proprietary daisy chain that supports systems up to 420 cells (30 ICs) that provide industry-leading transient and EMC/EMI immunity, exceeding automotive requirements. The ISL78714’s daisy-chain architecture uses low-cost capacitive or transformer isolation, or a combination of both, with twisted pair wiring to stack multiple battery packs together while protecting against hot plug and high voltage transients. A watchdog timer automatically shuts down a daisy-chained IC if communications is lost with the master MCU.

Key Features:

  • Monitors and manages up to 14 cell voltages with ±2mV measurement accuracy
  • Robust two-wire daisy chain communications system using capacitor or transformer coupling up to 1 Mbps
  • Fully differential cell input range of ±5V accommodates fuel cell and bus bar measurement requirements for aging battery packs
  • 15-year board level accuracy (long term drift) of ±6mV at ±6σ
  • High diagnostic coverage for cell voltage and temperature measurements
  • AEC-Q100 Grade-2 qualified and specified for operation from -40°C to +105°C

A battery management system (BMS) reference design is available, which includes five ISL78714 ICs and a RH850/P1M MCU to form a complete 70-cell evaluation platform for external balancing. The reference design kit provides setup and data logging via CAN and UART. Also provided is a GUI, Altium layout files and low-level drivers for the RH850 peripherals and ISL78714. Hardware, software, and interface reference manuals are included, along with an EMC report.

Mass production quantities of the ISL78714 Li-ion battery management IC are available now in a 64-lead TQFP package.

Renesas Electronics | www.renesas.com

 

Fuel Gauge ICs Provide 2-Level Li-ion Battery Protection

Maxim Integrated has announced fuel gauge ICs which that company claims offers the most configurable settings for battery safety in the industry and uniquely allow fine tuning of voltage and current thresholds based on various temperature zones. The newest 1-cell, pack-side ICs in this portfolio are the MAX17301 and the MAX17311. These ICs also offer a secondary protection scheme in case the primary protection fails. This secondary protection scheme permanently disables the battery by overriding a secondary protector or blowing a fuse in severe fault conditions.

All ICs in the family are equipped with Maxim’s patented ModelGauge m5 EZ algorithm that delivers highest state-of-charge (SOC) accuracy that on average offers 40% better accuracy than competitive offerings and eliminates the need for battery characterization. These fuel gauges also offer the industry’s lowest quiescent current (IQ) – up to 80% lower than the nearest competitor according to Maxim, and feature SHA-256 authentication to safeguard the systems from counterfeit batteries.

Conventional battery protectors monitor voltage and current, and in some cases include temperature monitoring. These options make the system vulnerable to unexpected crashes because battery state-of-charge (SOC) isn’t factored in when triggering an undervoltage cut-off decision. The market lacks a solution that allows deeper configuration of voltage or current thresholds based on multiple temperature environments.

With a growing market of battery-operated applications, there is a need for a simple, compact solution that protects from unsafe charging conditions that can lead to extensive battery damage including over-voltage, short circuit, over/under temperature and more. Additionally, system and battery designers continue to push the limits of capacity-constrained batteries in order to provide the longest possible run-time without damaging the cell. Currently, there are very few highly-configurable solutions that are still simple to implement. Designers are also looking for a way to protect the system by ensuring that only genuine batteries are used, which can eliminate unexpected shutdowns and crashes caused by potentially unsafe, counterfeit batteries.

Key Features:

  • Advanced Battery Protection: Ensures safe charging and discharging in a wide range of applications with 2-level Li-ion protector control for abnormal voltage, current and temperature conditions. Delivers protection against counterfeiting and cloning with SHA-256 authentication and provides unique as well as dynamic key for every battery.
  • High Accuracy: Delivers best-in-class SOC accuracy without battery characterization, says Maxim. Cycle+ age forecasting provides easy-to-understand prediction of remaining battery life for battery replacement planning or to control fast-charging. Battery life logging stores the history of operating conditions experienced by the pack over its lifetime.
  • Low IQ: Supports long product shelf-life and runtime with operating IQ of 24 µA active/18 µA low power with protector FETs on and 7 µA with protector FETs off.

Pricing for products in the ModelGauge m5 EZ fuel gauge IC portfolio starts at $1.14 (1,000-up). Pricing for all evaluation kits in this portfolio is $60.

Maxim Integrated | www.maximintegrated.com

IC Solutions Rev Up for Next Gen Auto Designs

MCUs, Analog ICs and More

Automotive electronics are evolving to facilitate the shift from driver assisted vehicle controls to full autonomous driving—but that’s only part of all that’s happening. To meet a variety of design challenges, MCU and analog IC vendors are developing innovative solutions for automotive systems.

By Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

There’s perhaps no more vivid example of the impact of embedded electronics than the continuing advances in automotive technologies. Today, those advances are set within an era of great innovation in the industry as car makers evolve their driver assistance technologies in parallel with their autonomous vehicle solutions, while at the same time improving the performance of full electric and hybrid electric vehicles. On top of all that, car infotainment systems are moving to an entirely new level.

To meet these system design changings automotive IC makers, continue to roll out chip, development system and software solutions aimed at next-gen automotive designs. Over the past 12 months, chip vendors, primarily microcontroller (MCU) and analog IC vendors, have announced a variety of powerful System-on-Chip (SoC), MCU and analog ICs solving all kinds of problems. Leveraging their long histories of serving the automotive market, the leading MCU vendors have taken the lead facilitating driverless car systems with not just chips, but also sophisticated development platform solutions for advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), battery management and other automotive subsystems.

Flash for Virtualization

Some of the advances in automotive electronics over the past 12 months have revolved around embedded flash solutions aimed directly at automotive system designs. In an example along those lines, in February, Renesas Electronics announced what it claims as the world’s first MCU with embedded flash that integrates a hardware-based virtualization-assisted function while maintaining the fast, real-time performance of the RH850 products.

Figure 1
The RH850/U2A MCU is equipped with up to four 400 MHz CPU cores in a dual core lock-step structure. Each CPU core integrates a hardware-based virtualization-assisted function.

This hardware-based virtualization assist technology can support up to ASIL D level of functional safety, providing greater levels of system integration. The RH850/U2A MCU (Figure 1) is the first member of Renesas’ cross-domain MCUs, a new generation of automotive-control devices, designed to address the growing need to integrate multiple applications into a single chip to realize a unified electronic control units (ECUs) for the evolving electrical-electronic architecture (E/E architecture).

Based on 28 nm process technology, the 32-bit RH850/U2A MCU builds on key functions from Renesas’ RH850/Px Series for chassis control and RH850/Fx Series for body control to deliver improved performance and implement a virtualization-assisted function to support operation in chassis/safety, body, domain control and low-end/mid-range gateway applications. The RH850/U2A MCU is equipped with up to four 400 MHz CPU cores in a dual core lock-step structure. Each CPU core integrates a hardware-based virtualization-assisted function, while maintaining the same fast real-time performance provided by the RH850. To support ASIL D, the MCU includes self-diagnostic SR-BIST (Standby-Resume BIST) functions with minimized current fluctuation rate.

The hardware-based virtualization-assisted function allows multiple software systems with varying ISO 26262 functional safety levels to operate independently without interference during high performance. It also reduces the virtualization overhead to maintain real-time execution. This enables users to integrate multiple ECU functions into a single ECU while maintaining safety, security and real-time operation requirements.
The RH850/U2A MCU is equipped with up to 16 MB of built-in flash ROM and 3.6 MB of SRAM, offering users the flexibility for future function expansion. The MCU includes security functions that support Evita Light up through Evita Full for enhanced protection against cyber-attacks, enabling the device to support safe and rapid Full No-Wait Over-the-Air (OTA) software updates as security requirements evolve.

Fail-Safe Storage

In other automotive flash technology news, in April Cypress Semiconductor announced that automotive supplier DENSO selected Cypress’ Semper fail-safe storage for its next-generation digital automotive cockpit applications with advanced graphics. Based on an embedded Arm Cortex-M0 processing core, the Semper family is purpose-built for automotive environments.

The Cypress Semper family offers high density serial NOR flash memory up to 4 Gb and leverages the company’s proprietary MirrorBit process technology. The family also features EnduraFlex architecture, which achieves greater reliability and endurance. Semper fail-safe storage devices were the first in the industry to achieve the ISO 26262 automotive functional safety standard and are ASIL-B compliant, says Cypress. According to Cypress, the Semper fail-safe storage products exceed automotive quality and functional safety requirements with ASIL-B compliance and are ready for use in ASIL-D systems. Cypress’ 512 Mb, 1 Gb and 2 Gb Semper devices are currently sampling.

Domain Controllers

For its part, STMicroelectronics (ST) also rolled out a new automotive-focused MCU offering back in February. Called the Stellar automotive MCU family, these devices support next-generation car architectures, which rely on broad “domain controllers” for areas such as the drivetrain, the chassis, and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). These domain controllers enable the transition toward software- and data-oriented architectures by providing data fusion from connected sensors while reducing harness complexity

Figure 2
The Stellar MCUs feature six Arm Cortex-R52 cores clocked at 400 MHz, 16 MB of Phase-Change Memory (PCM) and 8 MB of RAM, all in a BGA516 package.

Built on a 28 nm FD-SOI process, major applications for Stellar MCUs include smart control for hybrid powertrain, the broad electrification of car systems with on-board chargers, battery-management systems and DC-DC controllers, as well as smart gateways, ADAS and enhanced Vehicle Stability Controls. The MCUs feature six Arm Cortex-R52 cores clocked at 400 MHz, 16 MB of Phase-Change Memory (PCM) and 8 MB of RAM, all in a BGA516 package (Figure 2). Stellar-based control units are currently undergoing road tests with lead customers. …

Read the full article in the August 349 issue of Circuit Cellar
(Full article word count: 3207 words; Figure count: 8 Figures.)

Vendor list:

Cypress Semiconductor | www.cypress.com
Infineon Technologies | www.infineon.com
Maxim Integrated | www.maximintegrated.com
Microchip | www.microchip.com
Momenta | www.momenta.ai
NXP Semiconductor | www.nxp.com
Renesas Electronics America | www.renesas.com
STMicroelectronics | www.st.com
Texas Instruments | www.ti.com

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Note: We’ve made the October 2017 issue of Circuit Cellar available as a free sample issue. In it, you’ll find a rich variety of the kinds of articles and information that exemplify a typical issue of the current magazine.

Controllers Ease EMI Qualification of Automotive Touchscreens

Three new maXTouch touchscreen controllers and optimization services are now available from Microchip Technology to address electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) challenges faced by developers of automotive touchscreens. The TD family of touch controllers features a new differential mutual signal acquisition method that significantly increases the Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR). This allows the use of very thick glass or plastic cover lenses and multi-finger thick gloved touch support up to the equivalence of 4.5 mm polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA).

The MXT1067TD, MXT1189TD and MXT1665TD devices add several variants that are cost optimized for nine- to 13-inch automotive touchscreens to Microchip’s portfolio and are complemented by the recently-introduced MXT449TD, MXT641TD, MXT2113TD and MXT2912TD devices supporting up to 20-inch touchscreens. Each device addresses aspects of the increasing demand for functional safety features and is designed in accordance with the Automotive SPICE Level 3 capability and ISO 26262 Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) B requirements.

All devices in the TD family feature a unique waveform shaping capability to optimize the performance of the touch controller’s radiated emissions through an EMI optimization tool. Working with product experts in Microchip’s worldwide application design centers, this tool allows developers to enter user-defined RF limits and tune the shape of the transmitted burst waveform used for the touch sensing acquisition.

Waveform shaping is achieved through firmware parameters derived from the tool and helps designers to position the fundamental burst frequency to work together with other in-vehicle applications, such as the remote keyless entry system. The resulting parameters are then simply added to the maXTouch configuration file, which customizes the touch controller performance to the individual customer design. This process can save the designer many hours, or even weeks, of expensive EMC test chamber time by eliminating experimentation with different configuration settings to achieve the desired EMI/EMC performance, says Microchip.

Development Tools

An evaluation kit is available for each of the parts in the new maXTouch touchscreen controller family. Kit numbers are ATEVK-MXT1067TDAT-A (I2C), ATEVK-MXT1189TDAT-A (I2C), ATEVK-MXT1189TDAT-C (SPI), ATEVK-MXT1665TDAT-A (I2C) and ATEVK-MXT1665TDAT-C (SPI). Each kit includes a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) with the maXTouch touchscreen controller, a touch sensor on a clear glass lens, the Flat Printed Circuit (FPC) to connect to the sensor, a bridge PCB to connect the kit to the host computer via USB, as well as cables, software and documentation. All parts are also compatible with maXTouch Studio, a full software development environment to support the evaluation of maXTouch touchscreen controllers.

The maXTouch EMI optimization service will be made available as part of the system support provided by one of Microchip’s worldwide application design centers.

The MXT1067TD, MXT1189TD and MXT1665TD devices are available now in sampling and volume quantities in TQFP128 (MXT1067TD only) and LQFP144 packages.

Microchip Technology | www.microchip.com

Infineon Technologies to Acquire Cypress Semiconductor

Infineon Technologies and Cypress Semiconductor have announced that the companies have signed a definitive agreement under which Infineon will acquire Cypress for US $23.85 per share in cash, corresponding to an enterprise value of €9.0 billion.

With the addition of Cypress, Infineon expects to strengthen its focus on structural growth drivers and serve a broader range of applications. This will accelerate the company’s path of profitable growth of recent years. Cypress has a differentiated portfolio of microcontrollers as well as software and connectivity components that are highly complementary to Infineon’s leading power semiconductors, sensors and security solutions.

According to their joint press release, combining these technology assets will enable comprehensive advanced solutions for high-growth applications such as electric drives, battery-powered devices and power supplies. The combination of Infineon’s security expertise and Cypress’s connectivity know-how will accelerate entry into new IoT applications in the industrial and consumer segments. In automotive semiconductors, the expanded portfolio of microcontrollers and NOR flash memories will offer great potential, especially in light of their growing importance for advanced driver assistance systems and new electronic architectures in vehicles.

Under the terms of the agreement, Infineon will offer US$23.85 in cash for all outstanding shares of Cypress. This corresponds to a fully diluted enterprise value for Cypress of €9.0 billion. The offer price represents a 46 percent premium to Cypress’s unaffected 30-day volume-weighted average price during the period from 15 April to 28 May 2019, the last trading day prior to media reports regarding a potential sale of Cypress.

Cypress expects to continue its quarterly cash dividend payments until the transaction closes. This includes Cypress’s previously announced quarterly cash dividend of US$0.11 per share, payable on July 18, 2019 to holders of record of Cypress’s common stock at the close of business on June 27, 2019.

The funding of the acquisition is fully underwritten by a consortium of banks. Infineon is committed to retaining a solid investment grade rating and, consequently, Infineon intends to ultimately finance approximately 30 percent of the total transaction value with equity and the remainder with debt as well as cash on hand. The financial policy to preserve a strategic cash reserve remains in place.

The acquisition is subject to approval by Cypress’s shareholders and the relevant regulatory bodies as well as other customary conditions. The closing is expected by the end of calendar year 2019 or early 2020.

Cypress Semiconductor | www.cypress.com
Infineon Technologies | www.infineon.com

Hypervisor Achieves Compliance to New Version of ISO 26262

OpenSynergy has received the certificate from TÜV SÜD confirming the compliance of OpenSynergy’s COQOS Hypervisor to ISO 26262:2018 ASIL-B. COQOS Hypervisor is a Type-1 hypervisor for the ARMv8 architecture developed specifically to support automotive use-cases such as cockpit and domain controllers. OpenSynergy specializes in embedded automotive software and its hypervisor technology has been in mass production since 2014.

The COQOS Hypervisor is a Type-1 hypervisor for automotive applications. It allows customers to build highly compartmentalized systems that can be tailored to their specific requirements. The COQOS Hypervisor has been developed for the ARMv8 architecture, supports many automotive SoC’s and takes full advantage of hardware virtualization. Current series development with COQOS Hypervisor includes cockpit controllers –integrating infotainment and a digital instrument cluster–, infotainment systems, rear-seat entertainment, connectivity devices and gateways.
Some of these use-cases include safety-relevant functionalities, such as displaying tell-tales on the instrument cluster. In these cases, the hypervisor must provide freedom from interference between the safety and non-safety virtual machines. This is why OpenSynergy has developed COQOS Hypervisor as a Safety Element out of Context (SEooC) according to ISO 26262 ASIL-B using safety requirements based on real automotive use-cases.

The examination and certification by TÜV SÜD Rail GmbH has now confirmed that COQOS Hypervisor complies to the new version of the ISO 26262 standard (ISO 26262:2018) at the ASIL-B level. The new version of the ISO 26262 standard has additional expectations, e.g. on the management of the security of the product. COQOS Hypervisor is the first hypervisor that has been certified according to this new version.

COQOS Hypervisor is part of OpenSynergy’s package COQOS Hypervisor SDK. The SDK includes pre- integrated guest operating systems (such as Linux and Android), standards-based sharing of devices between the virtual machines and pre-configured automotive use-cases. For the cockpit controller use-case, COQOS Hypervisor SDK includes OpenSynergy’s Safe Instrument Cluster technology ensuring that tell-tales are rendered correctly when using a Linux-based instrument cluster. In December 2018, TÜV SÜD already had confirmed that this architecture satisfies ISO 26262 ASIL-B.

OpenSynergy | www.opensynergy.com

 

DENSO Taps Cypress’ Fail-Safe Flash for Car Cockpit Design

Cypress Semiconductor has announced that automotive supplier DENSO has selected Cypress’ Semper fail-safe storage for its next-generation digital automotive cockpit applications with advanced graphics. Based on an embedded Arm Cortex-M0 processing core, the Semper family is purpose-built for automotive environments.
The Cypress Semper family offers high density serial NOR Flash memory up to 4 Gbit and leverages the company’s proprietary MirrorBit process technology. The family also features EnduraFlex architecture, which achieves greater reliability and endurance. Semper fail-safe storage devices were the first in the industry to achieve the ISO 26262 automotive functional safety standard and are ASIL-B compliant, says Cypress.

According to Cypress, the Semper fail-safe storage products exceed automotive quality and functional safety requirements with ASIL-B compliance and are ready for use in ASIL-D systems. Cypress’ 512 Mb, 1 Gb and 2 Gb Semper devices are currently sampling.

Cypress Semiconductor | www.cypress.com

 

Automotive USB 3.1 SmartHub Features Type-C Support

Microchip Technology provides an automotive-qualified USB 3.1 Gen1 SmartHub IC, offering up to 10 times faster data rates over existing USB 2.0 solutions and reducing indexing times to improve the user experience in vehicles. To support the rising adoption of USB Type-C in the smartphone market and enable universal connectivity in vehicles, the USB7002 SmartHub IC includes interfaces for USB Type-C connectors.

As automotive manufacturers continue to add more functions to vehicles and integrate with mobile phone applications, the role of USB for reliable data transfers requires robust functionality and faster transfer speeds. Consumers expect instant responses from infotainment systems despite many functions occurring simultaneously in vehicles, from transferring mapping data to playing music and interacting with user interfaces.

The 5 Gbps SuperSpeed data rates of USB 3.1 ensure higher bandwidth and maximum functionality, making it well suited for applications that require gigabit speeds for faster data streaming, data download and in-vehicle communication. The USB7002 also reduces the download time for large videos, which is ideal for vehicles that have integrated 4K dash cams.

Consumer demand for faster mobile device charging has led to the rise of USB Type-C in the smartphone industry. The USB7002 combines the benefits of USB 3.1 technology with the rising popularity of USB Type-C. The USB7002 enables direct USB Type-C connections through native Configuration Channel (CC) pin interfaces and integrated 2:1 multiplexers that support the reversible connection feature of the USB Type-C connector.

To support the driver assistance applications that are now standard on all mobile handsets, the SmartHub ICs also include Microchip’s patented FlexConnect technology, which provides the unique ability to dynamically swap between a USB host and USB device. The SmartHub ICs also feature patented multi-host end-point reflector technology, which enables USB data to be mirrored between two USB hosts. These fundamental features enable the graphical user interface of a phone to be displayed on the vehicle’s screen and integrate with voice commands inside the car, while simultaneously charging the mobile device. This allows consumers to easily and safely use their mobile devices while driving, providing a user-friendly way to make calls, send messages and get directions while focusing on the road.

Development Tools

The USB7002 IC comes with a complete solution including the MPLAB® Connect Configurator hub configuration tool, evaluation boards with schematics and gerbers to reduce development time. Microchip’s USBCheck services allow manufacturers to verify designs and layouts prior to sending out a PCB for manufacturing, significantly accelerating time to market for their end products.

The USB7002-I/KDXVA0 is AEC-Q100 Grade 3 qualified and available now starting at $4.05 in volume production quantities.

Microchip Technology | www.microchip.com

 

4-Channel Automotive PMIC Meets Vehicle Camera Needs

Maxim Integrated Products has introduced a compact MAX20049 power management IC (PMIC) that integrates four power supplies into a tiny footprint. The device offers many options to support various output voltages, while also providing fault mitigation by flagging faults and shifts in output voltages.

Automotive camera modules tend to be size-constrained, so designers are constantly in search of a power management solution that can pack the necessary power and functionality into a small form factor. The 4-channel MAX20049 power management IC is almost 30 percent more compact than competitive solutions and offers the highest efficiency among other quad-power power management ICs in its class, says Maxim.

The chip offers many options to support modules that need various output voltages for different mixes of sensors and serializers, enabling designers to make changes in layout as needed or to fine-tune the IC to meet specific application requirements. The MAX20049 provides fault mitigation, a feature required by designers to help flag faults and shifts in output voltages to ensure that the cameras are working as needed.

Features:

  • Small Solution Size: has a PCB footprint that is almost 30 percent smaller than that of the closest competitor (38 mm2 compared to 53.3 mm2)
    • 4 outputs (dual bucks and dual LDOs) in a 3 mm x 3 mm QFN package
    • Protection unavailable in competitive products include over-voltage protection, under-voltage lockout, external power good (PGOOD) signal and cycle-by-cycle current limit
  • High Efficiency: system efficiency at full load is 74 percent (versus 69 percent for discrete automotive solutions)
  • Thermal performance plus high efficiency contributes to overall optimized performance
  • Flexibility: the dual buck converters and low-noise LDO support a wide voltage input range from 4V to 17 V, enabling power-over-coax (POC), typically from 8 V to 10 V. There is also an option of using one of the buck converters as an intermediate supply for generating typical sensor + serializer rails
    • Optimizes thermal performance and minimizes coax inrush current at startup
    • Flexible sequencing and fixed output voltages supporting various image sensors
  • Fault Mitigation: flags faults and shifts in output voltages to ensure cameras are working as intended
    • Once an over- or under-voltage signal is detected, the PGOOD pin will assert low
    • Cycle-by-cycle current limit implemented by the respective converter if either output is shorted
  • Low Noise: spread spectrum and 2.2 MHz switching frequency mitigates electromagnetic interference (EMI) to meet CISPR low-noise specifications

Maxim Integrated | www.maximintegrated.com

 

 

ST and Virscient Team Up for Connected-Car Effort

STMicroelectronics has teamed up with Virscient to help system designers build automotive solutions using ST’s Telemaco3P secure telematics and connectivity processors. Virscient offers support to ST customers in the development and delivery of advanced automotive applications based on the ST Modular Telematics Platform (MTP). MTP is a comprehensive development and demonstration platform incorporating ST’s Telemaco3P telematics and connectivity microprocessor.

MTP enables the rapid prototyping and development of smart-driving applications, including vehicle connectivity to back-end servers, road infrastructure, and other vehicles. Virscient brings a deep understanding of wireless connectivity technologies and protocols ideal for architecting connected-car systems that rely on technologies such as GNSS (Precise Positioning), LTE/cellular modems, V2X technologies, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

The Telemaco3P incorporates dual Arm Cortex-A7 processors with an embedded Hardware Security Module (HSM), an independent Arm Cortex-M3 subsystem, and a rich set of connectivity interfaces. With security at its core, and considerable flexibility in both hardware and software configurations, the Telemaco3P provides an excellent platform for connectivity within the vehicular environment.

ST’s Telemaco3P system-on-chip is designed as a solution for ensuring a secure connection between the vehicle and the Cloud. Its asymmetric multi-core architecture provides powerful application processors as well as an independent CAN control subsystem with optimized power management. Its ISO 26262 silicon design, its embedded Hardware Security Module, and automotive-grade qualification up to 105°C ambient temperature make it well suited for implementing a wide range of secure telematics applications supporting high-throughput wireless connectivity and over-the-air firmware upgrades.

STMicroelectronics | www.st.com
Virscient | www.virscient.com

 

Firms Collaborate to Address Chinese Automotive Radar Market

NXP Semiconductors has announced a new strategic collaboration and investment agreement with Hawkeye Technology, a company serving the Chinese automotive radar sector. Hawkeye will offer its deep 77 GHz expertise, a team of highly qualified engineers and a state-of-the-art lab complex within Southeast University in Nanjing, China. Together, the two companies plan to craft a reference design collaboration that leverages the top engineering talent at Southeast University and NXP’s longstanding radar expertise, to create NXP-based reference designs for the Chinese automotive market.

China’s automotive radar sensor market is growing at nearly 2 times the world market rate. Current automotive market analysis projects that by 2020, radar technology will be in 50% of all newly produced cars. These robust appraisals are driven in part by the China New Car Assessment Program (C-NCAP), which mandates the further implementation and innovation of radar in safety-related applications such as blind spot detection, automatic emergency braking, front and rear cross traffic detection and precise environmental mapping.

NXP is a manufacturer of RFCMOS-based 77 GHz automotive radar sensors, a key technology in the next phase of the advanced driving assistance roadmap. This leading-edge technology will continue to develop to address the detection and classification of vulnerable road users, full and surround view applications and the ultimate solution; imaging radar, which could in time replace more expensive and bulky technologies. NXP is building on the success of its radar sensor and S32 processing portfolio and its large scale commercial implementations by partnering with top engineering talent in China.

The cooperation is expected to address important research areas in automotive radar to help China’s domestic Tier 1 suppliers meet the challenges of this complex, fast-growing technology through complete radar system solutions and reference designs. The partnership aims to help shape the future of radar implementation in China. The collaborative environment will help the Chinese automotive market innovate with system-level solutions and radar reference designs. Financial details of the agreement are not disclosed.

NXP Semiconductors | www.nxp.com

 

Tiny PMICs Offer Efficient High Voltage Automotive Solutions

Maxim Integrated Products has announced power-management ICs (PMICs) that the company claims offers the industry’s smallest solution size and highest efficiency. MAX20004/6/8, MAX20034 and MAX20098 offer low quiescent current, improved noise performance and electromagnetic interference (EMI) mitigation for digital instrument clusters and radio head units.
Maxim’s array of automotive-grade ICs provides many options to manage the DC power as automotive OEMs transition from processors that consume 20 W of power to artificial intelligence platforms that consume as much as 500 W. With a package size of 3.5 mm x 3.75 mm, Maxim’s buck converters offer the industry’s smallest solution size, says the company. Their flip-chip quad-flat no-leads (FCQFN) packaging reduces high-frequency switch node ringing and eliminates bond wires to lower MOSFET switch on-resistance and increase efficiency. Maxim provides pin-compatible parts for four, six and eight amps for flexible power regulation. All of the ICs feature spread-spectrum modulation, high switching frequency, forced pulse-width modulation and skip-mode operation for best-in-class performance.

Maxim’s newest automotive PMICs for high-voltage power applications include:

  • MAX20004, MAX20006 and MAX20008 4 A, 6 A and 8 A high-voltage (40 V tolerant) synchronous buck converters with integrated high-side and low-side MOSFETs, offering the industry’s lowest switch resistance of 38 and 18 mΩ, respectively, for high efficiency. Key advantages of these pin-compatible devices include 25 µA quiescent current, operating input voltages from 3.5 V to 36 V and 93 percent peak efficiency. All are available in a compact 3.5 mm x 3.75 mm, 17-pin side-wettable QFN package that reduces high-frequency switch node and improves efficiency.
  • MAX20098 220 kHz to 2.2 MHz synchronous buck controller for applications with mid- to high-power requirements operating with input voltages from 3.5 V to 36 V (42 V tolerant). For efficiency, this device features a quiescent current of 3.5 µA in skip mode at 3.3 V output along with a 1µA typical shutdown current specification. Its 3 mm x 3 mm side-wettable QFN package reduces solution size, and the IC requires few external components, enabling a two-layer PCB design.
  • MAX20034 220 kHz to 2.2 MHz dual synchronous buck controller for high-voltage applications operating with input voltages from 3.5 V to 36 V (42 V tolerant), where one regulator will operate as a fixed 5 V or 3.3 V output and the other output is adjustable between 1V to 10V. Key efficiency advantages include 17 µA quiescent current in skip mode and 6.5µA typical shutdown current. The device is available in a 5 mm x 5 mm side-wettable QFN package, and it provides up to 2.2 MHz switching frequency to enable smaller external components and total solution size.

Maxim Integrated | www.maximintegrated.com

 

March Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The March issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is out next week!. We’ve rounded up an outstanding selection of in-depth embedded electronics articles just for you, and rustled them all into our 84-page magazine.

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Here’s a sneak preview of March 2019 Circuit Cellar:

POWER MAKES IT POSSIBLE

Power Issues for Wearables
Wearable devices put extreme demands on the embedded electronics that make them work—and power is front and center among those demands. Devices spanning across the consumer, fitness and medical markets all need an advanced power source and power management technologies to perform as expected. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child examines how today’s microcontroller and power electronics are enabling today’s wearable products.

Power Supplies for Medical Systems
Over the past year, there’s been an increasing trend toward new products that have some sort of application or industry focus. That means supplies that include either certifications, special performance specs or tailored packaging intended for a specific application area such as medical. This Product Focus section updates readers on these technology trends and provides a product gallery of representative medical-focused power supplies.

DESIGN RESOURCES, ISSUES AND CHALLENGES

Flex PCB Design Services
While not exactly a brand-new technology, flexible printed circuit boards are a critical part of many of today’s challenging embedded system applications from wearable devices to mobile healthcare electronics. Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, explores the Flex PCB design capabilities available today and whose providing them.

Design Flow Ensures Automotive Safety
Fault analysis has been around for years, and many methods have been created to optimize evaluation of hundreds of concurrent faults in specialized simulators. However, there are many challenges in running a fault campaign. Mentor’s Doug Smith presents an improved formal verification flow that reduces the number of faults while simultaneously providing much higher quality of results.

Cooling Electronic Systems
Any good embedded system engineer knows that heat is the enemy of reliability. As new systems cram more functionality at higher speeds into ever smaller packages, it’s no wonder an increasing amount of engineering mindshare is focusing on cooling electronic systems. In this article, George Novacek reviews some of the essential math and science around cooling and looks are several cooling technologies—from cold pates to heat pipes.

MICROCONTROLLER PROJECTS WITH ALL THE DETAILS

MCU-Based Solution Links USB to Legacy PC I/O
In PCs, serial interfaces have now been just about completely replaced by USB. But many of those interfaces are still used in control and monitoring embedded systems. In this project article, Hossam Abdelbaki describes his ATSTAMP design. ATSTAMP is an MCS-51 (8051) compatible microcontroller chip that can be connected to the USB port of any PC via any USB-to-serial bridge currently available in the market.

Pet Collar Uses GPS and Wi-Fi
The PIC32 has proven effective for a myriad of applications, so why not a dog collar? Learn how Cornell graduates Vidya Ramesh and Vaidehi Garg built a GPS-enabled pet collar prototype. The article discusses the hardware peripherals used in the project, the setup, and the software. It also describes the motivation behind the project, and possibilities to expand the project in the future.

Guitar Video Game Uses PIC32
While music-playing video games are fun, their user interfaces tend leave a lot to be desired. Learn how Cornell students Jake Podell and Jonah Wexler designed and built a musical video game that’s interfaced with using a custom-built wireless guitar controller. The game is run on a Microchip PIC32 MCU and uses a TFT LCD display to show notes that move across the screen towards a strum region.

… AND MORE FROM OUR EXPERT COLUMNISTS

Non-Evasive Current Sensor
Gone are the days when you could do most of your own maintenance on your car’s engine. Today they’re sophisticated electronic systems. But there are some things you can do with the right tools. In his article, By Jeff Bachiochi talks about how using the timing light on his car engine introduced him to non-contact sensor technology. He talks about the types of probes available and how to use them to read the magnitude of alternating current (AC

Impedance Spectroscopy using the AD5933
Impedance spectroscopy is the measurement of a device’s impedance (or resistance) over a range of frequencies. Brian Millier has designed many voltammographs and conductivity meters over the years. But he recently came across the Analog Devices AD5933 chip made by which performs most all the functions needed to do impedance spectroscopy. In this article, explores the technology, circuit design and software that serve these efforts.

Side-Channel Power Analysis
Side-channel power analysis is a method of breaking security on embedded systems, and something Colin O’Flynn has covered extensively in his column. This time Colin shows how you can prove some of the fundamental assumptions that underpin side-channel power analysis. He uses the open-source ChipWhisperer project with Jupyter notebooks for easy interactive evaluation.

Inductive Sensing with PSoC MCUs

Tougher Touch Tech

Inductive sensing is shaping up to be the next big thing for touch technology. It’s suited for applications involving metal-over-touch situations in automotive, industrial and other similar systems. Here, Nishant explores the science and technology of inductive sensing. He then describes a complete system design, along with firmware, for an inductive sensing solution based on Cypress Semiconductor’s PSoC microcontroller.

By Nishant Mittal

Touch sensing has become an important technology across a wide range of embedded systems. Touch sensing was first implemented using resistive sensing technology. However, resistive sensing had several disadvantages, including low sensitivity, false triggering and shorter operating life that discouraged its use and led to its eventual downfall in the market.

Today whenever people talk about touch sensing, they are usually referring to capacitive sensing. Capacitive sensing has proven to be robust not only in a normal environmental use cases but, because of its water-resistant capabilities, also underwater. As with any technology, capacitive sensing comes with a new set of disadvantages. These disadvantages tend to more application-specific. And those have opened the door for the advent of inductive sensing technology.

Figure 1
Inductive sensing technique (Source: Cypress Semiconductor application note AN219207 – Inductive Sensing Design Guide).

Inductive sensing is based on the principle of electromagnetic coupling, between a coil and the target. When a metal target comes closer to the coil, its magnetic field is obstructed and it passes through the metal target before coupling to its origin (Figure 1). This phenomenon causes some energy to get transferred to the metal target named as eddy current that causes a circular magnetic field. That eddy current induces a reverse magnetic field, and that in turn leads to a reduction in inductance.
To cause the resonant frequency to occur, a capacitor is added in parallel to the coil to create the LC tank circuit. As the inductance starts reducing, the frequency shifts upward changing the amplitude throughout.

Some Use Cases

Figure 2
Shown here is the architecture of a water-resistant Bluetooth speaker using inductive sensing.

Consider the use case of a Bluetooth speaker that needs to be water resistant and is intended for use in up to 2″ of water for half an hour. This use case requires that the product is functional underwater. It also requires that the user can adjust the speaker in these circumstances. Such operation needs to be simple, consistent and reliable—even in the presence of water. Inductive sensing provides the solution for this. That’s because it has nothing much to do with the change in dielectric, but is only concerned with the metal detection.

For this application, metal-over-touch using inductive sensing would provide a consistent and reliable user performance (Figure 2). A light defection in metal can be detected as touch. Alternatively, a mechanical button and/or dial could be used. However, a mechanical interface is costly compared to a coil printed on a PCB and connected to a few passive components. Additionally, a mechanical button can break or fail, providing a much shorter useable lifespan than an inductive button would.

Figure 3
Using inductive sensing to determine vehicle proximity in an automotive application.

Consider another use case for proximity sensing using inductive sensing technology. A vehicle detection system needs to monitor when another vehicle approaches within 2 m and signal the driver on the dashboard or navigation panel. This functionality can be implemented using inductive sensing. A hardware board containing multiple coils at different locations using a flex cable, all around the dashboard, can be designed around the four corners and center of the headlight areas (Figure 3). Data from the inductive coils is collected by an inductive sensing controller such as the PSoC 4700S from Cypress Semiconductor. The controller would then analyze the data to determine the presence or absence of other cars in a 4-m vicinity around the vehicle. …

Read the full article in the February 343 issue of Circuit Cellar
(Full article word count: 2411 words; Figure count: 13 Figures.)

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Note: We’ve made the October 2017 issue of Circuit Cellar available as a free sample issue. In it, you’ll find a rich variety of the kinds of articles and information that exemplify a typical issue of the current magazine.

MCUs Serve Up Solutions for Car Infotainment

Dashboard Dazzle

As automotive dashboard displays get more sophisticated, information and entertainment are merging into so-called infotainment systems. The new systems are driving a need for powerful MCU solutions that support the connectivity, computing and interfacing requirements particular to these designs.

(Caption for lead image Figure 1: The Cypress Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combo solution uses Real Simultaneous Dual Band (RSDB) technology so that Apple CarPlay (shown) and Android Auto can operate concurrently without degradation caused by switching back and forth between bands.).

By Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

Microcontroller (MCU) vendors have a rich legacy of providing key technologies for nearly every aspect of an automobile’s electronics—everything from the powertrain to the braking system to dashboard displays. In recent years, they’ve taken on a new set of challenges as demands rise for ever more sophisticated “infotainment” systems. Advanced touchscreen, processing, networking, voice recognition and more are parts of these subsystems tasked with providing drivers with information and entertainment suited to today’s demands—demands that must rival or exceed what’s possible in a modern smartphone or tablet. And, as driverless cars inch toward mainstream reality, that hunger for rich infotainment functionality will only increase.

In order to meet those system design needs, MCU vendors are keeping pace with highly integrated chip-level solutions and embedded software tailored specifically to address various aspects of the automotive infotainment challenge. Over the past 12 months, MCU companies have announced products aimed at everything from advanced dashboard graphics to connectivity solutions to security technologies. At the same time, many have announced milestone design wins that illustrate their engagement with this dynamic sub-segment of automotive system development.

Smartphone Support

Exemplifying these trends, in July Cypress Semiconductor announced that Pioneer integrated Cypress’ Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Combo solution into its flagship in-dash navigation AV receiver. The solution enables passengers to display and use their smartphone’s apps on the receiver’s screen via Apple CarPlay (Figure 1–lead image above) or Android Auto, which provide the ability to use smartphone voice recognition to search for information or respond to text messages. The Cypress Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combo solution uses Real Simultaneous Dual Band (RSDB) technology so that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can operate concurrently without degradation caused by switching back and forth between bands.

The Pioneer AVH-W8400NEX receiver uses Cypress’ CYW89359 combo solution, which includes an advanced coexistence engine that enables optimal performance for dual-band 2.4- and 5-GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi and dual-mode Bluetooth/Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) simultaneously for advanced multimedia experiences. The CYW89359’s RSDB architecture enables two unique data streams to run at full throughput simultaneously by integrating two complete Wi-Fi subsystems into a single chip. The CYW89359 is fully automotive qualified with AECQ-100 grade-3 validation and is being designed in by numerous top-tier car OEMs and automotive suppliers as a full in-vehicle connectivity solution, supporting infotainment and telematics applications such as smartphone screen-mirroring, content streaming and Bluetooth voice connectivity in car kits.

In October, Cypress announced another infotainment-related design win with Yazaki North America implementing Cypress’ instrument cluster solution to drive the advanced graphics in Yazaki’s instrument cluster for a leading American car manufacturer. According to Cypress, Yazaki selected the solution based on its unique offering of five chips that combine to drive dual displays and provide instant-on memory performance with automotive-grade, ASIL-B safety compliance. The Cypress solution is based on a Traveo MCU, along with two high-bandwidth HyperBus memories in a multi-chip package (MCP), an analog power management IC (PMIC) for safe electrical operation, and a PSoC MCU for system management support. The Traveo devices in the Yazaki instrument cluster were the industry’s first 3D-capable Arm Cortex-R5 cluster MCUs.

Virtualization Embraced

The complexity of automotive infotainment systems has pushed system developers to embrace advanced operating system approaches such as virtualization. Feeding those needs, last June Renesas Electronics rolled out its “R-Car virtualization support package” designed to enable easier development of hypervisors for the Renesas R-Car automotive system-on-chip (SoC). The R-Car virtualization support package includes, at no charge, both the R-Car hypervisor development guide document and sample software for use as reference in such development for software vendors who develop the embedded hypervisors that are required for integrated cockpits and connected car applications.

A hypervisor is a virtualization operating system (OS) that allows multiple guest OSs— such as Linux, Android and various real-time OSs (RTOS)—to run completely independently on a single chip. Renesas announced the R-Car hypervisor in April of 2017 and the new R-Car virtualization Support Package was developed to help software vendors accelerate their development of R-Car hypervisors.

The company’s third-generation R-Car SoCs were designed assuming that they would be used with a hypervisor. The Arm CPU cores, graphics cores, video/audio IP and other functions include virtualization functions. Originally, for software vendors to make use of these functions, they would have had to understand both the R-Car hardware manuals and the R-Car virtualization functions and start by looking into how to implement a hypervisor. Now, by following development guides in the R-Car virtualization support package, not only can software vendors easily take advantage of these functions, they will be able to take full advantage of the advanced features of R-Car. Also, by providing sample software that can be used as a reference, this package supports rapid development.

Technology partnerships have been playing a key role in automotive infotainment trends. Along just those lines, in September Renesas and OpenSynergy, a supplier of automotive hypervisors, announced that the Renesas’ SoC R-Car H3 and OpenSynergy’s COQOS Hypervisor SDK were adopted on Parrot Faurecia’s automotive safe multi-display cockpit. The latest version of Android is the guest OS of the COQOS Hypervisor, which executes both the instrument cluster functionality, including safety-relevant display elements based on Linux, and the Android-based in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) on a single R-Car H3 SoC chip (Figure 2). The COQOS Hypervisor SDK shares the R-Car H3 GPU with Android and Linux allowing applications to be presented on multiple displays, realizing a powerful and flexible cockpit system.

Figure 2
With Android as the guest OS of the COQOS Hypervisor, it executes both the instrument cluster functionality, including safety-relevant display elements based on Linux, and the Android-based in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) on a single R-Car H3 SoC chip.

According to OpenSynergy’s CEO Stefaan Sonck Thiebaut, the COQOS Hypervisor SDK takes full advantage of the hardware and software virtualization extensions provided by Renesas. The OpenSynergy solution includes key features, such as shared display, which allows several virtual machines to use multiple displays flexibly and safely. The R-Car H3 GPU and video/audio IP incorporates virtualization functions, making virtualization by the hypervisor possible and allowing for multiple OSs to operate independently and safely. OpenSynergy’s COQOS Hypervisor SDK is built around a safe and efficient hypervisor that can run software from multipurpose OSs such as Linux or Android, RTOS and AUTOSAR-compliant software simultaneously on one SoC.

Large Touchscreen Support

As the content provided by automotive infotainment systems gets more sophisticated, so too must the displays and user interface technologies that interact with that content. With that in mind, MCU vendors are offering more advanced touchscreen control solutions. Dashboard screens have unique design challenges. Screens in automobiles need to meet stringent head impact and vibration tests. That means thicker cover lenses that potentially impact the touch interface performance. Meanwhile, as screens get larger, they are also more likely to interfere with other frequencies such as AM radio and car access systems. All of these factors become a major challenge in the design of modern automotive capacitive touch systems.

Along just those lines, Microchip in December announced its maXTouch family of single-chip touchscreen controllers designed to address these issues for screens up to 20 inches in size (Figure 3). The MXT2912TD-A, with nearly 3,000 touch sensing nodes, and MXT2113TD-A, supporting more than 2,000 nodes, bring consumers the touchscreen user experience they expect in vehicles. These new devices build upon Microchip’s existing maXTouch touchscreen technology that is widely adopted by manufacturers worldwide. Microchip’s latest solutions offer superior signal-to-noise capability to address the requirements of thick lenses, even supporting multiple finger touches through thick gloves and in the presence of moisture.

Figure 3
The maXTouch family of single-chip touchscreen controllers is designed for screens up to 20 inches in size, and supports up to 3,000 touch sensing nodes. The devices even support multiple finger touches through thick gloves and in the presence of moisture.

As automakers use screens to replace mechanical switches on the dash for sleeker interior designs, safe and reliable operation becomes even more critical. The MXT2912TD and MXT2113TD devices incorporate self- and sensor-diagnostic functions, which constantly monitor the integrity of the touch system. These smart diagnostic features support the Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) classification index as defined by the ISO 26262 Functional Safety Specification for Passenger Vehicles.

The new devices feature technology that enables adaptive touch utilizing self-capacitance and mutual-capacitance measurements, so all touches are recognized and false touch detections are avoided. They also feature Microchip’s proprietary new signal shaping technology that significantly lowers emissions to help large touchscreens using maXTouch controllers meet CISPR-25 Level 5 requirements for electromagnetic interference (EMI) in automobiles. The new touch controllers also meet automotive temperature grade 3 (-40°C to +85°C) and grade 2 (-40°C to +105°C) operating ranges and are AEC-Q100 qualified.

3D Gesture Control

Aside from the touchscreen display side of automotive infotainment, Microchip for its part has also put its efforts toward innovations in 3D human interface technology. With that in mind, in July the company announced a new 3D gesture recognition controller that offers the lowest system cost in the automotive industry, providing a durable single-chip solution for advanced automotive HMI designs, according to Microchip. The MGC3140 joins the company’s family of easy-to-use 3D gesture controllers as the first qualified for automotive use (Figure 4).

Figure 4
The MGC3140 3D gesture controller is Microchip’s first qualified for automotive use. It’s suited for a range for applications such as navigating infotainment systems, sun shade operation, interior lighting and more.

Suited for a range for applications that limit driver distraction and add convenience to vehicles, Microchip’s new capacitive technology-based air gesture controller is ideal for navigating infotainment systems, sun shade operation, interior lighting and other applications. The technology also supports the opening of foot-activated rear liftgates and any other features a manufacturer wishes to incorporate with a simple gesture action.

The MGC3140 is Automotive Electronics Council AEC-Q100 qualified with an operating temperature range of -40°C to +125°C, and it meets the strict EMI and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) requirements of automotive system designs. Each 3D gesture system consists of a sensor that can be constructed from any conductive material, as well as the Microchip gesture controller tuned for each individual application.

While existing solutions such as infrared and time-of-flight technologies can be costly and operate poorly in bright or direct sunlight, the MGC3140 offers reliable sensing in full sunlight and harsh environments. Other solutions on the market also come with physical constraints and require significant infrastructure and space to be integrated in a vehicle. The MGC3140 is compatible with ergonomic interior designs and enables HMI designers to innovate with fewer physical constraints, because the sensor can be any conductive material and hidden from view.

Vehicle Networking

While applicable to areas beyond infotainment, an automobile’s ability to network with the outside world has become ever more important. As critical vehicle powertrain, body, chassis, and infotainment features increasingly become defined by software, securely delivering updates such as fixes and option packs over the air (OTA) enhances cost efficiency and customer convenience. Serving those needs, in October STMicroelectronics released its latest Chorus automotive MCU that provides a gateway/domain-controller solution capable of handling major OTA updates securely.

With three high-performance processor cores, more than 1.2 MB RAM and powerful on-chip peripherals, ST’s new flagship SPC58 H Line joins the Chorus Series of automotive MCUs and can run multiple applications concurrently to allow more flexible and cost-effective vehicle-electronics architectures (Figure 5). Two independent Ethernet ports provide high-speed connectivity between multiple Chorus chips throughout the vehicle and enable responsive in-vehicle diagnostics. Also featuring 16 CAN-FD and 24 LINFlex interfaces, Chorus can act as a gateway for multiple ECUs (electronic control units) and support smart-gateway functionality via the two Ethernet interfaces on-chip.

Figure 5
The SPC58 H Line of MCUs can run multiple applications concurrently to allow more flexible and cost-effective vehicle-electronics architectures. Two independent Ethernet ports provide high-speed connectivity between multiple Chorus chips throughout the vehicle.

To protect connected-car functionalities and allow OTA updates to be applied safely, the new Chorus chip contains a Hardware Security Module (HSM) capable of asymmetric cryptography. Being EVITA Full compliant, it implements industry-leading attack prevention, detection and containment techniques.

Working with its large on-chip 10 MB flash, the SPC58NH92x’s context-swap mechanism allows current application code to run continuously even while an update is downloaded and made ready to be applied later at a safe time. The older software can be retained, giving the option to roll-back to the previous version in an emergency. Hyperbus and eMMC/SDIO high-speed interfaces to off-chip memory are also integrated, enabling further storage expansion if needed.

Single Cable Solution

Today’s automotive infotainment systems comprise mobile services, cross-domain communication and autonomous driving applications as part of in-vehicle networking. As a result, these systems require a more flexible solution for transporting packet, stream and control content. Existing implementations are either costly and cumbersome, or too limited in bandwidth and packet data capabilities to support system updates and internetworking requirements.

To address this need, Microchip Technology in November announced an automotive infotainment networking solution that supports all data types—including audio, video control and Ethernet—over a single cable. Intelligent Network Interface Controller networking (INICnet) technology is a synchronous, scalable solution that significantly simplifies building audio and infotainment systems, offering seamless implementation in vehicles that have Ethernet-oriented system architectures (Figure 6).

Figure 6
INICnet technology is a synchronous, scalable solution that significantly simplifies building audio and infotainment systems, offering seamless implementation in vehicles that have Ethernet-oriented system architectures.

Audio is a key infotainment feature in vehicles, and INICnet technology provides full flexibility through supporting a variety of digital audio formats with multiple sources and sinks. INICnet technology also provides high-speed packet-data communications with support for file transfers, OTA software updates and system diagnostics via standard Ethernet frames. In this way, INICnet technology supports seamless integration of Internet Protocol (IP)-based system management and data communications, along with very efficient transport of stream data. INICnet technology does not require the development and licensing of additional protocols or software stacks, reducing development costs, effort and time.

INICnet technology provides a standardized solution that works with both Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) at 50 Mbps and coaxial cable at 150 Mbps. With low and deterministic latency, INICnet technology supports deployment of complex audio and acoustics applications. Integrated network management supports networks ranging from two to 50 nodes, as well as processor-less or slim modules where the node is remotely configured and managed. The solution’s Power over Data Line (PoDL) capability saves costs on power management for microphones and other slim modules. Nodes can be arranged in any order with the same result, and any node in the system can directly communicate with any other node in the system.

Security for Connected Cars

As cars become more network-connected, the issue of security takes on new dimensions. In October, Infineon Technologies announced a key effort in cybersecurity for the connected car by introducing a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) specifically for automotive applications—the first on the market, according to the company. The new OPTIGA TPM 2.0 protects communication between the car manufacturer and the car, which increasingly turns into a computer on wheels. A number of car manufacturers already designed in Infineon’s OPTIGA TPM.

The TPM is a hardware-based security solution that has proven its worth in IT security. By using it, car manufacturers can incorporate sensitive security keys for assigning access rights, authentication and data encryption in the car in a protected way. The TPM can also be updated so that the level of security can be kept up to date throughout the vehicle’s service life.

Cars send real-time traffic information to the cloud or receive updates from the manufacturer “over the air,” for example to update software quickly and in a cost-effective manner. The senders and recipients of that data—whether car makers or individual components in the car—require cryptographic security keys to authenticate themselves. These critical keys are particularly protected against logical and physical attacks in the OPTIGA TPM as if they were in a safe.

Early Phase Critical

Incorporating the first or initial key into the vehicle is a particularly sensitive moment for car makers. When the TPM is used, this step can be carried out in Infineon’s certified production environment. After that, the keys are protected against unauthorized access; there is no need for further special security precautions. The TPM likewise generates, stores and administers further security keys for communication within the vehicle. And it is also used to detect faulty or manipulated software and components in the vehicle and initiate troubleshooting by the manufacturer in such a case.

Figure 7
The SLI 9670 consists of an attack-resistant security chip (shown) and high-performance firmware developed in accordance with the latest security standard. The firmware enables immediate use of security features, such as encryption, decryption, signing and verification.

The SLI 9670 consists of an attack-resistant security chip and high-performance firmware developed in accordance with the latest security standard (Figure 7). The firmware enables immediate use of security features, such as encryption, decryption, signing and verification. The TPM can be integrated quickly and easily in the system thanks to the open source software stack (TSS stack) for the host processor, which is also provided by Infineon. It has an SPI interface, an extended temperature range from -40°C to 105°C and the advanced encryption algorithms RSA-2048, ECC-256 and SHA-256. The new TPM complies with the internationally acknowledged Trusted Computing Group TPM 2.0 standard, is certified for security according to Common Criteria and is qualified in accordance with the automotive standard AEC-Q100.

Side by side with driverless vehicle innovations, there’s no doubt that infotainment systems represent one of the most dynamic subsets of today’s automotive systems design. MCU vendors offer a variety of chip and software solutions addressing all the different pieces of car infotainment requirements from display interfacing to connectivity to security. Circuit Cellar will continue to follow these developments. And later this year, we’ll take a look specifically at MCU solutions aimed at enabling driverless vehicles and assisted driving technologies.

RESOURCES

Cypress Semiconductor | www.cypress.com
Infineon Technologies | www.infineon.com
Microchip | www.microchip.com
OpenSynergy | www.opensynergy.com
Renesas Electronics America | www.renesas.com
STMicroelectronics | www.st.com

Read the February 343 issue of Circuit Cellar

Don’t miss out on upcoming issues of Circuit Cellar. Subscribe today!

Note: We’ve made the October 2017 issue of Circuit Cellar available as a free sample issue. In it, you’ll find a rich variety of the kinds of articles and information that exemplify a typical issue of the current magazine.