Freescale goes dual core for engine control

by R. Colin Johnson , TechOnline India - October 13, 2011

These aim to help car makers meet increasingly stringent fuel economy and emission standards

Freescale Semiconductor has rolled out a dual-core microcontroller for engine control units. The new dual-core versions of the Qorivva 32-bit MCU for controlling automobile power trains aims to help car makers meet increasingly stringent fuel economy and emission standards being phased in over the rest of the decade.

According to Freescale, power consumption is the main driver for the move to dual-core MCUs since it is no longer possible to crank up the clock speed of auto microcontrollers to handle next-generation power train control.

Richard Soja, systems engineer for 32-bit automotive MCUs at Freescale, said the Qorivva 32-bit MPC5676R MCU also eliminates multiple packages, reducing chip counts in autos.

General Motors has already signed on to use the dual-core MCU for its high-end vehicles. By 2012, Freescale plans to have more auto makers on-board when it begins delivering samples.

Freescale said it doubled the memory and quadrupled the performance of the Qorivva 32-bit MPC5676R MCU for the auto application. Besides traditional diesel and gasoline engines, the dual-core MCU can also be used with hybrid and all-electric vehicles, easing the transition to those new architectures as they emerge.

The dual-core MCU detects engine knock in real time, so that engines can be tuned for fuel efficient performance. The device also provides three extra mini-cores (enhanced timing processor units, or eTPUs) needed to generate precise timing signals to control fuel ignition. Mechanical accuracy is limited to six degrees in current engines.

The multicore, 90-nm MCU is built on the Power Architecture to handle direct fuel injection, turbo-charging and drive-by-wire as well as otehr traditional engine control unit functions. Each 32-bit core runs as 180 MHz, with run-time support from the Autosar real-time operating system. A special eTPU compiler, debugger and simulator helps develop code for the timing units.

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