Freescale S32 ups automotive ante

June 23, 2015 // By R. Colin Johnson
Today's automobiles contain from 70 to 280 microcontrollers, from the engine control unit to the dashboard liquid crystal display, to the automotive driver assistance system, to the automatic brake system. There's also all the low-end microcontrollers that roll-up the windows, manage the interior environment, blink the blinkers, and dozens more functions we take for granted.

Freescale Semiconductor is already supplying microcontrollers for the high-end functions -- about 70% of the job -- but now it wants to tackle the low-end functions too, with its new family of S32K microcontrollers--derived from its eight-bit S08 and 12-bit S12 families, but now 32-bits wide.

"Freescale has created a new 32-bit ARM-based hardware platform--the S32K--for automotive applications which can perform about 30% of the operations needed in a modern car," Manuel Alves, global product line manager at Freescale told EE Times in advance of the announcement at the Freescale Technology Forum 2015 (FTF, June 22-25, Austin, Texas).

Freescale will also offer a functional-safety compliant software design studio free of charge to "make the life of the software engineer much easier by providing an open-source software-tool environment." The design studio will include reusable modules from Freescale and third parties that are all compatible with the whole spectrum of ARM-based ecosystem partners, ultimately shortening the product development cycle.

The Freescale S32K with an ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller (see block diagram) is the first of a family that fills out the low-end of its automotive hardware offerings. Source: Freescale

The entire software development kit -- from drivers, to middleware (Core Self Test, LIN Stack, Automotive Math and Motor Control Library), to the real time operating system -- are all provided open-source and for free including the application-programmer interfaces to premium tools ecosystem partners such as IAR Systems and Cosmic Software.