MCU comes with embedded 3D graphics

October 03, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Addressing applications in automotive instrument clusters and head-up displays, Spansion has expanded its Traveo automotive microcontroller family with a combination of ARM Cortex R5 microcontroller and graphics controller. The product greatly simplifies instrument cluster development.

High-end instrument clusters in vehicles pose high requirements to the electronics - not only to the processor power but also to the memory bandwidth. In some vehicles, the virtual pointer instruments are not computed in real-time; instead the processor reads an image of the pointer in the respective position from the memory and transfers this image to the display - all this at a high frame rate of 30 or more frames per second. This approach requires memories that offer high throughput. And this is one of the applications Spansion is aiming at with new extensions to its Traveo microcontroller family.

The product family now integrates Spansion's HyperBus memory interface with an embedded MCU based on ARM's Cortex R5 architecture. HyperBus interfaces seamlessly with Spansion's HyperFlash memory, combining high overall performance with a simple, straightforward design and achieving a memory bandwidth up to 300 MByte per second.

In its top version, the Traveo chip integrates 2D and 3D graphics, optimised by Spansion to bring automotive-specific graphics functions to the car driver's workplace. For example, the 3D capabilities enable designers to implement sophisticated graphics to the dashboard like graphical status indicators around the car, locating, for instance, doors that are not closed properly or tires with insufficient pressure, explains Matthias Bräuer, Director Automotive MCU Marketing at Spansion. As the first 3D-capable ARM Cortex-R5 cluster MCU, Spansion's graphics engine provides memory savings, increased safety features and rich image capabilities, without the need for external video RAM. This feature set leads to a significantly reduced bill of material, enabling car electronics designers to proliferate driver experience hitherto reserved for luxury brands, to mid-class and compact vehicles.

The company launches two variations of the Traveo graphics solutions: the S6J324C series enables 2D graphics while the S6J326C variant supports both 2D and 3D graphics. Both series support the Spansion HyperBus interface. The scalable solution offers easy upgrade paths from 2D to 3D. The solution also