MCU drives sophisticated automotive dashboard displays

June 13, 2011 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Freescale Semiconductor has expanded its portfolio of Qorivva 32-bit microcontrollers (MCUs) built on Power Architecture technology to power the next wave of automotive instrument cluster applications.

Freescale's Qorivva MPC5645S MCU family builds on the MPC5606S family with additional advanced features such as high-quality digital graphics, dual displays and video input capabilities (for applications such as backup camera feeds), while supplying enough processing performance to efficiently display data from a variety of internal systems.

In the past, the instrument cluster or dashboard in a car was simple, with several analog gauges to measure distance, speed, RPMs and fuel level. With today's information requirements, providing detailed status display to the driver in an unambiguous way is a challenge due to space constraints. Instrument cluster designs need more powerful graphics processors with increased RAM to control more complex displays, while also keeping the bill of materials costs low. In order to meet these new challenges, manufacturers need to integrate multiple components in their design which adds cost and complexity to their projects. The Qorivva MPC5645S minimizes these complexities by integrating the relevant sub-systems into a single chip, Freescale claims.

In contrast to fully-"virtualized" systems where the entire dashboard is displayed as a synthetic image, the Freescale Qorivva MPC5645S aims at dashboard designs where most gauges are mechanical. The system drives up to six gauges. The ability to display a video image generated by, for example, a rear-view camera comes on top.

The MPC5645S devices are currently available from Freescale in sample quantities.

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