ARM adds functional safety IP to CPU and GPU architectures

September 30, 2020 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
ARM adds functional safety IP to CPU and GPU architectures
The probably most important common denominator in the automation of driving and production is functional safety. This is also the linchpin in a number of new developments by processor IP supplier Arm.

ARM has introduced a series of processors designed to support decision making in autonomously operating systems such as cars and robots. And because autonomy is not possible without compliance with appropriate standards to ensure functional safety, the new IP include additional circuitry to ensure reliability and failsafe performance.

The new suite of IP includes the Cortex-A78AE general-purpose CPU, the Mali-G78AE Graphics processor, and the Mali-C71AE image signal processor (ISP). In combination with supporting software, tools and system IP, these products enable silicon providers and OEMs to design computing platforms for autonomous workloads. They will be deployed in a range of applications, from enabling more intelligence and configurability in smart manufacturing to enhancing ADAS and digital cockpit applications in automotive.

The Cortex-A78AE CPU is Arm’s latest, highest performance safety capable CPU, offering the ability to run different, complex workloads for autonomous applications such as mobile robotics and driverless transportation. According to the IP vendor, the CPU delivers a 30% performance uplift compared to its predecessor. Plus, it supports features to achieve the relevant automotive and industrial functional safety standards, ISO 26262 and IEC 61508 for applications up to (Automotive) Safety Levels ASIL D and SIL 3. To ensure compliance with these standards, the processor has an enhanced Split Lock functionality which enables system designers to choose between maximum safety or maximum performance; ARM calls this feature “Hybrid Mode”.

It is designed to specifically enable applications that target lower levels of ASIL requirements without compromising performance and allow the deployment of the same SoC compute architecture into different domain controllers.

The Mali-G78AE brings functional safety to embedded GPUs. Its outstanding feature is flexible partitioning: Up to four independent partitions offer the possibility to separate workloads for different safety use cases – in the car, for example, such a feature enables designers to use the device for safety-critical tasks such as the instrument panel and less safety-critical applications such as the infotainment system.

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