Automotive microcontroller supports hardware virtualisation

October 21, 2020 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Automotive microcontroller supports hardware virtualisation
Chipmaker STMicroelectronics (ST) has announced details of its Stellar family of automotive MCUs. Developed in conjunction with Bosch, the devices have been specifically designed to meet the requirements of modern vehicle architectures - they enable virtualisation of ECUs via hardware and can therefore host multiple applications simultaneously without affecting their determinism.

The reliable and deterministic processing of multiple concurrent real-time applications is one of the biggest challenges facing OEMs and tier ones in the current wave of virtualisation of automotive electronics. The complexity of new vehicle architectures leads to the consolidation of independent applications in a single, powerful integration microcontroller and usually requires a decision between determinism and virtualisation. The Stellar range offers both.

ST has equipped its Stellar MCUs with exceptionally high processing power, which simplifies concurrent and deterministic processing of software from multiple sources while ensuring the highest levels of functional safety and performance. These capabilities meet the system requirements of the electrical and electronic architectures of the next generation of networked automobiles.

The Stellar range offers several features, including a state-of-the-art processor with hardware support for virtualisation, quality of service settings, the ability to secure peripheral functions with firewalls and resource separation at the interconnect levels. These features allow multiple applications or Virtual ECUs to coexist on the same physical MCU, by safely eliminating mutual interference and ensuring mutual isolation of software functions. Multiple ASIL levels are supported at the same time.

ST's Stellar MCU family enables designers to combine multiple virtual ECU on a common hardware platform ©STmicroelectronics 

To ensure that the MCUs will meet the future integration requirements of car manufacturers, ST drew on the rich experience of the automotive supplier Bosch in the development of the Stellar family. "We have designed the functionality of the Stellar family to meet the integration challenges while providing isolation and sealing," said Axel Aue, Vice President of Bosch. "The computing power is outstanding for systems of this type and the performance of the phase-change memory matches or exceeds the performance level of alternative flash technologies. Last but not least, the Stellar family has demonstrated impeccable performance in FOTA (Firmware Over The Air) updates with no downtime or recovery times".

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