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Spansion rolls out Cortex-R5-based automotive MCUs

20 May 2014  | Junko Yoshida

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Spansion Inc. has unveiled Traveo, a family of automotive MCUs based on ARM Cortex 5 cores, in hopes of gaining a huge share in the growing automotive chip market.

The move leverages the MCU and analogue businesses Spansion acquired from Fujitsu last summer, combining them with the company's own flash memory technology. Spansion is adding the Traveo family MCUs to its existing microcontroller product lines that include Fujitsu's proprietary MCUs and ARM Cortex-R4-based MCUs.

Saied Tehrani, Spansion's senior VP and CTO, said in an interview with EE Times, "I believe we're the first company to use ARM's Cortx-R5 in automotive MCUs." The higher performance of the Cortex-R5 core, its speed in particular, will be a real advantage for the company's new automotive MCUs, said Tehrani.

Further, the Cortex-R5 processor's dual core configurations, which allow lock-step redundant core for safety critical applications, are also effective for the two cores "to monitor each other," Tehrani added.

According to IHS, a market research company, Spansion entered the top 20 rankings for automotive MCUs in 2013 in seventh place.

Spansion still remains a niche player in the overall automotive MCU market, since the company participates only in certain segments. However, the Spansion CTO emphasized that his company's products are "well represented"—sometimes with a 35 per cent to 45 per cent share—in specific automotive segments such as cluster/dashboard, HVAC, and body electronics.

Twin-motor controller for HEV and EV

Spansion, throughout this year, plans to launch different members of the Traveo family—each dedicated to a specific segment of the automotive applications. The MCUs include twin motors, body electronics, and cluster.

Spansion rolls out its first Traveo MCU, called MB9D560, designed as a twin-motor controller for hybrid vehicles (HEV) and electrical vehicles (EV).

It will be first deployed in a 2015 model car by a Japanese automaker. Tehrani, who declined to name names, said the Japanese company will launch within the next few months a car with Spansion's twin-motor controller.

> How Spansion's Traveo family of automotive MCUs will be used in a car

How Spansion's Traveo family of automotive MCUs will be used in a car (Source: Spansion)

In the MCU's dual structure, one core looks after the motor of a car while another monitors the generator. Integrated on the MB9D560 MCU are resolver sensors for motor control and unique hardware IP for motor control operations, according to the company. The sensors, while the car is driving, identify the exact position of the motor, and feed it back to the MCU. That information, in return, helps coordinate the power provided by the generator.

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