Hercules MCU platform eases safety system certification - Embedded.com

Hercules MCU platform eases safety system certification


Texas Instruments Inc. has combined its microcontrollers for safety designs in medical, industrial and transportation applications under one banner. The Hercules platform consists of three ARM Cortex-based microcontroller families for applications that require a high level of reliability.

The Hercules range includes existing devices as well as the RM4x family, which has the highest levels of performance for applications that include medical and industrial. The Hercules TMS570 family addresses transportation applications and the Hercules TMS470M family meets the needs of applications that require less performance.

The Hercules RM4x and TMS570 microcontroller families provide safety features in hardware to detect random faults and protect against systematic faults.  The dual ARM Cortex-R4F floating-point cores use the lockstep technology to provide the highest level of on line diagnostics

The CPU and all bus masters include memory protection and error correction code (ECC) is used for flash and RAM with single bit error correction and double bit error detection (SECDED) evaluated in the lockstep CPUs without performance impact.

The CPU and RAM include built-in-self-test (BIST) for detection of potential latent faults without software overhead with parity on peripheral RAMs, dual analog-to-digital-converters (ADCs) and timers, as well as voltage and clock monitoring providing additional diagnostic coverage.

An intelligent error signaling module allows the end application to take appropriate action based on the type of error.

TI is providing a safety manual which details how to implement Hercules MCUs into safety-critical applications while failure modes, effects and diagnostic analysis (FMEDA) provides the failure rate information needed to meet safety standards.

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RM4x MCU family provides up to 220 MHz based on dual ARM Cortex-R4F floating-point cores in lockstep, providing high performance for industrial automation, servo drives and medical instrumentation such as diagnostic and therapeutic equipment. It supports single and double precision floating-point math to execute complex math.

It enables the achieving International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61508 SIL-3 safety standard and includes Ethernet, CAN, and USB connectivity for networking. These are important to safety-critical industrial automation and medical instrumentation. Up to 3 MB flash memory and 256KB RAM are available.

The Hercules TMS570 MCU family provides up to 180 MHz based on dual ARM Cortex-R4F floating-point cores in lockstep, providing performance for transportation applications, such as railway, aerospace and automotive.

They supports single and double precision floating-point math to execute complex math and have up to 3MB flash and 256KB RAM.

The devices can be used is systems capable of achieving ISO 26262 ASIL-D and IEC 61508 SIL-3 safety standards and are AEC-Q100 qualified to satisfy automotive requirements.

To address transportation temperature ranges they can operate up to 125 degrees Celsius and include Ethernet, CAN, and FlexRay connectivity for higher-bandwidth networking required for existing and evolving transportation applications.

The Hercules TMS470M MCU family provide up to 80 MHz based on an ARM Cortex-M3 core and can be AEC-Q100 qualified to satisfy automotive requirements and support for IEC 61508 system safety requirements.

Common transportation networking is supported by Local Interconnect Network (LIN) and CAN and the devices have 320 – 640KB flash and 16 – 48KB RAM.

TI has developed Hercules USB stick development kits or more complex Hercules development kits. Each kit comes with all the hardware and software including TI’s Code Composer Studio integrated development environment, HALCoGen peripheral configuration tool and a safety demo that showcases BIST execution and error forcing modes.  

Hercules microcontrollers range from $5 – $30 at 10K unit quantities. The RM4x Hercules USB stick development kit is  $79 and the RM4x Hercules development kit is $199.

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