With cars running on up to 150 million lines of code as a result of increased complexity needed to ensure higher levels of safety and security, the ability to reuse software across multiple applications can simplify things greatly. To address this, NXP Semiconductors has introduced a new microcontroller (MCU) family to address the cost and complexity of automotive software development, together with new features for security, ISO 26262 compliance and secure over-the-air (OTA) updates.
The new S32K3 family simplifies software development with an enhanced package that spans security, functional safety and low-level drivers to extend the reach of the MCUs into advanced body electronics, battery management and zone control applications.
The S32K3 expands NXP’s S32 automotive platform, originally launched in 2017, from gateway and domain control into zone control and edge nodes. It also now enables software reuse among multiple applications to reduce the complexity of vehicle software development and ease the burden for tier 1s and carmakers.
According to Ed Sarrat, director of product management for automotive processing at NXP, “Software development is one of the central challenges in modern vehicle development and the S32K3 MCU family is designed to help customers meet it. It accelerates development with free automotive grade drivers, simplifies security and over the air updates, and streamlines safety compliance.”
The S32K3 security solution includes the hardware security engine, designed to anticipate the ISO/SAE 21434 standard still in development and future OEM requirements. Beyond the hardware, NXP provides its own firmware and crypto driver, aiming to reduce the cost and complexity of engaging with third party providers. The firmware maximizes the performance of the hardware security engine, blocks rogue access to protect the integrity of the security subsystem and is field upgradable to address evolving cyber security threats.
The S32K3‘s system-level approach to functional safety – including safety framework software, a core self-test library, and hardware features including lock-step cores, and clock/power/temperature monitors – ease compliance with ISO 26262 requirements. In addition, the S32K3 is being released in conjunction with a safety power management IC, the FS26. The combination includes the software driver, reference design and joint safety documentation for safety applications.
NXP said its unique real time drivers (RTD) package combines low level drivers for both AUTOSAR and proprietary software architectures. This provides platform reuse to tier1s and carmakers who no longer need to maintain separate architectures. The RTD package is production grade and will comply with the ISO 26262 standard, which can reduce the time required for customer code validation.
Secure over-the-air software updates are made possible by a smart memory design which enables updates to be downloaded during normal runtime, while automatic address translation functionality eliminates the need for software reconfiguration. Together, these features enable an instant switchover to the new software version after reset, and the original software is preserved as a roll back option.
The S32K3 family offers scalability from 512KB -8MB of flash with up to three Arm Cortex M7 cores. It is also the first NXP MCU to offer the MaxQFP package, which reduces the footprint compared to a standard QFP by up to 55%. The combination of scalable hardware and easy to use software aims to accelerate innovation for next generation vehicle features.
Engineering samples, evaluation boards and a software package for the first product in the S32K3 family are now available for alpha customers. Production of the lead device is planned for the fourth quarter of 2021.
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