Renesas moves to finest auto chip geometries to boost performance

  • 30-Apr-2012 05:38 EDT

Moving to 40 nm processes lets Renesas squeeze more into compact controllers.

Renesas Technology has merged its microcontroller with NEC’s in a family that will be the company’s mainstay automotive controller. The RH850 family is said to be the first automotive controller to use 40-nm processing, which will permit increases in speed and capacity.

The 32-bit microcontroller line is the first to use the company’s 40-nm metal oxide nitride oxide silicon embedded flash technology. It’s also one of the leading products that’s been developed since the merger of Renesas and NEC Electronics in April 2010.

“This will be our flagship family,” said Amrit Vivekanand, Segment Marketing Manager at Renesas Electronics America. “We didn’t want to run two separate families; we wanted a product line that was scalable from the low end up to the high end.”

At present, most automotive-grade controllers are produced using 90-nm processes. A few companies have shifted to 55-nm processes, which Renesas skipped despite having to rebuild some of its fab lines after Japan’s horrific 2011 earthquake.

Using the finer line widths shrinks size, which helps reduce costs, while also facilitating continued improvements in speed and storage capacity. The 40-nm flash technology provides processing rates up to 320 MHz for a single-core device. On-chip storage capacities now range from less than 1 up to 8 MB.

“There will be a need for the high end of that range in the model year 2016 to 2018,” Vivekanand said.

Performance can also be enhanced by adding a number of peripherals. That’s a growing trend as companies attempt to use a single architecture in varied applications such as powertrains and safety systems.

“The chips can be optimized for specialized applications,” Vivekanand said. “You can add DSPs for advanced safety, MOSFETs for electric motor control, and hardware accelerators of other tasks.”

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