As government regulations spur automakers to trim emissions and fuel consumption, engine control systems are getting increased attention from chipmakers. Infineon has boosted the performance of its controllers, prompting BMW to tap the chipmaker's line for its M Series engine.
Infineon enhanced its TriCore line with the Audo Future. This 32-bit core blends a microcontroller, digital signal processor, and flash memory, aiming at applications throughout the powertrain.
The line runs up to 66% faster than its predecessor, with a peak speed of 180 MHz. That speed is augmented by peripherals that offload tasks so the processor can focus on complex powertrain functions. Flash capacity ranges up to 4 MB.
The chip is also the company’s first controller to implement FlexRay, a high-speed network expected to see solid growth during the next decade. That peripheral is based on the firm's stand-alone FlexRay device.
Though it is designed for next-generation transmissions and engine controls, the chip does not use the symmetric dual-core architecture that has gotten much attention in public forums. Infineon says the line's performance lets OEMs retain single-core software, eliminating the task of revising programs to run on parallel designs.
"A major benefit of our architecture is that automakers don’t have to move to symmetric dual-core processors. That move has a huge impact on their software development," said Björn Steurich, Senior Marketing Manager for Microcontrollers at Infineon.
That was part of the reason BMW selected the family. It provides "an ideal platform for our next generation of control units,” said Herbert Bayerl, who heads engine control unit development at BMW M GmbH.
The chips will help designers meet various emissions restrictions in part by making it simpler to adopt direct injection, which is increasingly being used to boost performance and keep emissions low. “In Europe there’s a lot of direct injection in diesels, and next-generation vehicles in the U.S. are using it in gasoline engines," Steurich said.
Infineon's Audo Future line also advances the use of the Automotive Open System Architecture. “All our new microcontrollers will offer AUTOSAR," Steurich said.
AUTOSAR, which is gaining acceptance in Europe, standardizes software interfaces and makes it simpler to change chip suppliers.