Tag Archives: ADAS

3 design hooks of Atmel MCUs for connected cars


The MPU and MCU worlds are constantly converging and colliding, and the difference between them is not a mere on-off switch — it’s more of a sliding bar. 


In February 2015, BMW reported that it patched the security flaw which could allow hackers to remotely unlock the doors of more than 2 million BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce vehicles. Earlier, researchers at ADAC, a German motorist association, had demonstrated how they could intercept communications with BMW’s ConnectedDrive telematics service and unlock the doors.

security-needs-for-connected-car-by-atmel

BMW uses SIM card installed in the car to connect to a smartphone app over the Internet. Here, the ADAC researchers created a fake mobile network and tricked nearby cars into taking commands by reverse engineering the BMW’s telematics software.

The BMW hacking episode was a rude awakening for the connected car movement. The fact that prominent features like advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are all about safety and security is also a testament is that secure connectivity will be a prime consideration for the Internet of Cars.

Built-in Security

Atmel is confident that it can establish secure connections for the vehicles by merging its security expertise with performance and low-power gains of ARM Cortex-M7 microcontrollers. The San Jose, California-based chip supplier claims to have launched the industry’s first auto-qualified M7-based MCUs with Ethernet AVB and media LB peripherals. In addition, this high-end MCU series for in-vehicle infotainment offers the CAN 2.0 and CAN flexible data rate controller for higher bandwidth requirements.

Nicolas Schieli, Automotive MCU Marketing Director at Atmel, acknowledges that security is something new in the automotive environment that needs to be tackled as cars become more connected. “Anything can connect to the controller area network (CAN) data links.”

Schieli notes that the Cotex-M7 has embedded enhanced security features within its architecture and scalability. On top of that, Atmel is using its years of expertise in Trusted Platform Modules and crypto memories to securely connect cars to the Internet, not to mention the on-chip SHA and AES crypto engines in SAM E70/V70/V71 microcontrollers for encryption of data streams. “These built-in security features accelerate authentication of both firmware and applications.”

Crypto

Schieli notes that the Cotex-M7 has embedded enhanced security features within its architecture and scalability. On top of that, Atmel is using its years of expertise in Trusted Platform Modules and crypto memories to securely connect cars to the Internet, not to mention the on-chip SHA and AES crypto engines in SAM E70/V70/V71 microcontrollers for encryption of data streams. “These built-in security features accelerate authentication of both firmware and applications.”

He explained how the access to the Flash, SRAM, core registers and internal peripherals is blocked to enable security. It’s done either through the SW-DP/JTAG-DP interface or the Fast Flash Programming Interface. The automotive-qualified SAM V70 and V71 microcontrollers support Ethernet AVB and Media LB standards, and they are targeted for in-vehicle infotainment connectivity, audio amplifiers, telematics and head control units companion devices.

Software Support

The second major advantage that Atmel boasts in the connected car environment is software expertise and an ecosystem to support infotainment applications. For instance, a complete automotive Ethernet Audio Video Bridging (AVB) stack is being ported to the SAM V71 microcontrollers.

Software support is a key leverage in highly fragmented markets like automotive electronics. Atmel’s software package encompasses peripheral drivers, open-source middleware and real-time operating system (RTOS) features. The middleware features include USB class drivers, Ethernet stacks, storage file systems and JPEG encoder and decoder.

Next, the company offers support for several RTOS platforms like RTX, embOS, Thread-X, FreeRTOS and NuttX. Atmel also facilitates the software porting of any proprietary or commercial RTOS and middleware. Moreover, the MCU supplier from San Jose features support for specific automotive software such as AUTOSAR and Ethernet AVB stacks.

Atmel supports IDEs such as IAR or ARM MDK and Atmel Studio and it provides a full-featured board that covers all MCU series, including E70, V70 and V71 devices. And, a single board can cover all Atmel microcontrollers. Moreover, the MCU supplier provides Board Support Package for Xplained evaluation kit and easy porting to customer boards through board definition file (board.h).

Beyond that, Atmel is packing more functionality and software features into its M7 microcontrollers. Take SAM V71 devices, for example, which have three software-selectable low-power modes: sleep, wait and backup. In sleep mode, the processor is stopped while all other functions can be kept running. While in wait mode, all clocks and functions are stopped but some peripherals can be configured to wake up the system based on predefined conditions. In backup mode, RTT, RTC and wake-up logic are running. Furthermore, the microcontroller can meet the most stringent key-off requirements while retaining 1Kbyte of SRAM and wake-up on CAN.

Transition from MPU to MCU

Cortex-M7 is pushing the microcontroller performance in the realm of microprocessors. MPUs, which boast memory management unit and can run operating systems like Linux, eventually lead to higher memory costs. “Automakers and systems integrators are increasingly challenged in getting performance point breakthrough because they are running out of Flash capacity,” explained Schieli.

On the other hand, automotive OEMs are trying to squeeze costs in order to bring the connected car riches to non-luxury vehicles, and here M7 microcontrollers can help bring down costs and improve the simplification of car connectivity.

The M7 microcontrollers enable automotive embedded systems without the requirement of a Linux head and can target applications with high performance while running RTOS or bare metal implementation. In other words, M7 opens up avenues for automotive OEMs if they want to make a transition from MPU to MCU for cost benefits.

However, the MPU and MCU worlds are constantly converging and colliding, and the difference between them is not a mere on-off switch. It’s more of a sliding bar. Atmel, having worked on both sides of the fence, can help hardware developers to manage that sliding bar well. “Atmel is using M7 architecture to help bridge the gap between microprocessors and high-end MCUs,” Schieli concludes.


Majeed Ahmad is the author of books Smartphone: Mobile Revolution at the Crossroads of Communications, Computing and Consumer Electronics and The Next Web of 50 Billion Devices: Mobile Internet’s Past, Present and Future.

Atmel’s new car MCU tips imminent SoC journey


The fact that these MCUs are targeting highly-sophisticated connected car applications like infotainment and ADAS means that the journey toward bigger and more powerful chips is now inevitable.


The automotive industry has reached a new era marked by giant initiatives like infotainment, connected car and semi-autonomous vehicles. And, no one seems more excited than the MCU guys who have been a part and parcel of in-car electronics for the past two decades. However, the humble microcontroller is going through a profound makeover in itself in order to come to terms with the demands of the connected car environment.

Take Atmel Corporation, one of the top MCU suppliers, who has launched its SAM DA1 family of microcontrollers at Embedded World 2015 in Nuremberg, Germany. The automotive-grade ARM Cortex-M0+-based MCUs come with capacitive touch hardware support for human-machine interface (HMI) and local interconnect network (LIN) applications. The SAM DA1 series integrates peripheral touch controller (PTC) for capacitive touch and eliminates the need for external components while minimizing CPU overhead. The feature is aimed at capacitive touch button, slider, wheel and proximity sensing applications.

Moreover, SAM DA1 microcontrollers offer up to 64KB of Flash, 8KB of SRAM and 2KB read-while-write Flash. The other key features of SAM DA1 series include 45 DMIPS and up to six serial communication interface (SERCOM), USB and I2S ports. SERCOM is configurable to operate as I2C, SPI or USART, which gives developers flexibility to mix serial interfaces and have greater freedom in PCB layout.

Atmel | SMART SAM DA1 ARM based Cortex-M0+  microcontrollers

Atmel | SMART SAM DA1 ARM based Cortex-M0+ microcontrollers

The automotive-grade MCUs — operating at a maximum frequency of 48MHz and reaching a 2.14 Coremark/MHz — are qualified to the AEC Q-100 Grade 2 (-40 to +105degreeC). According to Matthias Kaestner, VP of Automotive at Atmel, the company is targeting the SAM DA1 chips for in-vehicle networking, infotainment connectivity and body electronics.

Atmel-Automotive-Touc-Surface-Demo-PTC demo board

Automotive touch surface demo at Embedded World 2015

The fact that the SAM DA1 devices are based on powerful ARM cores clearly shows a trend toward more performance and the ability to run more tasks on the same MCU. The Cortex-M0+ processor design comes with a two-stage pipeline that improves the performance while maintaining maximum frequency. Moreover, it supports a new I/O interface that allows single cycle accesses and enables faster I/O port operations.

That’s no surprise because the number of electronic control units (ECUs) is on the rise amid growing momentum for connected car features like advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). However, a higher number of ECUs will make the communication among them more intense; so automotive OEMs want to reduce the number of ECUs while they want more value from the MCU.

Moreover, car vendors want to bring down the number of ECUs to avoid complexity within the larger car network. The outcome of this urge is the integration of more performance and functionality onto the MCU. Each ECU has at least one microcontroller.

Atmel and the Evolution of MCU

Atmel’s SAM DA1 device is another testament that the boundaries between MCU and SoC platforms are blurring. The fact that these MCUs are targeting highly sophisticated connected car applications like infotainment and ADAS means that the journey toward bigger and more powerful chips is now inevitable.

Atmel is an MCU company, and this product line has played a crucial role in its transformation that started in the late 2000s. At the same time, however, the San Jose, California–based chipmaker seems fully aware of the critical importance of the system-level solutions. Atmel calls the SAM DA1 family of chips MCUs; however, its support for more peripherals, larger memories and intelligent CPU features show just how much the MCU has changed over the course of a decade.

 Memory Protection Unit in Cortex-M0+

Memory Protection Unit in Cortex-M0+

Atmel has a major presence in the automotive market with its MCUs and touch controllers being part of the top-ten car vendors. It’s interesting to note that, beyond its MCU roots, Atmel has a lot of history in automotive electronics as well. Atmel was one of the first chipmakers to enter the automotive market.

Moreover, Atmel bought the IC division of Temic Telefunken Microelectronic GmbH for approximately $110 million back in 1998. Telefunken was an automotive electronics pioneer with an early success in electronic ignition chips that made way into Volkswagen cars back in 1980.

The release of SAM DA1 series marks a remarkable opportunity as well as a crafty challenge for Atmel in the twilight worlds of MCU and automotive electronics. Tom Hackenberg, a senior analyst at IHS, calls the phenomenon ‘SoC on wheels.’

Hackenberg says that the automotive industry consumed approximately a third of all MCUs shipped in 2013. However, now there is an SoC on the road, the brain behind the connected car, and it commands a deeper understanding of the AEC-Q100 standard for automotive quality and ISO 26262 certification for car’s functional safety.

Atmel’s AvantCar touchscreen demo at the CES 2015

Atmel’s AvantCar touchscreen demo at the CES 2015

The integration of touch controller into SAM DA1 chips can be an important value proposition for the car OEMs who are burning midnight oil to develop cool infotainment platforms for their newer models. Next, while AEC Q100 Grade 2 qualification is a prominent part of the SAM DA1, Atmel might have to consider augmenting the ISO 26262 certification for functional safety, a vital requirement in ADAS and other connected car features.


Majeed Ahmad is author of books Smartphone: Mobile Revolution at the Crossroads of Communications, Computing and Consumer Electronics and The Next Web of 50 Billion Devices: Mobile Internet’s Past, Present and Future.

 

CarVi wants to help make your old car smarter


One San Jose startup has just unveiled a sophisticated virtual driving system, with advanced safety features.


While several of today’s car are equipped with sensors, cameras and other next-gen technologies, what about that old 10-year-old Chevy Cavalier or Ford Taurus of yours? Though many modern-day vehicles may be embedded with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that can aid in everything from parking and navigating to steering and preventing accidents, a majority of drivers are not fortunate enough to have such enhanced mobiles. That was until CarVi came along.

carvi141201

The San Jose startup has developed a mountable ADAS for older vehicles that simply connects to your smartphone via Wi-Fi. The module — which is affixed inside a windshield below the rearview mirror — uses vision-based safety features to gather real-time data from your mobile device and a single lens camera. This allows the system to communicate with its corresponding app so that CarVi can detect a wide-range of possible situations, giving visual and audio alerts in the event one shall arise.

Carvi

While CarVi may not be synced to your car’s computer, it can certainly can provide an extra set of eyes while at the wheel. It knows if you happen to drift outside of a lane and senses brake lights ahead. More impressively, the ARM-based device is capable of learning your driving patterns and can give your car just enough gas to efficiently ease into the flow of traffic. At the end of the day, the mobile app will let you see just how safely you’ve been driving, or not, so you can hone your skills in the future.

screen-shot-2015-02-05-at-1-46-54-pm-e1423165673214

The team has geared the technological co-pilot towards elderly and teenage drivers, as well as those just looking for a little extra peace of mind while on the road. What’s nice about CarVi is that it offers a cheaper, more flexible option for those looking for a more connected ride. It’s compatible with more than 95% of cars and has been successfully tested in Ford, Nissan, Toyota, BMW and other major brands.

Looking to give your old whip some new smarts? Head over to the project’s official Indiegogo page, where the team is currently seeking $100,000. Pending all goes to plan, delivery is expected to begin in August 2015. Those interested in CarVi may also want to check out this latest interview on the future of vehicles in the IoT.