It’s on the table

New AURIX TC3xx microcontroller generation delivers all the ingredients needed for high-performance automotive and industrial applications

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Infineon launched the 32-bit TriCore concept with the AUDO family, which was introduced in 1999. Thanks to its real-time performance and integrated safety and security features, the TriCore family quickly became the ideal platform for a wide range of automotive applications. The success story continued with the introduction of the AURIX TC2xx family (65 nm), which marked the transition to a multicore architecture. The advanced safety functions enable AURIX systems to achieve functional safety up to ASIL-D/SIL3, and, thanks to an integrated HSM (hardware security module), the controllers meet OEM requirements for data security.

The AURIX family was initially very successful especially in powertrain applications – a very harsh environment with high temperature demands and tough vibration conditions. This is how the controllers further proved their reliability and quality. While the AURIX real-time capability contributed to its success in engine management, the AURIX microcontrollers were designed from the outset to address other domains as well – especially in the area of safety. For example, they are used very successfully in the chassis and traditional safety environments, i.e. in applications such as brakes, airbags, steering, suspension, and more.

Now, the products of the latest AURIX TC3xx generation (40 nm with embedded flash) are in production and offer all the ingredients for high-performance and efficient designs. Designers can choose from a broad portfolio of scalable memory sizes, peripheral functions, frequencies, temperature, and package options. This, in turn, enables a wide range of applications in automotive as well as industrial electronics to be addressed, supported by a comprehensive ecosystem.

The multicore architecture of the latest AURIX TC3xx family further delivers a significant performance boost (Fig. 1) compared to the TC2xx devices, coupled with a high degree of compatibility with the previous generation. TC3xx devices provide up to six independently operating 32-bit TriCore processor cores, as well as further improved functions for vehicle communication, data security, and functional safety.

Fig. 1: With up to six independently operating 32-bit TriCore processor cores, the multicore architecture of the AURIX TC3xx family delivers a further significant performance boost with a high degree of compatibility with the previous generation.

This means that, in addition to the established applications, the TC3xx microcontrollers are now also predestined for ADAS/AD designs, i.e. advanced driver assistance systems and automated driving. Infineon has developed its own radar controller portfolio as a sub-segment, including TC3xx devices with specialized accelerators for radar signal processing. The TC3xx family is also equipped for data/sensor fusion. Up to SAE automation level 2, the high-end controllers of the second AURIX generation (TC3xx) can completely cover sensor fusion compute requirements. With their wide portfolio of peripherals, they are also suitable for use in domain/zone ECUs – an important prerequisite for automated vehicles and future-proof vehicle network architectures.

TC3xx microcontrollers offer the ideal combination of real-time capability, data security, and functional safety for ISO 26262 system requirements up to ASIL-D/IEC 61508 or SIL-3. Certification of the TC3xx family was carried out by TÜV Saarland and can be used for ECU certification. This allows a significant amount of time and effort to be saved. The new AURIX generation is also ideal for safety-critical areas beyond the car, such as transportation (trucks, agricultural and commercial vehicles, aviation, drones, buses, trains, transport applications in manufacturing, cranes, etc.) as well as for safety-critical industrial drives and inverters (solar inverters, robotics, elevators, etc.).

Broadly based and scalable

The TC3xx family is highly scalable in both packages and resources (Fig. 2). The high degree of integration and the wide range of package options make flexible and compact designs possible. The controllers are available in TQFP-80/BGA180 (12 mm x 12 mm) up to LFBGA-516 (25 mm x 25 mm) packages. They offer a range from one TriCore core (160 MHz) up to six TriCore cores (300 MHz each), from 1 MB up to 16 MB of embedded flash memory, and more than 6 MB of integrated RAM. Four of the six TriCore cores are coupled with lockstep cores. This sets new standards of computing performance and safety integrated in a chip: Up to about 4000 DMIPS computing power is available for designing systems with the highest ASIL-D safety level – compared to about 2000 DMIPS for the previous TC2xx generation.

Fig. 2: The new AURIX TC3xx generation is highly scalable in terms of computing power, peripherals, memory and packages

New features and enhanced updates have been introduced. A new feature, in comparison to the first AURIX generation, is an extension of the subsystem for radar processing with a signal processing unit, additional memory, and optimized data path. Connectivity has been significantly enhanced with up to two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, in addition to other traditional communication peripherals, and an eMMC interface for external flash memory. Many other peripherals, including HSM and AD converters, have been extended and improved.

Furthermore, AURIX’s integrated voltage regulator supports a switch CAP DC/DC topology in the low-end derivatives, saving space and cost of up to two external MOSFETs and coils. With this topology, the power consumption during operation can be halved.

Architectural evolution

With its high level of backwards compatibility, the new TC3xx AURIX generation provides an evolutionary path from the TC2xx generation. This enables fast and efficient upgrade of designs based on the previous generation, to families with higher performance and new features (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3: The main improvements and extensions in the TC3xx generation compared to the previous TC2xx architecture

Within the same package, derivatives with different performance levels offer high scalability and flexibility. For example, all TC3xx families are available in the popular BGA-292 package, allowing the designer to scale performance higher and lower depending on the resource needs of the program. High pin-to-pin package compatibility and complete software compatibility is ensured across the entire TC3xx family.

The proven AURIX safety concept has been retained in principle. Safety features from the TC2xx family can thus be reused, and the additional LBIST/MBIST hardware features in the TC3xx family eliminate the need for safety software – different safety mechanisms can now be exercised through hardware built-in self-tests.

Computing performance has been increased with the introduction of the new TriCore generation (1.62) with new instructions, up to six CPUs running at 300 MHz, as well as reduced latencies with direct path for flash access. On the memory side, not only have capacities been increased, but the MPU (memory protection unit) has also been further improved.

The TC3xx family incorporates various high-performance AD converters. Four types of converters are integrated: primary SAR (12 bit), secondary SAR (12 bit), fast compare (10 bit) and delta sigma. The converters offer conversion rates from 1 to 40 MSamples/s.

The optimized ADAS functionality of the AURIX TC3xx family benefits radar systems in particular (Fig. 4): from blind spot detection to front and corner radar systems. The TC3xx offers the previously mentioned radar processing unit with up to two signal processing units (SPUs), which support the highest safety requirements. The SPUs run at a clock frequency of 300 MHz and enable the calculation of the latest radar algorithms on a single chip with very low power consumption compared to conventional GPUs/DSPs. HF radar chips can be connected directly via the high-speed digital radar interface.

Fig. 4: The new AURIX generation enables many high-performance applications in the vehicle. For example, a complete chipset for 77 GHz radar is available

The improved HSM cryptographic capability makes on-board communication more secure and renders hardware manipulation more difficult. It integrates new functions to support asymmetrical encryption mechanisms according to EVITA “full” requirements.

As host controllers in gateway and telematics applications, the AURIX TC3xx controllers support the latest communication interfaces. This includes up to two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, up to 20 CAN-FD channels according to ISO 11898-1, and up to 24 LIN channels. An additional eMMC interface for an external flash interface enables local data storage for software update over the air (SOTA) architectures.

Infineon is also one of the first providers of a multicore architecture with Autosar 4.x. For this purpose, MCAL drivers (up to ASIL-D level) are offered according to the CMM3 level and ASPICE level (up to 1).

Safe and highly available

The trend towards ever more sophisticated driver assistance systems and higher levels of vehicle automation poses new challenges to the robustness, availability, and functional safety of the systems used. The electronic systems must maintain their functions even in the event of a fault (fail-operational). ISO26262 is the accepted safety standard for vehicle electronics.

High availability plays an essential role in fail-operational systems. Infineon has developed a chip-set architecture that combines a microcontroller with a support safety device (TLF35584/TLF30684) – in this case a safe power supply. The combination of safety supply device and AURIX microcontroller enables fail-operational systems with high availability. The advantages of the SMU come into play in particular with this approach. The SMU serves as the central collection point for all safety-critical alarms. Since such error handling should not be carried out on a potentially faulty unit (i.e. processing core), the SMU is designed as an independent unit. Using SMU, the internal and external reactions for each error source (interrupt, NMI, CPU core reset, CPU core idle, SOC reset, fault signal protocol) can be configured individually. 

All AURIX microcontrollers utilize the same concept for functional safety and use advanced protection mechanisms including, and not limited to, locksteps, ECC (Error Correction Code) protected memory, and the SMU mentioned above. Lockstep technology uses two cores in a self-test configuration. The same software thread runs on both cores, and the output of the two cores is compared with each other to detect errors. High functional safety is achieved with such extensive internal monitoring safety mechanisms implemented in hardware.

With the optimized architecture of the new AURIX generation, availability is further improved by increasing the independence between the cores. Each core can now be separately set to reset, run, or idle status. This means that a safety mechanism can perform a reset on one or more cores, while the other cores continue to run normally.

In addition, SafeTpack offered by Hitex is a comprehensive safety solution for the second generation of the AURIX microcontroller family, which considerably shortens the safety implementation. The complex LBIST functionality and other safety features of AURIX are managed by SafeTpack, which also provides additional safety functions such as program flow monitoring and cyclic control of peripheral devices. SafeTpack likewise coordinates the execution of start-up and cycle tests that ensure correct operation of the CPU and internal buses.

Security

Today’s vehicle architectures, including those of autonomous driving, require faster yet highly secure connectivity and communication between critical control units, such as the central drive computer and the steering or braking system. Against this background, the communication and security functions have been further improved in the new AURIX generation. For instance, the controllers offer interfaces for CAN FD, Flexray, and optionally Gigabit Ethernet. The HSM (Fig. 5) enables both symmetric and asymmetric encryption according to ECC256 and SHA256, message authentication between different ECUs, and secure booting to protect against malware. The HSM is based on a 32-bit ARM CPU and is separated from the rest of the AURIX chip by a firewall. The HSM creates a trusted execution environment, makes on-board communication more secure, and renders hardware manipulations, such as motor tuning, more difficult. In addition, the TC3xx microcontrollers support efficient and secure software updates over air (SOTA) and help prevent software hijacking.

Fig. 5: An enhanced hardware security module (HSM) ensures the highest level of cyber security

Also ideal for industrial applications

AURIX microcontrollers were originally designed for the needs of the automotive industry in which they are widely used. The TriCore architecture combines the advantages of a microcontroller, a RISC core, and a DSP on one chip. This combination offers clear advantages when it comes to high-performance control. Also important for the industry is the long-term availability and zero-defect quality. Furthermore, the AURIX architecture, with its high functional safety, offers compatibility according to IEC 61508 and the corresponding standards for railway technology (EN 50129), agricultural engineering (ISO 25119), machinery (IEC 62061), etc.

High operating temperatures are also common in many industrial environments. The new generation of AURIX microcontrollers is therefore not only available for the extended temperature range from -40 °C to +125 °C, but also in “hot packages” for up to +150 °C. Among various industrial applications (Fig. 6), this benefits applications such as UPSs (uninterruptible power supplies), PLCs, inverters, and robotics. There is also a cooperation with Xilinx to connect the AURIX to FPGAs via a high-speed interface (HSSL) – for greater system flexibility.

Fig. 6: The scalable TC3xx microcontrollers enable various high-performance and scalable industrial applications, like inverters, for example for wind turbines or solar systems

Easy to use: Quick and efficient design implementation

A free toolkit is available for software development and testing based on AURIX – the “AURIX Development Studio” www.infineon.com/aurixdevelopmentstudio. This software tool can be used with all AURIX starter kits and application boards. The toolkit includes an Eclipse-based IDE, a project wizard to define project properties for device and board support, a powerful C compiler, an integrated source-level debugger, and on-chip support for flash programming. Infineon also offers a DSP library that has evolved over the years to meet customer requirements. Additional tools are available for configuration and pin mapping, as well as driver files and free flash loader.

In addition to the software tools, starter and application kits are also available. The starter kits include Arduino compatible boards designed to use any Arduino Shield in combination with the kit. Hardware support ranges from low-cost entry-level kits and demo boards to evaluation boards that support all functions, including extension boards for professional testing and software development. Furthermore, there are many application kits that facilitate a “quick start” for applications such as motor controls, radar, or wireless charging.

In addition, technical questions can be answered quickly and efficiently online in the AURIX forum: www.infineon.com/aurixforum or on the AURIX website, where many details and training materials can be found. www.infineon.com/aurix

Conclusion and outlook The new multicore AURIX TC3xx microcontrollers offer optimized solutions for a wide range of automotive and industrial applications, supported by a comprehensive ecosystem. Compatibility with previous generation in the safety concept, hardware, and software – as well as package and resource scalability in terms of cores, memory, and peripherals – enable an efficient upgrade path for existing families and safeguards investments in the software and safety architectures in the future. Yet, the development and innovation does not stop. Accelerator units for AI functionalities are being developed and will be integrated into the controllers in future generations, enabling even more advanced functionality!

Ralf Ködel

Ralf Ködel, Director Product Marketing Management, Automotive & Industrial Microcontroller at Infineon Technologies