MCU Vendors Grow Their Software Offerings for GUIs, Automotive, and More

December 28, 2022 by Jake Hertz

Through collaborations and home grown efforts, microcontroller companies across the industry are beefing up their software portfolios.

Trying to find the correct microcontroller (MCU) for your project can be a daunting task in today’s market which consists of seemingly innumerable options. While hardware certainly varies from device to device, once specs are ironed out, most companies will offer extremely similar devices to one another.

For this reason, for a lot of firmware engineers, the deciding factor on which MCU to choose is the software environment around the MCU. In recent weeks, multiple major MCU companies made headlines with respect to their custom software solutions.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the newest MCU software releases and see how they compare.


STMicroelectronics’ TouchGFX Updates

Last week, STMicroelectronics (ST) announced updates to its TouchGFX software package. TouchGFX is STM’s software framework for developing graphical user interface (GUI) applications on embedded systems.


ToughGFX has been augmented with the addition of TouchGFX Stock.

ToughGFX has been augmented with the addition of TouchGFX Stock. Image (modified) used courtesy of STMicroelectronics


Designed specifically for use with the company’s STM32 MCU, TouchGFX provides designers with a set of tools and libraries for creating GUIs using high-quality graphics and smooth animations.

According to ST, TouchGFX leverages STM32’s graphical hardware acceleration, architecture, and ecosystem, to help create powerful GUIs that require low amounts of memory and consume minimal power to generate. Common applications for TouchGFX include embedded devices such as home appliances, industrial controls, and automotive displays.

This week, the company released Release 4.21, which augments TouchGFX with new features such as TouchGFX Stock, which is a large set of free graphics designs, images, and icons to help users easily manage graphical assets. Release 4.21 also adds support for SVG images, new designer tools, and over 50 further enhancements such as bug fixes and general usability improvements.


Renesas and Fixstars Team Up

For its part, Renesas Electronics recently announced a collaboration with Fixstars for the joint development of a new suite of software tools for the optimization and simulation of ADAS (advanced driver-assistance system) gear. 


Suite of tools for R-Car automotive SoCs.

Suite of tools for R-Car automotive SoCs. Image (modified) used courtesy of Renesas Electronics


The new set of tools, called GENESIS, is a cloud-based deep learning evaluation toolset that is explicitly designed for use on Renesas’ R-Car automotive SoCs. The goals for GENESIS, according to the companies, are twofold.

First, they want to develop a deep-learning toolset that helps deploy ADAS software to specific hardware platforms in order to optimize for the specific hardware’s resources. Additionally, they hope to provide tools that can expedite the development and evaluation of ADAS software in order to shorten the product life cycle and time to market.

To do this, GENESIS offers a number of features including:

  • R-Car Neural Architecture Search (NAS): A tool for generating network models optimized for R-Car

  • R-Car DNN Compiler: A tool for compiling network models for R-Car

  • R-Car DNN Simulator: A tool for fast simulation of compiled programs

The first set of these tools are available only for Reneas’s R-Car V4H SoC, says the company.


Mathworks and Infineon Ink Simulink Deal

Our final piece of MCU software news comes from Infineon Technologies and Mathworks. The two firms , who recently announced that Mathworks’ Simulink tool has been augmented with support for Infineon’s AURIX TC4x family of automotive MCU. 

Simulink is an industry-standard tool from Mathworks which consists of a graphical programming environment for modeling, simulating, and analyzing dynamic systems. In the context of ADAS, automotive engineers generally use Simulink for applications such as sensor fusion and radar signal processing.


Infineon’s AURIX TC4x MCU.

Infineon’s AURIX TC4x MCU. Image used courtesy of Infineon Technologies


Now, with support for the AURIX TC4x family, Simulink provides engineers with the ability to easily design software systems for ADAS applications using Mathworks’ sophisticated tools. 

The hope is that it will enable engineers to validate use cases, rapidly and automatically generate the embedded software, and test algorithms to help shorten time to market and decrease design complexity.