Renesas Kicks-up CPU Speeds with SoCs for Entry/Mid-range Automotive Systems
The demand for cost-advantaged advanced cockpit technology for mid-range and entry-level automobiles is on the rise, which prompts Renesas to release a new R-Car series: the Gen3e.
The days of mechanically actuated speedometers, odometers, and limited-use backlit engine indicators are fading quickly. The transition to advanced digital display technology has been ongoing for the past several years for mid-high and high-end vehicles.
However, it has been challenging to amortize the cost of advanced digitalization for the entry-level automobile. The advent of automotive system-on-chip (SoC) options with high-level integration might be the solution needed to bring down the bill of materials (BOM) enough to modernize your favorite entry-level model.
Last week, Renesas launched the next iteration of its R-Car product line, called the R-Car Gen3e. The Gen3e, a series of six new SoC devices, claims to offer up to 20% increased CPU speed for applications in infotainment, cockpit, and digital cluster systems.
The new members of this device family join an already existing high-end generation of SoCs designed for ADAS and autonomous vehicles.
Cost-effective applications with the new R-Car Gen3e SoC. Image used courtesy of Renesas
With the support of the R-Car Consortium, the launch of this new series of chips and Renesas' 'winning combinations' of reference designs aims to tackle several problems centered around mid and entry-level vehicles.
Today, All About Circuit will look at three questions around this launch, namely, where does the R-Car Gen3e fit into the portfolio of automotive solutions from Renesas, what is a winning combination, and where are the pain points for launching cost-advantaged advanced digital cockpits, or digital heads-up displays (HUDs)?
The R-Car Ecosystem Hardware Is Full-Suite
Earlier this year, Renesas' focus was on high-end advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). However, Renesas continues to evolve the R-Car ecosystem, targeting applications across the entire spectrum of vehicular digitalization. Naoki Yoshida, VP for Automotive Digital Products Marketing, says that the new R-Car Gen3e series should offer a "seamless and cost-effective migration path" to automotive applications already using the current Gen3 devices.
R-Car targets ‘every’ segment of the modern vehicle. Image used courtesy of Renesas
R-Car Gen3e scaling ability allows designers to target specific niche elements, for example, a cost-advantaged HUD with the R-Car E3e. Alternatively, engineering teams can deploy a real-time network gateway with the R-Car H3e.
The key features of the Gen3e SoCs include:
- An increased CPU performance (up to 2 GHz for certain devices)
- An on-chip Arm Cortex R7 CPU
- Hardware and software reference designs
- Board support packages (BSPs) for Android and Linux
These features all work together to reduce the NRE costs associated with bringing an automotive solution to market. The inclusion of the ARM processor onboard eliminates the need for an external controller, while the software reference library and BSPs reduce software design and testing time.
Digital integration of the driver and passenger dashboard varies considerably across the spectrum of available vehicles and the "grades" of those models, from the base model to the fully equipped. Engineers looking to get a sense of Renesas' SoC specifications can review the product lineup.
Advanced Central Displays Using The R-Car E3e
While looking at the R-Car E3e block diagram, it's clear to see what options exist for 'entry-level' integrated cockpit solutions.
The block diagram for the R-Car E3e system-on-chip. Image used courtesy of Renesas
Although bare-bones, when compared to the R-Car H3e, the E3e shows engineers how well this product family scales to meet customer designs. The E3e fits nicely in the lineup of potential digital HUD solutions as a central display application-specific processor.
By looking at the hardware specifications, this chip provides a significant amount of system I/O in a 552-pin flip-chip BGA. The overall dimensions of the chip are 21 mm x 21 mm with a pin-pitch of 0.8 mm. The physical size of this chip contributes to its cost-advantaged features, as 0.8 mm pitch is the threshold for through-hole via technology transitioning to blind/buried-vias at 0.5 mm.
In today's engineering environment, hardware is only one side of the solution. Software design, testing, deployment, and upkeep are major contributors to the total cost of ownership. Renesas and the R-Car Consortium have reference solutions ready to get your HUD prototype up and ready for your customer.
Designers Take Advantage of the R-Car Software Marketplace
The R-Car marketplace could be a central location for engineers to take advantage of the ecosystem being managed by the R-Car Consortium. The consortium's mandate is to bring together system integrators, middleware application developers, and OS vendor IDE development support.
The type of material available on the marketplace varies based on vendors; however, categories exist to narrow down the application search. Engineers searching for reference designs can search by in-vehicle entertainment (IVI)/cockpit, instrument cluster, ADAS, gateway, and common applications.
The final piece of the puzzle to this holistic ecosystem is the hardware's 'winning combinations.'
Getting a Jump on Hardware Design with ‘Winning Combinations’
Renesas has a centralized location for handpicked hardware solutions for a variety of customer design requirements. For example, Renesas has an existing 'winning combination' solution for a low-cost digital instrument cluster. It currently includes several hardware elements, including an RH850 MCU and RAA278840 LCD video processor. It is conceivable that the R-Car E3e chip could reduce the BOM of this solution down to a single SoC.
A digital cluster solution using the E3e SoC. Image used courtesy of Renesas
Overall, Renesas' R-Car ecosystem appears to be a healthy and growing engineering one-stop shop for hardware and software solutions targeting a broad range of digital systems for the modern automobile. The new Gen3e series brings a new degree of hardware scalability and performance to the R-Car lineup.
Interested in other ADAS innovations? Read more in the articles down below.