Renesas Shares Processor Roadmap for Its Next-Gen Automotive SoCs and MCUs

November 09, 2023 by Jake Hertz

Renesas’ R-Car Generation 5 brings new SoCs and MCUs to the automotive domain.

In an era where the automotive industry is rapidly transitioning towards electrification and autonomy, the demand for more powerful and efficient computing solutions has never been more pressing. This landscape is characterized by a significant departure from isolated, domain-specific electronic control units (ECUs) towards a centralized, zonal architecture. 


The R-Car Gen 5 is the newest addition to Renesas’ automotive family.

The R-Car Gen 5 is the newest addition to Renesas’ automotive family.


As vehicles become more like computers on wheels, the need for high-performance, flexible, and scalable compute platforms becomes critical to support the advanced features expected in next-generation vehicles, such as autonomous driving, sophisticated infotainment systems, and enhanced connectivity.

This week, Renesas announced their processor roadmap for their next-generation automotive SoCs and MCUs. Let’s take a look at what the company has in store.


The R-Car Family

The centerpiece of Renesas’ recent announcement is the company’s upcoming R-Car Generation Five product family.

One major tenet of the new family is a suite of SoCs engineered to meet the growing demands of automotive computing. Meant as a response to the industry's shift toward centralized computing architectures, the family is designed to support a range of functionalities from advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) to autonomous driving and sophisticated infotainment systems.


Chiplet architecture used in R-Car Gen 5 SoCs

Chiplet architecture used in R-Car Gen 5 SoCs


While specific technical details are currently unknown, Renesas claims that the R-Car Gen Five SoCs are rooted in Arm-based CPUs, which enable high levels of computation and integration. It Reneas’s group press conference announcing the SoCs, the company did not say which Arm cores specifically would be used.

These SoCs are structured to address the intensive memory compute requirements of modern vehicles, integrating caches at various levels, capable of managing complex operating systems, and facilitating the consolidation of multiple vehicle domains. 

As part of this, Renesas has employed chiplet design to enhance the flexibility and scalability of the products. By integrating AI accelerators, ISPs, DSPs, and GPUs alongside the Arm core, Renesas aims to enhance the range of AI capabilities of these SoCs.


New R-Car Gen 5 MCUs

Beyond the SoCs, Renesas is also introducing a line of crossover MCUs with the R-Car Gen 5 family. Meant to bridge the gap between traditional MCUs and the more robust SoCs, these crossover devices are pivotal in meeting the increased performance demands of modern vehicles. 


The R-Car crossover MCUs bring SoC-level performance to vehicle control systems.

The R-Car crossover MCUs bring SoC-level performance to vehicle control systems.


Also equipped with Arm cores, these MCUs aim to take on the computational capabilities necessary to facilitate real-time processing in vehicles. Not much is known about their specific design, but Renesas claims that they are meant to operate efficiently during high-demand tasks such as managing sensor fusion for ADAS or executing control algorithms for electric powertrains. Same as with the SoCs, no specifics were revealed about which Arm cores were chosen.

Overall, Renesas's introduction of crossover MCUs is a strategic move to fill a market niche where there is a need for components that offer both the efficiency of MCUs and the advanced capabilities of SoCs. This duality is essential for the development of future vehicles that require adaptable and powerful computing solutions within stringent power and space constraints.


Driving Home the Future of Vehicles

As the automotive sector continues to blur the lines with the tech industry, the role of SoCs and MCUs becomes increasingly significant. With the R-Car Gen 5, Renesas is helping to anticipate and thwart future challenges associated with the integration of sophisticated AI, the management of complex sensor networks, and the seamless execution of advanced vehicle functionalities.

With such high-level computational components integrated into vehicles, there is hope for more intuitive ADAS, vehicles with advanced environmental perception, and an accelerated shift towards fully autonomous driving.


All images used courtesy of Renesas Electronics