TI’s Hercules CPU boosts performance while adding safety features.

TI microcontroller focuses on functional safety

Many high-profile vehicle recalls this year have highlighted the need to ensure that electronic systems work reliably. A new microcontroller line from Texas Instruments adds features that make it more effective in functional safety systems.

The 32-bit, dual-core Hercules microcontrollers are designed to help design teams meet ISO 26262 functional safety requirements for applications like advanced driver-assistance systems and electric powertrains. The focus on safety standards compliance highlights the industry’s effort to stress reliability at all levels of development.

“Functional safety development has always been challenging,” said Dev Pradhan, TI’s Safety and Security Microcontroller Manager. “With the newer standards, the challenge has moved from the system level to the component level.”

The microcontrollers are designed to run in lockstep, providing redundancy needed in most safety environments. The new line expands on the base of hardware components and development tools that make up the SafeTI design package elements. Design and manufacturing processes meet a range of safety standards. The controllers offer on-chip interconnect diagnostics and additional features.

“The bus is more protected; we’ve added snoop protection,” Pradhan said. “We also expanded error correction for memory with single-bit error correction and double-bit error detection.”

Though safety is a key parameter, the floating-point microcontrollers offer a 50 percent increase in computational performance over TI’s current ARM Cortex-R MCUs. The controllers have speeds up to 330 MHz, running at 660 peak MIPS. The line offers up to 4 MB of integrated program Flash, 512 KB of on-chip random access memory, and 128 KB of data Flash for EEPROM emulation.

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