Automotive electronics design takes a giant leap forward

The trickle-down effect from increased government regulations and from car consumers’ embrace of automotive electronics is far-reaching. These consequences challenge engineering teams more and more.

Think about the shift from 8- and 16-bit microcontrollers (MCUs) to 32-bit devices. The shift is driven by increasing vehicle electronics-system performance requirements, and who doesn’t like better performance?

But as these teams deliver the benefits of higher performance with 32-bit solutions, they also must be more mindful of power consumption, form factor, integration and cost.

Into this challenging environment steps NXP, a leading automotive electronics supplier with a new family of ARM-based MCUs designed to address all these issues for body applications. It’s a big-growth area: Strategy Analytics, the research firm, estimates that by 2023 nearly 1.8 billion MCUs will be used in body applications, such as pumps, doors, seats, climate control and lighting. These Body Electronic Control Units (ECUs) continue to replace passive and mechanical systems in sensor, actuator and motor-related applications.

NXP’s S32K MCU family—initially using ARM Cortex-M4 and later ARM Cortex-M0+ devices—builds on NXP's existing automotive MCU offerings in three key areas:

  • Scalability
  • Integration
  • Software support.


The Cortex-M family is a perfect fit for body component designs with its low-power profile across all processors, wide choice of processing performance (from Cortex-M0+ all the way up to Cortex-M7) and the vast support available from the world’s #1 embedded ecosystem. When combined this allows developers to optimize their solution to whatever the application requires.

The key trends pushing the move to 32-bit processing in body control applications are:

  • A constant demand for more consumer features
  • Body application requirements are increasing
  • Security requirements are growing
  • Functional safety design support is increasingly expected
  • AUTOSAR needs a platform-based approach.

This insight comes from a soon-to-be-published Strategy Analytics report, written by Ian Riches, which explores the coming market growth, applications drivers and integration solutions. Stay tuned for updates! You can find additional insight about Arm automotive solutions here.

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