Freescale Creates MCU for Automotive Instrumentation Cluster with TFT

Freescale Semiconductor (NYSE:FSL) (NYSE:FSL.B) has introduced a 16-bit microcontroller (MCU) designed for the next wave in automotive instrumentation clusters. The MC9S12XHZ512 MCU is the industry’s first instrumentation cluster MCU featuring an integrated thin-film transistor (TFT) display drive.

With its on-chip TFT driver, the S12XHZ512 device enables instrumentation cluster designers to reduce the complexity of their designs and implement high-quality graphic displays on low-end automotive dashboards in a timely, cost-effective manner. TFT displays – standard fare in laptops, cell phones and other mobile appliances – are gaining momentum in the mainstream automotive market as the technology becomes more cost-effective. Freescale’s latest MCU addresses the instrumentation cluster market, and TFT applications in particular, by offering optimal integration and application-specific features.

The S12XHZ512 MCU is the latest addition to Freescale’s S12HZ family. The S12HZ family is based on Freescale’s high-volume S12 architecture and boasts 15 members, ranging from ultra-low-cost 32KB ROM versions to devices with up to 256KB of flash memory. Featuring the enhanced S12X core, the S12XHZ512 provides a high-performance, backward-compatible extension to the established S12HZ.

The S12XHZ512 is upwardly code compatible with the HCS12 family, enabling developers with previous systems based on the HCS12 to reuse design tools for their new S12XHZ512-based applications.

The S12XHZ512 MCU handles application-critical intelligent control functions and is designed to drive the display in a car dashboard. In addition to supporting TFT displays, the device can drive analog gauges, liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and light-emitting diode (LED) displays. Key S12XHZ512 features for instrumentation cluster designers include 512KB of on-chip flash memory (twice that of its S12HZ predecessor), an LCD driver and stepper motor drivers for gauges.

“The S12XHZ512 comes at a perfect time for our instrumentation cluster customers,” said Mike McCourt, vice president and general manager of Freescale’s microcontroller division. “Once limited to high-end vehicles, TFT displays are growing more prevalent in low-end to mid-range vehicles, which the S12XHZ family targets. The MCU’s integrated XGATE coprocessor provides an enabling technology for TFT displays by driving the system cost reductions necessary to accelerate adoption of next-generation displays in the mainstream automotive market.”

Advanced XGATE coprocessor
The S12XHZ512 MCU takes S12HZ family integration a step further by incorporating Freescale’s advanced XGATE coprocessor module. With its RISC architecture and C-language programmability, the on-chip XGATE module functions like a dedicated coprocessor for the main CPU. Introduced on the S12X architecture in 2004, the XGATE coprocessor addresses the design challenge of achieving higher MCU performance without the cost and complexity of adding separate processors.

The versatile, cost-effective XGATE module can drive a 30,000-pixel TFT display directly, without the need for an external graphics driver IC. With the addition of a low-cost 100K-gate FPGA, the XGATE can drive an even larger quarter video graphics array (QVGA). In both application examples, designers can achieve an estimated system cost savings of $2-$4, when compared to using standard microcontrollers without an integrated TFT driver.

Freescale initially designed XGATE to offload the growing communications burden associated with driving multiple control-area networks (CAN) and local interconnect networks (LIN) from the main CPU. XGATE’s ease-of-use and flexibility have sparked its use in many other applications, such as driving sophisticated pulse-width modulation (PWM), direct memory access (DMA) activity and serial port buffering. Running at twice the speed of the main CPU and without any CPU processing overhead, the XGATE coprocessor is engineered to boost system performance by an additional 80 MIPS at peak operation.

MC9S12XHZ512 features
The MC9S12XHZ512 offers the standard features of the existing members of the HZ-family, such as 6-stepper drives with patented stall detection capability and a 32×4 LCD display drive. Other key features include:

  • 512KB flash memory
  • 40MHz enhanced 16-bit HCS12 CPU core
  • XGATE coprocessor module with programmable DMA controller, real-time interrupt handler and virtual peripheral controller
  • Up to 12KB RAM and 2KB EEPROM
  • Advanced interrupt and timer features
  • 16-channel analog-to-digital converter (ADC)
  • Two 1Mbps CAN 2.0 A,B software-compatible modules
  • Two asynchronous serial communications interfaces (SCI) and a serial peripheral interface (SPI)
  • 6-channel pulse width modulation (PWM)
  • On-chip single-wire background debug mode (BDM) with trace buffer
  • 112-pin LQFP and 80-pin QFP package options
  • Qualified temperature ranges of -40 C to 125 C

MC9S12XHZ512 availability
The MC9S12XHZ512 MCU and MC9S12XHZ512EVB evaluation board are available now in sample quantities.

About Freescale Semiconductor
Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. (NYSE:FSL) (NYSE:FSL.B) is a global leader in the design and manufacture of embedded semiconductors for the automotive, consumer, industrial, networking and wireless markets. Freescale became a publicly traded company in July 2004. The company is based in Austin, Texas, and has design, research and development, manufacturing or sales operations in more than 30 countries. Freescale, a member of the S&P 500(R), is one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies with 2005 sales of $5.8 billion (USD).

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