Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Automotive Electronic Control Unit Reference Design

The automotive ECU reference design features high-performance digital signal controllers and security ICs for secure ECU functions.

Solution Diagram

The Automotive Electronic Control Unit (ECU) is a vital component in modern vehicles, playing a crucial role in managing and controlling various automotive systems. It is essential for engine management, ensuring optimal performance and fuel efficiency while reducing emissions. ECUs are also integral to operating safety systems such as anti-lock braking and advanced driver assistance systems, enhancing vehicle safety. They also manage comfort and convenience features, provide diagnostic capabilities for easier maintenance, and enable connectivity for real-time traffic updates and remote diagnostics. ECUs are a cornerstone of modern vehicle design, contributing to improved performance, safety, comfort, and environmental sustainability.

The architecture of the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) in modern connected cars with advanced driver assistance systems requires the ECUs to support security and the entire software framework to adhere to AUTOSAR standards.

The reference design offered by Microchip showcases the high-performance real-time dsPIC33C Digital Signal Controller (DSC) combined with the TA100 CryptoAutomotive Security IC. This combination meets the security and AUTOSAR requirements while implementing various ECU functions.

This demonstration application simulates three ECU nodes using dsPIC33C development boards, serving as a rapid prototyping system for AUTOSAR-based secure and safety-critical automotive applications. Each node is securely interconnected via the CAN-FD bus with node and message authentication. The CAN-FD bus is connected to a PC GUI through a CAN-FD to USB converter, allowing visualization of CAN-FD messages between the nodes and system status. It also enables the emulation of an intruder node on the CAN-FD bus to verify the secure CAN-FD message authentication.

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The TA100 is a secure element from our CryptoAutomotive™ security IC portfolio, designed for automotive security applications. It supports code authentication, message authentication via MAC generation, trusted firmware updates, Qi 1.3 wireless charging authentication, and multiple key management protocols, including TLS. It also supports other root-of-trust-based operations. The TA100 is typically used alongside a microcontroller (MCU) or microprocessor (MPU) on the same board as a companion device.

Design benefits include the ease of implementing secure communication, message, and node authentication, along with an ISO 26262 functional safety package that simplifies safety compliance. The high-performance CPU supports advanced motor control, sensor interfacing, and robust touch ECU design, while AUTOSAR MCAL drivers abstract hardware dependency.

Automotive ECUs are utilized in various applications within vehicles. To ensure optimal performance, they manage the engine control system, including fuel injection and emission control. ECUs also control safety systems like anti-lock braking (ABS) and airbag deployment, enhancing vehicle safety. Additionally, they manage comfort features such as climate control and infotainment systems.

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Microchip has tested this reference design. It comes with a Bill of Material (BOM), schematics, etc. You can find additional data about the reference design on the company’s website. To read more about this reference design, click here.

Nidhi Agarwal
Nidhi Agarwal
Nidhi Agarwal is a journalist at EFY. She is an Electronics and Communication Engineer with over five years of academic experience. Her expertise lies in working with development boards and IoT cloud. She enjoys writing as it enables her to share her knowledge and insights related to electronics, with like-minded techies.


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