Essential Tools for the CAN/LIN ECU Development Process

April 20, 2011 // By Richard McLaughlin, Chris Quigley
With the increasing use of in-vehicle networks, the development of the ECU (Electronic Control Unit) must not only consider software requirement, but also the implementation of the embedded software via a data bus such as CAN or LIN. This paper presents some tools that will help with the best practice development process of an ECU with CAN and/or LIN communications. The use of such tools will result in a reduction in development time and human errors and therefore reduce project costs.

A number of tools and utilities are described that will improve the process of the development of control systems in the automotive industry which are based on networks such as CAN and LIN. The benefits include reduction of time and therefore project costs, and reduction of design errors. Figure 1 gives a visual overview of the tools used and the associate files required and generated. This development environment centres on the Signals Database which is a file used to exchange a detailed description on the usage of network nodes, messages and signals. The best practice process described requires the developer to make all changes to the CAN or LIN bus via the Signals Database only, thus having a central place for changes and the remainder carried out automatically by the tools in the process.

Figure 1: Tools for CAN ECU development

The Network Design Tool is described, which is a rule-based design tool for design the communications of any of these networks in a robust way. Protocol and application specific rules help to ensure a robust design. One output from this tool is a Signals Database file such as a CAN database or LIN Description File (LDF). The Network Documentation Tool (NDT) can also be used to take the Signals Database and automatically generate a CAN or LIN specification at the press of a button. Similarly the Network Comparison Tool (NCT) can make a message or signals oriented comparison between the current version of the Signals Database and a previous revision and automatically generate a CAN or LIN differences specification which outlines in details to the ECU developer which changes to the communications are needed to be implemented for the ECU that they are developing. This saves time that is usually spent in writing such documents for customers or project teams, and reduces errors caused by inconsistencies between the Signals Database and specifications.

The Network Design Tool can also be

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