A new generation of microcontrollers: The RH850 Family of 40-nm MCUs for better, safer motor vehicles - part 2

September 27, 2012 // By Hideto Hidaka, Ph.D., Renesas
A previous Part-1 Technology Special story, "Jumping Far Ahead to 40-nm Process Technology", described a unique Renesas MONOS (metal-oxide nitride-oxide silicon) production technique for the internal flash memory essential for achieving higher levels of MCU performance for automotive applications. Renesas now is incorporating that technology into a comprehensive line of IC solutions for global automotive electronics markets. Devices in new groups of Renesas 40-nm MCUs fulfill the processing requirements of the exciting economy, mid-level and luxury vehicles being developed for future production.

In this Part-2 Technology Special story, Hiroaki Kaneko, General Manager of the Automotive Systems Division in Renesas Electronics' Marketing Unit, highlights the high-performance 32-bit MCUs in the RH850 family, the top end of our newest products. He points out that these advanced chips exhibit enormous application potential for automotive ECUs (electronic control units) and describes their important design features and benefits.

Anticipating twice as many automotive MCUs per vehicle (2018 vs. 2010)

Worldwide automotive sales volume is likely to continue growing at 4 to 5% per year, with estimated sales reaching 80 million vehicles in 2013. Rising demand in China, India, and other emerging-market economies is largely responsible for this ongoing growth. China, in particular, is expected to exhibit a very robust market expansion over the next three years. In 2009 China was already second only to the United States in annual sales volume, at over 10 million vehicles, and Renesas expects that volume to double by 2015.

The impact of semiconductors on the automotive industry is an amazing, yet relatively recent phenomenon. Just a few decades ago, cars did not come with embedded MCUs, or even with semiconductors. In the early 1970s, for example, you could find semiconductors in car radios, but not in any of the vehicle’s three basic systems—driving, turning, and stopping. Back then, chips were used only to add value to extra features.

Today though, MCUs are pervasive, critically important components in cars and trucks. They are hidden from view in all of a vehicle’s essential systems. The low emissions, good performance and excellent drivability achieved by modern engines, for instance, is made possible almost entirely by the monitoring, processing and real-time control capabilities of MCU-based electronic modules (ECUs, electronic control units).

Clearly, the availability of more optimized, better performing ICs and other semiconductor chips is the major factor pushing automotive technology today. For that reason, going forward Renesas expects to see a 10% annual increase

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