New MCUs could ease IEC 61508 SIL 3 and ISO 26262 ASIL-D system certification

September 08, 2011 // By Phil Ling
Designed to help developers obtain safety certifications, Texas Instruments has announced its new Hercules safety microcontroller platform for medical, industrial and transportation applications. The platform consists of three ARM Cortex-based microcontroller families that deliver scalable performance, connectivity, memory and safety features for applications that require a high level of reliability.

Unlike microcontrollers that rely on software for safety capabilities, Hercules microcontrollers implement safeguards in hardware to reduce software overhead. Coupled with robust tools, software and safety documentation, TI claims that this functionality gives developers the headroom to differentiate their end products.

Three of the families in the Hercules range are based on dual Cortex-R4F cores; the least well deployed of the ARM Cortex family. The cores operate in lockstep to deliver the assurances needed for the target markets, and a safety manual is provided to explain how to implement the Hercules MCUs in to safety-critical applications.

To get started quickly, developers can use the low-cost Hercules USB Stick Development Kits or the full-featured Hercules Development Kits. Each kit comes with all the hardware and software required to get up and running quickly, including TI’s Code Composer Studio integrated development environment, HALCoGen peripheral configuration tool and a Safety Demo that showcases BIST execution and error forcing modes.