ARM adds safety support to Cortex-R5 IP for automotive, medical and industrial markets

January 22, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
ARM has created a comprehensive safety document set for the ARM Cortex-R5 processor to assist its adoption in safety-critical applications. The Cortex-R5 is the first in a range of ARM processors to come with a safety document set that semiconductor companies can use to demonstrate compliance with new functional safety standards.

ARM notes the importance of functional safety in markets that include automotive, medical and industrial applications, and says, “The Cortex-R5 processor has a rich set of fault detection and control features and the addition of generic safety documentation means developers can now use it across the broadest range of safety applications.” Part of the context, ARM notes, is that the applicable standards have evolved and recognise the role of IP, enabling ARM address the issue of functional safety directly.

The work it has done, ARM says, is at several levels; it offers support for safety-related operations and functions (dual-core lock-step operation, for example) but also provides documentation that covers not only the IP itself but the methodologies of its design. A significant proportion of the preparation for this release has, the company says, been related to process; the design process must stand up to scrutiny regarding its approach to design-for-safety and how that has been applied at all stages. This complements the fact that the company has included fault detection and control features in its IP for many years.

Asked if this package risks taking ARM further into its licensees’ (and their end-customers’) activities than they might wish to be, ARM says that in fact, the reverse is the case, “The standards force you to define boundaries.” The offering is “standards agnostic” that is re-usable across different market sectors; it supports a range of safety levels (for example, the tiered SIL structure in automotive/industrial contexts) and is configurable, and modular.

ARM has already worked with its licensees in this are, citing Texas Instruments, which offers a safety-critical-systems application and documentation package with its Hercules MCUs.

System developers have assurance that the Cortex-R5 processor can be used in safety-related applications as the SoC developers have access to additional information required for demonstrating functional safety. For automotive applications such as powertrain and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Cortex R5-based designs with ISO