Freescale aims to make 32-bit MCUs “software engineer friendly”

June 25, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Freescale’s S32K MCUs are presented as the first automotive microcontrollers designed for the software engineer; an automotive architecture based on ARM Cortex IP delivers software and hardware scalability for faster development through what Freescale terms future-proofing features and optimal software reuse. In a synchronised announcement, IAR Systems has a development toolchain ready.

Freescale observes that as silicon content and complexity continue to rise in cars, software becomes more and more important. New vehicles commonly incorporate more than 100 million lines of embedded code – more than some passenger aircraft. While offering opportunities for innovation, software increases complexity and creates significant code maintenance and time-to-market challenges. Automotive electronics suppliers now dedicate more of their development resources to software than hardware.

S32K is, says Freescale, the first automotive MCU product line designed to significantly speed and simplify software development. The S32K has an ARM Cortex architecture, bringing scalability and compatibility for a range of automotive electronics applications traditionally served by a mix of 8-, 16- and 32-bit MCUs, while providing a strong foundation for advanced tools and software platforms.

To streamline software engineering and advance automotive software development technology beyond the Autosar Microcontroller Abstraction Layer (MCAL), Freescale is introducing a comprehensive, automotive-grade software development kit (SDK) providing middleware for a set of drivers necessary to operate S32K MCUs. The comany has created an open integration environment for developers targeting S32K MCUs. The new S32 Design Studio (DS) provides a platform capable of supporting a host of time-saving software and tools. DS is intended to eliminate months of R&D time across all phases of development, from rapid prototyping to production readiness and re-use on the next project.

Freescale also works in close collaboration with IAR Systems on high-end development tools and AUTOSAR support. IAR provides a set of software tools for developing safety applications, including a C/C++ compiler and debugger tool chain.

With the combination of Freescale’s existing Cortex-M0+-based KEA MCU family and the new, more powerful Cortex-M4-based S32K product line, Freescale says it has a scalable ARM Cortex-based portfolio for automotive applications ranging from body and chassis control to touch-sensing interfaces, to communication gateways and applications requiring electrical motor control features. Sharing the same ARM Cortex architecture, software written for these product lines is