Functional Safety Microcontroller

June 10, 2014
New MCUs from Texas Instruments are designed to help automation system developers more easily address IEC 61508 functional safety requirements in PLCs, drives and motors.

For more than a decade now, advances in embedded technologies have been the game changer for nearly all automation system developments. Many of those advances, however, were derived from embedded system advances initially designed for consumer applications. But as automation is increasingly relied upon as a prime enabler of manufacturing growth on a global basis, embedded advances are more often being designed specifically for industrial use.

A recent case in point is Texas Instruments’ new Hercules RM57Lx and TMS570LCx microcontrollers (MCUs). These 32-bit, dual-core MCUs are designed to address functional safety applications of industrial equipment.

Beyond their performance capabilities (more info on that below), four features in particular make these MCUs suitable for safety device applications:

• Compliance with IEC 61508 SIL-3 and ISO 26262 ASIL-D and associated end product application certification is enabled with Hercules MCU’s SafeTI design package components. These components also include Texas Instrument’s (TI) safety-related semiconductor components, quality manufacturing process, safety development process, safety-related documents, tools and software.
• TI’s ARM Compiler Qualification Kit helps developers document, analyze, validate and qualify use of the TI ARM compiler to help meet the requirements of the IEC 61508 and ISO 26262 standards.
• The RM57Lx and TMS570LCx MCUs, which build on existing Hercules MCU safety features, also have a new lockstep vectored interrupt manager, new on-chip interconnect diagnostics and expanded memory protection for the CPU and bus masters. The MCUs also include single-bit error correction and double-bit error detection via ECC for instruction and data caches and select peripheral RAM buffers.
• TI’s multi-rail power supply (PMIC) permits use of the MCUs in functional safety designs requiring multiple power supply rails, integrated sensor supply, functional safety diagnostics and supporting documentation.

According to TI, the MCUs’ capability to achieve IEC 61508 SIL-3 and ISO 26262 ASIL-D requirements position the MCUs for use in a variety of applications, including programmable logic controllers, motors and drives as well as railway signaling, aviation anti-skid, and medical equipment.

The Hercules RM57Lx and TMS570LCx MCUs have lockstep ARM Cortex-R5 cores in a cached memory architecture with speeds up to 330MHz, which reportedly delivers 550 peak DMIPS, 660 peak MIPS and up to 330 MFLOPS.  These MCUs also feature a new memory architecture supporting additional parallel bus master accesses and a multi-port direct memory access (DMA) controller. The MCUs also have up to 4 MB of integrated program Flash, 512 KB of on-chip random access memory (RAM) and 128 KB of data Flash for EEPROM emulation. On-chip Ethernet, FlexRay and CAN connectivity enable networking, data collection and field software upgrades.

About the Author

David Greenfield, editor in chief | Editor in Chief

David Greenfield joined Automation World in June 2011. Bringing a wealth of industry knowledge and media experience to his position, David’s contributions can be found in AW’s print and online editions and custom projects. Earlier in his career, David was Editorial Director of Design News at UBM Electronics, and prior to joining UBM, he was Editorial Director of Control Engineering at Reed Business Information, where he also worked on Manufacturing Business Technology as Publisher. 

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