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ST MCUs Make a Stellar Debut

April 2, 2019

Author: Mike Demler

STMicroelectronics’ new Stellar MCUs include a hardware security module (HSM) designed to secure wireless communications and in-vehicle networks. They’re the first commercial MCUs with phase-change memory—a nonvolatile alternative to embedded flash memory that can retain programming up to 165ºC—allowing them to handle high-temperature automotive operation.

Stellar is ASIL D compliant and guarantees operation over a junction-temperature range of –40°C to +165°C. ST has been developing PCM technology for 15 years, using patents it licensed for work that originated at Stanford in the 1960s. To manufacture Stellar, the company added PCMs to the 28nm FD-SOI process at its Crolles, France, fab.

To meet ASIL D redundancy requirements, the chips have 12 Cortex-R52 CPUs operating as six lockstep pairs. They also integrate three Cortex-M4 CPUs, each with floating-point and DSP extensions. One M4 serves as the HSM’s secure core; the other two accelerate data routing and sensor fusion as well other application-specific signal processing. The two M4 application cores and lockstep Cortex-R52 CPUs have access to dedicated portions of the 16MB PCM for nonvolatile program storage, and they use an 8MB SRAM to accelerate real-time response.

Stellar targets next-generation automobiles, which replace multiple ECUs with more-highly integrated domain controllers. Carmakers traditionally distributed ECUs throughout the vehicle, but advanced driver-assistance systems (ADASs) must integrate signals from multiple sensors, using more-powerful multicore processors to handle chassis stability, drivetrain control, and other functions. ST is sampling the first Stellar model to lead customers now. Tier One customers have built ECUs and are performing road tests. The company expects to complete technology qualification in 2020.

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