NXP Announces New Powerful Processing for Industrial and Automotive

By Ken Briodagh

Senior Technology Editor

Embedded Computing Design

April 30, 2024


NXP Announces New Powerful Processing for Industrial and Automotive

It’s been coming and growing for quite a while now, but the most obvious trend coming out of this year’s embedded world in Germany was that IoT, AI, and Embedded systems are becoming an ever more entwined horizontal technology layer.

There’s a clear confluence happening at both the design and application levels, and in the hardware and software engineering and design.

As yet another exhibit, NXP Semiconductors made two major announcements at the show, each showcasing embedded processing and connectivity aimed at Industrial and Automotive vertical applications, with a specific focus on IoT enablement.

NXP’s first big news was its new MCX W wireless MCU series, which the company says is aimed directly at Smart Industrial implementations using IoT sensors and processing at the edge. This is the kind of intelligent IoT processing at the edge that brings the new confluent AI-IoT-Embedded technology layer to life.

The MCX W series is anchored on a wireless MCU with Bluetooth channel sounding, which the company says is an industry first. The new devices are designed to add connectivity to the MCX portfolio and make them more flexible and adaptable to the next-generation of industrial systems and devices, NXP said.

The new MCX W also includes multiprotocol wireless MCU for Matter, Thread, Zigbee, and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), and uses the existing FRDM development platform alongside NXP’s MCX portfolio device architecture, core, peripherals, and MCUXpresso Developer Experience so customers have a well-known set of tools to use on the new devices. This support also makes it easier to scale and launch new products in new markets.

The first two families that NXP announced are the MCX W71x and W72x, They are reportedly designed to extend the lifecycle of smart connected devices by including a software-upgradeable independent radio subsystem. That subsystem also makes the device more efficient, according to the announcement, by offloading the main core to allow it to run the primary application. They have scalable memory sizes for the application and connectivity stacks and over-the-air (OTA) updates, so the software and hardware will last as long as is needed, and can be adapted as new protocols come online or capabilities are needed. Things like AI integration, perhaps?

“The future of smart connected devices is evolving faster than ever before, with new features and capabilities introduced regularly. The MCX W series enriches the overall MCX portfolio, making it easier for developers to bring advanced connectivity to their designs and enabling new innovations to be deployed to the next generation of IoT and industrial devices,” said Charles Dachs, SVP and GM, Industrial and IoT, NXP. Not only the connectivity needs will continue to grow, but also the processing, speed, data management and storage, and all other aspects of embedded computing as more IoT and AI functions and applications are integrated.

On the automotive side, NXP also released the details of its real-time Central Vehicle Control module, the S32N55 processor. This is the first member of the S32N family of vehicle super-integration processors from NXP, and the company said it targets centralized, safe, real-time vehicle control in software-defined vehicles (SDV).

This will be the heart of the recently announced S32 CoreRide central compute solution, NXP said, and it’s designed to offer scalable combinations of safe, real-time applications processing that can handle the diverse central compute needs in the SDV market.

SDV is a critical frontier and indicator of the merging of the AI, IoT, and embedded horizontals. In a connected or autonomous vehicle, the systems must be connected and aware of the outside world and inner workings of the machine (IoT), intelligently process all the incoming data and make the best decision available, based upon experience (AI), and process and manage that data with little to no latency, error or downtime (embedded). More than an indicator, then, SDV is the test case.

NXP sees this coming, and that’s why the new S32N55 processor is tailored to excel at safe, centralized, real-time vehicle control. The company said in its announcement that vehicle propulsion, vehicle dynamics, chassis control, body and other core vehicle functions previously have been implemented as discrete electronic control units (ECUs), each with their own microcontroller and wiring. Thanks to this product vehicle functions reportedly can now be safely consolidated, with multiple isolation execution environments, to break through SDV integration barriers. And that’s the key to lower latency, errors, and costs. Decreased material and reduced weight also contribute to sustainability and extended driving range.

The S32N55’s “core-to-pin” hardware isolation and virtualization technologies allow it to dynamically partition resources so they can be adapted over time to optimize operations and meet evolving vehicle function needs. Vehicle functions can be independently managed, including fault handling and reset. They can receive independent software updates with the S32N55’s OTA upgradeability.

“The S32N55 processor is the central brain for real-time vehicle control in our new S32 CoreRide platform. With a powerful combination of unrivaled real-time performance, critical hardware-enforced isolation, and vehicle networking capabilities, it can deliver more functionality with fewer devices, while reducing costs, and offering upgradeability to help improve and future-proof vehicles,” said Ray Cornyn, SVP and GM, automotive processors at NXP.

The automotive-grade S32N55 processor integrates 16 split-lock Arm® Cortex®-R52 processor cores running at 1.2 GHz for real-time compute. The cores can operate in split or lockstep mode to support different functional safety levels up to ISO 26262 ASIL D. Two auxiliary pairs of lockstep Cortex-M7 cores support system and communication management. Tightly coupled integrated memory and 48 MB of system SRAM enable fast execution with low-latency accesses. A firewalled Hardware Security Engine provides a root of trust for secure boot, security services and key management. Memory can be expanded with LPDDR4X/5/5X DRAM, LPDDR4X flash and NAND/NOR flash interfaces. Functional safety and security requirements are supported with memory error correction and in-line cryptography. An integrated Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) 2.5 Gbit/s Ethernet switch, a CAN hub for efficient, internal routing of 24 CAN FD buses, four CAN XL interfaces and a PCI Express Gen 4 interface help reduce wiring and system cost.

NXP isn’t the only company seeing this writing on the wall, of course, but it’s clearly positioning itself to be a leader in the crucial Industrial and Automotive markets for offering enablement technologies across the AI-IoT-Embedded horizontal layer.

Ken Briodagh is a writer and editor with two decades of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers, he would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars. In previous lives, he’s been a short order cook, telemarketer, medical supply technician, mover of the bodies at a funeral home, pirate, poet, partial alliterist, parent, partner and pretender to various thrones. Most of his exploits are either exaggerated or blatantly false.

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