Industry Expert Blogs
How Vehicle Design Is Influencing ProcessorsEETimes Blog - Brian Carlson, NXP
May. 22, 2023
Over the years, the automotive industry has produced many iconic designs, from the Jaguar E-Type to Sir Alec Issigonis’s Mini. These vehicles are not only lauded for their appearance but their mechanics, from engine to handling. But the automotive industry is changing. How transport integrates into our lives has changed, with sharing becoming more important than ownership. Additionally, today’s consumers grew up with computers and smartphones—devices customizable to users’ needs. As a result, the balance of power in automotive is moving from the mechanical to the software engineers.
Electronics in automotive is not a recent trend. Electric vehicles were around in the 19th century, and the first car radio was introduced in the 1920s. But today’s reliance on programmable electronics can be traced back to the introduction of electronic-fuel–injection systems, such as the Bosch Motronic built around the 8051 microcontroller (MCU). Since then, the quantity of electronic control units (ECUs) in vehicles has grown apace, with today’s high-end vehicles using between 100 and 150 ECUs. These support features from engine management and traction control to keyless entry and electric seat adjustment.