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© luchschen dreamstime.com Components | September 23, 2013

Automotive 2.5D Display Controllers with 300MHz ARM Core

Toshiba Electronics Europe (TEE) has launched three new intelligent display processors for automotive instrument clusters with TFT LCD sizes from (typically) 3-inch to 8-inch.
The Capricorn-Bt0, Capricorn-Bt1 and Capricorn-C0 – which feature the automotive industry’s fastest ARM® Cortex™-R4 core – can manage advanced graphics and conventional stepper motor gauges in hardware from a single IC. In addition, the devices help designers to reduce the external memory needed for image storage.

Toshiba’s new Capricorn derivatives combine a high-performance ARM Cortex™-R4 core running at 300MHz with on-board graphics engines and a built in graphics display controller (GDC). An integrated intelligent stepper motor controller allows each device to also drive needles on speedometers, rev counters and other conventional instrument gauges. All three devices can deliver 3D-style effects without the expense of a 3D GPU.

The Capricorn-Bt0 IC supports a single display, while Capricorn-Bt1 and Capricorn-C0 have two independent display controllers. This makes the Bt1 and C0 ideal for instrument clusters with two displays or, for example, designs that combine a cluster TFT LCD with a head up display (HUD). A built-in ‘2.5D’ graphics accelerator supports key graphics functions such as warping, blitting, scaling, drawing and perspective transformation.

The latter makes 3D effects including ‘Cover Flow’ and mirroring possible, realizing true perspective viewing. Hardware bitmap rotation with an angle resolution of just 0.1° precision combines with high-quality filtering and a patented stroboscope compensation technique for the smooth graphical representation of dials, rapidly rotating pointers and other animations.

Toshiba has expanded the image handling capability of its latest Capricorn processors through support for ‘on-the-fly’ decoding of the high-compression PNG data format. Implementing a multiple stream PNG decoder engine allows direct use of PNG images for graphics operations and direct display. This reduces memory and bandwidth requirements. Use of the MagicSquare© dithering unit IP helps to further reduce cost by making it possible to realize perfect dithering of 24-bit graphics on an 18- or 16-bit display.

The new Capricorn devices incorporate a variety of safety features including a display read-back function, protection in accordance with AUTOSAR (Automotive Open System Architecture) 4.0, and error correction (ECC). Each device also incorporates Toshiba’s Security Module (TSM) supporting SHE (Secure Hardware Extension). This IP was developed at the company’s European LSI Development Centre (ELDEC) and meets standards aimed at protecting vehicle electronics against hacking, tampering and software theft.

Memory requirements are addressed via 768KBytes + 64kBytes of embedded RAM and interfaces for external DRAM. Connectivity includes CAN, I2C and I2S interfaces, with the Bt1 and C0 offering an additional Media-LB interface. Onboard capabilities also include a window-watchdog timer, self-calibrating RTC, PWM functionality, and up to 4MB Flash memory.

The Capricorn-Bt0 is supplied in a BGA244 package while the Capricorn-Bt1 and Capricorn-C0 are in BGA324 packages.

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