Delivering virtual microcontroller models to Tier 1 and OEM development teams

May 15, 2013  by  




Marc Serughetti, Director of Business Development, Synopsys

As virtual prototypes are becoming part of the automotive Tier 1 and OEM development flows, Marc Serughetti, Synopsys, explains how the availability of virtual microcontroller models is becoming essential, and how Synopsys is working with automotive semiconductor companies to provide them.


Virtual Prototyping for Automotive

The Electronic Control Unit (ECU) at the core of safety-critical automotive systems uses increasingly complex multicore and networked hardware, and contains potentially millions of lines of software code.

When it comes to software development, integration and test, virtual prototypes are providing significant benefits to developers at much earlier stages of the design cycle. Virtual prototypes are high-speed, fully functional software models of physical hardware systems under development. 

Virtual prototypes can be used in a broad range of design tasks including software development (for microcontroller abstraction layer (MCAL)/complex drivers, multicore software and AUTOSAR stacks) and integration and test (virtual Hardware-in-the-Loop, fault injection, etc.). They deliver the benefits of starting software development, integration and test early (bridging development gaps to full system hardware availability), delivering better fault injection, debug and analysis capabilities, and enabling easy deployment to the development community.

The overall result for automotive companies is the ability to create safer products better and faster while ensuring that the development, test and certification cost can be contained.

Microcontrollers at the core


At the core of ECUs are microcontrollers that enable the software to execute and deliver the expected device functionality. These microcontrollers come from vendors such as Renesas, Infineon, and Freescale™, and the availability of executable models for these microcontrollers is essential for Tier 1 and OEM companies to start software development as early as possible. 

Creating these models requires a close collaboration and engagement between Synopsys and the semiconductor companies. Synopsys has a long history of delivering verification and implementation solutions to semiconductor companies, and, as a result, is well positioned for such collaboration. The virtual prototypes that result from this collaboration become an off-the-shelf Synopsys Virtualizer Development Kit and instantly consumable by the development supply chain.

A Virtualizer Development Kit contains the executable virtual prototype, a set of software development tools for debug and analysis, reference software examples and integration with 3rd party tools such as debuggers and simulators, enabling the adoption of the technology in existing development flows.

This type of engagement between semiconductor companies and Synopsys to provide virtual prototypes is reflected in recent announcements from Synopsys with Renesas and Infineon.


Renesas RH850 Microcontroller Family


On August 1, 2012, Synopsys announced a collaboration with Renesas Electronics Corporation, a global provider of advanced semiconductor solutions, to develop and deploy advanced software development solutions optimized for designs based on Renesas microcontrollers (MCUs), including the recently announced RH850 family.

The collaboration includes establishment of a Virtual MCU Center of Excellence with a dedicated team of engineers from both companies that will develop, among other commercial products, system-level models and Virtualizer Development Kits (VDKs) to accelerate software development and system testing for RH850-based designs.

Renesas’ recently announced 32-bit RH850 MCU family is architected to support single- and multicore configurations that meet the processing requirements of a wide variety of automotive applications such as safety, body and engine control, driver interfaces and infotainment.

Infineon AURIX Microcontroller Family


On June 26, 2012, Synopsys announced that Infineon Technologies AG used Synopsys’ Virtualizer™ toolset to deploy virtual prototypes of their AURIX™ microcontroller-based systems, enabling early software development and customer engagement prior to silicon availability.

The AURIX virtual prototype, a fast, functional model of the AURIX multicore microcontrollers, is now an integral part of the suite of development tools provided by Infineon to accelerate its customers’ development and deployment of real-time embedded software.

The new Infineon AURIX family features a multicore architecture with support for up to three independent 32-bit TriCore™ processor cores, providing a scalable set of performance options.

The high performance and embedded safety and security features of the AURIX microcontrollers enable them to be used for a wide range of software-rich automotive applications such as engine and transmission control, braking systems, power steering systems, chassis domain control, airbags and advanced driver assistance systems.

Synopsys’ Virtualizer was an enabling technology for Infineon, not only for the development of the microcontroller abstraction layer and the software tool chain for AURIX end users, but also to enable Infineon to engage customers early in their own product development cycles and receive valuable customer feedback.


Technical partnership and development


The automotive industry has some stringent requirements and demanding competition when it comes to technology — affecting designers throughout the supply chain.

Tools and methods that enable efficient development and better-quality products are in constant demand.  These types of collaborative partnerships are a prerequisite for delivering breakthrough solutions to OEMs and Tier 1s. 

Virtual microcontroller models are a natural fit for Synopsys to work on with semiconductor companies. These partnerships are a key technology enabler for delivering the MCU virtual models demanded by developers of automotive embedded software and electronic systems at Tier 1 and OEM companies. They leverage long-term relationships and experience that semiconductor companies have come to rely upon when working with a company like Synopsys.


With close relationships and existing support for processor cores including Renesas SH-4A, SH-2A and V850, Infineon TriCore, Freescale™ e200 and ARM® Cortex™-R and Cortex™-M, Synopsys is continuing a long-standing tradition of working collaboratively with semiconductor companies, enabling our mutual automotive Tier 1 and OEM customers to design and develop safer products better and faster while containing their development costs.


About the Author

Marc Serughetti is Director of Business Development at Synopsys. After directing the integration of all the Synopsys acquired virtual prototyping technology, he now drives the deployment of virtual prototypes and embedded software technologies in vertical markets such as mobile, consumer, automotive. In his role, he also engages in strategic alliances, semiconductor enablement activities and defines engagement business models. He has more than 18 years’ experience in software development technologies from having led product marketing and business development teams at Integrated Systems, Wind River and CoWare. At CoWare, he led the company into the area of embedded software. His experience spans simulation technologies, compilers, IDE, debugging and test tools as well as software intellectual property (Operating Systems, middleware and applications) and vertical markets/industry marketing.


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