Can This Controller Boost EV Range by 30 Percent?
Michael Alba posted on March 14, 2018 |
A Look at Silicon Mobility’s Field Programmable Control Unit (FPCU).
Silicon Mobility’s Field Programmable Control Unit (FPCU), the OLEA T222. (Image courtesy of Silicon Mobility.)
Silicon Mobility’s Field Programmable Control Unit (FPCU), the OLEA T222. (Image courtesy of Silicon Mobility.)

Silicon Mobility, a provider of control solutions for the automotive industry, recently released a product that promises drastic performance improvements for electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid vehicles. The company developed a novel semiconductor architecture, a Field Programmable Control Unit (FPCU), which it claims can extend EV range by over 30 percent on the same battery.

The FPCU integrates a standard ARM Cortex-R5F processor with Silicon Mobility’s AMEC subsystem. The latter consists of a key component, the flexible logic unit (FLU) that handles real-time actuator and sensor control. The FLU is what puts the field programmable in FPCU as its flash-based programming allows it to be fully or partially reprogrammed in the field. The FPCU also incorporates a SILant functional safety architecture, classified as Automotive Safety Integrity Level D(ASIL-D), which corresponds to the highest safety requirements in an automotive product.

Diagram of the OLEA T222 FPCU. (Image courtesy of Silicon Mobility.)
Diagram of the OLEA T222 FPCU. (Image courtesy of Silicon Mobility.)

Silicon Mobility’s first FPCU is the OLEA T222, which is available for application development but has not yet been qualified for the automotive market. David Fresneau, Silicon Mobility vice president of marketing and business development, said the qualification will be finalized by the end of the month, with volume production of the OLEA T222 set for the beginning of next year.

The OLEA T222 comes with a design framework and software library for original equipment manufacturers(OEMs) to implement inverter control, DC-DC control and more. The software and hardware code for the FPCU can be generated using MATLAB and Simulink.

How will the FPCU help boost EV range so drastically? To put it simply, Silicon Mobility claims that OEMs have been using inadequate microcontrollers, originally developed for internal combustion engine control, in their hybrid and EV applications. By designing its FPCU specifically for automotive powertrain control, Silicon Mobility believes a software bottleneck has been removed. It claims a 40x acceleration on data processing as opposed to a reference automotive microcontroller, as well as a whopping 180x reduction in power consumption. Put together, they claim this can lead to a 32 percent increase in hybrid and EV range.

“We are completely committed to electrification,” Fresneau said.

If the FPCU lives up to its promise, it has the potential to help pull a big thorn from the EV industry’s side: battery range. This has become one of the key metrics by which any EV is judged, and its prominence in the eyes of potential EV consumers has even been given a name: range anxiety.

The ability to boost range by 30 percent simply by swapping one controller for another would be a no-brainer for EV manufacturers and could do a lot to accelerate consumer EV adoption.Silicon Mobility’s commitment to electrification seems evident, although it remains to be seen if its FPCU can follow through on this commitment.

To learn more about the OLEA T222, visit Silicon Mobility’s website.


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