IDE delivers automotive software at Ecu level without hardware

An integrated development environment (IDE) from Renesas Electronics allows engineers to rapidly create software for automotive ECUs (electronic control units) containing multiple hardware devices. The IDE supports co-simulation, debug and trace, high-speed simulation and distributed processing software over multiple SoCs and microcontroller without the need for hardware. 

In the automotive industry, there has been a move towards “Software First” product development, in which a vehicle’s value is defined by its software. In addition, a “Shift Left” software design approach emphasises software verification and validation earlier in the development cycle, before hardware is available. Renesas has announced that the first development environment tools are available now for the R-Car S4 and RH850/U2A devices.

“Renesas is committed to providing a development environment that helps our automotive customers realise their vision for Software First, while continuing to support their evolution toward Shift Left software development,” said Hirofumi Kawaguchi, vice president of Renesas’ Automotive Software Development division. “We are confident that this development environment will help our customers transform their E/E architecture and facilitate the early development of ECUs and new products, and ultimately deliver more value.”

Renesas’ IDE with multi-device support enables software development at the ECU level and contributes to the Software First approach. By providing a simulation environment from early stages of product development, the platform enables verification and application development before production of devices and ECUs, realising the Shift Left concept. 

The IDE supports a co-simulation environment for multi-devices. By integrating and connecting simulators such as the R-Car Virtual platform, which was previously provided for single-chip individual devices such as SoCs and microcontrollers. The simulation environment is for multi-device operation. Designs can be optimised by balancing different application functions and incorporating software verification at the systems level. 

A development tool that automatically generates software code for devices and a simulation environment for verification from MATLAB /Simulink models will also be available to allow engineers to evaluate performance and start application development before hardware and ECUs are in production. 

A debug and trace tool allows simultaneous and synchronised execution, execution control by breakpoints and information tracing for ECUs containing multiple devices. With this tool, users can visualise processing flows, evaluate performance profiles, and anticipate problems that may arise from operating multiple devices which are intricately linked within the same ECU. 

Renesas plans to implement the same functionality in the multi-device co-simulation environment so that debugging and tracing can be performed on a computer without an ECU.

There is also a high-speed simulator for rapid and large scale simulations. Typically, in ECU-level simulations, the target software tends to be large and the simulation execution can take a long time. This new high speed simulator is based on QEMU, an open-source virtual environment that models SoCs and microcontrollers at a high level of abstraction, enabling faster ECU-level simulation of complex software.

Distributed processing software enables optimal distribution of application functions to CPUs and IP inside different SoCs and microcontrollers in an ECU. Engineers can develop applications rapidly, without being constrained by the ECU hardware configuration, said Renesas. For example, developers can add an AI accelerator to an existing ECU to boost system performance, without having to re-design the application to accommodate the new device.

The co-simulation environment and the debug and trace tools for multi-devices are available now. The high speed simulator for software development and distributed processing software for multi-devices will both be available in December 2022.

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