By Axel Streicher — Did you ever ponder over how many electrical motors can be found in a modern vehicle? Not really, eh? So if you, the technical savvy reader here, did not, then the average car user may not even acknowledge that there are electrical motors in vehicles running from fuel. Invisible little helpers, that’s what they are!
At a recent automotive congress (VDI Conference “Halbleiter-Elektronik im Automobil”), a leading German car OEM stated that a fully equipped top-of-the-line vehicle hosts more than 120 electrical motors.
Each and every single motor – electrical or mechanical – contributes to weight, power consumption, noise and reliability concerns. These facts are driving two major market trends:
- Electrification. Motors that are mechanically forced to rotation today (such as pumps or blowers) get replaced with electrical motors that only spin when needed and exactly at the speed and torque required at any given time.
- DC motors are replaced by BLDC (brushless DC) motors that operate with less noise and higher reliability, driven by sophisticated algorithms for optimal speed and torque control. Since these motors are no longer just being switched on and off, networking and diagnostic capabilities are required.
Motor control solutions meeting these needs typically consist of five ingredients: Physical network connection (CAN or LIN), voltage regulation and watchdog, microcontroller with embedded Flash memory, analog application layer (e.g. 3-phase FET gate driver), small footprint (PCB space).
Car OEMs, electronic system suppliers and electric motor manufacturers are embracing this trend, but often struggle with sub-optimal or non-scalable solutions when working with custom solutions.
As part of its MagniV family, Freescale has launched the S12ZVM single-chip motor control solution. At the heart of the S12ZVM family, an enhanced S12Z core running at 50 MHz provides significant design benefits over prior versions. Its linear addressing space simplifies software development and allows porting across applications. New instructions have been introduced to accelerate fractional math operations that are heavily used in sophisticated motor control techniques, such as field-oriented / vector control algorithms. The integrated gate drive unit contains protected low-side and high-side drivers capable of driving up to six external MOSFETs. The S12ZVM offers a wide range of product versions, supporting CAN and LIN communication protocols with multiple memory sizes and package options.
This will allow automotive manufacturers to develop true platform solutions with hardware and software design reuse for applications such as HVAC blowers, wipers, fuel pumps and water pumps.