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Introduction of 5 Types of Microcontrollers for Automotive

May 14, 2023      View: 1082

With the development of smart cars, users continue to put forward newer requirements for car safety, stability and intelligence. The implementation of each in-vehicle function requires the stable support of complex chipsets and algorithms, and MCUs will play a greater role.


  • What is automotive microcontrollers?
  • Classification of Automotive MCU.
  • 5 Types of Automotive Microcontrollers Recommended.
  • Summary.

What is Automotive Microcontrollers?

Automotive microcontroller, also known as MCU, is the core component of the car's electrical control system. MCU must have good high temperature performance and stability to control all electronic systems in the car, including multimedia, audio, navigation, suspension, etc. Compared with ordinary MCUs, automotive MCUs require higher quality and are less likely to be damaged in the complex environment of the car. Generally speaking, the most important thing is reliability and temperature range, which is 0-70 for civilian grade, 20-85 for industrial grade, and 40-85 for automotive grade.


Microcontrollers for Automotive


MCU will be an Important Component of the "Car Brain

MCU, as the intelligent brain of the car, plays the core function of "thinking, computing and control". As the electronic and electrical architecture of the car evolves into a centralized one, MCU not only needs to continue to assume the functions of collecting, converting and transmitting high-dimensional data such as color information and spatial information, but also needs to assume the core role of intelligent decision-making and control. 

Features of Automotive MCUs

  • High processing performance
  • Large number of network node processing capabilities
  • Wide range of interface support capability


High processing performance

To improve the processing performance, MCU must start from its core and software and hardware system architecture.  


Large number of network node processing capabilities

The CAN network in today's cars has a large number of built-in ECUs that are growing in size as the number of nodes increases, so automotive MCUs must support more message buffers. 


Wide range of interface support capability

Automotive MCUs are connected to a wide variety of peripherals, and the interfaces may be UART, frequency synchronous serial, LIN-UART and I2C, so they must have flexible interface connection capability.


Classification of Automotive MCUs


Classification 1: Purpose of use


General Purpose Special Purpose
ROM MCU Hardware and instructions
RAM Central recorder controller
I/O Voice Broadcast controller
EPROM Motor controller



Classification 2: Number of data bits


The chips used in the car MCU are divided into 8-bit MCU, 16-bit MCU, 32-bit MCU, which can be used for different performance scenarios according to the different needs of automotive electronics.


Type Main Features Market Price
8-bit MCU




< $1
16-bit MCU

More powerful  processing power

Handle more complex tasks

32-bit MCU High-performance microcontroller $5-$10 , some high-end products over $10 

Main Application:


8-bit MCU: 

Mainly applied to various subsystems of the vehicle body, including fan control, air conditioning control, wipers, sunroof, window lift, lower order instrument panel, hub box, seat control, door control module and other lower order control functions.

16-bit MCU:

The main applications are powertrain systems, such as engine control, gear and clutch control, and electronic turbine systems, etc.; also suitable for chassis mechanisms, such as suspension systems, electronic power steering, torque dispersion control, and electronic pump, electronic brake, etc.

32-bit MCU:

Key applications include instrument panel controls, body controls, multimedia information systems (TelemaTIcs), engine controls, and emerging intelligent and real-time safety systems and powertrains such as pre-crash (Pre- crash), adaptive cruise control (ACC), driver assistance systems, electronic stability programs, and other safety features, as well as sophisticated transmission functions such as X-by-wire.

5 Types of Automotive Microcontrollers Recommended


1. Freescale MC9S12XEP100: This is a high-performance 16-bit MCU microcontroller, integrated CAN, LIN, FlexRay, Ethernet and USB interfaces, suitable for automotive infotainment, body control and driver assistance systems, etc.


2. Renesas RH850: This is a 32-bit MCU microcontroller for automotive electronic controller, including a variety of peripheral interfaces, support high-speed communication and data processing capabilities, suitable for engine control, chassis control and body electronics and other fields.


3. NXP MPC55: This is a Power Architecture-based automotive MCU microcontroller with high performance, low power consumption and reliability, suitable for engine control, braking system, in-vehicle network and security systems.


4. STMicroelectronics SPC5: This is a 32-bit MCU microcontroller for automotive electronic systems, with high integration, strong security, low power consumption and low EMI for engine management, steering systems and in-car entertainment.


ST automotive


5. Infineon AURIX: This is a high-performance, high-security 32-bit MCU microcontroller, mainly used in automotive electronic control and safety systems, such as engine management, brake and stability control, in-car network and advanced driver assistance systems.


In various systems of automotive electronics, it is often necessary to use automotive MCUs (automotive microcontrollers) as the core of operation and control, and the reliance of automotive on electronic systems has stimulated the rapid growth of the automotive microcontroller market. The application of electronic systems in automobiles is becoming more and more complex, and automotive MCUs are playing an increasingly important role.



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  • How many microcontrollers are in a car?
  • A car has an average of 50-100 MCUs. modern new cars contain an average of 50-100 ECUs/MCUs due to increased functionality, and there are no isolated ECUs in the car; ECUs in different locations require up to a kilometer of wires to connect them to multiple different networks in order to communicate between ECUs. The major automotive network communication protocols include CAN, LIN, FlexRay, MOST and Ethernet AVB.
  • Does a car have a microcontroller?
  • MCU is a microcontroller for new energy vehicles, which is a functional chip. Since all electronic electronic control units (ECUs) are needed in automobiles, and each ECU needs at least one MCU as the core control chip, MCU chips are widely used in automobiles, from simple window lift control to complex engine control, etc., all of which have to use MCU chips, so MCU chips are essential in automobiles.
  • What are automotive microcontroller manufacturers?
  • At present, the global market competition pattern of automotive MCU chips is concentrated, basically monopolized by European, American and Japanese manufacturers, Renesas Electronics, NXP, Infineon, Texas Instruments, Microchip Technology, STMicroelectronics, etc.