ARM is beefing up its safety technology for the ARM Cortex-R52, a processor designed for self-driving vehicles.

The Cambridge, England-based company was recently acquired by Japan’s SoftBank for $31 billion. And now it is expanding its chip designs to include a processor with the robust, real-time performance needed for autonomous cars.

The new chip will simplify the path to certification for automotive applications, industrial robots, and medical operations. The processor — which ARM will license to other chip manufacturers — must comply with tough safety standards, such as ISO 26262 ASIL D and IEC 61508 SIL 3.

It will enable applications as diverse as surgical automation, safety management, and automotive powertrain control. STMicroelectronics is the first ARM chip manufacturing partner to announce it has licensed the high-performance processor to enable it to create highly integrated system-on-chips (SoCs) for the automotive market.

“If these systems go wrong in any way, they can affect life,” said Richard York, worldwide marketing and business development manager at ARM, in an interview with VentureBeat. “The R-52 will make it much easier to do increasingly complex software.”

The Cortex-R52 offers hardware-enforced separation of software tasks to ensure safety-critical code is fully isolated. So when one part of the system goes down, it’s easier to decipher what happened. This allows the hardware to be managed by a software hypervisor policing the execution and resourcing of tasks. By enabling the precise and robust separation of software, the Cortex-R52 decreases the amount of code that must be safety-certified, speeding up development as software integration, maintenance, and validation becomes easier. The processor also deals with increased software complexity while delivering the determinism and fast context switching that real-time systems demand.

“The Cortex-R52 supports our Smart Driving vision by enabling a new range of high-performance, power-efficient SoCs for any in-vehicle application demanding real-time operation and the highest levels of functional safety, including powertrain, chassis, and ADAS,” said Fabio Marchiò, Automotive & Discrete group vice president and Automotive Digital Division general manager at STMicroelectronics, in a statement. “The Cortex-R52’s ability to compartmentalize software provides our users with the best solution for safety without loss of determinism. Its virtualization support simplifies the consolidation of applications and functions into a single processor, delivering a shorter integration time.”

Denso, a leading global supplier of advanced automotive technology, is supporting the launch.The availability of ARM Fast Models and Cycle Models enables software partners to develop solutions for the processor. They further speed the path to market, as software developers will get access to the Cortex-R52 early in the design process.

The Cortex-R52 is 35 percent faster than the previous generation Cortex-R5, which is already deployed in a range of safety applications. It has achieved a score of 1.36 Automark/MHz on the EEMBC AutoBench, the highest in its class, using the Green Hills Compiler 2017.




The processor has protections against various kinds of random errors, design errors, and software errors. If it senses a system problem, the processor has to handle cores such as shutting down a vehicle and bringing it to a safe halt. So it has to be able to sense, perceive and analyze, make a decision, and acutate (or execute on that decision).

James Scobie, product manager for the Cortex-R52, said chips based on the design will likely be available in 2018.



VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.