Motorola Semiconductor Products

MPC555 PowerPC microcontroller

Motorola's Transportation Systems Group has designed a new, powerful, highly-integrated, controller chip, the MPC555, for powertrain control in automobiles, addressing future needs in performance, fuel-efficiency, and emissions. It is indeed innovative, commercial, and it changes the rules of the game. Expectations of functionality in engine controllers will change as a result of this innovation.

Because of its flash memory, a single engine controller, the MPC555, can support engine types from 4 to 12 cylinders, in gasoline, diesel, or hybrid vehicles. Software unique to engine type can be “installed” after the controller is mounted in the vehicle. Additionally, the flash memory means reduction in number of controllers needed for multiple vehicle types, reduced time to market, flexibility in recalling or upgrading engine control characteristics, and reprogramming at the dealer level. Previously, software that runs engine control systems resided in read-only memory (ROM); this device permits subsequent installation of new options, and is still cost-competitive.

In addition, the MPC555 is unique in that even with its flash memory, it will still operate at temperatures up to 125˚ C, so it may be used in harsh, automotive applications and environments, inside an engine compartment or housed inside a transmission, for example, where it need not take up real-estate in a dedicated housing.

The MPC555 means for Motorola and its customers the production of one standard product usable in a wide variety of vehicles and circumstances, thus avoiding the complexity of manufacturing, inventory, and delivery problems that come with production of a large number of custom devices for many different customers. The new controller has met all the demands of its early commercial adopters, while setting new price-performance standards, and indeed merits a PACE Award.