High-end graphics, audio, and video for entry-level & mid-range cars

November 18, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
The latest automotive SoCs from STMicroelectronics apply a high level of integration to bring full-digital head units with features such as smartphone mirroring to cost-conscious vehicle markets. A dedicated on-chip microcontroller with crypto acceleration ensures best-in-class security

Full-digital instrument panels that give a high-end feel to any car are coming to the mid and entry ranges, according to ST: its Accordo 5 family of automotive processors meet crucial display-performance and security demands in a low-power compact platform suitable for lower-cost vehicles. The devices enable state-of-the-art digital instrument clusters and Audio/Video/Navigation (AVN) head units to become more affordable than ever by integrating the complete graphics, video, and audio functionality on-chip to save design costs and simplify assembly.


Accordo 5 devices provide features that have high value for car drivers, including smartphone mirroring that gives access to content such as music and navigation services on the phone safely through the vehicle’s own user interface. The host processor and high-performance video and graphics engines can present complex information displays, such as simultaneous user-interface plus rear-view camera with navigation and video preview. There is also video playback for major formats including H.264 and DivX, 2D and 3D graphics with effects such as blending and overlays, as well as USB connections and SD-Card interfaces.


Less visible to users, but critically important to today’s increasingly connected cars, Accordo 5 chips integrate a high-performance microcontroller that secures the interface between the head unit and the main vehicle network. Built-in features of this microcontroller include boot-code authentication, secure interconnect, and high-performance data encryption.


The Accordo 5 family is the latest generation of ST’s Accordo line and “leapfrogs” other digital-infotainment chips, according to ST, with an ARM Cortex-A7 processor as the main computing CPU. The Cortex-A7 architecture is highly area-efficient, and therefore cost-effective, with high processing and memory-streaming performance. The Accordo 5 range gives designers a choice of single-core Cortex A7 with a 16-bit interface to high-performing off-chip DDR3, or dual-core Cortex-A7 with a 16/32-bit DDR3 interface.


Although targeting mid-range vehicle markets, Accordo 5 delivers best-in-class graphics performance from its 500 MHz 3D graphics processor core. The architecture supports 2D and 3D