One of the most promising capabilities of the i.mx6sx is combing the Cortex M4 with the on board CAN interfaces. This feature opens up a number of possibilities for deploying the i.mx6sx for a varied range of automotive solutions where real-time processing of CAN messages is handled by the M4 and the A9 kept for non-critical processing. To demonstrate this, lets take a simple use case of driving an automotive instrument cluster. In a series of blog posts I will cover how we can drive the instrument cluster initially from the M4, then from the A9 communicating via MU (Messaging Unit) to M4 and finally by a on screen virtual dials mimicking the actual instrument cluster dials.
For this exercise we used an instrument cluster pulled from a Mazda RX8. The RX8 instrument cluster interface is partially analogue and partially digital. The digital interface is provided through a high speed CAN (500 Kbps) interface that drives the dials (RPM, Oil, Temperature) , digital speedometer and a number of warning indicators. Time pending I may cover the RX8 instrument cluster CAN interface in more detail in another blog. The target board for development was the UDOO NEO complemented with SN65HVD230 CAN Transceivers.
For this first demonstration a FreeRTOS application was developed to run on the M4 that regularly sends CAN messages to the cluster and dumped CAN messages generated on the bus from the cluster to the serial port. In order to drive the dials and suppress the warning indicators, the instrument cluster requires a regular feed of CAN messages sent at 10 milliseconds intervals. When the cluster is active it also generates CAN messages roughly at 50 millisecond intervals.
The video above shows the application (rx8_can) being launched from Uboot, before launching the application notice that all warning indicators lights are active on the instrument cluster. After the application is launched all warning indicators are cleared and the RPM gauge and speedometer are active. The application also dumps the instrument cluster generated CAN messages to the serial port (shown in the terminal to the right). After launching the application we boot to a Linux console to demonstrate the A9 is unaffected while the M4 continues to control the instrument cluster.
In the next post I aim to demonstrate how we can utilise the Message Unit to allow the A9 to control the instrument cluster by communicating with the M4.