Buick Regal Engine Brainpower is Industry's Quickest
Engine Control Module Reliably Performs 125 Million Operations a Second
PONTIAC, Mich. – A 32-bit embedded processor with three megabytes of integrated flash memory gives the 2011 Buick Regal's Ecotec 2.0L engine microcontroller the quickest throughput, or processing power, in the automotive industry.
For the Regal driver, this means more precise fuel delivery for the best-possible fuel economy, emissions and performance.
This is accomplished through an increased number of intake air adjustments and spark optimization during every combustion event, even when running at maximum engine speed of 6,350 rpm.
The turbo Regal's microcontroller is part of the Engine Control Module (ECM), which controls all the functions of an engine including the operation of the 2.0L's turbo, direct injection and variable valve timing systems. The microcontroller has some similarities with the central processor unit (CPU) in a home computer but is optimized specially for engine control.
"The ECM's microcontroller executes the commands such as when to inject fuel into the engine's combustion chambers," said Karla Wallace, GM senior manager, global powertrain electronics engineering. "The software executed by the microcontroller comes from almost a million lines of code developed by GM and uses over 300 kilobytes of calibration data."
In the 1980s, GM's first powertrain control module had four kilobytes of memory and executed 1 million operations per second. Today, General Motors' electronic control modules perform more than 125 million operations per second with unmatched reliability. The Regal's modern engine controller is tested under extreme conditions for longevity and functionality.
"Three meg of flash memory and 128 MHz clock speed doesn't sound like a lot in terms of computing power until you consider the environment these controllers have to live in," said Wallace.
"Unlike most home entertainment and electronic devices, our controllers are made to operate reliably up to 260 degrees (127C) and down to -40 degrees (-40C) for the life of the vehicle," she said. "On top of this, they are sealed against air, water, dust and electromagnetic interference. These are parameters that take the Regal's controller to the highest levels of reliability and durability."
Said Ray Cornyn, director of automotive microcontrollers at Freescale Semiconductor: "We worked with GM to provide the most powerful microcontroller currently in production. The Qorivva MPC5566 chip addresses the needs for precise control of engine events."
Since being introduced in GM powertrains in the late 1970s, the scope of engine electronic controls has continually increased and now extends to significant interaction with the entire vehicle. There are 12 controllers interacting with the ECM on the 2011 Buick Regal including transmission, body, climate, and brake controllers.