SoC for navigation and infotainment

Renesas Technology Europe has announced the SH7777 (SH-NaviJ3), the third product in the SH-NaviJ Series of system-on-chip (SoC) devices for compact portable navigation and infotainment systems and low- and mid-priced dashboard-mounted car navigation and infotainment systems. It speeds up development through OpenGL ES1.1*1 support and offers enhanced multimedia functions such as terrestrial digital TV broadcast support. The SH7777 (SH-NaviJ3) makes it possible for developers to create AV navigation and infotainment systems that combine low cost and compact size in less time.

The SH-NaviJ Series comprises compact, single-chip SoC devices that provide map rendering functions and high quality based on the SH-Navi series, which are already used in a variety of high-end systems, while offering a carefully chosen selection of functions suitable for low-end to midrange systems. The new SH7777 (SH-NaviJ3) offers a number of enhancements over its predecessors.

The new product incorporates a more powerful version of the graphics processor, with 2-D and 3-D rendering support included from the earlier SH-NaviJ1 and SH-NaviJ2, while also implementing support for OpenGL ES1.1, the industry-standard programming interface for graphics processing in embedded devices. This enables 3-D graphics software development that previously required the use of a development board to be performed on a PC. The graphics processor supports high-level image display, such as rendering a variety of 3-D objects on a map or implementing a graphical user interface*2 (GUI) with very detailed and realistic looking 3-D elements. Support for OpenGL ES1.1 greatly simplifies and speeds up development of the necessary software.

To fully meet the requirements of today’s AV navigation and infotainment systems, the SH7777 (SH-NaviJ3) incorporates high-performance multi-codec video processing IP with support for the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) video compression standard used in ISDB-T*3 terrestrial digital broadcasts for mobile phones and other devices. This IP employs technologies and skills based on the SH-Mobile series of application processors for mobile phone systems and delivers encoding and decoding performance of 30 frames per second (fps) in VGA format (640480 pixels), supports MPEG-4 encoding and decoding as well as VC-1 decoding, and can be used for a wide variety of video application functions. In addition, it supports terrestrial digital broadcast formats used overseas, such as DVB-H*4 (Europe) and DMB*5 (South Korea). This reduces the number of external components and software processing load required to build an AV navigation and infotainment system, lowering the system cost and shortening the development time. Finally, the SH7777 (SH-NaviJ3) is the same size (21 mm 21 mm) as its predecessor, the second product in the SH-NaviJ Series, which contributes to compact system design.

For audio processing, the SH7777 (SH-NaviJ3) integrates a 24-bit dedicated audio DSP with support for a variety of compression formats, including AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), MP3, and WMA (Windows Media Audio).*6 This 24-bit dedicated audio DSP also processes the AAC Plus (Advanced Audio Coding Plus)*7 audio compression format used by terrestrial digital broadcasts. Performing this processing in hardware rather than in software, as was previously the case, reduces the processing load on the CPU by the equivalent of about 50 MHz according to comparisons done by Renesas Technology. This makes it possible to further reduce the power consumption of the CPU. There is also a built-in edge-emphasis function for high quality display of terrestrial digital broadcasts. It prevents blurring when QVGA-format (320240 pixels) video is enlarged to VGA or WVGA (832496 pixels) size. Other on-chip peripheral modules essential to car navigation and infotainment systems include a GPS*8 baseband processor module, a TS interface for receiving terrestrial digital broadcasts, and CAN*9 and MOST*10 interfaces for a vehicle LAN. This large number of high-performance peripheral functions reduces the number of components required by the system, making it possible to reduce the overall cost while achieving excellent performance.

Additionally, a wide variety of middleware resources are available for the SH7777 (SH-NaviJ3), including video middleware supporting H.264, MPEG-4, and WMV*6, and audio middleware supporting MP3, WMA and AAC Plus (Advanced Audio Coding Plus).

The SH7777 (SH-NaviJ3) supports two-screen display. For example, two screens of WVGA graphics images can be displayed at the same time. (When a single screen is used, the maximum display size is WXGA [1,280 768 pixels].) This enables, as an example, one screen to be used by the car navigation and infotainment system and a second screen to be used as a rear monitor for the backseat passengers. The range of possible applications expands enormously. Of the two input-output signalsystems, one can be used to generate 24-bit color digital RGB output, enabling the display of subtle color gradations.

Like the previous products in the SH-Navi Series, the SH7777 is built around the SH-4A, the most powerful CPU core in the SuperH*11 Family. At the maximum operating frequency of 533 MHz, CPU processing performance is 960 MIPS and floating-point processing unit (FPU) processing performance is 3.73 GFLOPS (giga [billion] floating-point operations per second). This ample processing power enables developers to build systems delivering high performance. The instruction set is upward-compatible with the SH-4, so programs developed for existing systems using the SH-4 can be reused. This contributes to a shorter system development time.

As with the SH77721 and SH77722, which preceded it in the SH-Navi Series, the SH7777 has an on-chip 2-D/3-D graphics processor with sophisticated rendering functions. In addition to 2-D rendering functions such as thick line rendering and anti-aliasing, it realized more spatial and real 3-D rendering by enhancing a variety of 3-D rendering functions such as triangle 3-D rendering and texture mapping, making means of expression like multi-texture, etc., possible.

In this way, a highly expressive GUI combining 2-D content such as maps, icons, and menus can be combined with 3-D content such as buildings or landmarks superimposed on the maps, using a single rendering processor. To extract the maximum performance from the graphics processor, high-performance 3-D and 2-D graphics libraries are provided. The 3-D graphics library supports OpenGL ES1.1, the industry standard, for maximum convenience in making use of the rendering functions supported by the graphics processor. The 2-D graphics library complies with the GDI-Sub*12specification, which supports Windows Automotive*13 5.0 Service Pack 2, from Microsoft Corporation.

A unified memory architecture is also used that enables modules to share the same memory, thereby reducing the need for external memory. The external buses provided are a 32-bit dedicated bus for connection of high-speed DDR2-SDRAM and a 16-bit expansion bus for connection of flash memory or SRAM.

The E10A-USB emulator, which connects to a host PC via a USB interface, is available as a development tool. There is also an on-chip debugging function that supports real-time debugging at the SoC’s maximum operating frequency.

Renesas Technology will also prepare a reference platform for system development, according to order, that will offer the following features.
* Peripheral circuits, typical of vehicle information terminals, will be incorporated to provide a realistic verification environment for developers
* Ability to be used as a development tool for software applications
* Additional custom functions can be added by developers

The platform can be used to evaluate the functions of the SH-NaviJ3, to develop software applications, and for other tasks related to efficient system development.