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Renesas spins 3rd Gen automotive starter kits, adds new M3 SoC

Oct 21, 2016 — by Eric Brown 2,929 views

Renesas has launched two Linux-ready R-Car starter kits optimized for AGL and GENIVI: an R-Car H3 based “Premier” and a “Pro” with a lower-end M3 SoC.

Later this month, Renesas will begin selling two third-generation starter kits for its 64-bit ARM-based R-Car automotive SoCs. The kits are designed for ADAS, infotainment, reconfigurable digital clusters, and integrated digital cockpits.

The two kits are optimized for open source Linux standards like Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) and GENIVI, but they also support QNX. Earlier R-Car automotive starter kits include last year’s R-Car H2 ADAS Starter Kit, based on its earlier H2 automotive SoC.

Third-gen R-Car Starter Kit
(click image to enlarge)

The Premier kit supports the R-Car H3 SoC, which combines four 1.5GHz Cortex-A57 cores, four 1.2GHz Cortex-A53 cores, and a PowerVR GX6650 GPU, and features ISO 26262 safety compliance. The Pro kit supports a new, lower-end R-Car M3, and is aimed at high-volume infotainment and 3D digital cluster applications.


The R-Car M3 is a follow-on to the earlier mid-range M2 SoC, and is software compatible with the H3. It sacrifices two of the four Cortex-A57 cores found on the H3, but has all four Cortex-A53 cores, and similarly provides a “dual lock-step” Cortex-R7 MCU. The M3 has a less powerful PowerVR 6XT GX6250 GPU, among other differences.

R-Car M3 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

R-Car M3 clock rates are the same as on the H3. L2 cache amounts are variably described as being 2MB for Cortex-A57 — the same as on the H3 — and 1MB. Both have 512KB caches for the -A53 cores. The R-Car M3 SoC is available in a single-chip version and as part of an SiP (system-in-package) module equipped with DDR memory for easier development.

R-Car M3 in standard (left) and SiP versions

The two R-Car kits measure 100 x 100 x 57mm, including the fan, and use an external 5V/4A-8A power supply. The R-Car Premier (H3) starter kit supports up to 4GB of LPDDR4-3200 RAM, while the Pro (M3) can load up to 2GB LPDDR4-3200 RAM. (The M3 SoC data sheet, however, says the M3 tops out at 1600MHz LPDDR4.)

Default memories for both include 384KB system RAM, 64MB HyperFlash, 16MB QSPI flash, and 8GB eMMC. A microSD slot is also available.

The kits are configured with 3x display outputs, 6x video inputs, an Ethernet AVB, and undefined numbers of USB 3.0, USB 2.0, CAN, and PCIe interfaces. Also included are connectors for HDMI, audio, serial and JTAG debug, and a 440-pin expansion interface.

When you connect the expansion interface to an additional expansion board, you can create a “wide range of computing applications, from a simple advanced computer vision development environment to prototyping of large-scale systems such as integrated cockpits,” says Renesas. You can also combine multiple R-Car kits. For example, multiple, integrated R-Car H3 Premier kits can enable autonomous vehicle platform development, says Renesas.

The Linux-based development environment includes computing libraries with support for HMI software such as Wayland and OpenCL, as well as for cognitive computing. Renesas has backed both AGL and GENIVI, two somewhat aligned, somewhat competing, standards for open source Linux in-vehicle infotainment (IVI).

Further information

The R-Car Starter Kit Pro ($419) and Starter Kit Premier ($799) are scheduled to be available at the end of October 2016 from Avnet, Marutsu Elec, and Renesas sales companies and agents. Bulk orders of several hundred units can also be accommodated. Samples of the R-Car M3 SoC are available now. More information may be found in the R-Car Starter Kit Pro and Premier announcement and on the Renesas R-Car M3 product page.

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