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GM highlights 32-bit Freescale microprocessor in Buick Regal direct injection engine control module

MPC5566 Block Diagram. Source: Freescale. Click to enlarge.

The 2011 Buick Regal’s direct injection Ecotec 2.0L engine microcontroller features a 32-bit Freescale microprocessor that operates at 128 MHz—the fastest throughput engine microprocessor in the industry, according to Karla Wallace, GM senior manager, global powertrain electronics engineering.

The 32-bit embedded “Viper” processor (Freescale’s Qorivva MPC5566 unit) reliably performs 125 million operations per second, enabling more precise fuel delivery for improved 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.

Basic component set of the Buick Regal’s 2.0L direct injection fuel system including fuel rail and injectors, high pressure cam-driven fuel pump and the E39 engine control module (cover removed) containing the “Viper” 32-bit microprocessor (inset of the microcontroller has cover cutaway). Click to enlarge.

The Qorivva MPC5566 is the first device from Freescale’s Qorivva MPC55xx Family to integrate 3MB of embedded flash memory, to be qualified for the harshest automotive environment and to offer full Read-While-Write capability. This provides developers with a cost-effective medium to support more sophisticated, memory-intensive timing and control functionality. The processor offers system performance of up to five times that of its MPC500 predecessors, while bringing maintaining the reliability and familiarity of the Power Architecture technology.

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 ECM’s microcontroller executes the commands such as when to inject fuel into the engine’s combustion chambers. 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.

—Karla Wallace

In the 1980s, GM’s first powertrain control module had four kilobytes of memory and executed 1 million operations per second.

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. Unlike most home entertainment and electronic devices, our controllers are made to operate reliably up to 260 degrees (127 °C) and down to -40 degrees (-40 °C) for the life of the vehicle. 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.

—Karla Wallace

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.

The ECM itself holds power electronics, as well as ASICs to control the direct injection system and turbocharger, in addition to the Viper microprocessor.



Impressive. All this tech and it gets 18 mpg in the city, 29 on the hwy. My CUV does better than that in the city.

CXL $26,249 2.4L I4 182 HP 19 / 30 mpg

CXL Turbo $28,745 2.0L I4 220 HP 18 / 29 mpg


$26,249 or $28,745 (not including taxes, fees, interest, etc) for a ...Buick Regal? I saw the commercial last night with the price mentioned. It really is insane the GM thinks people are going to shell out all that money for a Buick REGAL of all things, that is no doubt going to depreciate by at least $10,000 in the first year or two. If you're thinking of spending that much money for a Regal, you can probably spend the same or little more for an Infiniti, Lexus, Acura, BMW, Mercedes, etc. that will be more car for the money and hold its value longer than a Regal.


The computer on my friend's Prius just failed and a used replacement cost %1,500. We need improved reliability, not more sophistication. (this applies to all car makers)
I would be more impressed if they promised their computer is failsafe and will be replaced free if any problems.

Stan Peterson

The Opel Insignia, our Buick Regal, was rumored to be the first mass produced automobile to have an HCCI operating mode. That semi-diesel mode offers the fuel economy of the diesel, without the heavy weight of a diesel engine, and poor toxic emissions of a standard diesel. HCCI offers the best of both worlds . Light Otto ICe engienes wiht broad power bands and the aforsaid diesle benefits. It is a feature and technical advance that most automakers are rushing to perfect, worldwide.

That feature wasn't ready for the general release of the Opel Insignia, although very drivable prototypes were previewed and driven by auto reviewers.

There were only a few technical prerequisites needed for the HCCI operation frequently demonstrated to auto publication reviewers. One was a few more sensors, to sense fuel charge and pre-ignition, the second was some form of variable valve lift, third was Direct fuel injection, and the fourth was a much more powerful engine CPU, able to process the larger number of calculations needed to determine if HCCI could be used on the next power stroke of that otherwise normal Ecotec engine, that powers the Regal. Suitability for HCCI operation is deternmined, on a stroke by stroke basis.

Is this fast CPU a relic of the than uncompleted but ongoing, HCCI effort?

I'd takea SWAG and say, yes. I think its continued use, is a kind of test of teh complex CPU's Reliability in normal every day use.


So....it is still a gas guzzler.


Why not a SIMD processor like the SHARC from Analog Devices. That Chip can really churn through the Flops.


ejj, the BMW 3 series starts at $33,000 in cheapest configuration. The entry level C series Mercedes starts at $34,000. The cheapest Lexus (IS series) starts at $32,000. The cheapest Infiniti (G Sedan) starts at $31,000.

Seems that you are in need of a little reality check as your auto-bias is showing. $26,000 to $31,000 (nearly 20% greater cost) is not a "little more"...The only vehicle of the choices you gave that comes even remotely close is the $29,300 Acura TSX. And if you compare the $28,800 Regal you are in even worse shape since the upscale versions of the other luxury makers cars easily get much more expensive than the Buick's $2,500 increase.

tom read

danm: Buick customers deserve improved reliability and we think the Regal's controller delivers. The Regal's controller is developed to be failsafe. As a matter of fact we have data that shows our controller quality and reliability performance exceeds industry benchmarks As noted in this video ( http://media.gm.com/content/media/us/en/news/news_detail.brand_gm.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2010/Nov/1109_gm_buick - go to bottom of page on the right) extensive testing goes into making sure our controllers work reliably for the life of the car. We don't want to stop propulsion systems from getting more sophisticated to provide better performance and efficiency, at the same time we will make sure they have great quality, reliability and durability which includes the very important engine control module. Regards, TR, Technology Communications, GM


Patrick: Uhhh okay. Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima. Yes I am very biased after growing up in Michigan and watching Detroit make average and poor quality cars for decades. The only Detroit vehicles that are high quality are full size trucks, and of those, the Dodge Ram stands out as the best.


ejj: I came to the same conclusion almost 30 years ago. My last very large Chrysler (car) was a real dud. My wife's Ford was almost as bad. We haven't bought a Big-3 product since. There are many better cars around.

Will the Buick Regal be much better? Will it match a Camry, Maxima or Accord for durability and quality?


ejj said, "If you're thinking of spending that much money for a Regal, you can probably spend the same or little more for an Infiniti, Lexus, Acura, BMW, Mercedes,"

Uhhh okay - since when is the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima made by Infiniti, Lexus, Acura or BMW? Foot, mouth - proceed to remove.

Don't be a smart ass when you can't remember what you previously typed.


Good try Patrick but it will not make Big-3 units any better.

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