How Vehicle Computers Work – ECU

ecu 1It seems that vehicles have got more and more complicated and today they have more than 50 microprocessors. Even though many of these microprocessors make it more difficult to work on our own vehicles, sometimes they actually make our cars easier to service. Let’s talk about engine control units and ECU tuning files!

ecu 5A couple of years ago, building a car engine without microprocessors was possible, but now it’s not. As the emissions laws became enacted, it was necessary to regulate the air-fuel mixture with sophisticated control schemes in order to enable the catalytic converter to remove a great deal of the pollution from the exhaust. On a vehicle, the engine control unit (ECU) is the most powerful computer and it uses closed-loop control. This scheme monitors outputs of a system in order to control its inputs and that’s how it manages the fuel economy and emissions of the engine.

ecu 2Engine control unit gathers the data from many different sensors, so it knows everything from the amount of CO2 in the exhaust to the coolant temperature. ECU uses these data to perform numerous calculations each second to, for example, decide on the best spar timing. Everything is done in order to ensure the best mileage and lowest emissions.

ecu 4Compared to the PC processor, a modern engine control unit usually contains 40-Mhz, 32-bit processor, which sounds quite slow. Nevertheless, the processor in a vehicle is running much more efficient code than those in personal computer, since the code in common ECU takes up less 1 MB of memory.  It is packaged on multi-layer circuit boards in a module with many other components. The other components in the engine control unit are analog-to-digital and digital to analog converters, high-level digital outputs, communication chips, signal conditioners etc.

ecu 3Analog to digital converters are the devices that read the outputs of car sensors which are an analog voltage changing them into a 10-bit digital number in order to make it understandable to the processor. On the other hand, the engine control unit sometimes needs to provide an analog voltage output in order to drive certain components. In that case, digital to analog converters change the digital numbers into analog voltages.
***If you already know all that and, you’re in fact an ECU tuning professional, you might be looking for software that will help you do your job better. We have found the service that allows ECU tuning professionals to upload their ECU tuning files and to re-calibrate these files in a few seconds to flash back on to the ECU of the car. Profiles of calibrations include Sport, Stock, Economy and Performance. PrecisionCodeWorks is not a generic file exchange service or digital goods store, because users receive their professionally remapped tuning files within seconds. As a matter of fact, an average file delivery time is 30 seconds allowing users to operate at their own convenience at a much lower price. Furthermore, all master flash tool formats (BDM, Tricore, OBD) are automatically supported, since the system is designed to service the demands of modern chip tuning industry.***

 

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