3 Factors to Consider Before Selecting Your ECU

Melissa NewmanBlog, ECUs, Electrification

New Eagle’s lineup of ECUs covers a wide range of sophisticated functions and requirements for modern vehicle development. To get you started with choosing the best ECU for your project, we’ve compiled three key factors to consider before beginning your ECU search. 

Factor #1: The Application

There are a number of options for your ECU, so selecting one is a process of elimination – and the first disqualifying factor is the application of your project. For instance, if your project is an automotive application, industry standards like ISO2626 will automatically eliminate several options. 

The application factors that narrow your options are:

  • Size: Motorcycles have vastly different ECU options than larger applications. Size also determines whether you have room for HMI, such as VeeCAN control displays.
  • Environment: If your application is built to be used in rough environments — like water vehicles — your ECU needs to withstand those elements. 
  • Specializations: Some applications are so highly specialized that ECU options are limited. For example, an unmanned aerial vehicle (not something you see every day!) or turbine application would be a good candidate for the highly specialized Raptor M47.

Which ECU Is Right For You? Learn the 6 key considerations for a production ECU and get a list of Questions to vet ECU suppliers. Get the Guide.

Factor #2: The Requirements 

When you start looking for an ECU, you may not know the exact numbers for some of your requirements, but you should have a range in mind. To nail down the best ECU for your application, you’ll have to consider the complexity of each requirement:

  • Input/output: How many do you need and what kind? Do you require high-level digital outputs? Analog-to-digital/digital-to-analog convertors? Do you need signal conditioner circuits to adjust the input/out signal levels? 
  • Communication: What types of communication channels does your project need, and what kinds? Automotive ethernet has way more bandwidth than CAN, but CAN is still more reliable when it comes to safety features like airbags. 
  • Voltage: Some ECUs have a narrower voltage range than others. For instance, the GCM196’s 6-16 VDC range is pretty slim compared to the CMO711’s 5.5-36 VDC. 

Factor #3: The Process 

You’ll probably need different things from your ECU in different stages of your development process.

In the prototype stage, you don’t need an ECU with all the bells and whistles. As fun as ECUs can be, you shouldn’t burden your project’s budget with a more expensive ECU than what you need to simply test one function. On the other hand, if you aren’t certain what your final requirements will be, you might want to go for an ECU like the GCM196 that has plenty of I/O while prototyping and slim down once you’ve finalized your design. New Eagle knows that it’s important to move fast at the start of your project, which is why we keep smaller qualities of our ECUs on the shelf and ready to ship.

In production, one critical factor you don’t want to overlook is validation. Suppliers like New Eagle carry validated parts that you can use in production. You also need to consider whether you’ll want to edit the embedded software down the road — in which case you’ll need New Eagle’s Raptor Dev software. If you chose to switch ECUs anytime in system validation or production (like on the off chance a global pandemic causes a global supply chain crisis and you need to change your design), using Raptor will allow you to easily port over your code from one ECU to another.

Developing Vehicles on the Raptor Platform. Learn how Raptor helps you take control of your vehicle development process from prototype to production. Download the eBook.

Talk to a New Eagle expert about your ECU needs

Once you’ve considered these factors and drawn up the specifics of your project, you’ll want to consult a New Eagle sales specialist. They’ve seen tons of projects matched with their best-fit ECU, and as long as you have a clear idea of your requirements, they’ll be able to point you to yours. If you need help defining your system requirements, New Eagle can help through an engineering project.