Computer Science: What is the Electronic Control Unit

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Technology is advancing at a very rapid rate thanks to the microprocessor. As electronics are getting more complex, the need for more powerful devices to control these electronics increases. These smart mini-computers are used in almost everything that runs on electricity today. Microprocessors can be found in many household items including refrigerators, televisions, gaming systems, washer/dryers, and many other items. More importantly, the introduction of the microprocessor and microcontroller to the automobile was a breakthrough in vehicle safety and engine efficiency. With the use of these mini-computers we now have safety features like anti-lock brake systems and more precise airbags. Also with the help of microprocessors cars are getting much better gas mileage than they were in the late 1900’s. This paper will go into detail of the importance of microprocessors in automobiles and the benefits that come with them. First off, what is an ECU? An ECU is the computer that controls many things on an automobile. It stands for Electronic Control Unit. “The ‘black box’ that used to be known as the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) is now commonly referred to as the Electronic Control Module (ECM) (Bonnick 1). ECM’s are now more commonly referred to as PCM’s (Powertrain Control Module). This is the brain of the automobile. The PCM consists of a mini computer called a microprocessor and many other components. A microprocessor is a very complex microchip consisting of many
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