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In automotive electronics, electronic control unit (ECU) is a generic term for any embedded system that controls one or more of the electrical systems or subsystems in amotor vehicle.
Other terms for ECU include Electronic/Engine Control Module (ECM), Powertrain Control Module (PCM), Transmission Control Module (TCM), Brake Control Module (BCM or EBCM), Central Control Module (CCM), Cental Timing Module (CTM), General Electronic Module (GEM), Body Control Module (BCM), Suspension Control Module (SCM), control unit, or control module. Taken together, these systems are sometimes referred to as the car's computer. (Technically there is no single computer but multiple ones.) Sometimes one assembly incorporates several of the individual control modules (PCM is often both engine and transmission)
Some modern motor vehicles have up to 80 ECUs. Embedded software in ECUs continue to increase in line count, complexity, and sophistication. Managing the increasing complexity and number of ECUs in a vehicle has become a key challenge for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).