Cost & Reliability Gains in Automotive Electronics

There was a strong increase in the use of electronics in cars in the past 10 years. According to the recent surveys car-makers plan to integrate even more electronics for 3 main reasons.

  • Firstly, governments force new rules and regulations for safety and ecology
  • Secondly existing systems are transformed into electrical versions
  • And finally, new features or applications are introduced to please the occupants.

 

Automotive Electronics market
The number of ‘light cars’ will increase to 100 million by 2017. By that time the average car will contain $400 worth of ICs. In total this means 10% of the semiconductor market is related to automotive applications

It used to be more pronounced in luxury cars, the trend is also very visible in light cars nowadays. The IC related cost per car is projected to increase by 30% from $300 in 2013 to $400 in 2017. Because this is a huge market worldwide, the automotive semiconductor market will reach 10% of the total $400B semiconductor market in 2017.

However creating ICs for the automotive market is not an ‘easy ride’. There are plenty of reliability challenges. Car makers require ‘zero’ defects, very long system life, all in harsh environments. The operating conditions are different from consumer and industrial markets.

Reliability constraints for automotive versus industrial and consumer electronics

Car makers require strong reliability for the systems and the ICs including ‘beyond standard’ ESD levels, transient latch-up immunity like ESD stress under powered conditions, EMC tests (62132 DPI) and specific automotive tests like ISO 7637-2. The load dump pulse 5 is one of the most famous ones.

Waveform representation of the different ISO 7637-2 pulses that automotive electronics must achieve. – source: “Diodes protect data lines and power rails in automotive applications”, Philippe Merceron, STMicroelectronics, 2009/01/24, EETimes on-line, Design lines Automotive
Waveform representation of the different ISO 7637-2 pulses that automotive electronics must achieve. – source: “Diodes protect data lines and power rails in automotive applications”, Philippe Merceron, STMicroelectronics, 2009/01/24, EETimes on-line, Design lines Automotive

To cope with these challenges, Sofics has developed the PowerQubic technology during an investment project of more than 15 man years of research and development, spread over several years. It is a flexible solution set for different applications based on set of ESD concepts that are tunable by layout, schematic variations and do not require process changes. The technology has been validated in BCD, high voltage CMOS and advanced CMOS nodes, spanning 35 voltage domains (from 5V to more than 60V) and is currently being implemented in more than 20 products as diverse as Automotive LIN transceivers, industrial DAC, Switching power regulators and hearing implants.

This technology was discussed during a short presentation on May 16, 2014 at a seminar in Tokyo, Japan at the Belgian embassy, in cooperation with Flanders Investment and Trade. The presentation material is available on Slideshare.

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