Freescale to launch India-spec chip in 2011
Freescale Semiconductor India (FSIPL), the wholly-owned subsidiary of Freescale Semiconductor based in Austin, Texas, USA, is looking to tap opportunities in the electrification of vehicles, hybrid cars and in-car infotainment.
FSIPL is also looking at body control module for cars and two-wheelers. Currently, relays and fuses are used to control and protect different application including lighting. The company has developed an e-switch (electronic switch), which will control lighting application by eliminating the existing relays and fuses. This will reduce the space and weight besides, significantly enhancing reliability and longevity of the applications and bulbs. Moreover, it has a sensing device for self-diagnostics and protection against overloading thereby preventing bulbs from blowing off. The project is under development now, he says.
Globally, Freescale has been supplying these chips to several companies including Continental, Volkswagen and Chrysler. It is a new concept for India and initial misgivings about it being effective in India have been overcome given the growing interest for these products, he said. Freescale Semiconductor is working on a chip for battery management, which will monitor continuously the state of charge. With micro hybrid systems such as a stop/start system getting into vehicles in India, there are obvious apprehensions about the battery life. At present, there is no technology available in Indian vehicles to give the number of cycles the battery has done and its remaining life.
Worldwide, the average content of semiconductors per car is around $100. In India, it is around $20 in cars and $5-7 in two- and three-wheelers. The increased spend on semiconductors will help vehicle manufacturers and end-users gain substantial savings. “Semiconductor content in automobiles in India will grow approximately 25 to 30 percent every year for the next three years. And if there are some regulations that will come in to force, then the content can dramatically go up,” he said. For instance, if the regulations for two-wheelers move to the next level, then the vehicles might move to fuel-injection systems, which will increase the quantum of chips substantially, says Tyagi.
In order to emphasise the automotive industry FSIPL has set up an ‘Auto Lab’. This will help build prototypes of the application with the chips developed by Freescale and approach module manufacturers and OEMs for demonstration. According to Tyagi, about 30 percent of cars are chauffeur-driven in India and as the passenger would like to spend his time productively, internet connectivity is expected. With WiMax set to make an entry, it is possible to have high-speed internet access inside the car. The increase of electronic controllers is driven by emission, safety, infotainment and also the reliability factor.
The incorporation of more gadgets inside the vehicle has increased load on the battery and the cables. Though vehicles are using CAN and LIN, OEMs worldwide have decided to embrace Media Oriented System Transport (MOST), which is a vehicle bus standard supporting interconnection among multimedia components. “Electronification of vehicles has reduced the number of cables in the car. A leading European OEM and Freescale Semiconductor are working on a car based on ‘ethernet,’ which is a robust network for computers, concludes Tyagi. n
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