Electronics content in vehicles continues to grow at a steady pace, driving innovation in the components sector. Electronic components make up more than 30 percent of the production cost of a vehicle, and is expected to continue upward, according to Transparency Market Research. Two recent market research studies indicate that automotive applications including next-generation vehicle connectivity and emissions control and safety features will drive significant growth for semiconductors and sensors over the next five years.
Driven by enhancements to emissions control and safety, as well as connectivity to the cloud and personal portable devices, the automotive semiconductor market is expected to reach $41 billion by 2021, up from $27.5 billion in 2013, according to Strategy Analytics. This translates into a compound annual average growth rate (CAAGR) of five percent over the next seven years.
The report, "Automotive Electronics Semiconductor Demand Forecast 2012 to 2021,” also finds that demand for microcontroller and power semiconductors will drive more than 40 percent of revenues, while light vehicle production in China will drive 20 percent of regional demand
"Ongoing research and development to further improve conventional and electrified powertrains and safety enhancing advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) is fueling growth for high performance processors, additional memory, highly integrated mixed signal ICs and sensor devices including radar and cameras," stated Chris Webber, vice president, Global Automotive Practice at Strategy Analytics. "The growth opportunity will also be for semiconductors providing wireless connectivity to enable greater levels of future vehicle autonomy and to meet consumer expectations for seamless portable device usage and content delivery in the car," he added.
"The need for intelligent control and power drive within literally dozens of electronic control units, motors and solenoid actuators within a single vehicle accounts for the high revenue share for microcontrollers and power devices," said Mark Fitzgerald, associate director, Global Automotive Practice, in a statement.
A few examples of recent new microcontrollers aimed at automotive applications include the Spansion Traveo microcontrollers and STMicroelectronics STM8AF6223 and STM8AF6226 8-bit devices.
The Spansion Traveo microcontrollers, based on the ARM Cortex-R5 core, delivers enhanced human-machine interfaces, high-security and advanced networking protocols for a broad range of automotive applications such as electrification, body electronics, battery management, automotive cluster displays, HVAC and ADAS.
The first product of the Spansion Traveo family, the MB9D560 series, features dual ARM Cortex-R5 cores with 2 MB of embedded flash and operates at 200 MHz. The dual-core structure on a single chip has two interface circuits for resolver sensors for motor control, and two unique hardware IP for motor control operations. Each core has a built-in floating point unit (FPU) and operates at 1.66 DMIPS/MHz, with each motor running independently but monitoring the operation of each other. The system's reliability is achieved with a memory protection unit, error correction code (ECC), parity error detection and correction functions, said Spansion.
"At a time when system designers are demanding ever higher levels of MCU performance and power efficiency, this new MCU family based on ARM Cortex-R5 based is an important addition to Spansion's automotive capabilities while also delivering a cost benefit through the integration of multiple functions onto a single chip," said Chris Webber, vice president for the Global Automotive Practice, Strategy Analytics, in a statement.
Targeting automotive body electronics and comfort applications, STMicroelectronics offers a cost-competitive 8-bit automotive-grade series that features 20 MIPS processing performance in small packages. Based on ST’s efficient 24-MHz STM8A 8-bit processor core, the STM8AF6223 and STM8AF6226 feature a mix of connectivity, timing, and analog functions for space-constrained modules such as seat controllers, window lifters, HVAC controls or gateways. With an extended temperature range the MCUs can be used for under-the-hood applications.
The MCUs feature 8Kbytes on-chip Flash, 640 Bytes true data EEPROM (up to 300kcycles), 1Kbyte RAM, serial interfaces including LIN 2.1, and a 10-bit ADC. A clock security system, two watchdogs (one with independent clock), and a sophisticated memory-protection scheme ensure automotive-level dependability, said STMicroelectronics.
The AEC-Q100 qualified devices operate at temperatures up to 150°C and keep running down to 3.0V in cranking conditions. They are available in a variety of packages including the small TSSOP20, which features seven ADC inputs, and six capture/compare channels. The TQFP32 adds three complementary PWM outputs for driving BLDC motors.
Automotive Sensors Set for Growth
The automotive sensors market (including pressure, temperature, level, speed, MEMS, oxygen and Nox) is expected to reach $35.8 billion in 2022, growing at a CAGR of 8.6 percent from 2014 to 2022, according to MarketsandMarkets. Several factors are acting as key drivers including worldwide vehicle production, technology developments, customer taste, and government mandates.
The report, "Automotive Sensor Market by Product (Pressure, temperature, level, speed, MEMS, oxygen, Nox), Application (powertrain, safety & control, vehicle security, alternative fuel, telematics) and Geography - Forecast & Analysis to 2013 - 2022," also finds that demand for sensors continues to grow in a variety of automotive applications including safety and control, power train, body electronics, vehicle security system, alternative fuel, and telematics. The market restraints include: pricing issues, high expectations from automotive OEMs and no availability of aftermarket.
Opportunities for future growth include increasing demand for ADAS, and hybrid and electric vehicles, according to the report. One sensor company already setting its sights on the ADAS market is OmniVision. The sensor manufacturer recently announced its new flagship automotive image sensor and specialized high-dynamic range companion processor for next-generation ADAS across a variety of vehicle platforms. The OV10640 image sensor delivers high sensitivity and high dynamic range (HDR) of up to 120 dB in compact automotive-grade packages, while the OV490 companion processor’s optimized processing capability brings clear images and video to next-generation ADAS.
The OV10640 is the first automotive image sensor built on OmniBSI technology, which is said to enable the industry's highest sensitivity to capture highly detailed, full-resolution 1.3-megapixel images and video at 60 frames per second (FPS). The sensor features OmniVision's unique HDR implementation and processing technology to minimize motion artifacts, resulting in clear scene reproduction with up to 120 dB dynamic range with RAW output, said the company.
The OV490 is a companion processor that enables simultaneous output of fully processed YUV or RGB data for display-based applications and RAW data for machine-vision downstream processing. The advanced ISP facilitates high-quality image capture and video streaming. The unique architecture is capable of processing two video pipelines, resulting in reduced bill-of-materials.
Samples of the OV10640 and OV490 are available. Both devices are expected to complete AEC-Q100 Grade-2 qualification and start volume production in the fourth quarter of 2014.