The automotive market for semiconductors is shifting into high gear. Right now the average car has about $350 worth of semiconductor content, but that is projected to grow another 50 percent by 2023 as the overall automotive market for semiconductors grows from $35 billion to $54 billion.
This strong growth is being driven by the need to develop what we are calling the ‘connected car.’ The term refers to the multiple electronic systems in a vehicle that collectively take data from wired and wireless sensors and combine it with high-performance processors and analog/power semiconductors, to provide the vehicle with semi-autonomous and ultimately fully autonomous capabilities.
These capabilities include Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) such as collision and blind spot warnings, sophisticated infotainment and telecommunications options, and precise electrical control of major vehicle subsystems like the powertrain, among many others.
The move toward the connected car is driving fundamental change in the automotive supply chain, which is presenting GF with a unique opportunity. Traditionally, there have been separate and distinct tiers of automotive suppliers. At the top of the supply chain are the automobile manufacturers themselves, known as the original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs. Tier 1 suppliers such as Bosch, Continental, Delphi, etc. supply automotive-grade parts and systems directly to the OEMs.
Tier 2 is where we have always fit in. Tier 2 suppliers such as semiconductor companies have traditionally supplied the Tier Ones with parts for automotive systems, and have tended not to work directly with the OEMs. However, this is changing. As more electronics-based systems are used in automobiles and as they become more complex, there is a greater need to understand system architectures and networks, and to bring complex IP and quality standards to the design and manufacture of the SoCs and other chips that meet those needs.
That is exactly what we do here at GF. It’s why we recently announced a platform called AutoPro™ that provides OEMs and other automotive customers with a broad set of technology solutions, design and manufacturing services that help them implement connected intelligence while minimizing certification efforts and speeding time to market.
AutoPro is built on our 10 years of automotive-industry experience and leverages GF’s diverse technologies for automotive customers. It includes our silicon germanium (SiGe), FD-SOI (FDX™), RF and advanced CMOS FinFETs, packaging and intellectual property (IP) technologies.
Importantly, it also includes system-level architects who work directly with OEMs. In recent years GF has hired many people with extensive automotive SoC experience, such as myself, and the networking system designers in our industry-leading ASIC business from the IBM Microelectronics acquisition are unparalleled.
AutoPro solutions support the full range of AEC-Q100 quality grades from Grade 2 to Grade 0, and, in addition, we ensure technology readiness, operational excellence and a robust automotive-ready quality system through our AutoPro Service Package.
This gives customers access to the latest technologies designed to meet strict automotive quality requirements defined in the ISO, International Automotive Task Force (IATF), Automotive Electronics Council (AEC), and VDA (German) standards.
Although AutoPro was only recently introduced, we are already at work with automotive OEMs. One that we can mention is Audi, which has called our automotive offerings essential for delivering next-generation car electronics faster and with high reliability.
It’s early days, but the road is open before us.