Gone are the days when automotive electronics was a slow-moving, trailing-edge business. Today, powerful semiconductor technologies are driving the development of automotive features that once might have been seen as science fiction, such as advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) which are paving the way to self-driving cars.
Overall, the market for semiconductors in automotive applications is projected to see a 7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from now to 2023, from $35 billion to $54 billion. The ADAS applications where GF offers unique solutions, however, are projected to grow at a whopping 19% CAGR in that period.
The breadth of our technologies, systems design expertise, engineering resources and quality systems all put us in a great position to serve this growing market and provide the automotive industry with innovative solutions that meet its stringent demands for performance, quality, reliability and safety. Customers across the entire automotive supply chain are taking advantage GF’s technology offerings right now, from fabless semiconductor companies to Tier One suppliers to the automakers themselves. Here are a few recent developments I’d like to report.
On the Radar
Automotive radar technology is one of GF’s core competencies, and it’s becoming increasingly important as ADAS systems become more complex and widely used.
Radar is one of several sensor types used to detect objects near a vehicle, to enable features like adaptive cruise control. Lidar is another. It uses pulsed lasers to determine distance from an object by measuring the time it takes for the light to reflect back. However, lidar is currently expensive and is affected by weather conditions. Radar is less expensive, and higher-resolution radars promise to compete well with lidar in automotive applications, thereby enabling lower-priced vehicles to enjoy greater ADAS capabilities.
GF’s 22FDX technology offers great millimeter-wave (mmWave) performance and digital density for the next generation of 77-86 GHz medium-/long-range automotive radars. 22FDX-based radar sensors can provide higher resolutions and less latency than current radar sensors at a very low total system cost.
In the very near future, one of our customers will reveal how the company is using 22FDX as the basis of a radar imaging chipset that can detect obstacles at a range of 300 meters with a wide field of view at ultra-high resolution. Stay tuned.
Another example of how automotive radar is evolving comes from our work with a leading automotive electronics customer that is using GF’s mature CMOS process technology to develop a 77 GHz short-/medium-range radar module. The module integrates a microcontroller, digital signal processors, SRAM and flash memory, and support components on a circuit board replacing a much larger radar array.
Electric Cars with Better Range
Radar is just one automotive semiconductor application, of course. Powertrain control is another. At the recent Embedded World show, our customer Silicon Mobility demonstrated what the company calls a field programmable control unit (FPCU) for electric and hybrid vehicle powertrain control. Built with GF’s 55LPx CMOS technology, it offers real-time processing and control of sensors and actuators, coupled with a standard CPU, in a single semiconductor that conforms to the safety standard ISO 26262 ASIL-D. Watch a live demo of Silicon Mobility’s electric automotive motor control, enabled by GF’s 55nm eFlash technology, here.
The result is a more powerful, flexible and safe architecture for the control and performance of electric and hybrid powertrains. By executing complex powertrain control algorithms quickly in hardware instead of in software, substantial energy savings and increased battery life can be achieved. The company says the FPCU can extend the range of electric and hybrid vehicles by some 32%.
Proven Quality in Dresden
Automotive customers demand much higher levels of quality and reliability than customers in other markets, which is understandable because we all know that cars and trucks must operate properly in all weather, road and traffic conditions over their entire service lives.
Consequently, semiconductor suppliers to the automotive industry must meet numerous quality standards and certifications that don’t apply to other types of customers. These are governed by a veritable alphabet soup of standards-setting groups and agencies, such as AEC, IATF, ISO, VDA and others.
We have already proven our automotive capability with our Singapore facilities and now I’m proud to report that GF’s Fab 1 in Dresden had its first full IATF16949/ISO9001 audit last month. Meeting this standard certifies that a facility’s quality management systems meet the requirements for automotive production. Conformance to it is essential. Four auditors spent the better part of a week looking at all aspects and areas of the Dresden site. The result was successful and upon closing 4 actions within the next 60 days, the auditors will recommend Fab 1 for full certification.
These are just a few of the results of our push toward becoming a favored supplier to the automotive industry. It’s an exciting time to be in this business, as the electronics content of cars increases. There are abundant semiconductor opportunities all along the value chain, and we’re going after them full speed.
Last year GF unveiled its automotive platform, AutoPro™, which provides a full range of technologies and manufacturing services to help carmakers harness the power of silicon for a new era of ‘connected intelligence’. For more information on the company’s auto solutions and service package please visit: globalfoundries.com/market-solutions/automotive.