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Despite a strong increase over the past 10 years, automakers still integrate more electronics in the cars every year 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. 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.
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.
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.
The technology was discussed during a recent event: On May 16th 2014, several DSPVally members presented their work on an I(C)T seminar in Tokyo, Japan, at the Belgian Embassy, in cooperation with Flanders Investment and Trade.