The demand for smarter vehicles with features including networking, self-driving, safety features, and AI puts large amounts of pressure on designers.
When it comes to complex designs, FPGAs and other configurable mixed-signal ICs (CMICs) are often the best solutions due to their high logic count. In the automotive space, every component is required to conform to rigid standards in order to be qualified for that environment.
Today, Dialog Semiconductor announced an automotive-grade CMIC from their GreenPak family.
Introducing the SLG46620-A
The SLG46620-A is a mixed-signal IC that includes GPIOs, PWM, DACs, and many analog processing circuitry into a single TSSOP-20 package. The IC is AEC-Q100 Grade 2-qualified, which allows it to be integrated into automotive environments.
The RoHS-compliant and halogen-free packaging additionally allows for use in most markets (including the European Union), and its one-time programmable memory prevents the IC from being re-written.
Key Features of the SLG46620-A
The SLG46620-A includes 18 GPIO, six analog comparators, and three digital comparators/PWM, while also including up to 26 lookup tables, 10 Counter/Delay generators, and 12 DFF/LATCH.
The SLG46620-A boasts a wide range of integrated features with the macrocells including an 8-bit successive approximation ADC, 3-bit programmable gain amplifier, two DACs, six analog comparators, 25 combinational lookup tables, 10 counters, two pipe delays, 12 flip-flops, three internal oscillators, and slave SPI while also including two bandgap sources for voltage references.
As designs based on configurable ICs rely on software programming, the SLG46620-A integrates read-back protection to defend intellectual property. The SLG46620-A is versatile in implantation and can be powered with a wide voltage supply range of 1.8V to 3.3V.
The number of potential applications for the SLG46620-A is wide, with typical applications including in-vehicle navigation, infotainment, advanced driver assist, automotive display clusters, and body electronics.
Compared to the SLG46620
However, not all applications require automotive electronics, which is where its predecessor, the SLG46620, comes in. The SLG46620 is very similar in that it also includes 18 GPIO, six analog comparators, three digital comparators, counter/delay generators, and latches, as well as a wide range of analog processing circuits including ADCs, DACs, and bandgap references.
The difference between the two parts is minor in that the SLG46620 is not automotive-grade (and also is available in a 20-pin STQFN package). The SLG46620 also offers read-back protection to defend intellectual property and can operate on a wider voltage range of 1.8V to 5V. This makes the SLG46620 useful in multiple applications including computers, servers, peripherals, data communication, and handheld equipment.
Other Automotive IC Solutions
While there are other automotive mixed-signal integrated circuits on the market, most (if not all) are not configurable, which can make designs expensive and complex. For example, Microchip offers a wide range of mixed-signal ICs including ADCs, energy measurement ICs, DACs, and digital potentiometers.
However, there are some companies that offer automotive-grade ASICs, which allow designers to create their own custom ICs with both digital and analog circuitry. One example here would be Triad, which provides designers with this very service. ASICs, however, as their name suggests, are application-specific and are considerably more expensive than configurable ICs in small scales. In a case where a proven design may be required to be manufactured at large scale (tens of thousands), ASICs become a more economical solution.
Have you designed using CMICs in the automotive space? Share your experiences in the comments below.
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