The use of semiconductors has been on a rise in vehicles, thanks to the rapid electrification and automation of automobiles. Products like navigation control, infotainment systems and collision detection systems have gained acceptance, leading to the generation of demand for advanced sensors in the coming years. ROHM Semiconductor India is one such company with a diversified product line-up. Auto Tech Review met up with Daisuke Nakamura, Managing Director, ROHM Semiconductor India, to understand more.
ROHM Semiconductor India has been in the thick of things with the recent roll-out of TFT panel chipset solutions for the first time in the Indian market. This TFT panel chipset is designed to drive and control automotive LCDs, especially larger high resolution monitors that are used for navigation and instrument clusters. Nakamura said the TFT panel chipset is compatible with functional safety measures for speedometers, side mirrors, and other vehicle systems. ROHM believes this solution – widely accepted in Europe and Japan – is imperative for the Indian market as it enhances safety and comfort, Nakamura said.
The automotive industry has been witnessing rapid use of LCD panels in next-generation vehicles for instrument cluster, navigation, electronic mirrors, and other systems while the growing number of applications has upped the demand for larger and higher resolution displays. Automotive panels display vital information to the driver related to vehicle parameters (speed, engine condition, turn indicators, etc) and images from cameras (rear mirror, side mirror cameras, etc). Nakamura said that dependence on the LCD display will continue to increase going forward. The functional safety chip will also prevent any LCD panel blackout.
To meet the high safety requirements, Nakamura said, it is crucial to increase the number of LCD driver and controller channels. This makes system configuration and verification a complex process, thus necessitating the need for a panel chipset solution.
ROHM’s new panel chipset integrate a gamma correction IC, timing controller (T-CON), source driver and gate driver for driving HD/FHD class displays (the highest resolution currently in the market) along with a power management IC (PMIC) to ensure optimum operation. Each IC is designed to share information as needed, for supporting functional safety in devices of displays. Nakamura said this chipset ensures higher reliability for LCD monitors used for side mirrors and speedometers.
Further, the company’s chip optimisation enables it to cover a wide range of specifications, while at the same time integrate a key fail detection function in the timing controller to verify operation. Nakamura stated that this chipset makes it possible to configure high resolution LCD panels. Each IC configured in the chipset integrates a function for detecting the expected failure mode. Consequently, it is possible to detect panel failure and provide feedback on information such as input signals to the LCD as well as peeling/ destruction of the LCD driver.
ROHM’s chipsets are designed to cover a gamut of specifications, thus making it possible to configure high resolution LCD panels. Additionally, the timing controller is equipped with a fail detection circuit for verifying chipset operation. Nakamura said the setting of each output in the power management IC can be changed by simply rewriting the internal register value.
FOCUS ON INDIA
ROHM is working closely with two-wheeler OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers to customise this solution for the Indian market. The company is also focusing on low power and energy-efficient power supplies for the Indian market that will enable it to meet the growing demand for EVs and xEVs. India is undertaking a big EV push and it remains a key focus area for ROHM, Nakamura added.
The number of electric motors in an automobile is steadily increasing coupled with electronics needed for maintaining control. The company is working with key enablers of some of these technologies to supply highly-efficient semiconductor devices. And to cater to such and other complex requirements, ROHM has developed a new power supply IC based on the Nano Pulse Control (NPC) technology for the Indian market. It is essentially a 2 MHz switching regulator with built-in MOSFET that achieves the highest step-down ratio in the industry. This is required for 48 V automotive systems such as mild hybrid vehicles, Nakamura pointed out.
NPC is an ultra-fast switching technology that can achieve very high step down ratio. NPC is a combination of analogue circuit design, layout, besides other processes and optimises ROHM’s vertically integrated production system. Nakamura said that this technology contributes towards greater miniaturisation in 48 V applications ranging from mild hybrid vehicles and industrial robots to base station power supplies.
Nakamura said there has always been an industry need for a switching regulator operating at 2 MHz, and there is no power supply IC capable of stepping down 48 V to the 3.3 V or 5 V needed for low power devices inside the ECU. Typically such a regulator always used a two-stage step down, which this product will enable in a single stage, improving efficiency to a large extent, he added.
Balancing the functionality and price point is a challenge. Exposure to dust, moisture and UV radiation are key features that need attention in India and other developing economies as compared to some developed countries. ROHM aims to create a robust product that will withstand these conditions, he concluded.
TEXT: Suhrid Barua