Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) and Infineon Technologies AG have teamed up to develop parts for automotive airbag modules that could cut costs and speed time to market, especially for tier-one suppliers in emerging automotive markets such as India and China.
The two electronics suppliers say they would collaborate on a reference design involving ADI sensors and Infineon chipsets. Collaboration by the two companies is considered significant because it would enable the manufacturers of airbag modules to reduce the so-called "interoperability risk" that occurs when merging components from different suppliers. As a result, airbag manufacturers could deliver their modules to the market faster and for less cost, they say.
"With this, the tier-ones won't have to worry about marrying up a sensor from Analog Devices and a transceiver from Infineon," says Rich Mannherz, product line director for ADI's Automotive Business and Micro-Machined Products Division. "We will provide proven parts that will allow the tier-ones to spend more time focusing on developing the software algorithms that make the airbag work, and less time devising interfaces."
Infineon and ADI are both considered major players in the automotive airbag market. Infineon provides nearly all application-specific components for airbags, including microcontrollers, sensor communication interface ICs, airbag deployment ICs, power supply components, CAN and LIN transceivers and pressure sensors. ADI, meanwhile, makes the critical micro-electromechanical (MEMS) sensors, such as accelerometers and gyroscopes, which are used to detect vehicle instability or collisions.
The collaboration agreement will enable the two companies to pre-combine the interface protocols that enable ADI's sensors to "talk" to Infineon's ICs.
The two companies say they expect big tier-one suppliers in the U.S. to employ the new reference design, along with smaller air-bag module makers in India, China and Korea. In those countries, they say, engineering teams might benefit more from the cost reductions, as well as from the reduction of interoperability risks.
"The big area where we see the advantage of collaboration is in the emerging markets, where they may not have the experience and sophistication as engineering teams to put these designs together," says Jeff Cubel, segment marketing manager for high-integration devices in the Automotive Power Group at Infineon. "In their cases, it might significantly accelerate development if they can bring in a reference design and know it is already interoperability tested."