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Today, NXP’s AM/FM car radio chips are used on “27 out of 28 car audio platforms of choice” used by Tier Ones and car OEMs, said Clemmer. “We’ve got silicon tuners and DSPs.” But once Freescale’s apps processors are brought to NXP’s car radio platforms, the new NXP would be suddenly able to offer much fuller, compelling car infotainment systems. NXP has been working on ADAS with Mobileye for vision processors, according to Clemmer. “They’re doing a good job,” he said, “but Freescale has a very good automotive vision SoC of its own.” Freescale’s automotive vision SoCs are using CogniVue’s APEX Image Cognition Processing technology. Freescale unveiled at the World Mobile Congrees, a new automotive vision SoC, dubbed S32V, which can make safety-critical decisions for drivers to prevent accidents. Asked about if NXP and Freescale are both pushing for security in connected cars, Clemmer said, “Freescale is doing security in software, whereas we’re doing security in hardware” by leveraging NXP’s security chips used in identify and banking cards. Freescale is very strong in radar. But NXP has revealed at the Mobile World Congress that the company has developed a CMOS-based small radar chip. In addition to radar developed by Freescale, carmakers can add several tiny radar systems inside a car in order to make cars even safer, Clemmer added. The biggest difference between the two companies’ automotive chip businesses is that NXP is focused on connectivity interface and security — more of the areas where connected cars are directly exposed to the outside world, while Freescale’s strength is in engine controls and power trains. Luca DeAmbroggi, principal analyst for Automotive Semiconductors, IHS Technology, mostly agreed with Clemmer’s assessment. The analyst said, “The announced merger between Freescale and NXP gives birth to a company that is strongly positioned and one that is able to serve complete automotive semiconductor solutions to all high-growth segments.” These segments include infotainment, ADAS, and connectivity as well as the “new frontiers” represented by in-vehicle security and hybrid and electric vehicles, he added. In terms of market share, the NXP-Freescale merger would have formed a company with a turnover of a US$ 4 billion in 2014, at least $1 billion ahead of the next supplier, Renesas. Layoffs Asked about layoffs among engineers at both companies, Clemmer said, “We will not be cancelling any development projects currently going on in R&D.” He pegged the “cost synergy” – the savings in operating costs expected after the two companies are merged -- to be about $1.2 billion in R&D. The savings will be mostly coming from supporting various CAD tools and models out of one organization than two, Clemmer explained. IoTize rejuvenates legacy systems with smartphone-compatibility ABy Julien Happich t embedded world, the Raisonance business branch of Keolabs was demonstrating an interesting NFC retrofit solution for embedded systems, the IoTize plug-and-play RF module able to rejuvenate and turn any legacy system into a smartphone-compatible cloud-connected appliance. Francis Lamotte, Raisonance’s former CEO and now Keolabs’ Vice President after his company’s merger with Soliatis in 2012 explained the concept fairly simply. “On one hand, Raisonance has been providing compilers and MCU development tools for over 30 years, on the other hand, we have been a provider of test equipment and emulators for smart cards for the last 15 years, including more recently for NFC chips. So the IoTize concept is really a fusion of our knowledge in both debugging and NFC-connectivity, connecting radiocapable modules through a board’s typically unused debug port”. Measuring 25x35mm, the first IoTize prototype modules combine an NFC chip together with a co-processor to establish a direct connection between the legacy system’s processor (addressed through the debug port) and an NFCenabled smartphone. “The beauty of this approach is that the connection can be done without modifying the native firmware or hardware, and the smartphone application can be created very simply, only having to edit some HTML” emphasized Lamotte. The IoTize module allows engineers to take their embedded system (from industrial designs to consumer goods) into the IoT sphere without any RF expertise nor any new certification process, while enabling different user accesses, say for remote configuration, maintenance or end-user personalization. With the added connectivity, usage data could be leveraged by cloud analytics, to enhance user services or to better understand the users’ needs and manage product evolutions. Practically, the module connects via a flex circuit, and could be stuck about anywhere inside an appliance’s housing, retroactively. Although the RF connection was demonstrated using near field communication, Keolabs says the same retrofit principle could apply with Bluetooth or Sigfox-equipped IoTize modules. Currently, in standby mode the NFC-only module draws about 15μA from the system’s board it is hooked to, and between 4.5 and 5mA when channelling data. But after further design and power optimization, Lamotte hopes the communication could be entirely powered by the smarphone’s NFC reader field, while drawing under 10μA from the system’s board when in sleep mode. As for additional communication channels such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or others, the board will have two modes: either the channels will be woken up from a very low power sleep mode by the smartphone’s NFC reader, or these channels would remain in listening mode (the power consumption depending on the final design’s components). 8 Electronic Engineering Times Europe March 2015 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE MAR 2015
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