Automobile Manufacturers are constantly struggling to keep up with the growing demand by drivers and their passengers with portable devices who expect every car to accommodate their communication and entertainment needs. Through this, Maxim Integrated, an analog integration company, has found a new market opportunity. Recently, Maxim has developed an automotive-quality USB solution that can recognize and charge directly from the vehicle’s battery any portable device people bring into a car.
Maxim has recently launched the MAX16984, an automotive-grade DC-DC converter with USB emulator. Previously, many consumers were frustrated when they tried to charge their portable devices in cars. Typically, they found the process not so reliable, as witnessed by their smartphones not getting charged fast enough in a car. New cars need to be ready for a variety of situations to accommodate portable USB devices. Automobile manufacturers also need a scalable solution because vehicles are now expected to accommodate, not just a single mobile device, but also a growing number of USB modules. As the company Maxim explained, automobiles need to support the constantly evolving specifications of consumer devices, and they must offer charging and data transfer capabilities for those USB equipped portable devices. In addition, these portable USB devices will require added protection so that they can reliably interface with the often harsh automotive environment.
“Vehicles need a solution with an automotive-quality DC-DC converter that can drive up to 2.5 A with dynamic voltage adjustment,” Maxim said. They require a USB charge emulator that can establish a handshake between a mobile device and upstream host instructing the portable USB device to increase its charge current. The cars also need integrated electrostatic discharge (ESD) diodes and USB protection switches for automotive USB host applications. “Functions that used to be carried out by three separate ICs – a separate power sully chip, a USB protection device and a device handing external functions – are now integrated into one chip in MAX 16984,” said Kent Robinett, Maxim’s Global Automotive Segment Leader.
It’s also important to note that passengers in a car aren’t always charging their devices or being entertained by their portable USB devices in the front seat. USB ports in the back seat mean that a passenger’s USB device is placed at the end of three-meter embedded USB cables. The longer the distance the likelier a drop in voltage and a reduction in charging current will happen. “That’s when adaptive voltage capability becomes important,” said Robinett. He noted, that portable devices “will not charge properly, unless voltage drop across long captive cables is accounted for.” Maxim’s automotive-grade DC-DC converter with USB emulator is available today. For the standard Thin Quad Flat No Leads (TQFN) packaging, MAX16984 is priced at $3.92 in the volume of 1,000 units. For Maxim, whose automotive product strategy is to focus on solutions for EV/HEV battery, infotainment, smart key, and sensors, infotainment is definitely right up their alley.
HIS Automotive’s senior analyst Luca DeAmbroggi earlier this year pegged total semiconductor revenue in 2013 derived from automotive infotainment will reach $6.67 billion. While this year’s growth is relatively “soft,” DeAmbroggi said, “Solid expansion returns next year and beyond, with revenue growth of 3 to 7 percent set to occur each year during the next five years.” The market research firm forecasts automotive infotainment semiconductor revenue worldwide to grow to $8.54 billion by 2018.