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Giving the people what they want

John Day

John Day

Posted Feb 17, 2011

More evidence that cars are fast becoming computing devices on wheels and that vehicle occupants want the same kind of interactive experience inside the car that they have everywhere else.

This week Renesas announced a new family of automotive systems on chips (R-Car M1) that target navigation and multimedia applications in midrange, as opposed to luxury vehicles. Renesas noted that dashboard-mounted car navigation systems “must offer high-performance multimedia processing for video and audio, and an advanced HMI with realistic 3D graphics display, and improved user operability.” Oh, and with minimal power consumption.

The same day NOR Flash developer Spansion extended its line of 65nm devices, noting that the new products offer 45% faster page mode read performance, among other benefits, an advantage of which is faster response in applications such as infotainment and navigation, because vehicle occupants don’t want to have to wait all day for a system to start up. Spansion’s new NOR devices maintain an industry-standard footprint but come in smaller die.

Earlier this month u-blox announced a new family of “ultra-miniature” GPS modules for telematics. “Our customers are demanding smaller footprints and lower power requirements for GPS positioning,” says VP Herbert Blaser.

Smaller size, lower power, higher performance, but suppliers say they are up to the task. Renesas, for example, says it integrated circuitry for HD video decoding for a power saving of 92% compared with software decoding and a power supply IC consumes about 20% less power than its predecessor. On the performance front, a graphics core boosts 3D rendering performance for realistic GUIs and better user operability.

Taking operability a step further, NXP and Continental collaborated on a concept car they brought to Mobile World Congress to demo near field communication (NFC) technology for secure short range communication. “We will all use NFC in our cars in the next few years,” insists NXP XVP Ruediger Stroh, as an increasing number of NFC-enabled handsets enter the market.

u-blox, near field communication, Telematics, NXP Semiconductors, Mobile World Congress, GPS modules, Renesas, Continental AG

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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