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Holding out for a HERO

John Day

John Day

Posted Dec 20, 2010

This week NXP Semiconductors announced a chip it developed under the code name HERO (highly efficient radio one), an “all-in-one” automotive radio chip based on automotive-qualified RF CMOS technology. Alpine Electronics raves about it.

Torsten Lehmann, NXP’s VP of car entertainment solutions, says chips in the HERO (TEF663x) family are the first automotive RF CMOS devices to combine AM/FM radio and audio signal post processing in a single IC. Previously a tuner, radio DSP, and audio post-processing DSP cores were separate ICs.

Lehmann says combining the RF CMOS front-end with mixed signal PLL and audio codecs improves (lowers) power consumption by more than 30%, and lower power consumption is prized, considering the proliferation of electronic features in cars these days. NXP’s new car radio chips also reduce external component requirements by about half and board space requirements by more than half, plus they have the potential to lower design costs and reduce RF risk.

A co-processor, SAF356x, allows customers to add support for HD radio, DRM, and single or dual tuner DAB/DAB+/T-DMB. When used with the SAF356x the TEF663x can support all major analog radio and terrestrial digital radio standards, which eliminates the need for automakers to source different parts for different geographic regions. That should lead to lower costs and streamlined supply chain logistics in the auto radio chip category.

Lehmann says the TEF663x chips have design wins in every global region, and the chips will be in production in the first half of 2011. “Integrating NXP’s TEF663x into our platform was seamless and with shorter development cycles,” says Kiyoshi Katsuki, vice general manager and senior manager OEM design department of Alpine Electronics. “TEF663x will be a cost effective solution for Alpine and will strengthen our relationship with NXP. We depend on NXP for the development of our automotive infotainment innovations in radio and audio processor technologies.”

automotive radio, RF CMOS, NXP Semiconductors, audio codecs, Alpine Electronics, automotive infotainment

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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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