New Chip Could Simplify V2X Development

NXP Semiconductors N.V. today is rolling out a single-chip, global platform solution for so-called “V2X” communication, which promotes highway safety by allowing vehicles to talk each other and to roadside infrastructure.

Known as the SAF5400, the single-chip technology is said to be the first to offer global implementation capabilities, meaning that the same hardware can be used for the communication standards employed in vehicles around the world. “The message here is that this one chip can serve markets in the US, Europe and Japan,” Thomas Hinz, director of V2X marketing and business development for NXP Semiconductors. “So the engineers don’t need to re-qualify this again and again for every market, and there’s a significant reduction in work for the carmaker.”

The rollout could benefit automakers because the US and European V2X systems use a dedicated short range communication (DSRC) technology operating in the 5.9-GHz radio frequency range, while Japan uses 760 MHz. By employing a common hardware that’s applicable to all regional standards, vehicle engineers would only need to change the software configuration to satisfy each region.

The rollout comes at a significant time in the evolution of V2X, also known as “vehicle-to-everything,” technology. Last December, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking, calling for all automakers to install DRSC radios in new vehicles. The proposed schedule would require 50% of new cars to have DSRC by 2021, 75% by 2022, and 100% by 2023.

 

NXP’s SAF5400 single-chip modem enables automakers to install V2X communication capabilities, enabling vehicles to “talk” to each other and to roadside infrastructure. (Source: NXP Semiconductors N.V.)

 

The DSRC radios would serve as the linchpin of V2X, which is said to be one of the most powerful safety technologies in the automotive arena. Using V2X, vehicles will be able to communicate with each other, as well as with traffic lights, stop signs, municipalities and traffic control centers. By doing so, cars and trucks will know who’s around them, whether they should stay in their lanes or slow down, or whether another driver is about to blow a stop sign or stop light. V2X could also enable “platooning,” in which trucks travel in groups down a highway. Experts estimate that V2X could cut traffic fatalities by at least 60%, and possibly by as much as 90%.

NXP’s new product would enable V2X communication by serving as a single-chip DRSC modem in vehicles and in roadside infrastructure. Because it is single-chip, the company’s engineers say it could be easily placed on board other communication modules around the vehicle, such as those used for telematics or even advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) for autonomous cars. By doing so, the chip would help engineers save precious space around the vehicle, the company said.

“If you look at a telematics box today, you see that there are other functions in there, not just V2X,” Hinz said. “So there is very limited space.”

NXP’s new product replaces two-chip solutions, which typically include a transceiver chip and a baseband chip. By employing RFCMOS (RF complementary metal oxide semiconductor) technology, however, NXP was able to integrate both the transceiver and baseband functionality into a single chip, Hinz said.

Hinz added that the new chip also incorporates SXF1800, a dedicated NXP security element based on technology used in electronic passports, banking cards and smartphones. The technology helps by offering resistance to physical probing and tampering, while also securing radio communication.

The new product’s most important advancement, however, will likely be the simplicity that the it brings to the implementation of V2X, especially in vehicle platforms that cross regional lines. “It’s a matter of development effort,” Hinz told us. “If you need to develop four or five solutions for different regions, that’s a lot of effort. With this chip, you don’t need to do that.”

Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 33 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.


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