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Analog Chip Makers Are Moving from Consumer Electronics to Automotive Applications


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The following article is an excerpt from the Elecfans report "Advancement of Local Analog Chip Makers: From Consumer Electronics to the Automotive Supply Chain," by Liang Haobin.

In recent years, the consumer electronics market has been used as an important growth point of the global semiconductor market, and now this important growth point has begun to turn to the industry, automotive and other fields. Recently, Ken Ye, Marketing Director of NOVOSENSE, accepted the interview from the media Elecfans. He analyzed the differences in demand for chip products in different application scenarios such as consumer electronics and automotive, and shared the practice and experience of NOVOSENSE, as one of the representatives of analog chip manufacturers, expanding from consumer electronics to industrial and automotive applications.


The fastest growing demand in automotive market

According to IC Insights, the dedicated analog chip application will account for 27.35% of shares in the automotive market in 2022, making it the second largest application market for dedicated analog chips, after communications; Automotive market is also the fastest growing downstream market for dedicated analog chips, which is expected to grow by 17% in 2022.

From consumer electronics to the industrial and to the automotive, the working environment is becoming more and more complex, which puts forward higher requirements for the reliability of chip itself. To be specific, the stage of automotive chips entering the automotive supply chain is different from consumer electronics in many aspects, including product R&D, manufacturing and production finally, and the difference is so great that it can even be described as "another world".

On the differences in product development stages, Ken said,” To meet the demand of continuous iteration and upgrading of the downstream consumer market, a major feature of consumer electronics is rapid response to customer needs, which may be more aggressive in the product development stage, mainly considering factors such as cost and timeliness. However, the development of automotive chips has higher requirements for stability and reliability, and will be more inclined to use mature products and technologies, and will give priority to mature manufacturing processes.”

Specifically, compared with consumer and industrial chips, automotive chips pay more attention to reliability, security and long-term performance. An important indicator of reliability is failure rate, and automotive chips are expected to achieve zero failure. However, the variety and complexity of automotive chips, coupled with the high requirements on product consistency and reliability, obviously put forward high requirements for chip manufacturers.

Safety is also key for automotive chips. The automobile is related to the life safety. The premise of ensuring the automobile safety is that there should be no mistakes in the mechanical and electronic parts of the automobile to avoid unacceptable risks caused by the functional system failure. As a key part of automotive electronic system, the functional safety of automotive chip needs to be fully considered from product development to mass production, and a lot of testing and verification needs to be done before mass production of chips.

In addition, the development cycle and iteration cycle of automotive products are much longer than that of consumer electronics. For automotive chips, the forward-looking needs of customers should be met at the beginning of design in order to meet the requirements of new models from development to market verification. Furthermore, the long development cycle also means the huge investment in the early stage, including a number of vehicle certification mentioned above, which is s a big challenge for chip manufacturers in terms of technology, resources and time cost.


Exploring the key of analog chip manufacturer entering automotive supply chain

For a long time, the automotive chip supply chain has been dominated by global leading IC manufacturers. For local analog chip manufacturers, which are relatively late to the automotive market, breaking into the automotive supply chain is not an easy task, which requires not only the product to stand the test, but also the trust of the OEMs.

The persistent shortage of automotive chips over the past two years has actually created some opportunities for local analog chip makers to enter the automotive supply chain. The environment gives domestic suppliers a chance to experiment, and vehicle manufacturers and many scheme design companies are willing to try to import domestic brands.

As for the key to entering the automotive supply chain, Ken said chip companies need to work hard on quality and capacity assurance. To be specific, the automotive-qualified product must be AEC-Q100-certified, and the complete product life cycle shall be considered. "Take NOVOSENSE as an example. The company's long-term, comprehensive quality management system means that it will strictly adhere to the specifications of quality control from R&D to production. NOVOSENSE has always attached great importance to the investment in the quality system, including personnel, organizational structure, product research and development, mass production process and other sectors, which has a comprehensive quality management policy to ensure the concrete implementation and execution.” Ken added.

In addition to a complete quality system, there is also a need for reliable production capacity guarantee. How to ensure stable supply has become the number one problem for chip manufacturers, which is especially true when there is a global shortage of automotive chips this year.

"The semiconductor industry is characterized by non-just-in-time production. From customer ordering to product delivery, it usually takes several months. It is very important to establish a stable supply chain system to ensure production capacity, whether in the 'chip shortage' or 'no chip shortage' period. NOVOSENSE accumulates supply chain management experience through close cooperation and cooperation with upstream wafer foundries and package testing plants, so as to ensure operation efficiency and product quality. In the case of frequent Black Swan events in the whole industrial chain, NOVOSENSE gives play to the resilience and flexibility of its supply chain to help auto manufacturers guarantee supply.”


Accelerating development of domestic automotive-qualified analog chips

As for NOVOSENSE, Ken believes that the "chip shortage" trend has brought more opportunities for domestic chip companies to enter the automotive supply chain. However, after entering the chain, automakers will also further evaluate the professionalism, reliability and other factors of domestic chip companies. In addition, he said, NOVOSENSE focuses on the "long-term Commitment". In addition to seizing this emerging opportunity, it will also rely on its own professional capacity set-up, such as a perfect automotive-qualified quality system, a comprehensive range of automotive-qualified products and efficient supporting team, to lay a good foundation for long-term and professional service to automotive customers.

It is known that since 2016, NOVOSENSE has actively engaged in chip products applied in the field of automotive electronics. At present, it has models that meet the AEC-Q100 reliability test standards and are applied in the automotive field in three product directions covering signal sensing, system interconnection and power driver respectively. For example, the micro current sensor NSM201X series is suitable for the isolated current sampling of the NEV OBC and the PTC heater in the air conditioning thermal management system. Multi-channel digital isolator NSi82x series can be used for high voltage modules in motor, power battery and electric control systems, such as OBC, BMS, inverter, electric air compressor, PTC driver, etc. According to the application trend of silicon carbide power devices in NEVs, NSi6601M can be used for high voltage and high frequency applications. This year, NOVOSENSE also launched the LDO NSR31/33/35 series chip designed specifically for the application scenario of the automotive battery powering system, which is suitable for the automotive applications with high standby power consumption requirements.


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