Demand for radar systems boosts Infineon’s chip production

Demand for radar systems boosts Infineon’s chip production

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By eeNews Europe

Operating at frequencies up to 77 GHz, radar chips identify objects at distances of up to 250 metres. For the radar semiconductors in 77 GHz radar systems, the Munich-based chipmaker claims a market share of almost 50%; the most important competitors are Freescale and NXP.

The first ten million of these radar chips from Infineon were primarily built into premium and luxury vehicles over the past six years. The semiconductor company anticipates increasing demand and expects that, within the next year, up to ten million radar chips will also be used in mid-sized and compact cars. This means that statistically one out of every twenty cars will be using a driver assistance system with a 77-GHz radar chip from Infineon.

Market research firm Strategy Analytics confirmed this trend towards safety systems in cars. They expect that in the next five years applications such as distance warning systems and automatic emergency braking will grow by more than 25 percent annually. This growth is in part attributable to the rating scheme from the independent organization Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme), that reviews the safety of new vehicles sold in Europe. To achieve the highest rating of five stars, a new car must have a radar-based driver assistance system. Strategy Analytics forecasts that of the 105 million new vehicles expected to be built in 2020 more than 20 million will use a radar-based distance warning system. This would mean that about 20 percent of all new vehicles worldwide would be equipped with such a system.

”Our chips make driver assistance systems increasingly accurate and more cost-effective,”. ”Radar-based driver assistance systems using Infineon chips now are becoming the standard in mid-range and compact cars”, said Jochen Hanebeck, President of the Infineon’s automotive division. “They are an important growth market for Infineon. Our high system knowledge and close cooperation with leading system suppliers and car manufacturers around the world are key elements to our success,” says Hanebeck.

Even in poor visibility situations, radar chips in the 77-GHz range make it possible for vehicles to ”recognize” other road users at a distance of up to 250 meters (approx. 275 yards). Radar technology also works under fog and rainfall – in a certain contrast to competing lidar technology and even more so to camera-based image processing. This allows a car to indicate a hazardous traffic situation in time and brake automatically.

In addition to 77-GHz radar chips for active safety systems, Infineon also offers radar chips in the 24-GHz frequency range for distances up to 100 meters (approx. 110 yards). 24-GHz radar chips are most often used to monitor the blind spot. With them, the radar system alerts drivers to vehicles behind them when passing or changing lanes. When parking, the radar detects cross-traffic in the rear and prevents collisions.

A vehicle driver assistance radar system sends out radio-frequency electromagnetic waves, which are reflected back by vehicles or other objects ahead. Radar chips send and receive these high-frequency signals and pass them on to the radar electronic control unit (ECU). The radar ECU then determines the distance of the car to other vehicles and their speed in order to warn the driver in good time and to initiate the braking maneuver in case of emergency.

Since 2009, Infineon manufactures its radar chips in Regensburg, the company’s innovation center for high frequency technology in Germany. Here the radar chips are integrated in special chip packaging and tested. The use of the silicon germanium manufacturing technology developed by Infineon helps make radar sensor systems that are more compact and cost-effective.

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