NXP radar SoC enables 360-degree surround sensing

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By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Radar technology for vehicles is developing rapidly, with range and resolution, including vertical, reaching new dimensions. To enable more demanding applications with this, NXP has developed a new radar SoC.

The SAF85xx combines a radar front-end and a multicore processor for signal processing on one chip with 40% more computing performance than its predecessors. At the same time, the newcomer offers twice the RF performance – a result of NXP’s advanced RFCMOS technology. With this, the Dutch chipmaker aims to enable customers to implement 360-degree radar-based environmental sensing that, unlike radar systems commonly used today, also identifies objects located above street level. However, the NXP chip is not intended as a replacement for lidar systems, the company admits: The resolution is not sufficient for that after all.

The chip, which is manufactured in 28nm technology and is based on NXP’s introduced S32R radar platform, contains four 77 GHz transmitters and receivers each. A hardware accelerator is integrated into the multicore radar processor, as is a Gigabit Ethernet interface. With these features, the device offers developers the ability to implement safety-related ADAS applications such as automatic hazard braking and blind spot detection. Automotive supplier Denso has added the NXP chip to their portfolio as a launch customer. Vehicle manufacturers will benefit from the increasing penetration of radar sensors as well as the increased flexibility offered by the SAF85xx to meet ever-growing NCAP safety requirements. According to analyst estimates, the number of sensors per vehicle will grow to five or more in the future.

In combination with NXP’s power management and networking solutions, the system solution can flexibly cover a wide range of current and future OEM requirements. Developers will benefit from the seamless performance scalability of the S32R family as well as the advantages of reusing software and hardware designs.

“Our new Radar One chip family ensures reliable detection of objects over long distances and separation of small objects near larger objects, such as a fast-moving motorcycle next to cars and trucks on a busy, multi-lane highway,” said Torsten Lehmann, executive vice president at NXP Semiconductors. “The compact form factor allows our customers to build radar sensor modules that are up to 30 percent smaller. This gives global driver assistance system providers the ability to more fully realize the safety potential of radar using this powerful new technology.”

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