Smart PCBs for smaller ECUs: Infineon invests in PCB manufacturer

November 26, 2014 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Smart PCBs for smaller ECUs: Infineon invests in PCB manufacturer
Chipmaker Infineon has invested into PCB manufacturer Schweizer Electronic AG. The move enables Infineon to shrink automotive ECUs, in particular in future 48V applications. But also industrial applications could benefit.

According to a joint press release from Infineon and Schweizer, the chipmaker has acquired 9.4% of Schweizer's shares at an undisclosed amount. The move underscores Infineon's intention to jointly develop technologies that aim at the integration of power semiconductors into the printed circuit board. The goal is developing the ability to embed high-power semiconductors for automotive and industrial applications into the PCBs: While today PCBs are populated with electronic components on both sides, Schweizer's technology allows for the integration of these chips inside the PCB. The result: The overall size of the PCB and thus of the ECU is shrinking, offering benefits for vehicle systems with space limitations such as electrical power steering, electrical pumps or active suspension. This design also allows for better cooling.

This offers advantages in particular for applications that consume high power which in turn made it necessary to cool down the power semiconductors with high effort. Examples are compressors for air conditioning which consume up to 2 kW. In addition, the automotive industry expects that in the future a 48V supply network will complement existing 12V supply in passenger vehicles. Since higher supply voltage enables even power levels, the 48V supply would enable OEMs to add hybrid drive functionality even for vehicles in the lower and middle price range. So-called "eTurbos" with an electric power in the range between 5kW and 20kW could be implemented more easy with "embedded" power devices, Infineon said.

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