By T Murrali:
Infineon Technologies India Private Limited (ITIPL), part of the Munich-based semiconductor company, Infineon, is aiding its automotive clients become future-ready by developing chips which are highly efficient and fast. This helps them reduce the size of the components and comply with the present and future safety and emission norms.
The company has aligned itself with the megatrends like electrification and automation that shape the automotive market. It anticipates increase in the use of semiconductors in every vehicle.
“With the many new norms, the amount of computations that a vehicle or its parts need to do has increased or will increase. The challenge is to produce devices which have to be small but big in their computation power. They have to become faster and more efficient,” Girish Kamala, Director and Country Head, SMD Automotive, Infineon Technologies India, told AutoParts Asia, during an interaction.
ITIPL is also working towards putting different functionalities in one chip. “In any PCB (printed circuit board), different ICs (integrated circuits), perform different functions. We have developed a family of products keeping the footprint (space occupied in the PCB) of the chip the same. Additional features are added to the chip itself, so that the OEM will not have to do a complete redesign of their PCB assembly,” he said, adding that the company is doing this with lighting products by adding multiple functions in a single chip.
ITIPL offers clusters of sensors rather than different sensors for different functionalities like measuring different variables or gathering information collected by a vehicle. Some are mere sensors and some are sensor actuators. The company is also working on reducing resistance to contain the amount of heat dissipated and increasing efficiency. This is the kind of basic building block that the company produces, Kamala added.
The German company which is present in over 70 countries operates in four sectors: Automotive, Digital securities solutions, Industrial products (industrial power control or IPC) and Power Management and Multimarket.
In India, ITIPL is headquartered in Bengaluru with offices in Pune, Delhi and Chennai. It recently opened a new sales and technical support office in Noida to expand its presence in North India, which is also equipped with a comprehensive lab for development of applications and solutions across industrial, automotive and security applications.
To support the growing Indian market, a new lab in the heart of the automotive hub of Pune was established in 2018 which focuses on developing two-wheeler electronic applications and supports the requirements of the local market. Globally it has manufacturing facilities in China, Europe and the US.
The Indian operations mostly involve sales, marketing and application development, software development and design services for OEMs and Tier-1 suppliers. It also develops solutions for microcontrollers. Going forward specific applications will also be developed, which the end user can directly apply and re-programme.
The company in India is focusing on power-related applications for its automotive business. Even though it is not present in the infotainment business, it has expertise in connectivity where it has some security solutions.
Infineon’s products in India are mainly for safety, electrification, comfort and aesthetics. It produces chips for sensor-related products, LED lights and body control modules. It does software and hardware development for electric vehicles also. As a proof of concept, “We have converted an IC engine bike to an electric vehicle,” Kamala said emphasising his company’s focus on futuristic products. This vehicle was showcased at the recently concluded event – SIAT, in Pune. The company also showcased its range of magnet-based wheel sensors for two-wheeler application and small engine starter kit for EFI.
“We are already delivering some electric vehicle solutions for two-wheelers and three-wheelers, supporting our local two-wheeler customers with proof of concepts enabling shorter R&D cycle time. We do hand-hold our customers so that they can produce for their requirements. We do support them by doing EMI (Electromagnetic interference) and field tests. This comes in handy since lot of Tier-1 companies in India that mainly manufacture mechanical components, are currently diversifying into electronic components,” he added.
On the roadmap for ITIPL, he said, “We are not developing products for tomorrow; for us the development cycle for a product is three to five years. We do play a very important role in the automotive industry by supporting the future requirements. There are two aspects with all the different norms and regulations coming in; firstly, the cost is a driving force, however, the important issue is the amount of current drawn in the system. One cannot put devices that draw a lot of power. Because of different regulations the amount of computations that need to be done by the devices significantly increases. Therefore, the challenge that we face is that the device needs to be small, the computation power should be more while it has to be faster and effective. This is where we come in since many of our development work goes in reducing the amount of resistance and heat dissipation.”
With Tier-1 suppliers as its main customers, ITIPL wants to further its business across automotive, lighting, electric vehicles, home appliances, UPS, and industrial applications, he said. On the challenges for the company he said, it is primarily on the efforts to put more memory and computation capabilities into the chip, without increasing the size. Yet another challenge is in dissipating heat so that it does not affect other systems or the end-user. When it tries to add multiple chips, it also works, in parallel, on how to optimise the cabling, since every additional wiring increases resistance, eventually increasing the overall load to the battery.
On the difference in approach between the domestic players and multi-national companies, he said, it is very specific depending on the requirements. In terms of openness to use semiconductors, the willingness of multi-national companies is higher than the local customers and this is primarily due to the cost factor. For instance, to replace an electro-mechanical device with a semiconductor chip, there could be two impediments – cost of semiconductors and the need for redesigning the wiring systems, which may not be conducive for the customers. In this scenario Infineon supports those customers in their re-development process, since the evolution to new methods will help them reduce the weight and footprint while enhancing reliability significantly, Kamala said.
Infineon Technologies AG is a world leader in semiconductor solutions that make life easier, safer and greener. In fiscal year 2018 that ended on September 30, the company reported sales of €7.6 billion with about 40,100 employees worldwide.