Project: Fully Integrated CMOS-based Car Radio chip

Background_x000D_Since the first development of car radios, many things have changed resulting in increasing demands regarding audio quality and extended functionality. When initially only AM-radio signal reception was used to play radiostations, currently a multitude of transmission and coding standards have arisen for analog and digital radio signal, e.g. AM, FM, Weather Band, DAB and DRM. In order to enable the reception of all these radio signals, multiple tuners are implemented in modern car radios. _x000D__x000D_Next to radio reception, other audio equipment has been added like cassette players, compact discs or mp3-player facilities. Nowadays, even more functionalities are becoming more common too. The car radio has become an indispensible piece of car equipment with optional implementations like navigation, internal storage (solid state memories, HDD), RDS-based data provision, DVD, TV-reception or even a wireless internet connection, resulting in a complex car infotainment system._x000D__x000D_Besides the increase of functionality, audio quality improvement forms a continuous development issue to meet the increasing quality demands of consumers, matching their (stationary) home audio equipment. The car radio receiver is a very complex device due to the continuous movement of the car. It has to cope with areal signal strength variations and disturbances that occur from varying distances towards the emitting broadcast antenna, switching from one antenna to another, self-interference of the signal due to reflections from obstacles, e.g. large buildings, and the interference of neighbouring radio channels. Disturbances occur from electromagnetic signals from electrical and electronic equipment that can be found in all modern cars or from ignition or electric motors. These signals regularly are transmitted in the same frequency band as the radio signals and therefore generate noise that reduces the audio quality._x000D__x000D_Problem and goal_x000D_Further development of the car radio concerns the increasing functionality and desire for higher sound quality. There are two aspects of consideration in this process. Firstly, there is the technological challenge to implement all functionalities and improve quality under the difficult circumstances of the car environment. With this technological difficulty of increasing number of components, issues like an increasingly complex system design and manufacturability arise. Secondly, there is the economical side. While the number of functionalities and components increase, the price needs to be kept as low as possible for commercial attractiveness._x000D__x000D_Approach_x000D_This project aims for the development of a car radio consisting of one single integrated circuit (chip) manufactured in the modern CMOS technology. The chip comprises multiple tuners and several innovative, newly patented digital audio processing and enhancing techniques. By this integration the system complexity is taken out of the hands of the car radio manufacturer. A top quality car radio solution is developed at a very attractive price and a lower use of strategic materials; very few electronic components additional to the chips are used. A low energy consumption also enables use in portable applications._x000D__x000D_Project Ps_x000D_The SME’s Semiconductors Ideas to the Market (ItoM) B.V. (NL), Axiom IC B.V. (NL) and the large corporation ST Microelectronics Srl (I) jointly want to realize the goal of a Fully Integrated CMOS Car Radio Integrated Circuit (FICCaR IC). The Ps have ample experience in electronics for radio signal reception and enhancement. The SME's are renowned for their innovative solutions in complex semiconductor circuitry. However, to implement and exploit this Intellectual Property, additional technical knowledge, the manufacturing capabilities ánd the marketing strength of a semiconductor manufacturing company is required._x000D__x000D_Within ItoM, a large amount of knowledge is available of CMOS RF designs and advanced technology for digital signal processing and improvement of analog signal reception. Several highly innovative techniques that have been patented or subject to patent applications will be applied when generating the innovative chip._x000D__x000D_Axiom will develop new technological solutions enabling fast and efficient Analog-Digital converters, devices which are indispensible to convert the analog radio signal into a digital bit stream which can be further processed for radio signal selection and optimization._x000D__x000D_ST, as one of the market leaders in car infotainment, plays an important role in this project in the design and front-end manufacturing as well as research for and development of the reception and integration of AM and DAB L-band at low IC voltages of maximally 1.2 V in 55 nm-CMOS. The scope will be on designing low noise amplifiers, mixers and other analog circuitries. Besides, ST will be the manufacturer of the products with the integrated CMOS tuner and will bring these commercial products to the market._x000D_

Acronym FICCaR (Reference Number: 7857)
Duration 01/09/2012 - 31/12/2014
Project Topic In the FICCaR project, two Dutch SME chip development companies co-operate with semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics in Italy in order to research and develop new technologies which should enable the Ps to realise a completely integrated, one chip, all standard car radio receiver.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The project participants delivered a fully integrated CMOS-based car radio chip. STMicroelectronics cooperated with ItoM and Axiom IC, two Dutch SME chip development companies in research and developed new technologies which resulted in realizing a completely integrated, one chip, all standard car radio receiver.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 9

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
3 Semiconductor Ideas to the Market (ItoM) B.V. Coordinator Netherlands
3 STMicroelectronics SRL Partner Italy
3 Axiom IC B.V. Partner Netherlands