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Semiconductors enable over 90% of innovations in automotive industry

The automotive industry is undergoing a transformation with electrification and software-defined vehicles. In this interaction with Hitesh Garg, Vice President and India Country Manager at NXP Semiconductors, we discussed the role semiconductors play in automotive technology and NXP Semiconductors’ current areas of focus.

How does NXP Semiconductors envision its role in the areas of electrification and software-defined vehicles (SDVs)?

NXP is at the forefront of both of these key transformations. We offer a broad portfolio ranging from electrification solutions to solutions that help accelerate the transition to software-defined vehicles.

NXP’s Electrification integrated e-powertrain solutions manage the flow of energy in EVs with precision to extend driving range and keep vehicles on the road longer. With complete system solutions for EVs, NXP’s electrification solutions deliver optimized performance and integrated safety that OEMs need and are designed for scalability and compatibility across fleets, including 2-wheelers.

The solutions cover smart bi-directional charging, on-board charging, battery management systems, traction motor inverter control and advanced gate drivers.

Our automotive processors are optimized for the consolidation of EV functions, including an “EV on-a-Chip” called the S32E and multiple S32K3 processors. These are ideal for battery management systems, where we offer battery cell controllers and sensors and the S32K39 mcu for dual traction inverter control (dual EV motors), including the isolated HV Gate Driver for IGBT or Silicon Carbide MOSFET-based applications.

NXP looks at SDVs holistically and offers optimized silicon, software, and system solutions from sensors to the cloud, including cloud-based DevOps support, to accelerate carmakers’ SDV development. Our adaptive system solutions support any architecture, from domain to zonal, and are designed to provide a platform for continual vehicle improvements through software updates. Our vehicle network processing and interface solutions (Ethernet switches and transceivers) enable advanced SDV architectures to be implemented by carmakers.

What specific advancements in semiconductor technology have had a significant impact on the automotive sector?

Semiconductor technology has advanced into lower geometries, such as 16 nanometers and 5 nanometers, enabling an incredible amount of integration and high-performance compute power to bring this intelligence to the automotive industry. NXP has been leading the way to drive new innovations, levels of integration and performance to enable the new intelligent vehicles that are becoming software-defined with leading-edge, automotive-qualified semiconductor technology.

With the advancement of semiconductor technology, there is a consolidation of processing into more advanced System-on-Chips (SoCs). SoCs allow vehicles to become simplified from a hardware perspective with fewer boxes and wires to decrease complexity and weight, which is important to extend the range of EVs and reduce costs. The new architectures that use these devices are now able to support continual over-the-air updates to improve over time. Safer, more secure, more efficient, and more features. Semiconductors are the catalyst for the digital transformation of the automotive industry.

How does NXP Semiconductors contribute to the development of software-defined architectures?

NXP enables SDVs from end to end. We offer optimized silicon, including SoCs that are designed to consolidate many mixed-criticality functions while maintaining safety and security, with freedom from interference. This is fundamental to enabling the consolidated SDV software. We extend to software support and cloud-based DevOps and machine learning support that allows SDVs to get smarter and better over time, including support for over-the-air updates. NXP’s technology and enablement is tailored to cover car OEMs’ ever-diversifying needs, complemented by a strong partner ecosystem to provide added value and services on our platforms.

Currently, what are the main focus areas for NXP Semiconductors India?

NXP Semiconductors in India are focusing on electrification, SDVs, ADAS, smart access, connectivity and infotainment applications. We are leveraging all of the NXP system solutions and silicon to enable multiple Indian OEMs to bring new EV and SDV products to market.

We also work closely with multi-national automotive companies in India to develop products for other regions and support automotive ecosystem partners that provide turnkey solutions, engineering services and software solutions that run on NXP automotive platforms to support global T1 and OEMs. NXP EV technologies are also extending into the Indian market for intelligent, connected electric 2- and 3-wheel vehicles, so we can scale our technology from passenger vehicles to electric scooters and motorcycles.

Could you provide us with additional information regarding your India operations? Specifically, which solutions and products are produced at your facilities in India?

India is one of the largest R&D Design centers and is the innovation hub for NXP, employing more than 3200 engineers across 4 locations in Bangalore, Noida, Hyderabad and Pune. NXP India engineers are working on cutting-edge technologies and developing innovative hardware and software solutions for global clients in automotive, digital payments, 5G and more. In automotive, we are focusing on major domains like electrification, Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) and connected car infotainment.

Our team is dedicated to working on AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning for smart algorithm development for autonomous vehicle brains. For our IoT portfolio, we have expertise in security and provide a range of ICs for smart cards, tags, labels and readers featuring many coprocessor, security, memory and interface options.

How do NXP Semiconductors solutions address cybersecurity concerns related to modern vehicles?

NXP takes a holistic approach to security across all parts of its organization, based on proven policies and security processes, which were validated to comply with the new standard ISO/SAE 21434 through an audit by TÜV SÜD.

A dedicated Competence Center for Crypto and Security ensures NXP products have adequate security for their intended applications and systems. NXP is also actively working on emerging technologies such as Ultra-Wideband for secure car access, and on postquantum cryptography to address future attacks with quantum computers. For example, last year, NXP announced that a specialized security algorithm co-authored by NXP security experts has been selected by NIST to become part of an industry global standard designed to counter quantum threats.

For the automotive processing area, we leverage a common security approach in our S32 vehicle compute platform to support end-to-end security using a Hardware Security Engine (HSE) that supports public key infrastructure (PKI) asymmetric cryptography, symmetric cryptos, side-channel attack measures, key management and trusted boot capability. Our devices address the encryption, authentication, and access control needs to protect critical software and vehicle/driver data within the vehicle.

We work across the vehicle to address security concerns in modern vehicles beyond the processors with a layered approach, which includes the use of secure element devices, secure CAN interface transceivers and more because security has to be end-to-end.

This interview was first published in EVreporter Sep 2023 magazine.

Also Read: NXP and Mahindra collaborate for smart e-mobility solutions.

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