How to drive the future development of in-vehicle infotainment systems?

No matter where you are, you will hear the phrase “the car of the future.” As the auto industry continues to make the leap with self-driving cars, what will the driving experience be like when people don’t actually need to drive the car themselves?

This is no longer a hypothetical question. In-car entertainment systems will become even more important as our attention will no longer be focused on operating the vehicle. The trend is set to accelerate as increasingly attractive infotainment systems already allow drivers and passengers to fully enjoy driving while gathering vital information about their cars and journeys.

Judging from the concept cars shown at the global auto show, these infotainment systems will no longer be contained only in the center console, but will extend to the entire instrument panel (see Figure 1), as well as the steering wheel, front seat headrests, Even screens on windshields with heads-up displays allow drivers to see directions and other important information without having to take their eyes off the road.

  How to drive the future development of in-vehicle infotainment systems?

Figure 1: Example of a future infotainment system (digital cockpit) spanning most of the dashboard

These increasingly complex systems will provide drivers and passengers with numerous unexpected benefits in the head unit or integrated cockpit, such as navigation, car diagnostic information, wireless and Bluetooth® connectivity, music selection and video entertainment, etc. Requires a lot of data processing. In addition, not only will the number and size of screens used to Display this information increase, but the resolution will also increase, requiring more power.

Today, infotainment systems powered by car batteries typically use 3A to 4A to power the processor and display. That’s just enough to power one monitor. This power level can also adequately support the processor. But larger, more displays increase power requirements accordingly, with many systems requiring 6A of battery current and some complex systems requiring 8A to 10A.

As a result, engineers need to look for DC/DC buck converter and controller products that provide the power, electromagnetic interference (EMI) performance, and efficiency required for these types of applications. As infotainment systems rely on the car’s battery for power, efficient power solutions will become increasingly important in order to minimize the heat released by the system while ensuring that the battery does not dissipate excessive heat when the car is turned off.

The LM5143-Q1 is an example of a device that addresses these issues. This low quiescent current two-phase controller easily supports the 8 to 10A output current found in the latest infotainment systems. Given the thermal challenges that arise at these higher output currents, the LM5143-Q1 and its external FETs provide an attractive solution with their additional flexibility.

Plus, the LM61460-Q1’s peak efficiency exceeds 93% at common load currents (see Figure 2), minimizing heat dissipation and allowing you to focus on other aspects of your design. The device’s good EMI performance is a top priority for infotainment systems, helping to minimize noise near FM broadcasts (which cause audible noise) and near other systems where EMI can affect normal operation.

  

Figure 2: Efficiency of the LM61460-Q1

The future of the infotainment market is very exciting, but high-power infotainment systems also face special challenges, such as heat dissipation and the need to reduce overall solution size. The LM5143-Q1 and LM61460-Q1 DC/DC solutions can help address these challenges and meet the growing demand for high-current buck converters.

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