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ADI, Infineon collaborate on automotive airbag systems

MUNICH, Germany — Semiconductor vendors Analog Devices Inc (ADI). and Infineon Technologies have announced to jointly develop automotive airbag control systems. The companies see the biggest growth potential for such products in the fast-growing emerging markets.

The companies plan to create airbag system hardware design platforms that help tier ones to reduce time-to-market and at the same time reduce their costs. ADI will contribute MEMS-based acceleration sensors and gyroscopes while Infineon take the task of integrating the entire system which embraces microcontrollers, sensor interface building blocks, CAN and LIN communication units, power supply and the driver circuits for the airbag squibs.

Within the scope of the cooperation, the companies plan to address both the issues of time pressure for design engineers as well as cost pressure. “In emerging markets tier ones have limited experience and expertise with the design of such devices,” said Stefan Steyerl, Director Automotive Sales Europe for ADI. “Such a hardware platform allows them to focus on their core expertise in developing airbag control algorithms.”

In the automotive airbag chipset business, Infineon, Freescale and ST lead the market. The automotive MEMS sensor market is dominated by Bosch, ST and Freescale. Steyerl estimates that in 2008, 55 million airbag control systems have been sold globally.

While the automotive market currently is declining, the companies believe the market for airbag control systems will grow at a speed of 9 percent over the next years, driven by the emerging markets in the first place. In these markets the penetration with airbag systems still is significantly below 100 percent and the systems will become increasingly complex, explained Fredrik Öberg, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Infineon. Simple systems with one or two airbags will be displaced by more sophisticated systems with multiple airbags. And additional features such as pretensioners or pre-crash sensors will add up to the semiconductor demand associated to these systems. “We believe the semiconductor demand will continue to increase,” Öberg said.

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