Automotive audio ICs deliver strong RF performance

25th March 2015
Barney Scott

Silicon Labs has introduced a complete portfolio of receivers/audio processors and multi-standard digital radio ICs designed to deliver high AM/FM and digital radio performance for the global car radio market. The Si479xx family of AM/FM receivers and digital radio tuners delivers a benchmark for car radio reception performance with on-chip audio processing at the lowest system cost.

The Si46xx family, which includes single-chip digital radio-coprocessors and data receivers, provides an advanced digital radio audio decoding and data reception solution for analog and digital radio.

According to IHS Automotive, global automotive sales for 2015 will reach 88.6m light vehicle units, with China leading the volume growth. Many of today’s vehicles feature sophisticated infotainment systems with multiple tuner ICs and antennas to support Maximal Ratio Combining (MRC) for digital radio, FM phase diversity reception, Radio Data System (RDS) info-navigation data, and digital radio standards such as HD Radio and DAB. Silicon Labs developed the Si479xx and Si46xx portfolio to address the global demand for advanced car radio technology supporting all worldwide broadcast radio bands.

SiLabs says its Si479xx family of analogue AM/FM receivers and digital radio tuners sets a standard for automotive broadcast reception. Leveraging SiLabs’ patented low-IF digital architecture, the Si479xx family delivers superior RF performance and interference rejection for car radio applications.

The RF CMOS design, combined with comprehensive AM/FM firmware, sets a high bar for key automotive radio metrics, such as sensitivity in weak signal environments, selectivity in the presence of blockers, and immunity to multipath fading and distortion. An integrated audio subsystem provides a solution to synchronise, process and distribute digital and audio signals in the automotive head-unit.

To reduce time-to-market for developers, Silicon Labs offers four-channel and six-channel audio post-processing reference designs. In addition, Silicon Labs provides an SDK that simplifies porting of third-party algorithms to the audio subsystem.

Silicon Labs’ Si462x data receiver family offers a comprehensive, cost-effective platform that supports analogue and digital radio by integrating a multiband RF tuner, demodulator and channel decoder on a single die. The Si462x receivers provide significant advances in size, power consumption and performance over all other solutions in the market to enable HD Radio and DAB/DAB+ data services in automotive infotainment systems and car radios. The Si462x family’s high level of single-chip integration simplifies infotainment system design cycles.

The Si461x digital radio coprocessors provide channel demodulation and source decoding of HD Radio and DAB/DAB+ digital radio. The Si461x coprocessors minimise the system BOM by eliminating the external RAM memory module for channel decoding typically required by competing digital radio processors. All Si461x/2x IC products are HD Radio certified by iBiquity, giving automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers the assurance that these devices have gone through rigorous testing and meet or exceed iBiquity’s high-performance digital radio requirements.

Silicon Labs’ complete radio system comprising receivers/tuners, coprocessors and data receivers enables industry-leading performance at the lowest external system BOM cost. For example, Si479xx integrated active loop-through buffers eliminate the need for external RF splitters, simplifying design for applications requiring a data receiver for background scanning and real-time traffic information. The Si479xx audio subsystem, with integrated ADCs and DACs, and the Si461x digital radio coprocessors with integrated RAM for channel decoding, eliminate numerous external components, resulting in significant cost savings and reduced board area.

The Si479xx/Si46xx portfolio provides a scalable architecture suited to support multiple segments across the global automotive infotainment market. Leveraging the portfolio, Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs can reuse their R&D across multiple product lines ranging from entry level to premium automotive radio systems. For example, a single global PCB can be designed with options to use Si461x coprocessors or Si462x data receivers as needed to enable RDS, HD Radio and DAB/DAB+. All Si479xx/Si46xx devices share a common API, enabling developers to reuse the same software across different product lines and market segments.

“As a leading tuner supplier for broadcast applications with more than 1.2bn ‘radio-on-a-chip’ ICs shipped to date, Silicon Labs is committed to helping automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers enhance the performance of car radio systems while reducing system cost and complexity,” said James Stansberry, Senior Vice President and General Manager, IoT and broadcast products, Silicon Labs. “Our Si479xx/Si46xx portfolio provides a complete platform for developing a wide range of systems for the global automotive infotainment market, ranging from entry-level car radios to multi-tuner, multi-antenna designs.”

Samples of Si479xx receivers and tuners and Si46xx coprocessors and data receivers are available now. To accelerate development, the Si4791-3T1A-EVB evaluation kit is available for $1495 (USD).

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