Companion chip is designed specifically for automotive use

27th May 2015
Siobhan O'Gorman

Carmakers are increasingly turning their attention to powerful application processors made by major chip manufacturers from the consumer electronics sector. However, because these were not originally designed for automotive use, they are seldom equipped with the interfaces needed for this application. The Socionext MB86R91 APIX companion chip communication and video bridge offers vehicle manufacturers an automotive version to interconnect the growing number of in-car displays with consumer grade chips, while at the same time reducing costs.

The chip enables the connection of modern high-performance application processors via various standard interfaces, such as single or dual OpenLDI flat panel display links and DRGB888. The fully integrated high speed APIX2 transmitters, with a downlink data rate of 3Gb/s and an uplink rate of 187.5Mb/s, allow up to three high-resolution remote displays to be connected in parallel.

Typical automotive resolutions of up to 1920x720 pixels with 24-bit colour depth per connection are supported, as is the transmission of touch information. The connections offer complete flexibility, allowing a system architecture to use different resolutions. The integrated APIX2 receiver enables the connection of a video source whose input can be forwarded for processing to the application processor.

A typical application in a vehicle would be a driver information system with a freely programmable cluster display, a head up display and a central information display, all of which can be addressed simultaneously. Different combinations of passenger displays, control panels and central information systems, with touchscreen if required, are easy to implement.

The savings that can be made with the MB86R91 APIX companion chip on the transmitter side are also possible on the display side, thanks to Socionext's Indigo family of graphics controllers. As the number of remote display units in vehicles continues to increase, automobile manufacturers are giving priority to reducing their cost per screen. The Indigo family provides a remote control of the display, removing the need for the MCU on the display side. In addition, the graphics controllers eliminate CAN and TCON connections.

The MB86R91 APIX companion chip is shipping now. Evaluation boards and the remote software framework are available, allowing different suppliers to carry out their development independently of each other.

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