Many car buyers today care more about the infotainment technologies embedded in the dashboard than what’s under the hood. Users want to be connected and have convenient access to their personal content anywhere, anytime, on all of their devices. Their vehicles become just another node in the network, an extension of the user’s digital and social lifestyle. A “connected” car is safer, more comfortable, and more energy-efficient, equipped with early access to important information such as weather reports, traffic jams, or road accidents.
A recent Gartner Research study1 confirmed that electronics are playing a major role in the advancement of automotive technology. Electronic content in cars has been steadily increasing since the first digital engine control modules were introduced in the 1980s. This trend will accelerate as advances in semiconductor technology continue to drive down the cost of various electronic modules and subsystems. With 60% of new cars expected to be connected by 2017, this megatrend is driving an explosive growth in both volatile and nonvolatile memory. New memory solutions, specifically tailored for automotive infotainment systems, are needed to provide additional storage space for rich multimedia data and advanced software and applications. In fact, the automotive segment is anticipated to be the fastest-growing market for memory solutions, growing at 9% year-over-year from 2011 to 2015.
As the innovation cycle becomes shorter and shorter, designers need “drop-in” memory solutions that are not only easy to implement, but also can meet the rigorous automotive-grade certifications for temperature and reliability. The embedded multimedia card (e.MMC) device is an interesting option—it has all the features needed to support navigation and infotainment applications such as detailed 3D maps, traffic monitoring, meteorological information, car radio and multimedia, e-call, and voice recognition. As a standardized version of the managed NAND memory architecture, it is essentially a module based on a bank of nonvolatile NAND Flash devices, internally managed by an ad-hoc microcontroller. The primary advantage to the user is that an e.MMC memory is fully managed and independent from the NAND technology inside. e.MMC memory is backward-compatible and has a standard interface so that developers don’t have to bother with dedicated software to manage the complexity of NAND Flash.
In terms of quality and reliability, the power-loss protection of NAND is just the beginning. Special features have been incorporated into e.MMC architecture to meet automotive requirements—an enhanced package with dedicated test-pads for failure analysis, non-controller-based access to the NAND for memory-bank testing, and an extended temperature range of –40°C to +85°C.
Micron offers e.MMC in a wide range of densities, 4GB–64GB (roadmapped to 256GB), with an integrated 16-bit NAND controller for more robust management and memory optimization compared to discrete NAND devices. All of Micron's e.MMC devices are available in JEDEC-standard 100-ball, 1mm pitch and 153-ball/169-ball, 0.5mm pitch BGA packages, easing the design and validation process that is critical to the fast pace of product development in the automotive segment.
Micron has been a leading supplier of memory to the automotive industry for more than 20 years and has developed an in-depth understanding of the needs of the segment. Our newly opened lab in Munich, Germany is purely dedicated to automotive applications—stay tuned to see what cost-efficient, leading-edge products they develop!
1Hype Cycle for Automotive Electronics 2012, James F. Hines, Gartner, October 4, 2012.
Other market data and stats included in this blog are estimates and evaluation by Micron, based on publicly available sources and internal intelligence.
About Our Blogger
General Manager, Automotive Business Unit
Giorgio Scuro is General Manager of the Automotive Business Unit at Micron Technology. He started his professional career as a designer of electronic medical equipment. In 1975 he moved to SGS (now STMicroelectronics) as quality engineer and later became quality manager for non-volatile memories, focusing on the automotive market. In his position he succeeded in fostering a process of continuous improvement and joint cooperation with major customers in the Automotive market, with a "zero-defect" mindset. In 2007 he was appointed General Manager of ST's Automotive Division, Memory Product Group, which was subsequently transferred to Micron Technology.