Compact combo chip shrinks keyless entry system

September 27, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
NXP Semiconductors announced what it claims to be the world’s smallest combo chip solution for automotive keyless entry with immobilizer functions. The NCF2960 integrates a security transponder, micro RISC kernel, and multi-channel radio transmitter in a single package.

The compact solution addresses the strong demand from car OEMs for fashionable and distinctive car key designs. The chip's package size has been reduced by 44% compared to the previous generation. Available in a tiny 24-pin QFN package, it requires only 4-mm x 4-mm of board space, providing key fob manufacturers with maximum design freedom in selecting form factors and in placement of command buttons.

One of the chip’s key features is its RF multi-channel capability. Rather than transmitting its signal on one frequency only, the integrated transmitter enables the signal to be transmitted on multiple frequency channels. Frequency hopping maximizes the reliability of car keys in environments suffering from RF jamming. Contrary to conventional devices, NXP’s NCF2960 also features stabilized output power in order to minimize the impact of varying battery voltage and temperatures.

The NCF2960 also enables cost savings due to a small PCB footprint, as well as optical inspection of solder connections rather than using complex x-ray processes. Optical inspection is made possible by the 24-pin QFN package with wettable flanks.

Engineering samples of NCF2960 are available.

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