Intelligent high-side switches make car electronics more reliable

January 15, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
With a new generation of switch ICs, STMicroelectronics promises to bring enhanced intelligent features as well as improved protection and reliability to automotive electronics. The devices are designed for use in light and body modules and are up to 40% smaller than competing alternatives.

Intelligent high-side switches provide a more reliable and efficient alternative to relays. For several generations, ST's VIPower family offered advantages such as a common package style for many devices in the range. This allows tier-one suppliers to build several module variants using the same basic hardware and software so car makers can address differing requirements in international markets and offer various model specifications and options cost-effectively. The common-package approach has become widely adopted among high-side switch vendors.

In the seventh generation of ST’s VIPower family, the M0-7 series, 75% of family members are available in a 5 x 4mm package, which is 40% smaller than the smallest competing devices. This allows car electronics designers to save space on the printed circuit board and aim for smaller module sizes. Moreover, various internal design changes increase precision, enhance diagnostic feedback, and improve reliability. Specifically, performance improvements include greater protection against short circuits, more accurate voltage and temperature feedback, increased current-sense precision, and best-in-class electromagnetic emission (EMI) performance.

Samples of all family members are available now. The first device to enter production will be the dual-channel VND7020AJ-E, in Q2 2013, priced from $1.10 for orders over 1,000 pieces. The full range of package types available across the new family will include PowerSSO-16, PowerSSO-36, Octapak, and SO-8.

Major features of M0-7 series include recise load-current, voltage and temperature-monitor feedback; integrated sense multiplexer; bulb / LED mode (quad channel) and a flexible fault-reset management.

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