ST sees automotive and consumer electronics converge

February 18, 2011 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
EE Times Europe: What does the automotive market represent for ST? Joseph Notaro: Historically and since the merger between STS and Thomson in 1987, the automotive sector has always been one of ST’s key segments. We have a comprehensive approach of the automotive segment and I suspect that our product portfolio is one of the broadest among our competitors. Traditionally, we have achieved between 13 and 15 percent of our revenues with automotive products.

EE Times Europe: Where do you see ST’s strength in the automotive market?

Notaro: There are two main aspects. One is more technical, one is more behavioural. We have a good balance between commitment and flexibility and we have always been strong in making strategic alliances.

EE Times Europe : Can you name some of these alliances?

Notaro: For instance we have alliances with tier ones such as Bosch and Magneti Marelli, but also with other third parties such as Mobileye and Navteq. We’ve also joined forces with one of our competitors, Freescale, to develop next-generation microcontrollers. Automotive electronics starts to converge with other market segments, such as the multimedia segment and industrial applications. In all of these segments, ST ranks among the top suppliers.

EE Times Europe : Unlike most of your competitors, ST’s presence in the automotive industry spreads evenly across various segments such as infotainment, powertrain, body control, safety etc. Where is your focus in terms of application expertise and perhaps in technology?

Notaro: This has to do with the way we are structured in terms of R&D. We have common development teams but then different application teams each one focusing on the segments you mentioned. For instance, we have an infotainment team which maintains a good relationship and internal idea exchange with our consumer business and telecom group but, they are focusing more on the high end of in-car multimedia and navigation systems. And we have our traditional automotive electronics division where the focus is more on powertrain, safety, chassis and car body.

Thanks to ST’s unique structure, we’re also becoming a big player in the ADAS area (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems). This includes topics such as blind spot detection or lane departure warning. We make automotive-qualified CMOS cameras, which is quite unique among pure semiconductor companies. We also sell radar chips, 24/26GHz, transmitters and receivers and we develop 77/79 GHz parts for our customers.