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Intersil’s video chip handles many functions, reducing size and power consumption.

Mixed signal chip helps trim cost of adding display screens

The number of LCDs in vehicles is growing, prompting engineers to look at ways to cut costs associated with video displays. Intersil is focusing on this trend, unveiling a four-channel analog video decoder with a built-in analog video encoder that supports 360 degree monitoring and backup cameras.

The TW9966 replaces up to five discrete components, saving board space. The level of integration on the mixed signal device simplifies connectivity with differential cables while also trimming power consumption.

Those factors are growing in importance as the number of displays in the cabin grows. Demand for automotive LCD screens has nearly tripled over the past five years, according to the NPD DisplaySearch, which predicts that shipments will exceed 100 million units by 2017.

“Half the light vehicles now have at least one LCD,” said Jonpaul Jandu, Senior Marketing Manager at Intersil. “That percentage is increasing quickly. The trend to 360 degree sensing is a big trend for us. Connectivity to smart phones and other portables is also creating more demand.”

Displays are working with more cameras as automakers strive to give drivers a full view of their surroundings. These inputs are also being used for safety. That’s putting a lot of demands on processing systems, leading many system designers to turn to graphics processing units (GPUs) that use parallel processing to handle video quickly.

“Some system-on-chip devices can drive the LCD directly; our chips complement them,” Jandu said. “We offload the link so the GPU can do other things.”

He noted that in the U.S., the Kids Transportation Safety Act mandates backup cameras by 2018. The regulation doesn’t specify a display type or size, but it does require quick response when the driver shifts into reverse. That’s a challenge for some GPUs, which sometimes boot up slowly.

“Rear camera video must appear within two seconds,” Jandu said. “This helps our business, we synch with the video source and light up the glass in half a second.”

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