Silicon Labs unveils automotive grade timing solutions

2 mins read

Silicon Labs has launched what it claims is the broadest portfolio of automotive grade timing solutions specifically designed to meet the clocking needs of in-vehicle systems.

The AEC-Q100-qualified timing devices include Si5332 any-frequency programmable clock generators, Si5225x PCIe Gen1/2/3/4/5 clocks, Si5325x PCIe buffers and Si5335x fanout clock buffers that are intended to help automotive OEMs and suppliers simplify clock tree design, reduce system points of failure, increase system reliability and optimise the performance of high-speed serial data transfer.

The devices target a wide range of automotive applications including camera sub-systems, radar and LIDAR sensors, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), autonomous driving control units, driver monitoring cameras, infotainment systems, Ethernet switches, and GPS and 5G connectivity.

Quartz crystal and oscillator timing solutions have traditionally been used by automotive system developers but are prone to shock and vibration failure as well as start-up issues, resulting in degraded system-level reliability.

As automotive infotainment platforms continue to adopt new features and ADAS systems increase complexity and data acquisition rates, clocking requirements have become more demanding, requiring a more diverse mix of frequencies and lower jitter reference clocks. Rather than using more quartz-based components to satisfy a growing list of timing requirements, developers will now have the option to simplify their clock tree designs and increase system reliability by using Silicon Labs’ automotive-grade low-jitter, any-frequency clock generators and buffers.

“Silicon-based timing solutions have provided performance, reliability, BOM consolidation and cost benefits to the communications, data centre and industrial markets for many years,” said James Wilson, General Manager of Timing Products at Silicon Labs. “Our automotive grade timing portfolio provides these same benefits to automotive OEMs and technology companies delivering innovations that are redefining how we drive, navigate and experience our cars.”

Automotive in-vehicle applications require a higher operating temperature range (Automotive Grade 2, -40 to +1050C) and qualification adhering to rigorous AEC-Q100 automotive standards. Automotive developers have been forced to add more quartz crystals and oscillators to their designs to generate the increased number of reference clocks required. This approach comes with limitations such as a larger PCB footprint, higher BOM cost and degraded system reliability. In addition, higher precision, low-jitter oscillators are expensive, with automotive grade versions commanding a premium price.

Alternatively, consolidating multiple reference clocks into a single clock generator IC greatly reduces the number of quartz crystals and oscillators in a design, significantly reducing the potential points of failure and increasing overall system reliability.

The Si5332 clock leverages Silicon Labs’ MultiSynth technology to provide any-frequency, any-output clock synthesis with more than 60 percent lower jitter than competing automotive clock solutions. Supporting up to eight clock outputs, selectable signal formats per output clock (LVDS, LVPECL, HCSL, LVCMOS) and independent 1.8-3.3V VDDO, the Si5332 clock easily interfaces to a broad range of FPGAs, ASICs, Ethernet switches/PHYs, processors, GPUs, SoCs, and PCIe Gen1/2/3/4/5 and NVLink SerDes.

Clock synthesis, clock distribution and format/level translation are consolidated on-chip, enabling optimised single-IC clock tree solutions for automotive designs.

The Si5332 clock generators and Si5335x clock buffers are configurable and customisable using Silicon Labs’ ClockBuilder Pro software, enabling developers to create optimised solutions that exactly match specific clock tree requirements.