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Automotive PMICs Introduction

Key Takeaways

  • Automotive Power Management Integrated Circuits (PMICs) are pivotal for safe and efficient modern vehicle operation during the industry's electrification and connectivity transition.

  • PMIC solutions serve various functions, including battery management, voltage regulation, sequencing, streamlining designs, and saving space in automotive systems.

  • Automotive PMIC Trends: A surge in demand for Analog Front End Integrated Circuits (AFE ICs) in power battery management systems, coupled with a shift toward higher voltage platforms, is reshaping the automotive PMIC landscape.

Automotive PMICs and vehicle diagram

Automotive PMICs play a large role in many aspects of vehicle function.

In an era where the automotive industry is transitioning towards electrification and connectivity, the important actors behind the scenes are automotive Power Management Integrated Circuits (automotive PMICs). These electronic components play a crucial role in ensuring the efficient and safe operation of modern vehicles. Read on as we delve into the basics of automotive PMICs, the different types available, their applications and additional insights into this technology transforming the automotive industry.

Where Are Automotive PMICs Used?



Essential Circuit-Level Function

Voltage Regulators ensure stable and consistent voltage supply to vehicle components. DC-DC Converters. Convert voltage levels for various purposes, including powering infotainment systems, sensors, and adaptive lighting. LED Drivers efficiently control and power LED lighting systems in vehicles, enabling features like adaptive headlights and customizable interior lighting.

High-Level Vehicle Functions

Provide voltage regulation, pre- and post-regulator architectures, DCDC, linear, and tracking regulators, serving areas like chassis, safety, ADAS, powertrain, and drivetrain.

Energy Efficiency and Battery Protection

Extend battery life, protect control units from voltage fluctuations, and enhance safety concepts for electronic control units.

Other Applications

Include rear and surround view HD automotive cameras, driver monitoring cameras, HD dash cameras, rear-seat entertainment systems, and virtual dashboards.

PMIC Basics

Power Management Integrated Circuits (PMICs) are semiconductor devices designed to manage and regulate power in electronic systems. In the context of the automotive industry, PMICs are responsible for managing the various power sources and voltages required to power a vehicle's numerous electronic components. They serve as the "power hub" that ensures energy is distributed efficiently while safeguarding against voltage spikes, surges, and other electrical anomalies.

Automotive PMIC Circuit-Level Functions 

PMIC solutions offer versatile and efficient solutions across automotive sectors, effectively managing tasks like battery charging, DC-to-DC conversion, voltage scaling, and more. These power management controllers come with integrated features like monitoring, sequencing, and support for functional safety, streamlining customer designs, and saving valuable board space. PMICs feature highly efficient configurable switching regulators and source/sink linear regulators, ensuring the availability of core voltage, memory voltage, and I/O voltages as needed by the specific application.

  1. Voltage Regulators ensure a stable and consistent voltage supply to various vehicle components, preventing damage from overvoltage or undervoltage conditions. Suited for power-hungry systems like FPGAs, ASICs, and other multi-rail power systems with substantial power supply needs These regulators come in linear and switching varieties, each with its advantages in terms of efficiency and heat dissipation.  

  2. Battery Management Systems (BMS)  PMICs are critical in electric and hybrid vehicles. They monitor the state of the battery, manage charging and discharging, and ensure the safety of the battery pack. BMS PMICs also play a role in extending battery life.

  3. DC-DC converters are responsible for converting one voltage level to another. In automotive applications, they are used for various purposes, including powering infotainment systems, sensors, and adaptive lighting.

  4. With the growing use of LED lighting in modern vehicles, specialized PMICs, known as LED drivers, are employed to efficiently control and power these lighting systems. They enable features like adaptive headlights and customizable interior lighting.

  5. PMICs also encompass a range of other features, including the integration of inductive step-down converters, charge pumps, and other analog circuits like battery chargers. They also incorporate I2C interfaces to optimize space utilization.

Automotive PMICs: High-Level Vehicle Function 

PMICs are widely used in various industrial applications, serving multi-rail systems in CPUs, embedded computing, communication, and storage systems. In the automotive realm, PMIC devices are ideally suited for demanding applications such as powertrain, electrical drivetrain, chassis, and ADAS, with a particular focus on safety-critical functions. With efficient, reliable, and secure voltage regulation, including pre- and post-regulator architectures, as well as DCDC, linear, and tracking regulators, PMICs provide a robust foundation for automotive electronic systems. 

PMIC solutions also extend battery life in vehicles; their high efficiency and low quiescent current make them energy-efficient choices, while their reliability and robustness protect automotive electronic control units from the adverse effects of battery voltage fluctuations. Additionally, their monitoring and supervision functions enhance the design of safety concepts for electronic control units, ensuring both efficiency and safety in complex automotive applications. Another e of the standout advantages of

Other examples of PMICs in vehicles include applications like rear and surround view HD automotive cameras, driver monitoring cameras, HD dash cameras, rear-seat entertainment systems, and virtual dashboards. 

Automotive PMIC Trends

Since the start of the early 2020s, the automotive industry has witnessed a significant supply gap and subsequent push for power battery management system Analog Front End Integrated Circuits (AFE ICs).  AFE ICs hold particular importance within automotive PMICs, especially in the context of battery management systems (BMS). These AFE ICs are pivotal in collecting critical data, such as voltage and temperature, from battery cells. They employ specialized algorithms to estimate vital battery parameters like State of Charge (SOC) and State of Health (SOH), relaying this information to the control chip for decision-making and monitoring.

In response to the growing need for extended range and improved charging efficiency in new energy vehicles, prominent automakers have begun adopting high-voltage platforms. This paradigm shift from the conventional 400V platform to the 800V platform has emerged as a prevailing trend. The transition to higher voltage configurations necessitates a proportionate increase in the number of battery cells connected in series, leading to a surge in demand for AFE ICs. It is anticipated that this shift will result in a doubling of the requirement platform voltages from 400V to 800V.

While specific segments of the automotive PMIC market have witnessed improvements in supply and demand dynamics, leading to price reductions in various automotive chips such as driver ICs (e.g., LED drivers and motor drivers), as well as PMICs and control ICs, the overall demand for automotive products has remained relatively stable during the ongoing transition from fuel-powered vehicles to electric ones.  Challenges include managing higher power demands, integrating more complex systems, and addressing the unique safety and reliability requirements of autonomous vehicles. Consequently, despite some price adjustments, the automotive PMIC chip market does not foresee a drastic nosedive in pricing as the industry adapts to the electrified future.

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