Advanced car access the Atmel way

  • 07-Nov-2010 02:30 EST

Atmel's new ATA5830 RF transceiver and ATA5780 RF receiver are pin-compatible, so a single circuit board could host either IC.

Atmel, a provider of microcontroller and capacitive touch controllers, sees continued opportunities for advanced car access features such as remote keyless entry (RKE), remote start, passive entry go (PEG), and tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).

While such technologies currently are found mainly in higher-end vehicles, the company believes a number of trends point to broader demand, especially for PEG. New functionality will be needed as well. One is improved two-way communication between the remote device—think key fob—and the vehicle. Another, to reduce cost, is a single RF receiver for both TPMS and RKE. Finally, Atmel envisions RKE, PEG, and car immobilizer functions merged into one embedded transponder.

To meet these trends, the company released its next-generation Atmel ATA5830 and ATA5780 monolithic RF transceiver (two-way) and RF receiver (one-way) devices, announcing their release at the SAE Convergence 2010 Conference in October. These monolithic devices combine an RF transceiver or receiver block with an Atmel AVR microcontroller core. This enables the devices to poll multiple application channels to support, for example, the RKE/PEG, Remote Start, and TPMS system with a single IC, eliminating the need for multiple ICs and the accompanying high cost.

The company states that the devices are highly sensitive. Typical measured sensitivities are 109 dBm, 10k Bps Manchester data rate, using Frequency Shift Keying modulation with +/-10 kHz frequency deviation and an IF bandwidth at 165 kHz, providing a high image rejection. The company also claims excellent blocking performance, typically 64 dBc at 1 MHz at an IF bandwidth of 165 kHz. The transceiver's maximum power-down current of 600 nA prolongs battery life and requires minimum battery size.

The ATA5830 and ATA5780 are pin-compatible devices to each other. This ensures maximum re-use of development efforts for one-way and two-way systems, according to the company. The printed circuit board design can be the same for both the bidirectional (ATA5830) and unidirectional (ATA5780) chips, thereby simplifying variants and replacement parts.

“We see passive start really picking up in the next few years,” said Nicolas Schieli, Senior Marketing Manager of car access products for Atmel. “Some OEMs in Europe will have close to a 100% take rate in 2012. In North America, the take rate could be about 30% by 2013.”

He also noted that in the Chinese market the PEG is an appealing feature that will drive very high take rates. “It is seen as a sexy feature of a car in China today,” Schieli said.

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