Lyn Zastrow – Vice President, Automotive Business Unit – ISSI

1. The technology necessary for connected cars — wireless connectivity, security, and software — is not in the traditional wheelhouse for most automobile makers and after-market suppliers. How are you assisting end customers understand what to introduce and how to sustain new technologies, especially now as your products and solutions align with the industry’s needs?

Wireless connectivity is growing. It used to be related to Bluetooth®, but now it has expanded into IP protocols including Wi-Fi® and V2x. We are also seeing increased connectivity in the car with communications hubs being required to share and route the information. The increased types and speeds of this connectivity, together with additional software, drive the need for more DRAM and FLASH. The location of some of these modules is requiring higher temperature so we are supporting DRAM up to +125C, without losing the additional refresh overhead needed for higher temperatures. In addition, with the infotainment unit becoming the hub of vehicle communications, security becomes paramount; to this end, we are architecting secure Flash Devices to prevent hacking.

2. Where do your products currently “play” in the connected car, and are there any emerging areas of interest? Are you looking to partner with other suppliers with complementing technologies to offer full-scale solutions for end customers?

We have been working with solution providers for quite some time and have many reference designs. While V2x is small today, it will be a large component of the level-5 autonomous vehicle. All of the other safety and autonomous sensors like RADAR, LiDAR, and cameras require memory. OTA updates play into the future hubs that share all of the vehicle communications are being embedded into next generation vehicles. This drives incremental flash and DRAM demand.  

3. Customers are looking for insight into today’s complex issues and industry shifts. Can you provide perspective on regional or global trends, specifically around automotive innovation and/or operational strategies? What standards do you see automotive manufacturers leaning toward?

We are seeing a number of shifts. The old paradigm of an OEM just specifying a function of a box are over. OEMs are now heavily involved in looking at the complete architectural overview of the electronics and their subsystems and how they can add flexibility for the future. We also see OEMs actively doing the designs and subcontracting the manufacturing. ISO26262 functional safety was adopted first in Germany, but we have seen it very active in North American and Japanese OEMs. We are not seeing it gain traction with Chinese OEMs yet. German and North American OEMs are really focusing on safety systems (camera, RADAR, LIDAR, ADAS) as they are the building blocks of the future autonomous vehicle. Japanese OEMs are following this trend closely. The Chinese OEMs have a way to catch-up but, would make up ground very quickly if their government supports it.

4. What types of challenges are you seeing in the automotive or aftermarket supply chain?

The automotive supply chain and after-market supply chain are really two different entities for the semiconductor suppliers. The aftermarket chain is much closer to the consumer chain. The automotive supply chain involves a lot more contracts. These contracts have really protected the Tier-1 suppliers in a world of supply constraint that both chains are dealing with. As semiconductor growth continues to outstrip new capacity, lead-times have increased. Both chains are struggling with this availability gap in their own ways. There also tends to be a lot of daily and weekly pull-ins and push-outs as everyone tries to keep their channels as lean as possible. This is where the benefit of a distributor like Avnet really helps as semiconductor suppliers are typically not as good at handling all of the special logistics. 

5. Within the automotive electronics segment, there are several leading technologies driving new solutions and applications. What do you see as critical to your company’s growth over the next two years?

OEMs are now understanding that they can derive a lot of value (differentiated ASP and margin) with the electronics content of the car. It’s as important as the power plant and styling as consumers will decide to not purchase models if certain electronics features are not available. This is especially true of new infotainment features, safety features, and graphics displays in center consoles, clusters, LED Matrix headlights, LED interior lighting systems, and HUD systems. We are working with the OEMs, Tier-1s, and our peers to make sure that we have solutions that will meet the future needs in these systems. Designs that start today won’t go into production until ~2020, and we are looking at architectural solutions that go past 2025.