NXP, TI Distribute Auto Radar

Author: Bryon Moyer

NXP, TI Distribute Auto Radar

Two updated automotive radar processors enable the transition from current vehicle architectures to a zonal implementation with radar processing distributed between the local sensors and a central unit. NXP’s SAF86xx and Texas Instruments’ (TI’s) AWR2544 defer higher-level processing to an external processor; in the long term, a portion of that processing is expected to be central.

NXP’s prior SAF85xx transform radar inputs entirely locally in an integrated application CPU. Its successor, the 86xx, built on 28 nm RFCMOS, omits that CPU, yielding a less-expensive, smaller, and lower-power unit while shifting much of the local processing to a central processor. Sufficient local processing remains for radar management and range-fast-Fourier-transform (FFT) calculation to keep the transmitted data within the bandwidth available on a gigabit Ethernet link.

TI’s current AWR2944 includes a DSP instead of an application processor, but its 100 Mbps Ethernet port is inadequate for shipping lightly processed radar data to a central unit. The new 2544, built on 45 nm RFCMOS, supports gigabit Ethernet, widening the data pipe.

Both processors target advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS), which typically require an automotive safety-integrity level (ASIL) B functional safety rating. A safety engine handles necessary monitoring; MACsec for the sensor-to-central-unit link receives hardware acceleration in the 86xx. NXP plans to be in production by 2025; TI’s 2544 is in preproduction now, and it’s expecting to ramp to full production by the end of 2024, potentially beating NXP.

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