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NXP Drives DSRC for Connected Cars

October 3, 2017

Author: Mike Demler

The SAF5400 is NXP’s second-generation modem for dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), a system that enables vehicles to communicate safety messages with each other and with smart-transportation infrastructure. The single-chip device offers an upgrade from the company’s previous two-chip DSRC radio, which uses separate baseband and transceiver chips. NXP will manufacture the 65nm RF-CMOS chip in a 12mm2 package, and it plans to begin sampling in December 2017.

The SAF5400 uses a Cortex-M CPU to handle modem-control functions. Its on-chip ROM and SRAM store the firmware for a specific regional standard. The security subsystem can validate 2,000 messages per second. The chip integrates the complete RF signal chain, including the receiver low-noise amplifier, the transmit power amplifier, and the analog-to-digital/digital-to-analog converters that handle RF-signal conversions for digital-baseband processing.

Despite their pending merger, NXP and Qualcomm are attempting to drive vehicle connectivity along different paths. Whereas the former focuses on the IEEE 802.11p–based DSRC standard, the latter promotes a new cellular protocol called C-V2X. Although C-V2X and 5G will provide a better long-term solution for a broad range of applications, the new standard is years behind DSRC in field testing. After a nearly 20-year gestation, DSRC is finally poised to advance the development of intelligent transportation systems.

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