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TI Builds First Automotive-Radar SoCs

May 8, 2018

Author: Mike Demler

Several chip vendors offer discrete RF-CMOS radar transceivers, but Texas Instruments is the first to reach production with a family of automotive-radar SoCs, which it manufactures in its own 45nm RF-CMOS technology. The company’s AWR1x line is a family of 77–81GHz radar chips.

The AWR1243 is an integrated radar front-end system fit for short, medium, and long range. It includes the RF and analog front ends (RF/AFE), the digital baseband, and a Cortex-R4F-based radio-controller subsystem. But to handle signal processing, it requires an external DSP such as the TDA3X ADAS SoC.

The AWR1443 is TI’s ultra-short-range radar (USRR). It integrates the complete RF/analog signal-processing chain for three transmitters and four receivers, enabling elevation scanning. A hardware accelerator performs the baseband signal processing. The AWR1443 operates as a standalone sensor connected to the CANbus; alternatively, users can connect a higher-performance MCU to free the on-chip memory for radar processing and to provide additional I/O ports such as Ethernet. The USRR offers resolution surpassing that of ultrasonic sensors, so it’s well suited to low-speed tasks where small errors can be significant, such as parking assist.

The AWR1642 integrates the complete RF-to-digital signal-processing chain for a short-range radar, comprising the RF/AFE transceivers and baseband along with the radar-processor, master-control, and DSP subsystems. The radar-processor subsystem performs calibration and self-test of the receivers/transmitters, controls transmit-signal generation, and preprocesses reflected signals. The master subsystem controls communications with the automotive system and allows users to program their own radar-based algorithms. The DSP runs the critical “brain” functions that process data from the radar “eyes,” enabling object detection as well as location and velocity measurements.

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