EET: Automotive is a growing market for semiconductors, and Fujitsu has many offerings. Where else do you see potential for growth?
SY: In automotive, our portfolio of 16-bit and 32-bit microntrollers are mainly focused on body control, including controller modules for doors, windows, seat arrangement, and the like.
We are also promoting our MCUs for hybrid engine motor control. Since the 1980s, Fujitsu has been developing products which can be used for AC/DC inverter motor control for industrial applications. Now we are offering this technology to the automotive market.
In microcontrollers, our next challenge is security. For example, a growing number of cars can now connect to the Internet, and customers can use a wireless device to unlock their car door. This could be a risk since 'bad guys' can use this technology to enter someone else's vehicle. So automakers want to embed hardware-based security to prevent this from happening.
Automotive networking using the CAN bus protocol also presents potential security challenges. 'Bad guys' can steal data through the car's network. To protect the car, automakers need to embed strong security functions. That's why we are now trying to embed enhanced security functions in microcontrollers.
For electric vehicles and hybrids, improving power efficiency is critical. Improving the power efficiency would mean the need for fewer battery cells, reducing the weight and cost of hybrid and electric vehicles. We have been developing GaN power ICs for motor control that can operate at very high temperatures, which could improve the power efficiency of these engines.
EET: Do you have design wins for this product in hybrid vehicles and EVs?
SY: Not yet. They are still developing this product in Japan. We expect to have this product next year, 2013.
EET: What are some other promising areas for FSA in the Americas?
SY: We are also promoting our FRAM nonvolatile rewritable memory technology for meters. FRAM has faster writing speeds and high endurance. In some developing countries, blackouts happen frequently. Because of the fast write speed, using FRAM technology in metering could help avoid data loss during blackouts. This is an attractive capability for the metering companies.
EET: In 2009, Fujitsu acquired Freescale Semiconductor's RF technology and development staff and established a wireless IC subsidiary, Fujitsu Semiconductor Wireless Products Inc., which develops RF transceivers for mobile handsets and other wireless devices. What was the vision for this acquisition and how has this played out?
The smart phone market requires multi-band RF technology to support 2G, 3G and 4G standards. That's why we decided to establish Fujitsu Semiconductor Wireless Products in 2010. FSWP has several very good RF IC offerings and has shipped millions of devices globally. Looking ahead, we see the potential to expand our business by using RF with a digital interface. Now we are in discussions with several potential customers and platform vendors, some of which are currently evaluating our product. We have received some very positive feedback regarding these products.
On August 1, Fujitsu Limited, NEC, NTT DOCOMO, and Fujitsu Semiconductor Limited announced a new joint-venture in Japan called Access Network Technology Limited. From our point of view at FSWP and FSA, this joint-venture is now also one of our platform partners.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.