freeamfva: Why Are Automotive Chips Still In Short Supply?

Why Are Automotive Chips Still In Short Supply?

11 Jan 2023 at 23:42

By now almost everyone knows that the auto industry is still short semiconductor chips, although the situation seems to be improving. While it’s pretty much a given that electric vehicles use more semiconductors, why do gasoline-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles use so many chips? And do these chips have attributes that make it harder to crank up the manufacturing capacity when they are in short supply? That’s what this article will try to explain.Get more news about Original New Automotive Grade Chip,you can vist our website!

The New York TimesNYT +1.9% said that a modern vehicle can use as many as 3,000 semiconductor chips, while another source said over 1000. I’m sure that depends on what you are counting, but as recently as the 1960s electronics in vehicles were pretty much limited to the car radio. How did a product that was almost entirely mechanical not that long ago end up with so many chips? The answer has several parts, and it reflects the general rise of chip usage in a vast range of consumer and industrial products: performance, cost, and the migration of functionality from hardware to software.

For automobiles, the huge push for improvements in fuel economy after the 1973 oil crisis led to the rapid increase in the use of electronics in engine controls. While electronic ignitions had started to appear in the late 1960s, the use of microcontroller chips for engine controls demonstrated what was possible with a digital approach. Using sensors to monitor things like temperature, crankshaft position, mass air flow, throttle position, and concentration of oxygen in the exhaust gases, automakers were able to dramatically improve the fuel economy and emissions profiles of their vehicles. The controller chips did on-the-fly calculations to optimize engine performance, something that was impossible to do with mechanical sensors and linkages.

This highlights one of the big drivers behind growth in the use of semiconductor chips: the implementation of many functions using software that might have been hard to do (or even impossible) with hardware alone. Calculating the optimal rate to feed the fuel injectors might involve solving complex equations in real-time or looking up numbers in tables. That’s readily (and inexpensively done) with computer chips and some software. This is also how we got more sophisticated automatic transmissions, using software to implement sophisticated control schemes like downshifting when going downhill. A controller chip attached to speed sensors sends signals to semiconductor power switches that control the transmission solenoids. This highlights the role of power semiconductors, devices that switch power under digital control, which are widely used throughout a vehicle. If you count these devices as “chips” as well (as the New York Times probably did), the semiconductor device count in a vehicle goes way up.

Automotive grade semiconductor chips and the associated switches and devices they control are more reliable than their mechanical counterparts. I remember when I was a lot younger, a friend showed me the sequential turn signals in the trunk of their 1968 Mercury Cougar. The red turn lights were apparently connected to a little motor-driven rotating switch that “sounded like a washing machine.” Once the contacts got worn or corroded, that thing was a mess. Going to semiconductor switches and a simple timer circuit made mechanisms like that far more reliable.


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