Software-defined-radio processor for in-car digital radio

January 10, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
A car infotainment product from NXP is based around a multi-standard software-defined radio co-processor for automotive entertainment that supports DRM, HD Radio and DAB / DAB+ / T-DMB – the highly integrated, high-performance platform shrinks total application footprint by over 75%

A growing number of car OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers are offering in-car digital radio systems, a trend NXP aims to support with its introduction of a multi-standard software-defined radio co-processor capable of decoding all three major digital terrestrial radio standards including Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), HD Radio and DAB/DAB+/T-DMB. Offering optimum reception, the SAF360x series enhances digital audio quality via advanced features such as Maximum Ratio Combining for DAB and HD Radio, and scalability for single, dual and triple tuner use cases. The SAF360x platform also offers an unprecedented level of integration, replacing up to six chips with a single IC and reducing the footprint of the automotive digital radio application by over 75% for considerable cost savings.

“The SAF360x series – code-named ‘Saturn’ – is the culmination of more than a decade of developing in-car digital radio solutions and finally offers the all-in-one integration, true multi-standard support, and breakthrough reception performance that leading car infotainment system suppliers have been waiting for,” said Torsten Lehmann, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Car Entertainment Solutions, NXP Semiconductors.

Car manufacturers are expected to go into production with the first digital radio systems based on the SAF360x this year.

Using software-defined radio techniques, SAF360x is the first automotive-quality chipset including two on-board high-performance DAB tuners and memory. With support for up to three tuner inputs, the chipset can be used for DAB, Maximum Ratio Combining (MRC) and background scan or data services. Using advanced wideband technology and software algorithms available only from NXP, the SAF360x solution provides ultra-fast DAB scanning and sync time, enhanced tuner sensitivity and seamless DAB-FM-DAB blending, delivering an impeccable audio experience without having to worry about losing reception.

For HD Radio systems, which are rapidly gaining popularity in the US and Mexico, the NXP SAF360x series also offers enhanced reception performance via MRC. Highly versatile and scalable, the SAF360x can be used in a wide range of HD