STMicroelectronics launches intelligent switches for ECU applications

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Electronics and semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics has introduced a new generation of automotive intelligent switches, the VN9D30Q100F and VN9D5D20FN, which it says are the first on the market with digital current sensing among the fully digital on-chip diagnostic features.

Designed for high-side connection in applications powered from a 12V battery, the drivers are intended to simplify the hardware and software design of electronic control units (ECUs) and enhance system reliability.

The new devices leverage ST’s latest-generation of VIPower M0-9 technology to combine an efficient 40V trench vertical MOSFET with 3.3V digital logic, and high-precision analog circuitry in a 6 x 6mm QFN package. Their compact dimensions and high integration are claimed to save up to 40% of PCB area compared with comparable driver ICs already in the market.

The VN9D30Q100F has two 33mW and two 90mW channels while the VN9D5D20FN has two 7.6mW and two 20mW channels. Each has up to six output channels and a 4-wire SPI interface, which reduces the number of microcontroller I/O pins needed to interact with the device. They also feature an integrated pulse-width modulation (PWM) generator with resolution of 0.1% that provides a convenient and precise control signal at each output to handle functions such as lamp dimming.

Additionally, the diagnostic circuitry has a continuously running analog-to-digital converter (ADC) with 10-bit resolution and 5% precision to provide digital readings of the load current and case temperature, which eliminates reliance on an ADC in the host microcontroller.

The ADC task manager is synchronized with the driver’s PWM engine, ensuring that diagnostics for each output channel is automatically performed in the appropriate timeframe without microcontroller intervention. There are also two one-time programmable (OTP) inputs to manage operation in limp-home mode if a system failure causes a loss of overall host-MCU control.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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