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Automotive Memory: Does One Size Fit All?

By Axel Schiller - 2017-05-24

”With a self-driving car, you can expect to see additional demand for memory that is disconnected from the driving,” said Steven Woo, distinguished inventor and vice president of systems and solutions at Rambus. He added that DRAM is a logical choice because of cost and speed, but noted that there is room for other memory types as well. 

So what are these memory types?

A lot of talk surrounds autonomous driving and its memory requirements, but little is discussed about the other systems in a car that require memory. There are four main areas in a car in which memory is used, and each area has different memory requirements:

  • Power train system: NOR flash with its ability to work at extreme temperatures (from -40°C to +125°C) and its reliable code storage is the memory of choice for power trains. Memory used in the power train enhances conventional engines and enables new types of engines, such as electrical vehicles (EVs), hybrid electrical vehicle (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electrical vehicles (PHEVs). NOR flash also improves transmission shift control, start/stop and advanced thermal schemes.
  • Communication systems: Multichip packages (MCPs), which combine two technologies into one package, fit the requirements needed given the tight space constraints and memory requirements of communication modules. Memory used in communication systems integrates ‘hands-free’ operation, utilizing a consumer’s smartphone via a wireless link or an integrated transceiver.
  • Infotainment/Cluster systems: DRAM, NOR flash, managed NAND and MCPs are all needed to meet the needs of infotainment/clusters due to the variety of applications included in these systems. While e.MMC devices are typically used for storage (of contacts, maps and other media), industry leading LPDDR4 devices are essential to support the bandwidth demands associated with high-resolution video available in today’s cars. NOR flash enables a wide range of information for a driver, including heads-up displays which project pertinent information—including speed, night vision assistance and turn-by-turn directions—onto the windshield to help keep a driver’s eyes on the road.
  • Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS): Similar to infotainment/clusters, DRAM, NAND, NOR flash and MCPs are all required to meet the needs of ADAS, which includes a wide range of features including adaptive cruise control, automotive night vision, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, parking assistance, backup cameras, collision avoidance, automatic electronic braking, and smart headlights. The extensive compute performance associated with the three stages of ADAS—sense, perceive, act—drives this system to use the highest performance DDR3 memory. And, as ADAS scale to extend to autonomous driving, system requirements will further tax memory bandwidth.

Micron has worked closely with auto OEMs, chipset vendors and tier-one vendors for over 25 years, and our DRAM, MCP, NAND and NOR flash are all used in cars in various ways. We have the memory solutions to meet the needs of each of these applications. Visit our Automotive Memory Solutions page to learn more.

Alyson Outen

Axel Schiller