The Bosch Group’s Automotive Electronics Division, is headquartered in Reutlingen, near Stuttgart. The 43.7 billion Euro Bosch Group, invested 7.6 per cent of its revenues in research and development in 2006â€“ out of which the bulk goes to automotive technology. In 2006, the Automotive Technology business sector generated sales of nearly 27.2 billion Euro. Bosch invested in 2006 nearly 10 per cent of its automotive technology sales in R&D.
Throughout the world, 26,000 associates are involved in research and development for the Bosch Group. According to the company, Bosch’s technological competence is also manifested in the number of its patent applications: with some 2,800 inventions in 2005, Bosch is the second-largest patent applicant in Germany. In terms of the number of patents, Bosch leads the field worldwide in automotive technology. The company has the following quality certifications – QS9000, ISO/TS 16949 and ISO14001.
Bosch’s Automotive Electronics Division develops, produces and sells microelectronic products for automotive applications. It also has core competencies in systems integration and application engineering. The division’s customer base includes the Bosch Group itself as well as most of the OEMs.
Bosch has been a core member of the Flexray consortium since 2001 and holds the right to vote in all strategically important decisions. The Flexray consortium is made up of major OEMs and electronics companies. Flexray is a time controlled data bus for automobiles. It will be used in future vehicle generations for a quick and efficient data transfer, as is required, for example, for centralized network structures and future convenience and safety systems.
Bosch it has been successful in the IP marketing of Flexray compatible communications controllers – seven semiconductor manufacturers have already taken out licenses for the Bosch IP for controllers. A communications controller is required for every Flexray module, such as a control unit. It acts between processor and bus driver and controls data communications. The controller filters for relevant data, checks when data packages can be sent and whether the transmission was successful.
Bosch’s Automotive Electronics Division has about 19,000 associates across the globe and the areas it operates in include electronic control units, contract manufacture of ECUs, electronic occupant protection systems, driver assistance systems, body electronics, semiconductors and sensors.
Bosch’s 100 per cent-owned subsidiary, Bosch Sensortec, has access to the development and manufacturing facilities of the Automotive Electronics division and in turn, can offer customized sensors in new areas of application. Bosch Sensortec also designs and develops completely new and customized applications of micro-mechanical systems.
Automotive Industries spoke to Dr. Volkmar Denner, member of the board of management of the Robert Bosch GmbH and responsible of the division Automotive Electronics (AE).
AI: Please tell us a little bit about the design and development Robert Bosch is doing for embedded in-vehicle electronics.
Dr. Denner: Within the Bosch Group, the division Automotive Electronics (AE) serves as a competence center for electronics. AE develops and manufactures electronic components such as high by integrated ICs, sensors as well as complete electronic control boards for the other Bosch system divisions. A few years ago we decided to also sell our components and IP Knowhow to the open market for automotive and non-automotive applications. For doing so, we established separate sales channels, the automotive part is being served by our component sales group, sensors for the consumer market are sold through Bosch Sensortec.
AI: Please tell us a little about your Flexray communication controllers â€“ who are the seven manufacturers that have bought the licenses from you and who else is interested in the technology?
Dr. Denner: FlexRay is one of the most important bus protocols for the near future. Our FlexRay Communication controller IP module â€œE-Rayâ€ enables IC makers to add FlexRay capabilities to their hardware in a time and cost effective way. As we do not publish any customer specific information, I cannot tell you the names of these companies. What I can tell you is that, although there are other module implementations in the market, the majority of the controller makers have already decided to license from Bosch. Additionally we also are discussing with a growing number of companies that plan to use our product for FlexRay testers and evaluation equipment.
AI: What are some of the cutting edge products that we can expect from Bosch’s Automotive Electronics division in the short term?
Dr. Denner: As you know, Bosch AE’ has an excellent reputation for highly integrated IC solutions.
Our new dual channel fully integrated current regulator CG208 is designed to control oil pressure valves in hydraulic systems. Outstanding features are the high accuracy better than 1% and the compact housing. [picture of CG208]
For low and medium sized airbag systems we developed the new system ICs that combine power supply, digital sensor interfaces, inputs for analog switches as well as Firing Loops – all on one chip. [picture of CG101-103]
System basis chip CY320 supplies power to the microprocessor and the entire ECU board. With its sensor interfaces and transceivers for CAN-Bus communication as well as diagnosis and an integrated VDA 2.0 compliant 3-Level-Watchdog it is the ideal companion for ECUs that are using the Tricore ÂµC-Familiy.[picture of CY320]
With SMB4xx-series we now present the 3rd Generation of acceleration sensors by Bosch. The sensors handle a wide acceleration range from 48g up to 480g and feature a PSI-Interface. [picture of SMB4xx]
Our answer to the growing market for Tire Pressure Monitoring systems is the SMD400. The IC-like package includes all you need to design a complete system, from pressure and temperature sensor to an integrated RF transmitter. Samples will be available from Mid of 2007. [picture of SMD400]
AI: Do you see that more product development happening outside Germany or do you think Bosch’s Automotive Electronic division will continue to do the bulk of its design and development in Germany?
Dr. Denner: AE’s development center for microelectronic and micromechanical components is based in Reutlingen, Germany and we plan to keep it there in future. Also our main manufacturing facilities for Semiconductors and Sensors are located there. A few months ago we issued a press release about our decision to build the new 200mm wafer fab â€“ again in Reutlingen. â€œMade in Germanyâ€ is still very important for our component business.