Today’s cars carry cables weighing tens of kilograms to support applications and systems including lighting, infotainment, driver assistance, navigation, and cameras. The routing of cables in a car is a manual, time-consuming process, adding substantial labor cost. Cables can also contribute to interference that impacts functionality of some vehicle sub-systems.

Consider the car radio as an example. High-end cars must support up to six radio receivers to receive AM, FM, FM background scanning, FM diversity, DAB (for Europe only), DAB–MRC (for Europe only), and DAB background scanning (for Europe only). From a design, layout, and heat dissipation perspective, accommodating six tuners in the head-unit is quite challenging in a limited head-unit space, which needs to support electronics for new technologies. Also, the current system-level radio architecture would require running up to six cables from the antenna to the head-unit. (Figure 1)

Fig-1: System-level radio architecture with four tuners in the head unit.

A radio tuner solution can simplify the head-unit design and reduce the amount of cabling required. Using such a solution can help improve system performance, save space, reduce heat dissipation, and result in a lighter vehicle. Maxim has announced an RF to Bits automotive radio tuner solution (MAX2175) that achieves these benefits. In this solution, all the radio receivers have been removed from the head-unit and instead placed near the antenna. With the tuners next to the antenna, there’s no need for the low-noise amplifiers (LNA) near the antenna. As a result, the tuners can replace the LNAs in the existing LNA modules.

Cables are reduced in this architecture via serialization of the output of the tuners using Maxim’s Gigabit Multimedia Serial Link (GMSL) links. See some architectural diagrams and learn more about how this radio tuner solution can support your next automotive design in my article, “Simplify Vehicle Head Unit Design with Maxim’s Radio Tuner Solution”.

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