ams AG (SIX: AMS), a leading worldwide designer and manufacturer of high performance analog ICs and sensors for consumer, industrial and automotive applications, is approaching volume production of first automotive products developed along the new functional safety standard ISO26262.
Released in 2011, the ISO26262 standard is the major global regulation governing functional safety in road vehicles. A growing share of safety critical systems under development in the automotive industry today follows this standard. The severity of a possible failure in an automotive system leads to the assignment of an Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) to it. Levels of A, B, C or D exist with D being the most critical. The ASIL then in turn demands a maximum failure rate and a minimum percentage of “safe” failures with respect to all failures the system can have in operation. To ensure a high share of safe failures the implementation of safety and diagnosis functions in the semiconductor devices present in the system is required. The standard also provides a framework for the validation and documentation of the safety features implemented.
The vast majority of today’s automotive ICs under development at ams include ISO26262 requirements. Device applications cover electric power steering, pedal and position sensors. The first products developed along the standard are now approaching production release in early 2013.
Functional safety-related design activities at ams have led to a large portfolio of advanced diagnosis IP such as
- Continuous integrity checks for on-chip-memory
- Self-test of the signal processing blocks
- Read-back of the status of device-drivers and outputs
With the adoption of the ISO standard, major concerns about an increase of the development cost and device die size were raised in the semiconductor industry. Today, with ams’ profound ISO26262 experience, the standard is regarded as a critical aid to approach the design-in of safety requirements in a more analytical, disciplined manner. The FMEDA (Failure Mode Effect and Detection Analysis) in particular has become a valuable and easy-to-use tool for IC designers.
Using the decomposition method provided by the standard allows for the optimized allocation of the safety features between IC and the host system, thus keeping the cost adder low.
Bernd Gessner, Vice President and General Manager of the automotive business unit at ams asserted: “Previous generations of ams products have an impeccable safety record in automotive applications.
But the rigorous analysis required for compliance with ISO26262 uncovered new ways in which ams could raise the reliability of its devices to an even higher level. ISO26262 has, in our view, become a critical extension of the safety regime governing automotive components and modules.’
ams manufactures a range of components for use in vehicles, including ASICs for sensor interface and module supply applications, contactless position sensors, FlexRay transceivers, battery sensors, and system basis chips. Customers using automotive-qualified components from ams include major global vehicle manufacturers and tier one suppliers.