Today’s automotive industry is going through a period of rapid and significant technical change. People get so much from their cars – mobility, freedom of expression, social opportunities, pure excitement – and will not give up these privileges and pleasures easily. So carmakers are rapidly adopting electronic technologies to overcome valid social concerns, such as environment and safety, while at the same time intensifying the benefits for their customers.
On the other hand, large automotive corporations are historically renowned for their conservative behavior. The huge investment needed to get a new model into showrooms means they cannot risk getting too far ahead of the market. But all this could be changing, as the major manufacturers seek to tempt customers with more advanced electronic gadgetry. They know this is vital, both to meet legislative demands and to satisfy consumers who have become accustomed to fast-moving markets for products like mobiles, tablets and smart-home gear. Huge demands to raise performance and lower price, which are always present in the automotive industry, are sure to force the electronics industry to turn around quickly with new and innovative solutions. We could see significant progress in areas like thermal management, for example.
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The highest-speed boards don’t necessarily need the highest-performance materials.
High-tech product developers have been able to take advantage of immense advances in the capabilities of electronic components – mostly among processors, FPGAs and ASSPs, which continue to follow the trend implied by Moore’s Law: to deliver incredible new innovations considered impossible or science-fiction fantasy just a couple of product generations before. As fantastic as this might be, there is a problem: end-users are learning to expect – even demand – the impossible on an ongoing basis.
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Signal-integrity challenges are becoming more pressing across all frequencies, and materials technologies are evolving in response.
As the IoT gathers pace, keeping people – and, increasingly, things – connected involves shifting huge quantities of data. Handling the volume and speed imposes immense engineering challenges in all the various elements: handsets, IoT gateways, telco core networks. Even today’s cars are part of this high-performance information infrastructure, as manufacturers want to position value-added services like infotainment and e-call emergency care. And as the data get aggregated at various points into the network core, economics means they’re viewed as a commodity. The more that can be moved in a given time, the lower the cost per bit.
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