Atmel Creates First Automotive Load Driver IC with SOI Technology

Atmel(R) Corporation (Nasdaq: ATML), a global leader in the development and fabrication of advanced semiconductor solutions, announced today the availability of the new ATA6826 driver IC, the first such product in high-voltage BCD-SOI technology (SMARTIS(TM)) available on the market. The new driver IC provides improved performance, a broad range of protection features, and a very attractive price. The ATA6826 is designed to control two DC motors or up to three different loads via a microcontroller in automotive applications, e.g., body electronic systems such as mirror positioning and climate control. Thanks to the device’s high voltage capability (up to 40V), the ATA6826 can also be used in 24V supplied trucks or industrial applications.

In contrast to standard BCDMOS bulk technology, the SMARTIS technology uses an SOI (silicon on insulator) substrate. This results in an extremely low leakage current. A significant reduction in crosstalk between power and digital circuits on the same die is achieved, and lower parasitic effects give added value for EMC performance. The chip size reduction — the gate density is equivalent to 0.5-um CMOS — allowed the design of a cost effective and powerful high voltage power driver IC. The SMARTIS technology also reduces manufacturing costs by simplifying the IC fabrication process through the elimination of high-energy implementation for well doping and simplification of device isolation.

Each of the three high-side and three low-side drivers of the ATA6826 is capable of driving currents up to 1A. The drivers are internally connected to form 3 half-bridges and can be controlled separately from a standard serial data interface. Therefore, all kinds of loads such as bulbs, resistors, capacitors, and inductors can be combined. The IC design especially supports the application of H-bridges to drive DC motors. The operation modes forward, reverse, brake, as well as the high impedance will be controlled by the SPI interface.

The ATA6826 provides several protection features such as overtemperature warning and shutdown, overload, overvoltage protection, and full protection against short circuits. Several diagnostic bits are set in the SPI output register and can be read by the microcontroller. In case of undervoltage at the supply pin, the power-supply fail bit in the output register is set and all outputs are disabled. If the overtemperature pre-warning bit is set, the system developer can implement software routines on the microcontroller to decrease the power dissipation and temperature. If the temperature increases further, the IC shuts down at a certain level to prevent destruction. The device also meets strict automotive qualification demands (protection against conducted interference, EMC and ESD protection) and can withstand transients as specified in ISO/TR 7637.

Samples of the ATA6826 driver IC are available now in Pb-free SO14 packages with pricing starting at US $0.97 for 100k-piece quantities. An application board for development support can be ordered for US $131. Additional driver family members with enhanced features like PWM control and also devices for high-temperature applications of up to 150 degree Celsius ambient temperature will be introduced in Q4/2006.

About Atmel
Atmel is a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of microcontrollers, advanced logic, mixed-signal, nonvolatile memory and radio frequency (RF) components. Leveraging one of the industry’s broadest intellectual property (IP) technology portfolios, Atmel is able to provide the electronics industry with complete system solutions. Focused on consumer, industrial, security, communications, computing and automotive markets, Atmel ICs can be found Everywhere You Are(R).

Atmel(R), logo and combinations thereof, Everywhere You Are(R), and others are registered trademarks, SMARTIS and others are trademarks of Atmel Corporation or its subsidiaries.

BCDMOS = Mixed-signal technology with Bipolar, CMOS and DMOS components
EMC = Electro Magnetic Compatibility
ESD = Electronic Static Discharge
PWM = Pulse Width Modulation
SOI = Silicon On Insulator technology