BMW Test Drives CSR for in-car Wireless Communication System

6/17/2003 - CSR (Cambridge Silicon Radio) announced that car maker BMW will be using CSR's BlueCore technology to bring Bluetooth to the road. BlueCore will be used to Bluetooth-enable the latest vehicles with a view to providing a safe and convenient in-car wireless communication system, which can be tightly integrated with the car's multimedia interface and control panel.

The Bluetooth system includes a Telematics Control Unit (TCU), which uses an embedded GSM module and an embedded Bluetooth module with a powerful CPU. It connects to a Multi-Media-Interface (MMI) on the car dashboard, through an optical MOST Bus system. The system is also equipped with an in-car rechargeable cordless Bluetooth handset, which allows the passengers to place and accept calls directly through the TCU Bluetooth link. The user is thus able to place calls over the Bluetooth handset and to transfer that call to the Bluetooth enabled hands-free phone system in the car. One of the eagerly awaited benefits of Bluetooth, possible with this system, is the ability to also connect a Bluetooth-enabled portable PC or PDA to exchange emails and surf the Internet via a cellular system while connected through the TCU.

There are several reasons why CSR is the most popular Bluetooth integrated circuit used by automotive and telematics design engineers. This powerful and truly first System-On-A-Chip (SoC) single-chip integrated circuit solution is highly programmable, has versatile high-speed interfaces, and allows automakers to include multiple Bluetooth Profiles. This allows very easy integration into MOST and CAN automotive bus systems, as well as provides a very good user experience through audio and data services. CSR's mature, single-chip automotive Bluetooth device is also produced under stringent ISO 9001 requirements and is available in a 0.8mm pitch package for low cost printed circuit board construction. By adding Bluetooth to these vehicles, the user can make a phone call, surf the Internet, or access email on a Bluetooth enabled PC or PDA while riding in the cabin. These features are expected to grow in popularity as Bluetooth becomes a dominant technology in the new generation of automobiles. CSR is the only automotive grade Bluetooth solution available which can run the complete Bluetooth protocol stack and application software on-chip, without the need for an optional external microprocessor.

Unique to vehicles that embed the CSR chip is a technology implementation developed at CSR's laboratories called CQDDR, which stands for Channel Quality Driven Data Rate. CQDDR is now a de-facto technical standard being deployed in new generation cars, which helps aid in the very tough environmental conditions inside a vehicle on a wireless Bluetooth link to ensure very robust data throughput. CSR has optimized CQDDR to operate quickly and efficiently and totally out-of-sight to the user.

Ken Noblitt, Technical Marketing Managerat CSR added, "To match BMW's stringent quality, reliability and interoperability requirements, the Bluetooth equipment had to be guaranteed to withstand in-cabin automotive requirements." Noblitt continued, "At this time, only CSR's BlueCore offers such a guarantee to operate or exceed the necessary range of -40degC to +105degC for in-cabin electronics systems. Automakers and Automotive Tier One suppliers can not afford to rely on anything less."

Wireless automotive applications are expected to generate US$1.5 billion in additional sales for car OEMs by the end of 2003 and will be worth US$6 billion in less than three years, according to Allied Business Intelligence (ABI). Bluetooth is likely to represent the majority share of this huge market. In fact, ABI predicted that 20% of all new cars will come with embedded Bluetooth technology by 2007.

Already illegal in 35 countries, the worldwide legislative trend towards banning the use of handheld mobile phones while driving will be a factor fuelling the addition of Bluetooth to cars and Bluetooth in-car kits are likely to play a key role as hands-free operation of mobiles becomes commonplace. Industry experts estimate that up to 70 percent of all mobile phone calls are made from cars. Bluetooth hands-free systems provide a safe, convenient alternative.

CSR recognizes this need and provides everything necessary to assist automotive designers in developing a fully featured Bluetooth hands-free system, including the recently announced AutoSira, an example design which includes circuit descriptions, a complete BOM and all software (including the embedded Bluetooth stack). The hands-free profile runs in external Flash memory but the circuit design may be easily converted to a ROM-based single chip solution.

In the future, CSR will make available implementations of new automotive profiles for vehicle diagnostics, streaming video and mp3 file streaming for multimedia and info-entertainment. CSR will also work towards further extending the guaranteed temperature range of BlueCore2-External and future products.

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