High-Current Semiconductor Relays For Lighter Automotive ECUs

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Renesas today announced new semiconductor switching relays or intelligent power devices (IPDs) for automotive motor and heater control applications. Compared to mechanical relays, the new devices allow reduced vehicle weight, more compact and lighter ECUs, and low power consumption in vehicles.

A IPD is a compact, lightweight and power efficient power IC which is not subject to the contact wear and tear like a mechanical relay. For highly reliable systems, it integrates control circuits to implement protection and self-diagnostic functions, in addition to power MOSFET switches.

There has been an increasing trend to replace mechanical relays with highly reliable semiconductor switches in automotive ECUs for motor and heater control. However, it is difficult to deal with high current loads when using conventional semiconductor switches.

The new relays suit high current applications with low on-resistance for reduced loss and high reliability. They provide a reduced mounting area, contributing to smaller and more lightweight ECUs. High reliability and performance is offered with upto 100 million switching cycles with no degradation, as compared to around 10 million cycles of a typical mechanical relay.

Compared to previous IPDs, the new IPDs from Renesas provide support for continued operation when the voltage obtained from the battery drops temporarily, such as during starter motor cranking. The guaranteed on-resistance characteristics help in such cases where the driver turns off the engine at stoplights to prevent the engine from idling.

Click here to view full Press release.

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