Ford’s Sync, a multimedia platform that supports the integration of mobile phones and media players into a vehicle’s audio system, owes much of its success as a low-cost design to two ICs from Freescale Semiconductor, according to preliminary data from iSuppli Corp.’s Teardown Analysis service. The voice-controlled system is available in cars from Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury.
Sync permits software downloads via the Sync Web portal, a feature that no competing systems currently offer, according to iSuppli. This capability will allow users to update the unit and add functionality throughout the life of the vehicle. Also, in designing Sync, Ford created a platform architecture so the company could create one solution that could be implemented on multiple vehicles.
Freescale supplied the main multimedia chip on the Sync, the i.MX31L, which is a 400-MHz applications processor based on an ARM11 microprocessor core that hosts Microsoft’s operating system. The chip handles voice recognition and conducts all audio signal processing including WMA, AAC, and MP3. The chip also implements echo-noise cancellation for hands-free calling. iSuppli estimates the cost of the i.MX31L at $10.80. The second Freescale IC, the MC9S12XDP512, serves as the Sync’s Controller Area Network (CAN) Bus microcontroller. It costs an estimated $5, according to iSuppli. Together, the two chips give Freescale the largest portion of value of any semiconductor supplier contributing to the Sync.
Another notable chip in the version of the Sync torn down by iSuppli is Cambridge Silicon Radio’s BC41B143A BlueCore device, which includes support for phone book, media control, audio transfer, and hands-free functionality. iSuppli estimates the device costs $1.75. Among the other chips in the Sync were Cirrus Logic Inc.’s audio codec, the CS42448 ($1.65), a 256-Mbit mobile double-data-rate (DDR) SDRAM from Micron Technology Inc. ($4.80), and a 2-Gbit NAND-type flash memory chip from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. ($3.80).