Cypress launches a 1A LED driver IC for auto applications

The buck-topology driver from Cypress Semiconductor can operate at switching frequencies in excess of 2 MHz, which means that the driver electronics can fit a tiny footprint with small magnetic components.

Cypress launches a 1A LED driver IC for auto applications
Cypress launches a 1A LED driver IC for auto applications

The buck-topology driver from Cypress Semiconductor can operate at switching frequencies in excess of 2 MHz, which means that the driver electronics can fit a tiny footprint with small magnetic components.

Even the specialty IC semiconductor companies will be in on the action at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, NV, and Cypress Semiconductor is using the tradeshow to announce several new ICs that target consumer products, including — surprisingly — an LED driver IC for automotive applications. The S6BL111A driver IC family targets applications in headlamps, daytime running lights (DRLs), turn lights, and fog lights. Cypress touts the top switching frequency of 2.1 MHz as a key feature for the application because it allows driver design in a small footprint with no large inductors.

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There are a host of LED driver ICs on the market that target automotive applications. For example, Texas Instruments (TI) launched an IC intended to enable headlamps with functionality similar to the Audi Matrix design a bit over a year back. We also recently ran a feature article on such driver designs.

Cypress launches a 1A LED driver IC for auto applicationsCypress launches a 1A LED driver IC for auto applications

The Cypress approach is unique in that the IC is designed to drive a single LED at 1A with an extremely small driver foot print. The nearby photo of the company’s evaluation kit provides a reference for the size requirements. Developers could use a single LED from some of the intended applications or integrate multiple driver/LED pairs for applications such as complex headlamps. But with LED brightness constantly improving, a single LED can handle many of the intended tasks.

“LEDs use less power and are smaller in size than traditional bulbs, offering auto makers the flexibility to create signature lighting effects for their vehicles,” said Kiyoe Nagaya, vice president of the Analog Business Unit at Cypress. “Cypress has raised the bar in automotive front lighting with this compelling LED driver solution that can drive a single LED without large, expensive inductors.”

The new LED driver IC is also extremely flexible in terms of the driver implementation. It can operate over a broad input voltage range from 4.5V to 42V. Such flexibility is needed for different automotive operating conditions from cold cranking to power surges when the electrical power is swapped from the battery to the alternator.

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Likewise, the IC can work over the frequency range of 205 kHz to 2.1 MHz. As mentioned before, higher switching frequency equates to smaller components but sometimes lower frequencies can improve other performance characteristics including reducing EMI noise.

The S6BL111A IC relies on a buck switching topology. It can support either analog or pulsewidth modulation (PWM) dimming. The design supports the expected system protection functions such as under-voltage, over-current, LED open detections, and thermal shutdown. Moreover, the component is qualified to the AEC-Q100 Grade 1 specification required in many automotive applications.

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