If two giants danceLEE DONG-HYUN
The author is the deputy industry team editor of the JoongAngIlbo.
In 1968, Volkswagen presented the first automobile with electronic fuel injection (EFI). An internal combustion engine gains power by mixing air and fuel and injecting into cylinders, and the conventional method was to intake a set amount of air and inject fuel mechanically.
The emergence of EFI made precise fuel injection according to the driving environment, temperature, and engine pressure possible. The system was a kind of a computer calculating variables of 25 transistor semiconductors and controlling the fuel injection amount. It was the first application of ECU, electronic control unit, in automobiles.
It is no exaggeration to call today’s automobile a big computer. The ECU that had simply controlled fuel injection requires super computer-level calculation as cars evolved into self-driving vehicles and electronic cars.
More than 100 types of ECUs are installed in a single car, handling communication inside the car and between the car and objects and information-entertainment systems controlling navigation, and audio as well as a range of other convenience devices.
In the age of self-driving and electric vehicles, a system to control ECUs is required. The so-called SoC, or System on Chip, integrates sensors, processors, memory semiconductors and application-specific integrated circuits. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Ride is an example.
Tesla commissions SoC integrating auto-drive ECUs from Samsung Electronics. The system called HW 3.0 is so advanced that Volkswagen and Toyota are impressed. While Samsung had been criticized for being reckless, it focused on the development for electronics for automobiles.
Expectations are high. Samsung Electronics is highly interested in electronic devices for automobiles as a future business. Hyundai Motors is partnering with countless companies to develop integrated SoCs for future models.
There is so much to gain by two leading Korean companies to join together is pursuing these developments.
Stable supply can be secured, and technology can be developed using “test beds.” It is certainly one way to achieve “win-win” as both need to find a new growth engine.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 15, Page 33