Software Defined RF to Bits Tuner Based Solution Simplifies Vehicle Head Unit Design

Maxim RF to Bits

Maxim has introduced the new MAX2175, an RF to Bits® tuner-based solution that eliminates the need to rework the vehicle's hardware to support worldwide radio standards, allowing updates by simply changing the vehicle's software. This solution reduces cables and simplifies vehicle head unit design.

Traditional radio architecture brings many challenges to vehicle designers. The vehicle's complex head unit must accommodate multiple tuners, manage heat dissipation, and receive multiple cables from the antennas. In addition, the received analog signals pick up noise as they travel from the antenna to the head unit of the vehicle. Finally, baseband processing uses single purpose hardware, requiring separate designs to support multiple worldwide radio standards.

With Maxim's remote tuner solution, the RF to Bits tuners are now located in a quieter environment close to the antenna to minimize noise. Meanwhile, the digital outputs of the tuners are serialized using Maxim's gigabit multimedia serial link (GMSL) serializer and deserializer (SerDes) onto a single low-cost coax cable. Power for the remote tuner solution is also delivered on this single cable. Not only does this improve radio performance, but it also reduces the weight of the vehicle to provide better mileage. Removing all tuners from the head unit saves space and reduces both system complexity and heat dissipation in the head unit. In a 4-channel radio, for example, 4W of power can be removed from the head unit. In addition, the MAX2175 allows the baseband processing to be done in software on an automotive System-on-Chip (SoC), such as the Renesas Electronics R-Car H3 SoC. This software defined radio (SDR) approach enables flexible implementations by eliminating the need for a dedicated baseband processor. By simply changing the software, now any worldwide radio standard can be supported using the MAX2175.

RF to Bits Maxim

By providing OEMs with a solution to reduce the number of cables, this solution provides them with space savings, ease of design, and improved performance. Maxim is the only company providing all three components of RF, SerDes, and power in its solution.

Key Advantages

Design flexibility and scalability: Rather than having to redesign the head unit, designers can now optimize a single remote radio tuner architecture that scales to different use cases by managing the number of remote tuners; Simply change software to support any worldwide radio standard
Ease of design and space savings: Replacing multiple tuners with a deserializer connected to the SoC reduces system complexity, space, and heat dissipation in the head unit; Available in a 48-pin 7mm x 7mm TQFN package (-40-degree Celsius to +85-degree Celsius temperature range)f
Enhanced radio performance: Tuners are brought closer to the antenna; digital rather than analog signals are used for a clearer signal
Improved vehicle mileage: Reduced number of cables reduces the weight of the cable harness

Maxim's Remote Tuner Solution includes the following Maxim products:

MAX2175 analog/digital hybrid radio receiver with RF to Bits front-end
MAX96708 14-bit GMSL deserializer
MAX96711 14-bit GMSL serializer
MAX15027 1A, low-dropout linear regulator
MAX20002 36V, 2A, synchronous buck converter

Availability and Pricing

Evaluation kits are available: MAX2175R1EVKIT; MAX2175J1EVKIT. Pricing for MAX2175 and EV kits are available upon request.