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New technology keeps car audio playing in start/stop hybrids

STMicroelectronics is pioneering a new generation of chips that allow in-car entertainment equipment to operate as the engine is turned off and restarted.

The TDA7850LV chip for start/stop hybrids is the first of it's kind. It's designed to keep in-car entertainment running without interruptions. STMicroelectronics

Hybrids with start/stop engines may be better for the environment, as the engine stops at intersections instead of remaining at an idle. But the feature can cause unwanted interruptions with in-car entertainment systems. STMicroelectronics is working on a line of chips that will allow stereo systems to continue to run.

STMicroelectronics just introduced the TDA7850LV, a 4x50W audio power amplifier. According to the company, this is the first start/stop-compatible IC to be produced on a mass scale.

Onboard electrical equipment can fall to as low as 6V when the engine is turned off in start/stop vehicles because all of the components rely on the battery for power. Switching between battery power and alternator power can generate annoying popping and clicking noises.

The new family of STMicroelectronics audio power amplifiers will include entry-level class-AB amplifiers, complex digital devices with diagnostic features, and an automotive class-D family offering power efficiency, the company said in a press release. The new technology also adds features such as protection against short circuits to ground and battery over-heating.

"This emerging family of devices, beginning with the TDA7850LV, combines advanced start/stop capability with the hi-fi audio quality and outstanding ruggedness that have always distinguished ST's audio power ICs and ensured our strong market leadership," said Fabio Marchio, Automotive Product Group vice president and general manager of ST's Automotive Infotainment Division. "We call this new wave of products 'green power,' meaning that we are totally committed to design ICs that can help our customers implement environment-friendly systems. We now aim to build on our leadership as demands for start/stop and hybrid technologies continue to ramp up."