Inova Semiconductors GmbH is a fabless semiconductor manufacturer headquartered in Munich, Germany which was founded in 1999. It specializes in the development of state-of-the-art products for Gigabit/s serial data communication. The products are manufactured by leading factories in Europe and Asia and sold through a widespread world-wide distribution network.

Company Chronology

  1. Inova Semiconductors
    Foundation and start of GigaSTaR development
  2. GigaSTaR SOP
  3. APIX
    start of development
  4. Fujitsu & Toshiba
    Licensing of APIX technology
  5. APIX SOP
  6. APIX 2
    start of development
  7. APIX2 SOP
  8. ADI
    Licensing of APIX technology
  9. 1 Mio APIX on the road
  10. 10 Mio APIX on the road
  11. APIX 3 first samples
  12. CYPRESS
    Licensing of APIX technology
  13. Socionext
    Licensing of APIX technology
  14. 50 Mio APIX on the road
  15. APIX3 SOP
  16. ISELED
    start of development
  17. ISELED
    first samples available
  18. 100 Mio APIX on the road
  19. 125 Mio APIX on the road

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APIX: Making It Into The Car

In 2007, Inova added a new product to its portfolio: The "Automotive Pixel Link". APIX is designed to fulfill the demands of high-resolution, in-car video applications. Meeting the highest automotive EMI requirements, APIX can be used to establish multiple display links with a bandwidth of up to 1 Gbps over a single paired copper cable. Adjustable output drives and pre-emphasis currents facilitate the adaptation to different cables and distances of up to 15 meters.

In addition to connecting TFT displays to graphic units, the APIX link can also be used to connect CCD/CMOS camera sensors of upcoming single-/multi-view driver assistance systems to a central processor unit or directly to a TFT display, e.g. for rear-drive cameras. Similar to the GigaSTaR technology, the APIX products feature built-in, bi-directional sideband channels which provide for the transmission of additional control signals at a data rate of up to 18 Mbps. This way, a remote camera link can be established. The camera signal, the bi-directional I²C bus, plus the supply for the camera require no more than a tiny two-paired copper cable.

Almost every single APIX device is AEC-Q100 qualified and they have been on the road in automobiles since 2008. Fujitsu Microelectronics is providing graphic and display controller products that feature an integrated APIX.

In 2011, the first cars with the second generation APIX2 technology, based on the INAP375T/R devices, were available. In 2020, the first cars with the third generation APIX3 technology devices have also been made available to the market.

In addition to Fujitsu Semiconductors, Analog Devices became a licensee of the APIX2 IP supporting the growth of APIX in the market.

The APIX link has not only proven to be the ideal solution for video and network applications in cars, it has also aroused much interest in other market segments such as security and surveillance, as well as medical applications, and consumer camera systems.

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ISELED: Next-Generation Viable In-Car Lighting

The next generation of in-car ambient lighting will typically comprise of 10 to 30 LEDs mounted on a flexible light strip. Each 'group' consists of one Red, Green and Blue (RGB) LED to form a 'pixel', which is then intelligently controlled by the ISELED smart RGB LED driver. This solution can effectively replace the present (common and cumbersome), costly work-around utilizing multiple MCUs and a slow LIN bus.

Until now, ISELED smart LED drivers have only been available for purchase already integrated into the LED module. The INLC10AQ is the first standalone driver available that enables manufacturers to custom design their own choice of external LED strips.

Several LED-related solutions for the automotive market are continuously being developed under the umbrella of the open ISELED Alliance.

As of May 2020, the  ISELED Alliance consists of: Inova Semiconductors, Dominant Opto Technologies, Lucie Labs, NXP, TE Connectivity, Pforzheim University, Valeo, Magna Lighting, Melexis, Osram Opto Semiconductors, Microchip, Hella, Grupo Antolin, Brightek, ITSWELL, Allegro MicroSystems, iSYS RTS, Prettl Group, Lightworks, feno, novem, UG Systems, Dräxlmaier, Everlight, designLED, Dr. Schneider, Techniplas, Xingyu, Elmos, and Cemm Thome.

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GigaSTaR: Pioneering Digital Display Links

With the introduction of its first product, the GigaSTaR link, in 2000, the company has been focusing on interconnection between graphic sources and displays. The unique capability of establishing reliable long-distance display links (either through STP copper or fiber optic cable) has made the GigaSTaR link technology popular in the industry.

On production floors, it connects displays with computers across distances of up to 50 meters, transmitting digital graphics together with the signals of the common Universal Serial Bus (USB).

GigaSTaR enables simple and loss-free signal repetition (repeaters). The technology is also employed throughout passenger infotainment systems in trains, buses, subways and other public transportation means.

In trains for example, the ability to deliver graphic signals in perfect digital quality from one single source (video server) to 60 or more TFT displays throughout the wagon has made GigaSTaR the preferred technology for so called passenger infotainment systems among major train manufacturers and equipment suppliers around the world.

With the launch of the “Digital Display Link (DDL)” in 2003, Inova has added another product to its portfolio that is even more dedicated to display applications. The DDL’s built-in return channel, plus extra bi-directional sideband channels, provides for applications in which additional signals, such as analog/digital audio, RS232, PS/2 or even USB, have to be transmitted in addition to the digital video signal (DVI).  For example the digital KVM extender, “digital signage” applications, or even LED video walls.

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