We are proud that we’ve reached a major milestone—we have sold our 1 billionth ignition IGBT!
It began in the 1990s, as gasoline prices rose and concerns about vehicle emissions grew.
“There was considerable pressure to improve gas mileage and emissions. This required the implementation of advanced engine controllers and changes in the spark distribution system to improve the spark timing,” remembers Jack Wojslawowicz, a top expert on ignition applications and then one of our chief applications engineers.
The automotive industry accelerated its research on powertrain systems—particularly the ignition system to reduce fuel consumption and emissions and also to achieve higher power density and enhance robustness. This is when ignition IGBTs emerged. The advantages of ignition IGBTs versus bipolar transistors included better trade-offs between high temperature saturation voltage and the self-clamped inductive switching, in addition to withstanding high instantaneous peak temperatures without failure. But it was challenging, as Jack W notes, “The IGBT technology offered that path, but it needed to be adapted to the specification of the ignition system and automotive EMC requirements. Additionally, we had to incorporate additional circuit elements, like the clamp structure or the passive elements, in a die size that could fit in the TO-220 package.”
Since overcoming these challenges, we have manufactured five generations of ignition IGBTs at our fab in Mountain Top, Pennsylvania. The first was released in 1993, under the RCA brand name, and was used by Mallory, an aftermarket ignition system provider. In 1994, under the Motorola AIEG (Automotive Industrial Electronics Group) brand, our ignition IGBTs were supplied in modules to Marelli and Ford. In the first year, 64,000 parts were sold. In 1994, the number increased to 250,000 and rose to 1.5 million units in 1995. The numbers kept growing, and Fairchild soon became the preferred ignition IGBT supplier to many important manufacturers worldwide. Based on units sold in 2014, about 27 million gasoline-powered cars were produced containing the latest generations of our ignition IGBTs (EcoSPARK® I and EcoSPARK® II).
After almost 25 years, the success of our ignition IGBTs continues and customers turn to us for every new design, making us the market leader in ignition systems.
A key to this success is our commitment to customer support, as Jack W explains, “We worked closely with customers, helping with applications and assisting with device and application mixed-mode simulation to help ensure that the devices would be reliable in their specific end use.”
Today automotive customers count on our discrete devices, gate drivers, and other custom ignition solutions. For example, manufacturers are using our smart IGBTs, in which advanced functions, such as programmable dwell time, current limiting, soft shutdown and programmable input pull down current, as well as other passive elements, can be embedded to ensure an accurate and safe ignition in a cost-efficient and compact way.
One billion ignition IGTBs sold is a tremendous achievement, but we’re accelerating past this milestone, developing new and innovative solutions for automakers most challenging requirements. By bringing together two established industry leaders; Fairchild and ON Semiconductor – we can leverage over fifty years of automotive semiconductor experience to provide comprehensive solutions in all areas of automotive electronics.
This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified)