El Segundo (CA) – Integrated multimedia systems have become must-have feature sin new cars and buyers are shelling out big bucks for being able to talk on a cellphone hands-free or connect their MP3 player in their car. Ford’s Sync has surprised the industry with its simple and effective approach and its price tag may surprise even more.
iSuppli has taken the hardware of Sync apart and found that its six main components carry an estimated cost of $27.80 for Ford. At the heart of the system is a Freescale applicatiosn processor ($10.80), a Freescale microcontroller ($5), 256 MB SDRAM from Micron ($4.80), 2 Gb flash memory from Samsung ($3.80), a Cambridge Bluetooth silicon radio ($1.75) as well as audio codec from Cirrus Logic ($1.65).
While Microsoft’s Sync software is missing from this bill, iSuppli believes that Ford has created the most economical integrated media system for cars so far. Other manufacturers are reportedly spending up to $800 for similar capability in their vehicles today. Ford may even be able to rake in a healthy profit margin for voice-controlled Sync, which is a $395 option on most of its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models. In comparison, that does not sound like a bad deal for the buyer when compared what luxury car makers are charging for such features. For example, BMW wants $400 for an iPod adapter and Lexus’s RX SUV only provides Bluetooth connectivity in combination with its $2650 navigation system.
The key component running Sync is Freescale’s i.MX31L processor. The CPU is based on a 400 MHz ARM11 core and hosts Microsoft’s operating system, handles voice recognition and conducts all audio signal processing including WMA, AAC and MP3. The chip also implements echo-noise cancellation for hands-free calling.
“Ford has stolen a march on the rest of the auto business with the Sync’s impressive functionality and low cost,” said Richard Robinson, principal analyst, automotive electronics, for iSuppli. “Other auto makers are smarting in the face of Ford’s triumph because of the high costs they are facing to develop similar systems.”