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Liu Tao, CEO of Datang NXP: successful commercialization of EIS technology, breaking the foreign monopoly of BMS
LBET竞技, Jan 21 2022

Recently, Datang NXP announced the launch of a new battery management chip dnb1101a. Based on patented circuit technology, dnb1101a can measure battery electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) online in a wide frequency range. The EIS data of the battery can be further transformed into in-depth information of the internal state of the battery, such as overheating risk, lithium evolution degree, aging degree, etc.

EIS technology can be used in a variety of scenario applications, including work regulation energy storage, vehicle regulation and so on, so as to ensure the safety of the battery. For details, please refer to: Datang NXP launched a battery management chip with impedance monitoring function; Datang NXP: battery management chip innovation, leading the reform of new energy industry.

On the occasion of this new product launch, eeworld interviewed Liu Tao, CEO of Datang NXP, and gave an interpretation of Datang NXP's enterprise development, product characteristics and future market trend of battery management. The following is a transcript of the dialogue:

Eeworld: how to view the current domestic encouragement and development of "stuck neck" chip industry, and what important role does Datang NXP play in solving the "stuck neck" problem.

Liu Tao: chips are the food of industry. In the current international environment, China really needs to be independent and controllable in the chip industry, which requires the joint efforts of colleagues from all aspects such as chip design, wafer, packaging and testing, equipment and materials.

Datang NXP is a chip design company, deeply engaged in the field of new energy vehicles and industrial energy storage, focusing on the R & D and design of battery management chips. Battery management chip is one of the core chips in the field of new energy and energy storage, which is closely related to battery management and safety. It belongs to high-precision analog chip in the subdivided field. This segment has a high technical threshold and requires more technical reserves for product R & D. It has been monopolized by foreign semiconductor giants for many years.

After several years of R & D team reserves and technical difficulties, Datang NXP released its first OEM specification battery management chip in 2021, and will release several new products in the next two years. The launch of our products means that the customer's supply chain system is more secure. At the same time, its core competitiveness IP will help customers solve the battery safety pain points, further add value to customers and bring changes to the new energy industry.

Eeworld: you said that few outsiders really understand the company's multiple challenges in technology and talents. Can you give us some details on how the company has responded to these challenges?

Liu Tao: at the beginning of its establishment, although Datang NXP was crowned with the aura of two major shareholders, its R & D team construction and technical reserves were self-reliance and did not reach out to "bring doctrine". Almost every R & D post in the company is carefully screened and cultivated by the demand department and HR. I have interviewed a lot of candidates myself.

The company's R & D system, from building a framework at the beginning to later having a system suitable for a multi-regional and multi-cultural team like us, comes from our summary and iteration in the actual combat of streaming verification. All of the company's core IP is achieved by the team in actual combat, and has formed a layout of nearly 100 invention patents, which can support the iteration and expansion of subsequent product families.

Among these IPS, the most challenging one is EIS. Its integration on the chip has not been realized before, and we have no experience to learn from. In order to achieve the design goal, we have iterated many times, and finally realized the commercialization of EIS on chip for the first time in the industry.

Eeworld: are companies facing different challenges today? As you have worked in technical, marketing and management positions, how will you plan to deal with these challenges.

Liu Tao: the company is at a critical stage where challenges and opportunities coexist.

In terms of product R & D, we have climbed the first mountain, and our first OEM standard battery management chip products have been released in mass production. The second mountain not far away is how to further iterate products, enrich product series, improve performance, reduce costs, and create higher value for customers and themselves. The company is about to mass produce the second generation of industry specification level and the first generation of vehicle specification level battery management chip products this year. The second generation of vehicle specification level products are also being developed in parallel, and a large-scale product family will be formed in the next two years.

In terms of market promotion, our product series integrates the "EIS impedance monitoring" function. This IP is one of the core competitiveness of our products. It enables the system to monitor the battery more deeply, help realize the safety early warning and safety prediction for battery fire and explosion, and significantly improve the battery safety. However, because many customers do not have past experience, they do not know how to use EIS to maximize their system value. Therefore, it is not enough for us to integrate and develop EIS on the chip. We also need to extend the development to the system application end and develop application cases that customers can copy and paste. This is our high priority work on the market side.

Eeworld: at present, there are many chip companies developing BMS. From traditional European and American manufacturers to start-ups, what is the competitiveness of Datang NXP?

Liu Tao: in terms of product competitiveness, our products are not just a domestic replacement, but create value through technological innovation, help solve the pain points of battery safety, and do what battery management chip products should do.

In terms of market layout, we have been based on vehicle specification level R & D and manufacturing since the beginning, including wafer process, sealing test, aec-q100 certification, iso26262 functional safety certification, etc. This layout enables our product family to form simultaneous coverage of EV market and industrial energy storage market. 

Otherwise, once the layout of engineering specifications is followed by the transfer of vehicle specifications, it means that an additional R & D cycle of 3 ~ 5 years can cover the EV market.

In terms of capacity guarantee, we have corresponding backup in the layout of wafer and sealed test supply chain, which can cope with the climbing orders.

In terms of customer support, our organizational structure is not huge and bloated, but has a fast and efficient combat team. Customer orientation and solving customer problems more professionally and quickly are the significance of our existence.

Eeworld: EIS is a key technology that the company has been focusing on since its establishment. Now it has finally achieved a breakthrough in mass production and obtained market orders. How will the company expand its business in the market next.

Liu Tao: we should extend the development of EIS from the chip IP end to the customer's system application end, and develop application cases that customers can copy and paste. This is our high priority work on the market side.

At the same time, I believe that customers will always be smarter than us. EIS will eventually form large-scale applications, and customers will continue to develop new applications we don't expect. Therefore, we will listen to customers' feedback and suggestions on EIS and further iterate the products. In the field of simulation design, there is never the best, only the better.

Eeworld: the most important difference of EIS is to achieve better failure prediction and safety. According to the company's information, it is also the first company to launch such technology in the market. Can the market accept this new technology.

Liu Tao: at present, dnb1101a has taken the lead in practical application in several fields of industrial energy storage, including energy storage system of base station and data center and offline screening of cell production. At the same time, many customers are working with us to develop application cases and system integration schemes based on EIS. At this time, we can say that EIS has been accepted by a small number of people, but we need to redouble our efforts with colleagues in the industry to turn it into a technology for Pratt & Whitney.

Eeworld: compared with other battery industries, the battery industry chain in new energy vehicles is also very subdivided, including many OEM, module, board, system and chip suppliers. How will Datang NXP participate in the industry chain ecology.

Liu Tao: Datang NXP is cooperating with every downstream layer of the new energy industry chain. Firstly, the flexibility of the battery industry chain is high, and the battery factory, pack factory, BMS factory and vehicle factory in the downstream may be our customers; At the same time, one of the most important values of Datang NXP's products is to help establish higher battery safety, so we need to be highly involved in the industrial chain ecology to connect and integrate the value chain.

Eeworld: previously, the company said that about half of its international business and half of its domestic business. Is there any change in this business layout?

Liu Tao: in view of the new energy market pattern, our domestic business will accelerate development.

Eeworld: for the future, the company said it would release several more battery management chips in two years. What factors affect the company's R & D speed.

Liu Tao: at the beginning of the company's establishment, the starting point of product layout was high. Taking the vehicle specification level as the starting point, independent research and development, and the time for early team preparation, tackling key problems of new IP technology and streaming verification was relatively long; Once the first product gets a breakthrough, it means that it can quickly iterate products on the same platform architecture. In a word, we need a breakthrough from 0 to 1 in the early stage, and now we need a growth from 1 to ∞. Different stages are facing new challenges and opportunities.

Eeworld: with the proposal of today's dual carbon target, in addition to the vehicle market, energy storage is also a huge market. What plans and progress the company has in this regard can be disclosed.

Liu Tao: we have a corresponding layout for the energy storage market. We have released its first OEM level battery management chip in 2021 and will release its second OEM level products this year.

Introduction of the interviewee:


Dr. Liu Tao, CEO of Datang NXP

Dr. Liu Tao is the CEO of Datang NXP semiconductor (DNS). DNS is a Chinese automotive semiconductor company, focusing on battery management system solutions to bring ultimate battery safety, life optimization and performance improvement to electric vehicles and energy storage systems.

Dr. Liu Tao joined DNS in 2015, held many leadership positions and assumed more and more responsibilities. As the CEO of DNS, he is responsible for the company's strategic direction and operational decisions, and creates value for customers, shareholders and employees through innovative battery management chips, automotive lighting control chips and other business growth points. He once served as chief marketing officer in the management team. In this position, he has made breakthrough achievements in business growth and ecosystem construction. At the same time, DNS is increasingly recognized in the field of battery management by virtue of market disruptive innovative products and their unique value. Before that, he was the market and application leader of the energy and lighting division. He has been leading a multi-functional product team to transform advanced concepts into chips with good performance.

Dr. Liu Tao has more than 10 years of working experience in the semiconductor industry. He has successively served multinational corporations, state-owned enterprises and joint ventures in different countries. He has rich experience in leading multi regional and multi-cultural teams. His work experience covers the design and manufacture of mixed signal, MEMS and memory integrated circuits.

Liu Tao holds a doctorate in microelectronics from East China Normal University. He was an assistant researcher at the City University of Hong Kong.