Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Semitech debuts single-chip, grid-connected signal controller for IoT apps

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: Semitech Semiconductor, a provider of narrowband power line communication (N-PLC) solutions that enable the transformation of the electricity grid into a smart grid, announced its new SM2480.

A single-chip, grid-connected signal controller, the SM2480 is ideal for solar inverters, smart lighting LED ballasts, home and building automation and other SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), and grid-connected applications.

The SM2480 integrates standards-based universal N-PLC with analog signal monitoring, control functions and peripherals -- making it the first chip in the world to offer all of the functions required for grid-connected micro inverter implementation.

Integrating the connectivity function with the control functions significantly reduces the cost of a solar micro-inverter design, enabling a cost effective, power efficient and smaller system architecture, which is critical for the mass deployment of micro-inverter-based solar systems and smart ballasts.

Micro-inverters and smart street lighting controllers are key to more efficient energy generation and usage and have become increasingly important components of the smart grid.

Despite their many advantages, the market has been slow to adopt micro-inverters, primarily due to cost concerns. A single-chip micro-inverter provides a complete platform to implement all of the functions in both the control and the communication paths, enabling significant cost improvement and system simplification.

Prozess announces Valin as new distributor partner for reveal

ST. LOUIS, USA: Prozess Technologie, an emerging leader in the process measurement tools industry, has announced Valin Corp., a privately held, employee-owned company providing technical solutions for the technology, energy, life sciences, natural resources, and transportation industries, as a distribution partner  for their new innovative process measurement platform, the Reveal.

Valin sees immediate applications to better provide precision measurement solutions to their customers in the Petroleum, Pharmaceutical and Semiconductor industries.

“Valin is one of the most respected names in the business,” said William Buie, president and GM of Prozess. “Valin quickly recognized the impact that Reveal’s flexible platform can have on the industries they serve.  Our innovative Reveal device further demonstrates Valin’s leadership in bringing advancements to their customers.”

Valin serves customers that are looking for precise measurement in real time, and the Reveal addresses this need.  Currently, engineers have to take samples of various elements on the manufacturing line and have it tested in the lab.

This lack of real-time measurement can prevent thousands of hours of efficient production and leads to unavoidable costs.  With the simplicity of operating the Reveal, specific elements can be monitored and adjusted immediately so as not to cause any delays.

“The Reveal represents another level of customer service we’re dedicated to providing,” said Joseph Nettemeyer, president and CEO, Valin. “Customers can find anyone to provide them with products and parts, but we take it a step further by providing knowledge.  We now have the ability to give our customers a huge level of knowledge in a portable robust, unit.

Flurry of M&As reshape automotive semiconductor supplier landscape

EL SEGUNDO, USA: Capped by last week’s announcement that Qualcomm Inc. would buy CSR PLC, the automotive semiconductor industry recently has been undergoing a wave of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity that has shaken up the competitive order of the market, according to IHS Technology.

In two major deals announced in August, Germany’s Infineon Technologies AG said it would acquire US-based International Rectifier Corp., while On Semiconductor Corp. sealed a deal to acquire fellow American firm Aptina Imaging Corp.

With the International Rectifier deal, Infineon bolstered its No. 2 rank in the global automotive semiconductor business and helped it to close the gap on the market leader, Renesas of Japan. Following the acquisition, Infineon trails Renesas by just $288 million, down from nearly $500 before Infineon bought International Rectifier, based on ranking data from 2013.
Meanwhile, the Aptina acquisition expanded On's automotive semiconductor revenue by $183 million, allowing On to move up one position to eighth place in the market, also based on 2013 ranking data.

The purchase of the UK’s CSR will allow California-based Qualcomm to enhance its market share. Qualcomm ranked No. 43 in 2013, while CSR came in at 23. The two companies combined would have ranked at No. 19 in 2013.

“While these three M&A deals differ in their specific goals and benefits, all have the same strategic objective: expanding market share in the lucrative business for semiconductors used in automobiles,” said Ahad Buksh, analyst for automotive semiconductors at IHS.

“The automotive supply is adding new infotainment, communications and driver-assist functionality at a rapid pace, causing related semiconductor revenue to rise 5 percent to reach $26 billion in 2013. Suppliers are buying up competitors to gain scale in the market, to add key capabilities and to capitalize on established customer relationships.”

EV Group next-gen nanoimprint lithography technology targets photonics, LED and bio-engineered device production

ST. FLORIAN, AUSTRIA: EV Group (EVG), a leading supplier of wafer bonding and lithography equipment for the MEMS, nanotechnology and semiconductor markets, introduced its SmartNIL™ large-area nanoimprint lithography (NIL) process.

Available on all EV Group NIL platforms, including mask aligners as well as the industry benchmark EVG®720 and newly available EVG®7200 UV-NIL systems, SmartNIL provides a low-cost, large-area and high-volume-manufacturing solution for a variety of advanced devices, including:

* Photonic-based devices such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), lasers and photovoltaics.
* Micro arrays and nano-devices for medical devices and bioengineered applications.
* Advanced storage media, including newly emerging forms of non-volatile memory (NVM).

Artesyn successfully tests first 100G technology

HONG KONG: Artesyn Embedded Technologies announced the successful testing of the industry’s first 100G ATCA technology.

This breakthrough will for the first time enable bandwidth-hungry next-generation applications in software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) deployments to achieve up to 4 Tb/s aggregate throughput in a single open standards-based bladed server system.

Working with connector manufacturer, ERNI, Artesyn has developed the critical technology components – the connector and backplane – that enable 100 Gb/s Ethernet connectivity in an ATCA shelf.

The technology will be available in Artesyn’s Centellis 8000 series systems later in the year and the first applications set to take advantage of this breakthtrough are SDN/NFV network security and optimization, where deep packet inspection techniques are used to process massive data flows in real time.

DSP Group delivers HD voice and home automation utilizing Qualcomm Internet processor

LOS ALTOS, USA: DSP Group Inc. announced that its DCX81 DECT/CAT-iq/ULE (Ultra Low Energy) system on a chip (SoC) can be integrated in gateways based on the Qualcomm Internet processor (IPQ806x) from Qualcomm Atheros Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc.

The solution will enable delivery of advanced cordless telephony features like multi-line, multi-call and multi-handset with enhanced HD voice.

DSP Group's cutting-edge DECT/CAT-iq/ULE SoC offers full home coverage, wideband audio (HD voice) and ULE support for home automation and security - all at an attractive cost/performance ratio. Supporting multiple lines and handsets and in-field software upgradability, DSP Group's DECT/CAT-iq/ULE SoC reference design enables home gateway developers to rapidly deliver products complying with the CAT-iq 2.0, 2.1 and 3.0 standards.

Microchip's digitally enhanced power analog controllers offer digital power supply flexibility

USA: Microchip Technology Inc. has announced its latest Digitally Enhanced Power Analog (DEPA) controllers – the MCP19118 and MCP19119 (MCP19118/9).

They provide simple yet effective analog PWM control for DC-DC synchronous buck converters up to 40V, with the configurability of a digital MCU. And they are the industry's first devices to combine 40V operation and PMBus communication interfaces.

These features enable quick power-conversion circuit development with an analog control loop that is programmable in the integrated 8-bit PIC® MCU core's firmware. This integration and flexibility is ideal for power-conversion applications, such as battery-charging, LED-driving, USB Power Delivery, point-of-load and automotive power supplies.

Along with the rapidly growing popularity of digitally controlled power supplies, due to their configurability for a variety of operating conditions and topologies, power system designers also have an increasing need for the ability to report telemetry and conduct two-way communication (typically for monitoring and fault reporting), via standard communication interfaces such as PMBus.

Additionally, the recently released USB charging specifications (USB Power Delivery and the USB type C connector) include variable charging voltages, which allow for rapid device charging, but add potentially difficult hardware requirements.

By integrating a supervisory microcontroller, the MCP19118/9 devices can create programmable power supplies. Key system settings – such as switching frequency (100 kHz to 1.6 MHz), current limits and voltage setpoints – can be adjusted on the fly during operation by issuing write commands to the registers in the device. One design can then be reused for additional applications, using firmware updates to change the configuration, which minimises design, production and inventory requirements across multiple platforms.

Additionally, the integrated MCU core can be used to monitor other parts of the application to sequence startup operations; intelligently manage faults, under-voltage or brown-out conditions; perform housekeeping functions; adjust power outputs in response to load requirements (such as battery charging or USB port power); and assist with the module's external interfaces (monitoring or delivering signals to the user or system).

With integrated linear regulators, PWM generators, ADCs, MOSFET drivers, analog error amplifiers and control-loop compensation, the MCP19118/9 devices provide a very compact circuit solution. Properly implemented, this system is capable of high conversion efficiency and excellent transient response for reduced system power losses, smaller heatsinks and longer battery life in portable applications. These DEPA devices can also provide data over the I2C interface, using customised SMBus or PMBus compatible commands.

Actions Semiconductor debuts first 28nm OWL series chipset

ZHUHAI, CHINA: Actions Semiconductor Co. Ltd has debuted its latest innovative 28nm process based quad-core application processor offering for the tablet and OTT set-top box markets at Global Sources' China Sourcing Fair - Electronics & Components held October 11-14 at the Asia World-Expo in Hong Kong.

The latest application processor is a 28nm process enhancement of its 40nm process twin, the ATM7039, announced in September 2013. Initially, Actions will offer two solutions, the ATM7039s, which is pin to pin compatible with its predecessor, the ATM7039c (40nm version), along with a more compact and efficient version, the ATM7059.

Like their predecessor, the ATM7039s and the ATM7059 feature a quad-core ARM CortexTM A9 CPU, high performance, world-class PowerVR GPU core from Imagination Technologies, 2K by 4K super high resolution decoding including support of the newest international standard - high definition HVEC/H.265 video decoding.

However, the new application processor employs 28nm LP process technology instead of 40nm and Actions' fourth generation low power design achieving 1.6GhZ single CPU speed with much lower power consumption and die cost. The new member of OWL series family brings a greatly improved user experience, enhanced processing speed, longer battery life and will support the upcoming Android Lollipop operating system.

Targeted directly at low and mid-tier, high volume Android® tablet manufacturers, it is a highly attractive and cost-effective solution across the board in mainstream tablet design, OTT set-top boxes, smart monitors, ultrabooks, digital signage, and other cloud-connected devices.

TI strengthens DSP and vision processing on its "Jacinto" family of infotainment processors

DETROIT, USA: Texas Instruments (TI) is adding signal processing functionality to its new DRA75x processors to enable customers to augment infotainment and pair informational advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) features.

The combination of these two will allow customers to produce cars with digital cockpit integration as well as traditional infotainment features without compromising performance. The new DRA75x processors, "Jacinto 6 EP" and "Jacinto 6 Ex", both developed on the same architecture as other "Jacinto" devices, enable automotive manufacturers to scale their investment without additional R&D or significant Bill-of-Material (BOM) increase to deliver a diverse portfolio of products with hardware and software compatibility.

"Jacinto 6 EP" is a processing leader in the infotainment segment with 1.4GHz of digital signal processor (DSP) performance equivalent to 22 GFLOPS / 60 GMACS. Complete with all the features of the "Jacinto 6", the "Jacinto 6 EP" device provides additional peripherals and DSP horsepower to add features while controlling system cost.

"Jacinto 6 EP" lowers the BOM by incorporating additional USB, video input and PCIe interfaces required in certain infotainment systems with demanding IO requirements. A second TMS320C66x DSP core, delivering a total of 1.4 GHz of signal processing, can be used for image manipulation technologies such as dynamically stitching multiple cameras into a single, surround or overhead view.

Also, the additional DSP performance enables augmented radio configurations (multi-tuner, multi-modal configurations leveraging antenna diversity and background scanning), audio and speech processing, active noise control (ANC), voice recognition and a variety of other technologies.

Further scaling the platform, the "Jacinto 6 Ex" device provides additional performance and integration possibilities from the "Jacinto 6 EP" by offering two embedded vision engines (EVEs) for simultaneous informational ADAS and infotainment functionalities without compromising the performance of either system.

Informational ADAS describes capabilities such as object and pedestrian detection, augmented reality navigation and driver identification leveraging cameras both inside and outside the car to enhance the driving experience without actively controlling the vehicle. These capabilities can be leveraged in the center stack, programmable cluster and head's-up display systems.

The EVEs enable high-performance analytic and vision algorithms operating concurrently with the ARM®, GPU, DSP, multimedia and additional sub-systems offering un-encumbered performance unlike anything available on the market today. Both EVEs and associated software libraries put customers in control of their development by leveraging the flexible, programmable, high-performance EVE cores for analytics algorithms.

ROHM's general-purpose automotive MCU system power supplies for idling stop systems

KYOTO, JAPAN & SANTA CLARA, USA: ROHM Semiconductor has recently announced the development of system power supplies optimized for high-performance microcontrollers in a variety of automotive systems, from electronic power steering to fuel injection, including HEVs and EVs.

The newly developed BD39001EKV-C utilizes a proprietary boost-buck switching method that ensures stable voltage supply, even when the battery voltage drops during start–stop operation, while improving power conversion efficiency by up to 5 percent vs. conventional products.

In response to the continued standardization and advancements in the automotive industry a startup sequence setting function is included that can adapt to a variety of MCU specifications and requirements.

With the continuing trend towards platform standardization in the automotive industry comes a push to promote the use of common parts worldwide. This is expected to increase demand for versatile products that can suit a variety of requirements and support microcontrollers of all types – as well as high-performance devices and solutions optimized for customized dedicated power supplies and specific applications.

In addition, the need to minimize fuel consumption has led to the adoption of start-stop systems that stop the engine during idling and other brief stops in order to prevent wasteful fuel consumption. However, this requires countermeasures to prevent MCU malfunction due to battery voltage fluctuations caused by cranking when the engine is started again.

In response, ROHM quickly developed a versatile, standardized power supply IC capable of providing stable voltage during stop-stop operation. The BD39001EKV-C utilizes a leading-edge 0.35um BiCDMOS power process and takes advantage of ROHM's analog design expertise to achieve a wide input voltage range from 4V to an absolute maximum of 40V.

Spansion adds 96 MCUs to FM4 family for industrial IoT

SUNNYVALE, USA: Spansion Inc. has added 96 new products to the Spansion FM4 family of flexible microcontrollers (MCUs).

Based on the ARM Cortex®-M4F core, the new MCUs boast a 200 MHz operating frequency and support a diverse set of on-chip peripherals for enhanced human machine interfaces (HMIs) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

The rich set of peripherals and large memory allow single-chip solutions for a wide variety of applications including factory automation, industrial Internet of Things (IoT), motor control, office automation, building management systems, smart meters, digital cameras and multi-function printers.

"With 200 MHz operating frequency and 2 MB flash, the S6E2C series MCUs support more than a dozen of the latest and most popular high-speed communications standards ideal for M2M communications and industrial IoT. The dual-bank flash array allows seamless over-the-air (OTA) in-application reprogramming," said Dhiraj Handa, senior VP and GM, Spansion Multi-Market Microcontroller Business.

"We also uniquely offer robust 5V I/O on a high-performance, large-memory MCU. This eases design since designers only need one regulator for a 5V MCU and can continue to use the 5V logic and power drivers common to industrial embedded applications."

Himax announces Google second round investment decision

TAINAN, TAIWAN: Himax Technologies Inc., a leading supplier and fabless manufacturer of display drivers and other semiconductor products, announced that Google Inc. has decided not to exercise its previously issued purchase option to make an additional investment into Himax's subsidiary, Himax Display Inc.

Himax has been authorized by Google to make the following statement: "Google continues to work closely with Himax as a strategic partner on future technologies and products and will remain a board observer."

Subsequent to Google's first round investment in the company's HDI subsidiary in October 2013, Himax has formed a strategic partnership with Google whereby Himax is the provider of liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) microdisplay technology that Google has recognized as the technology of choice for head-mounted displays (HMD) such as Google Glass.

Since the third quarter of 2013, HDI has been expanding capacity and further enhancing production capabilities to meet demand for our LCOS product line.