Thursday, October 23, 2014

Apple and Samsung drive adoption of next-generation sensors

EL SEGUNDO, USA: Propelled by the race between Apple and Samsung to enhance their mobile products with cutting-edge sensor technology, the market for sensors in cellphones and tablets is set to nearly triple from 2012 through 2018, according to IHS Technology.

Worldwide market revenue for sensors used in mobile handsets and media tablets will rise to $6.5 billion in 2018, up from $2.3 billion in 2012. The fastest-expanding portion of the mobile sensor segment will be emerging devices, whose revenue will surge to $2.3 billion in 2018, up from just $24 million in 2012. In 2013, this segment posted dramatic growth, with revenue rising to more than $500 million.

“The next wave of sensor technology in smartphones and tablets has arrived,” said Marwan Boustany, IHS senior analyst for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and sensors.

“Led by Apple and Samsung, the mobile market is moving beyond simply integrating established devices like motion sensors and now is including next-generation features like fingerprint and environment/health sensors. Adoption of these newer devices will drive the expansion of the mobile sensor device market in the coming years.”

Established sensors in mobile devices include motion sensors, light sensors and MEMS microphones. Emerging sensors consist of new devices including fingerprint, optical pulse, humidity, gas, ultraviolet (UV) and thermal imaging.

Information in this media release is contained in the new IHS Technology report entitled Emerging Sensors in Handsets & Tablets Report – 2014 from the Semiconductors & Components service.

Heightened sensors
Apple initiated the market for fingerprint sensors in mobile devices with the release of the iPhone 5s in 2013.

“Fingerprint sensors have arrived in force. IHS forecasts that shipments of fingerprint-enabled devices will reach 1.4 billion units in 2020,” Boustany said. “This is more than four times the 317 million units expected to be shipped by the end of 2014.”

The fingerprint sensor market is beginning to gain traction at other companies outside of Apple. New devices with fingerprint sensors include Samsung’s flagship model—the Galaxy S5—and Huawei’s top-of-the-line smartphone, the Ascend Mate 7, both of which began shipping in 2014.

For its part, Samsung has pioneered the deployment of other devices, including environmental and health sensors in the flagship models introduced by the company during the last 18 months. Samsung rolled out a humidity sensor in the Galaxy S4, a pulse sensor in the Galaxy S5 and a UV sensor in the Note 4.

Asian sensation
Fingerprint sensors play a key role in mobile payment services, providing authentication for systems like Apple Pay. Other banks and financial institutions, including Visa, MasterCard and PayPal are also working to support mobile payments and biometric authentication.

“This fingerprint market has all its requirements for success converging at the right time,” Boustany said.

Mobile payment services are expected to gain popularity not just in Europe and North America, but also in Asia.

With the increasing demand for sensor technology in Asia, IHS expects Chinese smartphone original equipment manufacturers (OEM) to be the next driver for a new generation of sensors.

Humidity sensors have been used in Chinese handsets since 2011. In the future, air-quality sensors will experience growing usage in China.

The first gas sensors have just been designed in by Chinese smartphone OEMs. IHS expects these phones will enter the market during the first half of 2015. There is also a specific demand for sensors that can detect particle pollution in large Chinese cities such as Beijing or Shanghai.

Extrasensory perception
In terms of revenue, fingerprint sensors now dominate the mobile market, followed by optical pulse sensors, humidity and UV sensors. IHS anticipates gas sensors will join the fray in 2015 and thermal imagers will arrive during the 2018 time period.

Thermal imagers using microbolometer sensors emerged from the technology of forward-looking infrared (FLIR) systems in 2014 as accessories for the iPhone 5s. However, it will take a few more years before these sensors decline enough in pricing to be embedded in smartphones.

IHS predicts that Samsung will adopt gas/chemical sensors in the Note 6 that will be introduced in 2016. This is because gas/chemical sensor technology will have matured and use cases will be more clearly defined by then.

Some sensors that have appeared in smartphones are likely to migrate to wearables, which in some cases are better platforms for health or environmental sensors.

Cadence announces broad portfolio of 3D memory verification IP

SAN JOSE, USA: Cadence Design Systems Inc. announced the immediate availability of verification IP (VIP) supporting all popular 3D memory standards including Wide I/O 2, Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC), High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) and DDR4 3D Stacking (DDR4-3DS).

The portfolio of memory VIP enables designers to accelerate the verification of memory interfaces and achieve earlier system-on-chip (SoC) verification closure for compute server applications, mobile devices, high-performance graphics and network applications.

Advanced features of these new VIP models include direct memory access for read, write, save, preload and comparison of memory contents, robust assertions, error configurability, transaction callbacks, assertion reports and a built-in address manager.

Additionally, the models support all leading third party simulators, verification languages and methodologies, enabling SoC verification teams with the fastest path to verify the correctness of interfaces to these new, specialized memories.

"Memory is a critical factor in increasing functionality and performance of advanced system topologies," said Robert Feurle, VP of compute and networking marketing at Micron. "The fact that Cadence is involved in the development of all the latest standards enables our designers to accelerate their adoption of innovative technologies such as Hybrid Memory Cube."

"3D memories are increasingly becoming essential to the next generation of electronic products," said Erik Panu, VP, Research & Development of the IP Group at Cadence. "The availability of Cadence VIP products supporting the latest standards facilitates a quick and convenient means for our customers to rapidly deploy the new 3D memory standards and to verify the correctness of their usage with SoC designs."

Toshiba automotive infotainment companion chip supports high-res multimedia connectivity and camera devices

SAN JOSE, USA: Toshiba America Electronic Components Inc. (TAEC) has launched a key new addition to its extensive portfolio of solutions for the automotive market.

The TC358791XBG automotive companion chip was created to drive high-resolution multimedia (audio, video) and camera connectivity for next-generation infotainment applications in the connected car.

The new chip supports the latest automotive Gigabit Ethernet AVB standard for a wide range of applications, such as front/rear/surround-view cameras, digital audio and transferring high-resolution video content to head-unit and rear-seat entertainment systems.

The TC358791XBG can also seamlessly interface with and support many leading-edge automotive application processors on the market, thanks to its USB 3.0, MIPI® CSI-2 and DSI connectivity for both audio and video, and will support Automotive Electronics Council reliability specification AEC-Q100 (Grade 3).

The TC358791XBG can split one video input into two pictures and can simultaneously drive two high-resolution low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) digital displays. Examples include head units, instrument clusters, and parking aid vision systems.

The chipset can also send high-resolution audio and video data from the host processor to multiple displays or other electronic control units in the car, and it has a High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI®) 1.4 receiver interface to allow connection of HDMI-enabled devices to the application processor.

The new chip is housed in a FBGA257 15mm x 15mm package with 0.8 mm ball pitch. Additional features include differential CVBS (composite) interfaces for analog composite video sources, support for early back-up camera view (CVBS to LVDS), and ability to relay packetized IQ audio tuner data to the host via USB.

Z3 Technology's Z3-DM8107-SDI2-RPS development system delivers low power H.264 encoder solution

LINCOLN, USA: Providing the latest in integrated embedded solutions and products, Z3 Technology LLC announced today the immediate availability of the Z3-DM8107-SDI2-RPS broadcast encoder.

The encoder was developed as a video infrastructure solution that works in applications such as broadcast video encoding, medical video, video security and industrial DVR, and industrial video processing.

"With encoding capability of up to 1080p60 or dual channel with 1 channel of 1080i30 and 1 channel of 720p60, the Z3-DM8107-SDI2-RPS supports H.264 BP, MP and HP," says Aaron Caldwell, CEO, Z3 Technology. "ODM and OEM costs associated with development expenses and time-to-market are significantly reduced with Z3's application software that comes with our development kits."

As with all of Z3 Technology's Rapid Prototyping Systems, the Z3-DM8107-SDI2-RPS consists of a hardware package and software bundle designed to enable rapid development of multimedia applications.

Based on the DaVinci TMS320DM8107 video processor from Texas Instruments (TI), the hardware provided includes one Z3-DM8107-MOD-0x system-on-module card and a video infrastructure application board, Z3-DM8107-APP-2x, which provides advanced video input/output capabilities.

Measuring only 82mm x 43mm, the Z3-DM8107-MOD-0x is a compact OEM-ready module and features an ARM Cortex-A8 core capable of 750MHz, parallel and serial CMOS sensor ports, dual GigE ports, two SATA2 interfaces, PCI Express and 1GB DDR3 on board as well as 256MB of Flash.
This module offers low power consumption and H.264 1080p60 performance. The Z3-DM8107-MOD-0x is designed for applications such as digital video recorders (DVR), network video recorders (NVR), industrial video interface displays and medical imaging.

Z3's custom video infrastructure application board, Z3-DM8107-APP-2x, is included with the Z3-DM8107-SDI2-RPS system. This application board leverages the I/O expansion capability of the Z3-DM8107-MOD-0x to implement additional functions not present in the base module.

The Z3-DMI8107-SDI2-RPS includes inputs for 3G-SDI, HDMI, composite and analog stereo audio. The application board also has HDMI output. Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 and RS-232 comprise the remaining interfaces on the Z3-DM8107-APP-2x.

Accelerate control systems and increase integration while decreasing system cost with TI's C2000 Piccolo F2807x MCUs

HOUSTON, USA: Need a microcontroller (MCU) that allows you to quickly double system performance without doubling your cost or changing your hardware or software design?

With the powerful combination of the C28x CPU and accelerators, the new C2000 Piccolo F2807x MCUs from Texas Instruments (TI) boost execution speeds of control tasks in industrial applications such as telecom rectifiers, server power, solar micro inverters, frequency inverters and automotive HEV/EV.

The F2807x MCUs also provide many analog and control peripherals to enable more integrated control applications. They are scalable with the previously announced C2000 Delfino F2837xS and F2837xD MCU generations.

Designers looking to tap into the performance of the C2000 Piccolo F2807x MCUs can leverage the real-time control accelerator (CLA). The CLA doubles the throughput of the F2807x MCU, providing an additional 120 MHz of floating-point processing capability. This additional bandwidth allows designers to run parallel math-intensive or time-sensitive signal processing tasks.

Offloading these tasks to the CLA enables the CPU to focus on general system tasks such as diagnostics, communications, motion profiling and more. Also integrated in the main C28x CPU is a trigonometric math unit (TMU) accelerator, which enables the chip to quickly execute trigonometric-based algorithms used in transforms and control functions.

TI's C2000 Piccolo F2807x MCUs are also packed with high-end, smart analog and control integration — including a flexible, enhanced pulse-width modulator (PWM) that supports all digital power topologies — to decrease digital control system complexity. Three 12-bit ADCs increase sampling throughput by allowing designers to do simultaneous tasks such as monitor voltages and currents of three-phase motors while simultaneously decoding high-frequency resolver feedback.

Additionally, the F2807x MCUs can simultaneously process eight delta-sigma modulated channels, each with threshold comparators and a seamless interface to the TI AMC1204 isolated delta-sigma modulator, for isolated current and voltage measurements. Window comparators provide critical power stage protection.

SMIC and Maxscend collaborate on 55nm RF IP platform

SHANGHAI, CHINA: Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) and Maxscend Technologies Inc., a RF IP company based in China, announced that Maxscend Bluetooth RF IP has been silicon proven on SMIC's 55nm Low Leakage (LL) logic process. This IP has now been integrated into one of SMIC customers' product tape-out.

The silicon proven Bluetooth RF IP is the result of a collaborative effort between SMIC and Maxscend and marks a significant milestone in SMIC RF IP platform setup. It has achieved a leading edge position in the industry and will provide mutual customers an excellent IP solution for the booming IoT market, as well as the prosperous mobile and tablet markets.

Dr. Tianshen Tang, senior VP of SMIC Design Service Center, commented: "We are pleased to be working with Maxscend. This important breakthrough will enable SMIC to offer leading 55nm RF IP solutions and secure SMIC's leading position in China's semiconductor foundry industry. We are confident that we can provide top quality solutions and design services for the customer."

"It is really exciting to see that our Bluetooth and BLE RF IP has been silicon proven on SMIC 55nm platform," said Zhihan Xu, CEO of Maxscend.

"Besides the current huge demand of smart-phones, tablets, Bluetooth Audio and other areas of traditional Bluetooth technologies, there is tremendous interest coming from low-power Bluetooth in the IoT field. With the wide adoption of Bluetooth low energy technology, smart devices will become ubiquitous in everyday life: wearables, smart-home, smart-medical, smart-sports and many more. By partnering with SMIC, we are confident we have the capabilities to support global customers with superior Bluetooth technology and professional technical services."

Renesas delivers enhanced user experience with integrated automotive cockpit solution

TOKYO, JAPAN: Renesas Electronics Corp. is enhancing the driving experience with robust new solutions for the integrated car cockpit.

As the newest member of Renesas’ state-of-the-art R-Car Series for automotive, the R-Car E2 automotive systems-on-chip (SoCs) and the new R-Car E2 software development board deliver optimized infotainment and display audio for entry-level integrated cockpit systems that support smartphone interoperability.

In combination with other Renesas R-Car Series devices, it helps achieve the scalability required to bridge the full range of integrated cockpit systems from entry-level to high-end models.

In an integrated cockpit, the converged system integrates and analyzes multiple streams of information and reports the results to the driver in an optimized format, which is increasingly delivered through interoperation with smartphones. This convergence is driving demand for higher level functionality and greater added value for entry-level applications.

Cadence intros automotive functional safety verification solution

SAN JOSE, USA: Cadence Design Systems Inc. has introduced its new automotive functional safety verification solution, which reduces the effort required by automotive designers to prepare for ISO 26262 compliance by up to 50 percent.

An expansion to the Cadence Incisive functional verification platform, the new fault injection and safety verification technologies help automotive engineers automate ISO 26262 compliance for traceability, safety verification and tool confidence level (TCL).

The integrated Cadence Incisive functional safety solution reduces the compliance effort by automating the time-intensive manual verification process of fault injection and result analysis for IP, System-on-Chip (SoC) and system designs. The solution includes the Incisive Functional Safety Simulator and the Functional Safety Analysis capability in the Incisive vManager™ solution.

The new simulator operates within the Incisive Enterprise Simulator compiled-code engine, boosting runtime performance up to 10x and providing the seamless reuse of the functional and mixed-signal verification environments to accelerate the time to develop safety verification versus the interpreted Incisive Verifault-XL engine traditionally used in functional safety simulation.

The ability of safety systems to detect faults is the critical measurement for ISO 26262 compliance. The Functional Safety Analysis capability allows the safety engineer to automatically generate a safety verification regression from the fault dictionary created by the simulator and enables the Incisive vManager solution to track millions of detected, partially detected, and undetected faults introduced into simulation to verify the safety systems in a design.

By automating the tracking of these safety metrics, the Incisive functional safety solution automates man-years of effort, and provides the traceable audit trail needed in the systems design chain from semiconductor to OEM suppliers.

"Addressing functional safety challenges, particularly in automotive electronics, is critical for the success of system and semiconductor companies," said Charlie Huang, executive VP, Worldwide Field Operations and System & Verification Group at Cadence.

"By partnering with companies like Melexis who embrace functional safety today, Cadence is delivering a solution that enables engineers to more efficiently address one of the key requirements to proliferate fault-tolerant electronics in the automotive industry where the safety of consumers is paramount."

The Incisive Functional Safety Simulator and Functional Safety Analysis technologies are part of the Cadence System Development Suite (SDS), addressing the largest and most complex verification and hardware-software co-development challenges faced by semiconductor and system companies.

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).