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Front End I News

Amantys looks to redefine the power electronics market

The intelligent power switch company, Amantys, has unveiled what it describes as its vision for the power electronics industry as it looks to improve the efficiency and reliability of power switching. According to the company power switching needs a new approach that includes: tight control at the core of the system, right by the transistor; remote control and monitoring of the system from afar. Amantys has devised a new power architecture that integrates all of these elements into a single intelligent power switch that it believes will deliver unparalleled system control, which is critical in applications as diverse as renewable energy generation, data centre power supplies and hybrid and electric vehicles. According to Richard Eden, Senior Market Analyst, Power & Energy Group, “The world market for IGBT-based power modules in 2010 was $3.0bn, and is set to grow to $5.4bn by 2015, representing a CAGR of 12.3% over the coming years, and conversion efficiency is the major driver for growth in this sector.” At present current switching technology lacks the control and observability that is critical for monitoring and improving switching performance. Intelligent power switching leverages the full benefits of semiconductor device technologies to give the platform needed for reliable and efficient conversion. The roadmap devised by Amantys looks to deliver effective power conversion through greater control and visibility in medium and high voltage

systems. Applications such as HVDC, locomotive traction and industrial motors could all benefit as a result. In power transmission systems regional and national grids are being connected across geographies and borders, and one of the challenges for HVDC is the reliability and robustness of the power connection. Commenting Bryn Parry, CEO of Amantys, said “It’s vital for us to engage with the market early to promote our technology vision for the power electronics industry. Our

architecture is aimed at satisfying the market demand for efficiency and

reliability and we see great market opportunities for our products across a number of application areas. We will be working

closely with industry partners to deliver the levels of power efficiency and reliability we know are possible. This marks the first step on delivering on our promise.” Ian Drew, EVP Strategy at ARM added “As we move into the Internet of Things, the ability to manage power more efficiently is going to become increasingly important. Amantys is helping to redefine the landscape of power electronics by deploying ARM processing at the heart of power conversion to provide intelligent switching.”

In looking to address the need for intelligent power switching Amantys has unveiled the Power Drive, a single channel, power-and-go gate drive, which incorporates a number of system enhancements.

Partnership: Mouser Electronics has signed a global distribution agreement with Toumaz, a pioneer in low cost, ultra-low energy wireless telemetry technologies. Mouser will start distributing Toumaz’s technologies including the TZ1053 TELRAN, an ultra-low energy radio for wireless sensor networks, remote controls, green energy solutions, smart meters, and environmental monitoring. The high-performance sub- 1GHz radio SoC offers 1V operation using a single button cell battery and uses less than 3mW continuous use power consumption.

Bryn Parry

Current products in the market are custom engineered for each application, but by providing a common platform to drive a range of different IGBTs from several manufacturers, the Power Drive is able to offer greater design reuse allowing skilled resources to be redeployed on higher-level product innovation. The Power Drive is configurable for various power modules and offers control of the rate of voltage and current change (dV/dt and dI/dt). The compact design sits within the power module dimensions to give a more robust design and a smaller footprint. It is compatible with existing drives but offers improved characteristics, switching modules from Infineon, Mitsubishi, Dynex and Toshiba. Lead customers will receive the Amantys Power Drive samples this year with general availability in the first quarter of 2012, and production beginning in the second quarter. The company said that it expected to follow this first product announcement with further product releases in the first quarter of 2012.

Ziptronix unveils lowest distortion capability for backside illuminated image sensor applications

Ziptronix, a developer of direct bonding technology for advanced semiconductor applications, has announced that recent collaborations with major image-sensor manufacturers have shown that its ZiBond direct bonding process contributes minimum distortion in backside illuminated (BSI) image sensors.

“In addition to confirming that the

Ziptronix direct bonding technology delivers the lowest distortion of any process for manufacturing BSI image sensors, these results have tremendous bottom-line significance for image sensor makers,” said Ziptronix CEO Dan Donabedian. “Minimal distortion means pixels can be scaled smaller, and that means increased image sensor resolution, more die per wafer, improved image sensor yields and lower production costs.” BSI image sensors are rapidly replacing

frontside illuminated image sensors for applications such as digital cameras and

4 November 2011

smartphone cameras due to pixel scaling and other advantages enabled by not illuminating the photodiodes through the CMOS interconnect stack. BSI image sensor manufacturing typically requires bonding a silicon CMOS wafer to a non- CMOS handle wafer. Because this bonding technology does not involve a large coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) mismatch, it does enable very low distortion which is required for scalable color filter array overlay on the exposed photodiodes after thinning of the bonded CMOS wafer.

Distortion of the wafer introduced during the bonding process can compromise the overlay and limit pixel scaling. ZiBond’s inherent capacity for high bond strength at low temperature effectively minimizes this distortion compared to the competing bond technologies, adhesive and copper thermo- compression. This directly enables

Components in Electronics

Apple admission: Apple has admitted that "a few bugs" in its latest mobile operating system, the iOS 5 are affecting the battery life of some of its devices. The news comes as thousands of users highlighted problems with poor battery performance. The issue has not been limited to Apple's new iPhone 4S handset but has also been affecting its iPad tablet computers which had installed the upgrade. The company plans to rectify the problem with a new software update. Sales of the iPhone 4S have been huge, with Apple claiming to have shifted over 4 million handsets in the first three days of the phone’s launch. Research firm Strategy Analytics found that in the third quarter of this year Samsung overtook Apple with 27.8m smartphone shipped compared to 17.1m iPhones. Another analyst firm Canalys has revealed that HTC has become the number one vendor in the US, overtaking Samsung, and pushing Apple into third place.

New logistics centre: The London based supplier of electronic components and logistics solutions, Transonics, is to double its component distribution capacity. Since the acquisition of Lewmax, the independent device programming company, in 2006

Transonics has been holding component stocks in two warehouses, one in London and the other in Leicestershire. In order to streamline stockholding and logistics and to accommodate continued rapid business growth the company announced that it would be relocating its European warehouse operation from London to a new 12,000ft” warehouse located on the Meridian Business Park in Leicester in January 2012. In addition to having state of the art warehouse facilities the Lewmax programming operation is housed in the same location thereby simplifying processes and improving turnaround times.

Global agreement: Premier Farnell and Fox Electronics, a leading specialist in the design and supply of frequency controllers, have signed a global distribution agreement. Customers of Premier Farnell’s operating businesses will now have global access to Fox Electronics’ full line of crystals, oscillators, TCXOs, VCXOs and Fox’s XpressO Crystal Oscillator, which has been classed as a breakthrough in configurable Frequency Control Solutions.

XpressO utilises a family of proprietary ASICs, designed and developed with a key focus on noise reduction technologies. XpressOs XOs & VCXOs come in various packages and voltages and are configurable with custom frequencies from 0.75MHz to 1350 MHz with extremely low jitter.

submicron pixel scaling; for example, 0.9 micron pixel BSI image sensors have already been fabricated and work on 0.7 micron pixel BSI is underway. Sony has recently licensed the Ziptronix ZiBond technology for BSI image sensor manufacturing. Several sources, including a Chipworks teardown published by technology blog network Engadget, have subsequently reported that Sony is supplying image sensors for the iPhone 4S.

New laboratory: Renesas Electronics Europe and the University of Glamorgan have officially opened the Renesas Embedded Systems Laboratory for electronics engineering students within the University’s Faculty of Advanced Technology. The two organisations have been working together for the past five years with Renesas making regular donations of development tools and microcontrollers. The ongoing support from Renesas has prompted the University to name its Embedded Systems Laboratory after Renesas. The University, which has three campuses in South

Wales, has an impressive track record with its engineering courses. The Faculty’s new Renesas Embedded Systems Lab comprises 25 new high-end terminals running cutting-edge tools. The facility was designed in collaboration with Renesas, whose sponsorship helps ensure that the students are always working with the latest technologies and development tools.

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