Despite the start of the summer slowdown, electronic component manufacturers are not taking a vacation from developing innovative products. Over the past month, we’ve seen several innovative designs that are going to make both designers and purchasers happy by solving design problems, saving space, cutting costs and reducing bill of materials.
Let’s start with Honeywell’s Nanopower anisotropic magnetoresistive (AMR) sensor ICs. These small sensors provide the highest level of magnetic sensitivity (as low as 7 Gauss typical) while requiring only 360 nA. Coupled with small packaging, higher durability and higher reliability, the device is the first of its kind that can replace reed switches at the same sensitivity and about the same cost for battery-powered applications. This device is expected to be a boon for designers who have been looking to replace reed switches, due to their technology disadvantages, for their new designs.
Cavium recently announced what it calls “game changing” processors that are workload optimized for data center and cloud applications. The new category of workload optimized processors provide key features including highly optimized full custom processor cores, highly efficient caching subsystem, high memory bandwidth and capacity and end-to-end system virtualization. The 2.5-GHz 48 core ThunderX is touted as the highest performing low-power 64-bit ARMv8 SoC family of workload optimized processors. In addition, the ThunderX family is available in a range of SKUs and form factors for high performance volume compute, storage, secure compute and networking specific workloads.
In the lighting retrofit world, Soraa claims the industry’s first full-visible spectrum line of LED light engines. Key features: Uses 50 percent less power and allows fixtures to be 50 percent smaller due to their small diameter and low profile. They also provide a higher center beam intensity (CBCP) than current integral LED fixtures. It also features a novel heat sink design that enables low temperature operation and a lifetime of 50,000 hours. Got to love any new design that reduces reliability-draining heat in tight spaces.
Wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT) are the hottest areas for component innovation, miniaturization and integration right now. Here are three examples, one each from STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and ROHM Semiconductor.
If you’re looking for a paper-thin battery for your next design, STMicroelectronics has started limited production of its EnFilm advanced rechargeable batteries that measure less than 0.25-mm thick. Measuring 25.7 mm x 25.7 mm, ST’s EFL700A39 EnFilm solid-state lithium thin-film battery is well suited for use in ultra-low-profile devices.
TI offers an easy to design single-chip Wi-Fi solution for IoT applications. The SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3100 and CC3200 platforms are the first in a series of low-power SimpleLink wireless connectivity solutions for the IoT. The Internet-on-a-chip family allows customers to easily add embedded Wi-Fi and Internet to a variety of home, industrial and consumer electronics, said TI. It’s loaded with features and functionality for easy development with quick connection, cloud support, on-chip Wi-Fi, and Internet and robust security protocols.
ROHM Semiconductor developed a wearable key device that integrates multiple sensors, a Bluetooth LE IC, and low-power sensor hub microcontroller into a compact, lightweight form factor. The devices use sensor fusion technology, combining sensors from ROHM and Kionix with LAPIS Semiconductor's Bluetooth LE communication IC and sensor hub microcontroller to deliver the high functionality: counts the number of steps taken, estimates the number of calories consumed, and calculates distance to performing lock/unlock operation (via gesture control), detects small metallic objects (i.e. for food inspection), and monitors UV exposure. It also determines when the wearer is walking up/down stairs, on a bicycle, or riding in a train or car.
In the months ahead, I suspect that we will see many new and innovative components designed specifically for the connected world, ranging from consumer to medical device applications.