Microelectronics world news

MIPI Alliance Reports Successful Plugfest of Three I3C Specifications

AAC - Fri, 09/29/2023 - 02:00
This year’s Plugfest helped validate I3C and build out its ecosystem amongst some of the industry’s leaders.

Compact PIC MCUs tout I3C functionality

EDN Network - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 20:29

MCUs in Microchip’s PIC18-Q20 family support up to two Improved Inter Integrated Circuit (I3C) peripherals and multi-voltage I/O (MVIO) operation. Housed in 14-pin and 20-pin packages as small as 3×3 mm, the microcontrollers easily interface across multiple voltage domains without external components and support 1.0-V to 3.6-V operation for I3C communication.

With one or two I3C interfaces (I3C target device mode only), configurable peripherals, and the ability to operate on three independent voltage domains, the PIC18-Q20 MCUs are well-suited for use in conjunction with a primary MCU in a larger overall system. They can process sensor data, handle low-latency interrupts, and report system status in a wide range of applications, including automotive, industrial control, and IoT.

PIC18-Q20 MCUs provide 64 kbytes of flash, 256 bytes of data EEPROM, and 4096 bytes of RAM. They also employ a 10-bit, 300-ksample/s ADC with computation for responsive sensor designs and an 8-bit signal routing port to interconnect digital peripherals.

Developers interested in evaluating the I3C and MVIO capabilities of the PIC18-Q20 can purchase the PIC18F16Q20 Curiosity Nano development board for prototyping. For purchase information, contact a Microchip sales representative, authorized distributor, or visit the Microchip Direct website.

PIC18-Q20 product page

Microchip Technology

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Contactless connectors are cable-free

EDN Network - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 20:29

Molex’s MX60 series comprises solid-state devices that integrate RF transceivers and antennas in a single package to enable contactless connectivity. These high-speed wireless connectors can replace conventional mechanical connectors for point-to-point communications, allowing seamless device pairing and increased communication reliability.

The MX60 series is based on wireless chip-to-chip technology and intellectual property acquired from Keyssa. This core technology operates at data rates from 1 Gbps to 5.4 Gbps over the 60-GHz band with no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth interference.

The first entries in the MX60 series include DisplayPort (main and auxiliary), Gigabit Ethernet, and USB 3.0 SuperSpeed contactless connectors. An integrated retimer optimizes signal integrity at higher data rates. According to Molex, MX60 connectors offer solid-state wireless connections with enhanced reliability and robustness for high-vibration applications and harsh environments.

Production samples of the MX60 series of contactless connectors are now available. A contactless connector combining USB 2.0 and other low-speed interfaces is currently under development.

MX60 series product page


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FPGA furnishes built-in USB interface

EDN Network - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 20:29

Lattice Semiconductor claims that its CrossLinkU-NX FPGA is the first in its class to integrate hardened USB device functionality. Aimed at AI and embedded vision applications, the FPGA packs a USB controller and physical layer (PHY) capable of USB 2.0 transfer rates up to 480 Mbps and USB 3.2 transfer rates up to 5 Gbps.

CrossLinkU-NX not only reduces the total cost of ownership and area needed for discrete PHY components, but also the FPGA fabric resources required for a USB device controller. Additionally, it provides a low-power standby mode with an always-on block to extend battery life and simplify thermal management. Instant-on configuration enables I/O to be configured in 3 ms and the device in 8 ms. Current consumption is less than 70 µA under typical standby mode.

Offered in commercial and industrial temperature grades, the CrossLinkU-NX FPGA has 33k logic cells and 64 18×18 multipliers. A Lattice Propel template, host driver, and example host utilities for USB to I/O bridging and MIPI CSI-2 to USB bridging applications help accelerate USB device implementation with the FPGA.

CrossLinkU-NX FPGAs are sampling now and are supported by Lattice Radiant design software.

CrossLinkU-NX product page

Lattice Semiconductor 

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EDA software tools gain shift left updates

EDN Network - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 20:29

EDA 2024 from Keysight is a tightly integrated suite of EDA software tools that facilitates a shift left approach to increase engineering productivity. Shift left moves design validation forward in the development cycle to accelerate time to market. Key to building accurate models and faster simulations is the incorporation of actual measurement data into the design and validation process in the virtual space.

Keysight EDA 2024 software includes new system and circuit design workflow integration, power amplifier modeling and simulation optimization, and satcom design evolution enhancements. Powered by Keysight measurement science, the tools provide engineers with a comprehensive solution that speeds virtual prototype creation with accurate validation prior to building physical prototypes and starting volume production manufacturing.

Shift left updates can be found in the following EDA 2024 products:

  • RF System Explorer streamlines system and circuit level design workflows for early exploration of system architectures in the Advanced Design System (ADS).
  • Digital Pre-Distortion Explorer and Digital Pre-Distortion Designer accelerate wide bandgap power amplifier design and validation using the Dynamic Gain Model.
  • SystemVue delivers complete satcom modeling and simulation solutions for 5G non-terrestrial network, DVB-S2X, and phased array product development.

“The breadth of improvements we’ve packed into Keysight EDA 2024 is aimed squarely at our customers’ major pain points—faster time-to-market; first pass success; automated, integrated, and open workflows; and high speed and high frequency performance,” said Niels Faché, Vice President and General Manager, Keysight. “It’s not just plain vanilla shift left, but rather shift left powered by measurement science and application domain expertise that customers count on Keysight EDA to deliver.”

To learn more about EDA 2024, click here to attend the product launch event on October 10, 2023.

Keysight Technologies 

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Samsung unveils LPDDR-based LPCAMM

EDN Network - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 20:29

Samsung’s Low Power Compression Attached Memory Module (LPCAMM) leverages LPDDR5X memory devices in a faster, smaller form factor. Expected to impact the DRAM market for PCs and laptops, the LPDDR5X-enabled LPCAMM delivers a throughput of 7.5 Gbps while occupying up to 60% less space on the motherboard than SO-DIMM memory modules.

Unlike LPDDR DRAM devices, which are permanently attached to the motherboard, LPCAMM is a detachable module that not only allows upgrading, but affords flexibility during the production process. And while DDR-based SO-DIMMs are attached and detached easily, LPCAMM permits more efficient use of a product’s internal space. According to Samsung, LPCAMM also improves performance by up to 50% and power efficiency by up to 70% compared to SO-DIMMs.

LPCAMM scales to 128 GB and includes onboard serial presence detect (SPD) and power management ICs. It has completed system verification with Intel’s platform and is set to be tested using next-generation systems from major customers this year. Commercialization of the LPCAMM is planned for 2024.

A datasheet for the LPCAMM was unavailable at the time of this announcement. To learn more about Samsung’s LPDDR DRAM devices, click here.


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Understanding the Challenges of Image Signal Processing Calibration

AAC - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 20:00
Calibrating your image signal processor is a complex engineering task, but it's critical for digital image quality. Learn about these nuances and about the resources available to help you tackle these challenges.

Indian Institute of Science develops fully indigenous GaN power switch

Semiconductor today - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 17:56
The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru has developed what it describes as a fully indigenous gallium nitride (GaN) power switch that can have potential applications in systems like power converters for electric vehicles and laptops, as well as in wireless communications (Baby R, Mandal M, Roy SK, Bardhan A, Muralidharan R, Basu K, Raghavan S, Nath DN, ‘8A, 200V normally-off cascode GaN-on-Si HEMT: From epitaxy to double pulse testing’, Microelectronic Engineering (2023)). The entire process of creating the switch – from material growth to device fabrication to packaging – was developed in-house at IISc’s Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE)...

An efficient and simple regulator for heating/lighting purposes

EDN Network - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 16:09

This switching regulator is highly efficient and can be used for AC and DC and requires no reactive L/C components. The regulator can provide a power factor very close to 1.

Wow the engineering world with your unique design: Design Ideas Submission Guide

The circuit (see Figure 1) can be used to regulate a heating process with some thermal inertia such as a soldering iron, hot wire cutter, heater, and so on. The circuit is easily scalable for many more purposes from clothing irons to industrial heating and drying processes. It can be used as a dimmer for incandescent lamps as well.

Figure 1 A simple regulator for heating or lighting purposes, the circuit can be used to regulate heating processes with thermal inertia such as a soldering iron, hot wire cutter, heaters, etc.

Due to its low thermal inertia, the lamp is a special case. During a period of several milliseconds a load should tolerate the voltage pulses at full input amplitude. This may be too harsh for an incandescent lamp to survive. So, the nominal voltage of the lamp should not be lower than Vin.  

The circuit has a capacitor-less rectifier at the input, hence the reverse voltage on the diodes is twice as low as it would be with a smoothing capacitor. This facilitates the usage of current-effective Schottky diodes in the bridge.

The output voltage is a train of monopolar pulses—thus the circuit regulates an effective voltage on the load. This resembles pulse width modulation (PWM), the difference is the non-constant amplitude of the pulses at the input in the case of AC.  

The monopolar pulses the circuit produces are averaged by R1C1 and some part of the result (R2/R8, R9, R10) is compared by TL431 (Q3) with its internal Vref. If this part is lower than the internal Vref (2.5 V), the transistor Q2 is closed, so the switch Q1 is closed as well, and the load is connected. And vice versa, when the input of TL431 is higher than 2.5 V, both Q2 and Q1 are open, and the load is disconnected.  

When the input of TL431 is higher than 2.5 V, its cathode voltage (Vka) is not well documented; it’s only known it would be about 2 V. The diodes D3 reduce the gate voltage of opened Q2 to a value lower than 0.2 V. Diode D4 protects the circuit from an overvoltage caused by load inductance. The transistor Q1 may have no heatsink.  

If the circuit uses AC as Vin, the time constant R1C1 must be more than the AC period. The values shown are for AC 50Hz. Potentiometer R8 can have a scale graduated in volts. The simple circuit in Figure 1 is not well-suited for very heavy loads (~100 W).  

The circuit in Figure 2 is more complex, it is intended for more heavy loads.  

Figure 2 Another regulator that is well-suited for heavier loads on the order of 100 W.

It has several distinctions from the previous circuit including:  

  • A “half-driver” Q5 which accelerates the opening of Q1,
  • A more effective source of auxiliary voltage (Q6, D1),
  • A green LED D2 (~2V) used as interface between TL431 and Q2 (instead of the diodes D3 in Figure 1), and
  • A faster diode D4.

Peter Demchenko studied math at the University of Vilnius and has worked in software development.

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Malaysia’s semiconductor journey spanning half a century

EDN Network - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 15:59

In 1972, Intel opened a 5-acre assembly plant in Penang, the trading hub close to Malaysia’s northern tip. The assembly plant employed nearly a thousand people and soon became crucial to Intel’s semiconductor supply chain. By 1975, it accounted for more than half of Intel’s assembly capacity.

Soon, AMD, Hitachi and HP followed suit, and by the early 1980s, 14 semiconductor firms were operating in Malaysia. According to a Harvard Business School paper by Goh Pek Chen, it all began when the Malaysian government established the first free trade zone in 1972.

Figure 1 The four-year-old Intel was the first semiconductor company to benefit from Malaysia’s free trade zones. Source: Intel

The free trade zones offered companies tariff exemptions on imports and exports, tax holidays, tighter controls on labor organization, and streamlined regulatory processes. Moreover, these zones were strategically located along well-linked highways and railway systems and offered easy access to well-equipped seaports and Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Fast forward to 2023, Infineon announced to significantly expand its fab in Kulim, Malaysia, which it built in 2006 to manufacture power semiconductor products like MOSFETs and IGBTs. Infineon will invest €5 billion in Kulim fab to build what it claims to be the world’s largest 200-mm-wafer silicon carbide (SiC) power fab. Kulim fab will be critical in Infineon’s goal to win 30% of SiC market share by 2030.

The journey from an assembly plant to a SiC semiconductor foundry marks a significant milestone for Malaysia’s semiconductor ecosystem. Taiwan-based contract manufacturer Foxconn has also announced to build a 300-mm wafer fab in Malaysia. It’ll operate on 28-nm to 40-nm process nodes and will have the capacity to produce 40,000 wafers per month.

New fab buildup aside, Malaysia’s semiconductor industry is known to comprise three main groups: outsourced semiconductor assembly and testing (OSAT), automated test equipment (ATE) suppliers, and designers and manufacturers of high-performance test sockets.

Take, for example, Bosch’s recent announcement to invest €65 million in an 18,000 square meters test center in Penang. It will carry out final testing of Bosch’s semiconductors fabricated in Reutlingen, Germany; Suzhou, China; and Hatvan, Hungary. The test center will include clean rooms, office space, and laboratories for quality assurance and manufacturing.

Malaysia has captured nearly 13% of the global chip assembly and testing market share; it’s also the world’s seventh-largest exporter of semiconductors. Furthermore, it’s consistently listed among the top 10 semiconductor manufacturing countries and is usually number seven or eight between the UK and the Netherlands.

Figure 2 Malaysia’s move from back-end to front-end chip manufacturing will raise its profile as a semiconductor industry hub. Source: UOB Group

The news about the new fab buildup hints toward the country’s ambitions to move up the semiconductor value chain. Especially when the semiconductor trade war between China and the United States is promising new opportunities for countries already exposed to the semiconductor technologies.

So, while semiconductor fabs are nothing new in Malaysia’s semiconductor ecosystem, the renewed interest in moving up the chip value chain is worth noting. Also, with the SiC power fab in Kulim, Malaysia’s semiconductor industry can claim an almost complete ecosystem to attract new investments.

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The other fusion challenge: harvesting the power

EDN Network - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 15:33

You undoubtedly saw the impressive news back in December 2022 that using what is called “inertial confinement”, scientists and engineering teams at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) achieved fusion “success” by producing more energy than the energy delivered by its 192 lasers converging on a target. The project and its precursors have consumed over 60 years of research and development in lasers, optics, diagnostics, target fabrication, computer modeling and simulation, and experimental design (plus many tens of billions of dollars), Figure 1. Note that the lasers themselves were only about 1% efficient, so the power required was 100× the laser output and the entire arrangement was a huge net-energy loss.

Figure 1 The almost unimaginably complex NIF/LLNL achieved brief fusion energy “gain”—if you ignore the 100× power needed to drive its 192 lasers. Source: NIF/LLNL via typeset.io

This fusion approach is not the only path being explored. There’s a huge European-centric effort called ITER and various smaller-scale approaches using different physics and principles.

Impressive as the LLNL/NIF and other efforts are, there’s another half to the story of “nearly endless, pollution-free power” that so many are touting as viable.  That thus-far unanswered question is how do you manage and extract—let’s be flexible and call it “harvest”—this enormous power and transform it into useful electricity?

Engineers are, of course, familiar with the concept and reality of harvesting at various scales and types, whether it is on a small scale such as a piezo-driven transducer, a medium or larger scale photovoltaic farm, or at a large scale via a fossil-fuel megawatt station. Each of these has been used extensively and there are mature techniques supported by components, systems, and structures for each one.

For fusion-based power sources, it’s a different story. On one side there’s the huge laser-driven fusion reactor of the LLNL-NIF project; on the other side, there are no precedents for this type of power conversion. Unlike a conventional boiler where the source heat is used to directly develop high-pressure steam and then drive a turbine and generator (Figure 2), nuclear fusion faces very different steam-creation challenges, even when compared to that “other” nuclear source of fission.

Figure 2 In contrast to a fusion-based source, a conventional oil/coal/gas-fired electric-generating station is conceptually simple, even if an actual installation has industrial complexities. Source: Chegg, Inc.

One approach is somewhat conventional. In the design being pursued by ITER, neutrons will be absorbed by the surrounding walls of their huge tokamak—a fusion-enabling construct which uses a powerful magnetic field to confine plasma in the shape of a torus—where their kinetic energy will be transferred to the walls as heat. The heat will be captured by cooling water circulating in the vessel walls and eventually dispersed through cooling towers, Figure 3.

Figure 3 In contrast to the inertial confinement fusion of the NIF/LLNL approach but with a similar huge size and scope, the European-led ITER project is using the magnetic field surrounding a tokomak to confine the plasma. Source: ITER

In contrast, start-up Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), a spinout of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center, is developing high-performance tokamak that is much smaller and less expensive than the ITER approach, Figure 4 (note the humans standing nearby for scale).

Figure 4 Smaller start-ups such as Commonwealth Fusion Systems are striving to achieve fusion with much smaller tokamaks and other topologies, in sharp contrast the incredibly enormous NIF/LLNL and ITER projects. Source: Commonwealth Fusion Systems

Their plan for creating the useful steam output is to use a continuously flowing blanket of molten salt. A loop of this salt will be pumped into a tank surrounding the plasma chamber, where it absorbs radiated neutrons. This molten salt is then pumped outside the tokamak, where its heat energy is transferred into a more-conventional fluid that drives a turbine to generate electricity.

Although molten salt is already used in some heat-concentrating, non-photovoltaic solar installations, this molten salt is not ordinary at all. Instead, it will likely be a mixture of lithium fluoride and beryllium fluoride (FLiBe). In this combination, the salt also acts as a “breeding” medium in which some of the fusion neutrons interact with lithium atoms and change them into tritium. The tritium is then filtered out of the blanket and recycled into fusion fuel; a rare hydrogen isotope used to fuel magnetic-confinement reactors.

Helion Energy is going an entirely different way. According to their web site, their device “directly recaptures electricity; it does not use heat to create steam to turn a turbine, nor does it require the immense energy input of cryogenic superconducting magnets. Our technical approach reduces efficiency loss, which is key to our ability to commercialize electricity from fusion at very low costs. The FRC [field reversed configuration] plasmas in our device are high-beta and, due to their internal electrical current, produce their own magnetic field, which pushes on the magnetic field from the coils around the machine.”

It continues, “The FRCs collide in the fusion chamber and are compressed by magnets around the machine. That compression causes the plasma to become denser and hotter, initiating fusion reactions that cause the plasma to expand, resulting in a change in the plasma’s magnetic field. This change in magnetic field interacts with the magnets around the machine, increasing their magnetic field, initiating a flow of newly generated electricity through the coils. This process is explained by Faraday’s Law of Induction.” I’m not going to pass judgement on this, that’s for sure.

The large-scale LLNL-NIF and ITER projects as well as the smaller ones such as at CFS, Helion, and others are literally and figuratively focused on creating a controlled, self-sustaining fusion reaction to produce the power with the hoped-for attributes of being limitless and pollution free. How and when that will happen is anyone’s educated guess, ranging from at least several decades to perhaps—and let’s be brutally honest here—maybe never.

Still, the fusion challenge is only half of the overall problem. The second half is converting the enormous heat energy into electrical energy, and it is still another major project with its own known and unknown technical problems and scaling issues.

All of this complexity makes me wonder how the Sun and other stars do their fusion so easily, without need of all this hardware and organization. Perhaps a truly “out of the box” idea is needed, such as running a very long pipe filled with some suitable phase-change material from Earth towards the Sun and back in a long loop? As they say, “never say never”.

Until then, what’s your view on approaches to transforming the heat energy of a sustained fusion reaction—assuming that day comes—into useable, controllable electricity?

Bill Schweber is an EE who has written three textbooks, hundreds of technical articles, opinion columns, and product features.

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Skylo Technologies collaborates with Rohde & Schwarz to enhance non-terrestrial network (NTN) testing services

ELE Times - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 15:14

Rohde & Schwarz and Skylo Technologies are collaborating to set up a device acceptance scheme for Skylo’s non-terrestrial network (NTN). The proven device test framework from Rohde & Schwarz will be used to test NTN chipsets, modules and devices to validate their compatibility with the Skylo test specification. This partnership is expected to optimize Skylo’s network performance, reshaping industries worldwide by enabling reliable, ubiquitous connectivity.

Skylo Technologies, a global software-defined non-terrestrial network (NTN) operator, has announced a strategic partnership and ongoing collaboration with Rohde & Schwarz, an international leader in innovative test and measurement solutions. This collaboration aims to reinforce and expand the testing capabilities for NTN, ensuring that chipsets, modules and devices using the NTN NB-IoT protocol integrate seamlessly with Skylo’s network and are 3GPP Release 17 compliant. The two companies will integrate state-of-the-art testing methodologies to guarantee that Skylo’s groundbreaking connectivity solutions meet the highest standards of quality and efficiency.

Skylo’s NTN is designed to bridge the digital divide by providing reliable and affordable connectivity to under-connected industries, such as agriculture, maritime and logistics. The network leverages advanced satellite and terrestrial technologies to allow real-time data transmission, thereby transforming industries that have previously been limited by a lack of connectivity.

The Rohde & Schwarz NTN device acceptance test framework is built on the market-leading R&S CMW500 wideband radio communication tester. This framework is the go-to solution for all stages of terrestrial and now non-terrestrial IoT testing, from R&D and GCF/PTCRB certification to carrier acceptance tests. With the powerful R&S CMW500 software stacks, this framework guarantees reliable and repeatable results in a single box, ensuring that the whole ecosystem can achieve the highest levels of performance. It comes with NTN Release 17 features as well as support for different orbits. Customers can leverage their investment in R&S CMW500 testers with a single software update, which enables them to verify NTN NB-IoT as well as legacy NB-IoT devices.

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Rohde & Schwarz solutions will play a pivotal role in refining and optimizing NTN connectivity by rigorously testing NTN devices and their ability to work seamlessly in the Skylo network. The partnership will ensure that Skylo’s customers receive a superior and uninterrupted connectivity experience.

Dr. Andrew Nuttall, Chief Technology Officer of Skylo Technologies says: “We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Rohde & Schwarz, a renowned leader in test and measurement solutions. This collaboration underscores our commitment to providing the highest quality non-terrestrial network services to our customers. By joining forces, we are confident in our ability to set new benchmarks for network reliability and performance in remote and underserved regions.”

Alexander Pabst, Vice President of Wireless Communications at Rohde & Schwarz says: “We are excited to work alongside Skylo Technologies to elevate the capabilities of their non-terrestrial network and help define their device acceptance process. Our cutting-edge testing solutions, combined with Skylo’s groundbreaking technology, will empower industries across the globe to harness the benefits of reliable and seamless connectivity.”

The partnership between Skylo Technologies and Rohde & Schwarz exemplifies the commitment of both companies to advancing technology and connectivity solutions for the benefit of industries and communities worldwide. With a shared vision of pushing the boundaries of innovation, this collaboration is poised to transform the way industries operate in previously hard-to-reach areas.

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Carlo Gavazzi installs Seratel’s next generation “Reel aMounts” component counting and inventory control system in their factory in Zejtun, Malta

ELE Times - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 15:07

Carlo Gavazzi, an international group designing and manufacturing industrial electronics, have installed Seratel’s Reel aMounts system for component counting and inventory control at their plant in Zejtun, Malta.

Inventory accuracy with unrivalled speed and integration

In common with other plants producing products in low to mid volumes, Carlo Gavazzi’s Zejtum facility must deal with frequent production line changeovers. There is a resulting loss of material in handling – a loss that placement machinery cannot record – which makes maintaining accurate component inventories a problem.

Etienne Ellul, Head of SMT at Carlo Gavazzi, explains, “Reel aMounts allows us to count reels returned from production instantly, but it also calculates for each part the attrition during the build and can forward to our IFS ERP system an appropriate scrap transaction. That means that our component inventories can always be up to date, and we avoid unexpected stoppages.”

This also means that Carlo Gavazzi no longer need to include scrap factors in their BOMs. Attrition can be properly costed, and pricing and purchasing decisions can be more informed.

Seratel’s Michael Bloor points out, “Reel aMounts can count components on reels of any size in just 1.2 seconds. At all times, the system automatically tracks every reel using both the system’s own unique reel ID and Carlo Gavazzi’s equivalent ID, thus providing extensive traceability.”

Remote commissioning and training

Seratel is committed to supplying energy efficient systems that are implemented in the most ecological way and passing the resulting savings on to the customer.

Mr. Ellul says, “Seratel supplied a ready to run system and then provided one-to-one, on-line training sessions. Delivering training this way means that we could schedule sessions for individual staff to fit in with shift patterns and availability. It also allows the supplier to give short, refresher sessions as we expand the use of the system into new areas.”

The results show the benefits of this. Mr. Ellul wrote, “it can be seen that we made the right choice since your support is so outstanding”.

Simplicity of operation

Reel aMounts provides the fastest possible counting for tape and reel components by linking a computer, electronic weighing scales, bar code scanner, bar code printer and a database of component types.  Patented technology, unique to the system, is used to provide accurate results.

When a reel is returned from production, the Carlo Gavazzi operator simply places it on the Reel aMounts scales and scans a bar code on the reel.  The system counts the reel instantly. The operator then scans a Reel aMounts “command” bar code.  This records all the count details in a database, prints a new label for the reel and updates a linked ERP system.

Web based reporting – including detailed inventories

For every counting transaction, Reel aMounts generates a database record with thirty items of information about that individual count.  Reel aMounts Reporting Centre – an extensive, web-based reporting system – then provides over 200 reports, including both management statistics and detailed analysis of the data. Reports available range from detailed traceability by individual reel through to data on plastics recycling.

This information includes providing detailed inventories showing any part code broken down by reel, even where the associated ERP system can only provide overall totals. Carlo Gavazzi can use this to select the best fit material for any build.

The Reporting Centre can be used on any authorized PC, tablet or smart phone. Information can also be forwarded to an ERP system, printed as reports or exported to Excel for further analysis.

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Coherent and Kinetic extend partnership to enable 100G services at network edge

Semiconductor today - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 14:58
Materials, networking and laser technology firm Coherent Corp of Saxonburg, PA, USA and Kinetic by Windstream, a business unit of communications and software company Windstream that provides fiber-based connectivity, collaboration and security services across 18 states in the USA, have their existing partnership to enable 400G services has been extended to enable 100G services at the edge of the network, leveraging what is claimed to be the industry’s first 100G QSFP28 0dBm digital coherent optics (DCO) transceiver...

Rohde & Schwarz participates in project to strengthen microelectronics and communications technologies in Europe

ELE Times - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 14:56

The technology company Rohde & Schwarz is participating in an Important Project of Common European Interest of the European Commission in the field of microelectronics and communications technology (IPCEI ME/CT). The company is thereby helping to ensure Germany’s ability to shape key technologies.

To strengthen the semiconductor industry in Europe, the European Commission announced the IPCEI at the beginning of June, enabling funding of around 100 European projects. The technology company Rohde & Schwarz is taking part in the initiative with a project at four of its German locations: Munich, Memmingen, Teisnach and Duisburg. It is one of 31 projects funded in Germany by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) under the IPCEI ME/CT. Rohde & Schwarz will also back the project with its own R&D investments.

Andreas Pauly, Executive Vice President Test and Measurement at Rohde & Schwarz, says: “Microelectronics defines technical progress in our digitalized world like no other key technology. Innovative, efficient test and measurement equipment such as the solutions from Rohde & Schwarz is a core element of every value chain in the microelectronics industry. It enables the development and production of microelectronic components and systems.”

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That is why the Rohde & Schwarz project aims to develop a new, highly competitive European test and measurement solution for the millimeterwave range. A major part of this development work will be the creation of a state-of-the-art European GaN/SiC semiconductor technology.

This technology and the test and measurement solution based on it will be indispensable for developing and testing future microelectronic components. Wide-ranging application fields in the communications industry include next generation mobile communications standards (6G), sensors, automotive radar applications, the internet of things (IoT) and Industry 4.0.

There is a consensus in politics and industry about the importance of Europe’s and Germany’s technological and digital sovereignty. Essentially, it is about maintaining or even expanding national capabilities to shape key technologies. Rohde & Schwarz has championed research, development and production in Germany for 90 years.

The post Rohde & Schwarz participates in project to strengthen microelectronics and communications technologies in Europe appeared first on ELE Times.

Building Robust IoT and Smart Home Networks: The Convergence of Wi-Fi 6, Thread, and Matter

ELE Times - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 14:44

Wi-Fi has been the dominant technology for wireless networking for more than two decades. It has evolved significantly over the years, with faster speeds and greater range. Wi-Fi is an excellent choice for high-bandwidth applications like streaming video, as it can handle large amounts of data quickly.

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the smart home, the importance of Wi-Fi has only grown. However, with all wireless technologies come limitations, and Wi-Fi’s primary design for high throughput makes it power-hungry, limiting its applications for low power, or battery-powered devices like those found in the smart home and IoT ecosystems. However, these limitations are mitigated through the release of the Wi-Fi 6 standard as well as interoperability with the Matter standard and Thread protocol.

Wi-Fi 6

Fortunately, the Wi-Fi 6 standard has improved operating conditions through included power-saving technology that allows designers to trade some throughput for longer battery life. By using a multi-access modulation technique called orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA), each of Wi-Fi 6’s 20MHz channels can be divided into hundreds of sub-channels, enabling it to support many more devices concurrently. These enhancements make Wi-Fi 6 a good choice for smart home appliances such as security cameras, smart thermostats, and smart speakers.


Moreover, Wi-Fi plays a foundational role in the new Matter standard, which promises to bring interoperability to smart home ecosystems. Matter incorporates Thread for low-power wireless connectivity, using Wi-Fi when greater throughput is needed, and as a result, more power is available. Matter also includes the Ethernet-wired standard and Bluetooth Low Energy for commissioning. Together with the other protocols used for Matter, Wi-Fi can support Internet Protocol (IP), which is essentially a network layer communication standard for rapidly moving data across the internet. This interoperability with IP makes it very easy to connect each smart home product to the cloud, making smart home applications very powerful and flexible.

Matter’s backing by Apple, Amazon, Google, Nordic, Samsung, and hundreds of other firms brings structure to a previously fragmented smart home sector. Customers will be able to purchase a smart device made by any mainstream supplier and then easily integrate the device into their preferred smart home ecosystem. This suits major suppliers eager to offer value-added smart home services to consumers, thereby multiplying the revenues from device sales. According to Vantage Market Research, a smart-home sector worth $75 billion in 2020 will expand over five-and-a-half times by 2028, resulting in over $420 billion in sales per year. As part of that total, shipments of Wi-Fi-based, smart-home devices will increase at a 21 percent compound annual growth rate from 2021 to 2025.

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Thread is a relatively recent protocol that is specifically designed for IoT. Thread is an IP-based protocol optimized for low-power devices, making it an excellent choice for smart home devices that run on battery power. It is also designed to be very reliable and secure, making it a desirable option for applications where security is a concern.

Wi-Fi and Thread are different technologies and do not compete. In fact, they can be used together to create a more robust IP network. For example, Wi-Fi could be used to connect high-bandwidth devices like smart TVs and streaming devices, while Thread could be used for low-power devices like smart thermostats and sensors, as we see in its use with the Matter standard.

One of the benefits of using both Wi-Fi and Thread together is that it allows for more flexibility in the design of IoT systems. For example, some devices may be better suited to Wi-Fi because they require a high-speed connection, while others may be more appropriate for Thread because they require low-power operation. By using both technologies, designers can tailor their systems to meet the specific requirements of each device.

Another benefit of using both Wi-Fi and Thread together is that it can improve the reliability of the network. Wi-Fi is prone to interference, but by using Thread for low-power devices, designers can reduce the risk of interference and develop more dependable networks.

Wi-Fi and Thread are both excellent options for building IP networks for IoT. As IoT continues to grow, it is likely that we will see more protocols and technologies emerge that are designed to address the unique challenges of building IP networks for smart devices.

Nordic Products Designed to Help Designers

Nordic Semiconductor is making it easier for developers to innovate low-power IoT applications and take advantage of Wi-Fi’s increasingly important role in the smart home by introducing the nRF7002 Wi-Fi 6 companion IC and its associated development kit (DK). The IC is a low-power Wi-Fi 6 device that provides seamless dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) connectivity. The nRF7002 also offers excellent coexistence with Bluetooth Low Energy, Thread, and Zigbee radios, and supports Wi-Fi 6’s Target Wake Time (TWT), a key power-saving feature. The DK makes it easy for developers to get started on nRF7002-based development because of the nRF5340 SoC host processor. The nRF5340 multiprotocol SoC supports Thread and Bluetooth Low Energy, making it suitable for development with all the Matter standard’s wireless technologies.


With the smart home set to become more popular and mainstream, it’s crucial to ensure that devices work together seamlessly, and Wi-Fi’s interoperability with IP and support for Matter will play a fundamental role in its success. By using the power-saving features of Wi-Fi 6 and Thread and taking advantage of Matter’s interoperability, smart home devices can be powerful, flexible, and energy efficient.

Finn Boetius, Product Marketing EngineerFinn Boetius, Product Marketing Engineer

The post Building Robust IoT and Smart Home Networks: The Convergence of Wi-Fi 6, Thread, and Matter appeared first on ELE Times.

Microchip Introduces Industry’s First Low Pin Count MCU Family With I3C Support

ELE Times - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 14:23

Company’s PIC18-Q20 product line is space-efficient and easily interfaces with devices operating in multiple voltage domains

With the step-function increase in data collected and transmitted from cloud-connected edge nodes, Improved Inter Integrated Circuit® (I3C®) is rapidly becoming a more sustainable solution for interfacing sensors with a high data rate and will help expand capabilities in next-generation devices. Leading the way in I3C integration, Microchip Technology (Nasdaq: MCHP) has released its PIC18-Q20 family of microcontrollers (MCUs), the industry’s first low pin count MCUs with up to two I3C peripherals and Multi-Voltage I/O (MVIO). Available in 14- and 20- pin packages as small as 3 x 3 mm, the PIC18-Q20 MCUs are a compact solution for real-time control, touch sensing and connectivity applications. The MCUs offer configurable peripherals, advanced communication interfaces and easy connection across multiple voltage domains without external components.

With I3C functionality, flexible peripherals and the ability to operate on three independent voltage domains, PIC18-Q20 MCUs are well suited to be used in conjunction with a primary MCU in a larger overall system. This family of MCUs can perform tasks such as processing sensor data, handling low latency interrupts and system status reporting that the main MCU cannot perform as efficiently. While the Central Processing Unit (CPU) runs at a different voltage domain, the I3C peripheral operates from 1.0 to 3.6V. These low-power, small form factor MCUs can be used in a wide range of space-sensitive applications and markets including automotive, industrial control, computing, consumer, IoT and medical.

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“One of the main barriers to large-scale IoT adoption is the cost of implementing an edge node. With the PIC18-Q20 family of MCUs, Microchip is helping to break down that barrier,” said Greg Robinson, corporate vice president of Microchip’s 8-bit MCU business unit. “By introducing the industry’s first low pin count MCU with I3C we are enabling flexible, cost-effective scaling of IoT applications and embracing the new standard communications interface.”

As the market shifts to demand higher performance solutions with lower power and smaller size, I3C helps designers and software developers address these potentially challenging requirements. Compared to I2C, I3C offers higher communication rates and lower power consumption, all while maintaining backward compatibility with legacy systems. The I3C and MVIO functionality, combined with Microchip’s configurable Core Independent Peripherals (CIPs), allow for lower system costs, reduced design complexity and a reduction in board space by replacing external level shifters with on-chip multiple voltage domains. To learn more about Microchip’s portfolio of PIC® MCUs, visit the website and keep up with the latest company news by following Microchip on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

Development Tools

The PIC18-Q20 MCU family is supported by Microchip’s full development ecosystem of hardware and software tools, including its MPLAB® X and MPLAB Xpress Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) and MPLAB Code Configurator (MCC) Microchip’s development environment is straightforward and makes it easier to implement and generate code, allowing for a reduction in overall development time and reduced financial investment.

Developers can get a quick start in evaluating I3C and MVIO capabilities on the PIC18-Q20 using Microchip’s PIC18F16Q20 Curiosity Nano Evaluation Kit—a compact, cost-effective development board for rapid prototyping.

 Pricing and Availability

For additional information and to purchase, contact a Microchip sales representative, authorized worldwide distributor or visit Microchip’s Purchasing and Client Services website, www.microchipdirect.com.

The post Microchip Introduces Industry’s First Low Pin Count MCU Family With I3C Support appeared first on ELE Times.

Guerrilla RF updates revenue guidance, targeting 30% growth in 2023 and 40% in 2024

Semiconductor today - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 12:30
Guerrilla RF Inc (GRF) of Greensboro, NC, USA — which develops and manufactures radio-frequency integrated circuits (RFICs) and monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs) for wireless applications — has revised its guidance for third-quarter 2023 revenue from $3–3.5m to $3.3–3.5m. Full-year 2023 revenue is now expected to exceed $15m ($14.6–15.4m), up about 30% on 2022...

LESSENGERS begins volume production of 800G AOCs and transceivers

Semiconductor today - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 11:45
LESSENGERS Inc of Seoul, South Korea, which provides optical components based on its patented direct optical wiring (DOW) technology, says that its new 800G transceiver product (800G OSFP SR8) will begin volume production in fourth-quarter 2023 and begin shipping to customers...


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