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The device model matches the published data—that ain’t necessarily so

EDN Network - Wed, 04/26/2023 - 16:57

The good folks from whom you obtained your SPICE tool have made all kinds of assumptions in setting up their device models. However, some of those assumptions might not agree with some of the published data sheets for the simulated devices. We can see this peril just by looking at one very simple example.

Those famous words of the character “Sportin’ Life” in George Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess” have an applicability here that Mr. Gershwin never envisioned.

Please consider this excerpt from a respected supplier’s datasheet for the 1N4148 diode in Figure 1.

Figure 1 An excerpt from the 1N4148 datasheet. Source: John Dunn

One might assume from this chart that if 100 µA of reverse current flow were acceptable, one could apply up to 100 volts of reverse voltage across the diode. With that assumption in hand, I can picture myself happily using the 1N4148 at 100 volts as I go ahead with a SPICE simulation of my design. Then to my embarrassment, I would find that my simulation does not work.

In looking for the reason for my failure, I might set up a SPICE simulation to trace the characteristic curve of the 1N4148 which would yield the result in Figure 2.

Figure 2 Characteristic curve examination for the 1N4148 used at 100 volts. Source: John Dunn

I would discover that the 1N4148 in my version of SPICE exhibits reverse breakdown with an application of only 80 volts which is nowhere near the 100 volts of my supplier’s data sheet.

Looking at two steady state conditions would provide the breakdown confirmation (Figure 3).

Figure 3 A confirmation of the reverse voltage breakdown of the 1N4148. Source: John Dunn

At 79 volts, the 1N4148 simulation carries a little more than 14 µA but if I take that reverse voltage up to 81 volts, the current shoots up to more than one ampere.

Just for fun, I took the reverse voltage up to 100 volts and the simulation current rose to 30.91 amperes. Try to picture a puny little 1N4148 trying to carry that much current. The device would be dissipating more than three kilowatts.

What was that flash?

The object lesson of all this is that if you are pushing a component to anywhere near a maximum rating and you are using a simulation tool to evaluate your design, make sure that your simulation models conform to your assumptions and conform to published data about each and every component’s rated maximums.

They might not.

John Dunn is an electronics consultant, and a graduate of The Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (BSEE) and of New York University (MSEE).

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Smart working in SMT factories

ELE Times - Wed, 04/26/2023 - 15:04
Know-how creates efficiency

The highly complex and customized production technology on the SMT factory floor requires new, smart ways of working that are based on a solid foundation of knowledge. With the ASMPT Academy and its Virtual Assist app, the market leader in SMT equipment imparts the necessary know-how and makes it available on a wide variety of user devices.    ‘Smart working’ is also the topic of ASMPT’s ‘Facts on Open Automation’ show on May 31, 2023.

‘New Way of Work’ (NWoW) is the formula for increasing efficiency in contemporary, flexible working environments. Today, no two SMT factories are alike, and the tasks for operators and technicians are correspondingly diverse and demanding. In order to cope with this situation and keep knowledge in the company, smart tools and intelligent technologies are needed. The aim is to quickly train new operating staff on the SMT line and to provide technicians with the necessary know-how for maintenance and repair tasks without them having to waste a lot of time and effort searching for solutions.

The ASMPT Academy – diverse, target group-oriented, and flexible

Training courses offered by companies play an important role in the NWoW ecosystem – both internally and externally. The ASMPT Academy offers its own specialists and employees of customers in the electronics manufacturing industry a target group-defined, comprehensive portfolio of courses. It imparts new knowledge, refreshes existing expertise, and keeps participants technologically up to date. Whether through face-to-face training, e-learning, virtual reality or blended learning (a hybrid of e-learning for the basics and practical face-to-face instruction) – the know-how acquired at the ASMPT Academy not only enables specialists to work more productively and efficiently but improves employees’ work-life balance, job satisfaction, and loyalty to the company.

Virtual Assist – the AI genius for the SMT shop floor

Just as important as conveying a solid base of knowledge is the availability of supplementary information directly on site, which is why ASMPT has developed its Virtual Assist app. The AI-supported expert system provides support for all onboarding, service and maintenance activities in electronics manufacturing. Browser-based, it runs on all popular mobile devices. And since Virtual Assist is capable of learning, it collects the practical experience of service personnel throughout the company and makes it available quickly and easily on site. Thanks to natural language processing (NLP) technology, you can simply ask the system questions, which Virtual Assist then answers based on its constantly growing treasure trove of knowledge. The benefits are impressive: the expert system reduces the time required to search for information during repairs by up to 95 percent.  Virtual Assist reduces downtimes and production interruptions and increases productivity by up to 25 percent. And flexible licensing models make it possible to adapt the system to each customer’s specific needs.

Online show: Facts on Open Automation

How to impart knowledge and retain it within the company despite employee turnover is the subject of ASMPT’s ‘Facts on Open Automation’ show on May 31, 2023. “What is often underestimated is the extent to which valuable know-how is stored in the brains of your most experienced employees – and almost nowhere else,” explains host and SMT expert Laszlo Sereny. “When they leave the company or retire, you suffer a brain drain that can be very difficult to overcome. State-of-the-art training and learning opportunities provide new employees with insider knowledge and refresh it for legacy staff.” Sereny and his studio guests will demonstrate with the browser-based Virtual Assist app how artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) can provide support quickly and easily during troubleshooting and repair activities. And a look at the diverse offerings of the ASMPT Academy will show how modern learning with the help of virtual reality speeds up the onboarding of new employees.


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PDR Announces Partnership with Process Automation & Tool, llc as Manufacturers Representative in the Southeastern US

ELE Times - Wed, 04/26/2023 - 13:32

Shingle Springs, PDR, founded in 1985, and a leading manufacturer of BGA rework systems and X-ray systems, is pleased to announce a new partnership with Process Automation & Tool, llc (PAT) as its manufacturers’ representative in the southeastern United States.

With over 20 years of experience in the electronics industry, Process Automation is a trusted supplier of high-quality process automation and tooling solutions. As PDR’s new representative in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, Process Automation will help expand the availability of PDR’s advanced rework, test and inspection systems to customers throughout the region.

“We are excited to partner with Process Automation to increase our reach in the southeastern US,” said Dave White, CEO of White Industrial Corporation, parent company of PDR Americas. “Process Automation’s deep knowledge of the electronics industry, along with their commitment to customer service, makes them an ideal partner for PDR. Together, we will help more customers achieve greater productivity and quality in their electronic assembly processes.”

Through this partnership, Process Automation will offer PDR’s full range of products, including the award-winning IR Rework Systems X-ray Systems. “PDR’s innovative solutions are a perfect fit for our customers’ needs,” said Andy Tressler, Partner of Process Automation. “We are proud to represent a company with such a strong reputation for excellence in the electronics industry. We look forward to working with PDR to provide top-of-the-line solutions and support to our customers.”

PDR’s partnership with Process Automation is an important step in expanding its distribution network in the southeastern US. With Process Automation’s expertise and PDR’s advanced technology solutions, customers throughout the region will have greater access to high-quality electronic assembly tools and services.

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Palo Alto Networks Takes Aim At Cyber Attacks with the Expansion of Unit 42’s Digital Forensics & Incident Response Service Globally

ELE Times - Wed, 04/26/2023 - 13:11

With 60% of organizations taking more than four days to resolve cybersecurity issues, Unit 42’s Global Incident Response Service dramatically reduces time to remediate threats

Palo Alto Networks the global cyber security leader announced the expansion of its Unit 42 Digital Forensics and  Incident Response Service. The Global Digital Forensics and Incident Response service combines depth of incident response experience with the breadth of AI-powered solutions, including Cortex XDR and Xpanse, and Prisma Cloud, to equip enterprises to respond immediately and recover faster than most any digital forensics and incident response (DFIR) service in the market.

To help organizations better respond to complex threats, Palo Alto Networks’ unique knowledge of security and a deep understanding of advanced attacker behaviour enables Unit 42 to undertake a rigorous investigation with rapid response.  According to Wendi Whitmore, senior vice president of Palo Alto Networks Unit 42, “No other security vendor in the industry can match Palo Alto Networks’ telemetry or our breadth of products to stop attacks in real-time. We analyse data from thousands of customers globally, generating over 500 billion daily events.

This massive dataset enables responders to contextualize threats and respond effectively. Coupled with our expertise in cloud threats, SOC automation, and network security, this advanced intelligence helps companies recover and emerge stronger than before.”

Unit 42 specializes in cyber DFIR and responds to thousands of customer events annually from ransomware incidents to the rising cloud attacks. Backed by a global team of incident responders, threat intelligence experts, and consultants, Unit 42 has handled some of the largest data breaches in history.

According to the recent Unit 42 report, more than 60% of organizations take over four days to resolve security issues, while threat actors typically exploit a misconfiguration or vulnerability within hours. Unit 42 recently engaged with a large enterprise customer after a zero-day vulnerability allowed an authentication bypass and remote code execution (RCE) exploit. The threat actor leveraged the vulnerability to drop web shells and launch a crypto miner onto the client’s unpatched CRM system hosted on a popular cloud service provider (CSP). Through unauthorized access, the threat actor stole a CSP credential that provided access to sensitive databases, which they made publicly available on the Internet. As part of the investigation, Unit 42 leveraged Cortex XDR to ingest the CSP CloudTrail logs for rapid threat hunting and analysis and Prisma Cloud to assess the client’s CSP environment. Using Prisma Cloud, Unit 42 assisted the client in remediating the CSP misconfigurations and implementing security best practices during the incident, in real-time, improving their security posture overall.

The Unit 42 Digital Forensics and Incident Response Service includes:
  • Assessments:

To evaluate and test controls against real-world threats proactively, Unit 42 offers many assessments, including compromise assessments, ransom ware readiness assessments, attack surface assessments, and more.

  • IR Preparedness:

Helping organizations pressure test technical controls, network security, response playbooks, and more. Services include Penetration Testing, Purple Teaming and Tabletop exercises.

  • Incident Response:

Quickly jumpstart an intelligence-led investigation, deploying Palo Alto Networks tools within minutes to contain threats and gather the evidence needed to analyze an incident fully. Unit 42 IR services include cloud incident response, expert malware analysis, and ransomware investigation.

  • Managed Threat Hunting:

Offers round-the-clock monitoring from Unit 42 experts to discover attacks anywhere in an organization. Threat hunters work on an organization’s behalf to discover advanced threats, such as state-sponsored attackers, cybercriminals, malicious insiders, and malware.

  • Managed Detection and Response:

Combines Cortex XDR with Unit 42’s industryleading threat intelligence to offer continuous 24/7 threat detection, investigation and response.

In the Forrester Wave™: Cybersecurity Incident Response Services, Q1 2022 Forrester noted that organizations “…seeking support in preparing for and responding to incidents in sprawling cloud environments should look at Palo Alto Networks.”   

About Unit 42

Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 brings together world-renowned threat researchers, elite incident responders, and expert security consultants to create an intelligence-driven, response-ready organization passionate about helping you proactively manage cyber risk. Together, our team serves as your trusted advisor to help assess and test your security controls against the right threats, transform your security strategy with a threat-informed approach, and respond to incidents in record time so that you get back to business faster.

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HARTING draws a positive conclusion after HANNOVER MESSE

ELE Times - Wed, 04/26/2023 - 12:39

“There is no industrial fair that is more important for Germany as a business location. This week, Hannover was THE platform for high-level decision-makers and technology evangelists this week,” as CEO Philip Harting emphasized.

“Making the Difference” was the guiding motto and theme of this year’s HANNOVER MESSE and the Technology Group with its products showed that it MAKES the difference.

HARTING provided information about connectivity and cabling solutions for renewable and decentralised energy supply. Moreover, the company also highlighted ecosystems for digitalisation and connectors for efficient and sustainable life cycles.

Philip Harting stated most decidedly: “We are hitting the bull’s eye with these offerings – because we want to shape the future with technologies for people. What we develop and drive forward sustainably today will determine what the world looks like tomorrow.”

The fact that the technology group is on the right track with this approach and mindset was reflected in the public interest but also in various cooperations: On every single day of the fair we experienced vibrant demand and a large numer of interested visitors. Under the umbrella of the Industrial Digital Twin Association (IDTA) and together with Microsoft, Siemens and SAP, the HARTING Technology Group has developed a showcase on the topic of “Digital Twin”. The showcase demonstrates how the standardisation of data can be used for industrial applications – and was extremely well received, as the partners recorded the largest number of participants on the Guided Tour at HANNOVER MESSE. To sum things up: The “Digital Twin” was one of the most attractive topics at the world’s largest leading trade fair and holds significant relevance for the future of the entire industry.

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Enea: ‘Fair Share’ for Mobile Video Sparks Debate

ELE Times - Wed, 04/26/2023 - 12:02

As mobile data consumption increases exponentially and networks get strained with high-resolution video, telcos, and content providers continue to debate the “fair share” of responsibility for the carriage of data services. “Fair share” was a central theme at the Mobile Video Industry Council (MOVIC), an initiative led by Enea and attended by more than 90 operators and vendors from around the world, including Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and STC. Speakers included Matthias Sauder, Director of Access and Transport Networks at O2 Telefónica in Germany, Amy Cameron, Research Director at STL Partners, and Santiago Bouzas, Director of Product Management at Enea. The event titled “Video Shouldn’t Have to Cost the Earth” was moderated by Annie Turner, and guests shared their thoughts on the increasing demand video streaming is placing on mobile networks – and whether media and content players such as Netflix, Meta, and Google should contribute to infrastructure costs.

Several content players were invited to be panelists at this event to contribute to the debate; however, they declined the opportunity.

Currently, operators are responsible for managing video traffic. Video currently accounts for more than 60% of mobile traffic and is expected to account for more than 90% of 5G traffic in the coming years. The MOVIC live cast panel argued that the mobile video growth – coupled with the increase of AR and VR use – would need a multifaceted approach to management and should be fair and sustainable.

The European Commission has put forth plans for the “digital decade” – a plan to rollout out gigabit connectivity for all and ensure 5G coverage is available everywhere, but in a sustainable way where cost and responsibility are shared collectively by the digital ecosystem. The conversation was animated, with Amy Cameron voicing her concerns.

“I personally feel like the approach of making content providers pay for the access networks is not going to achieve what we want it to. I fear it could have unintended consequences. It’s not the big tech giants that will have trouble paying; it’s the small startups. This will make it more difficult for them to compete and could stifle innovation and curtail the development of new applications meant to solve our productivity challenges of today.”

O2 Telefónica’s Matthias Sauder stressed that this was obviously not what anyone wanted and that he didn’t believe that would be the case; it’s more about fair share of investment.

“It’s a controversial debate, as we see,” added Santiago Bouzas. “But in the end, operators and content providers have no choice but to work together on this because they contribute to each other’s business models. It’s not just an operator’s challenge; it’s an industry challenge and an environmental challenge.”

Energy consumption

According to the GSMA, the industry organization for mobile network operators, the radio network currently accounts for 87% of energy costs for the average operator. As network speed and functionality improve, data and energy consumption will also increase, creating a problem for environmentally conscious operators looking to fulfill their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) objectives while also keeping their energy costs in check. It also creates a problem for users, who will likely see their data allowances under increased strain as ultra-high-resolution video becomes the new standard form of delivery for content providers. So, what can be done?

Energy consumption was another contested talking point amongst guests, as the changing cost of wholesale energy caused significant financial challenges for operators. A compromise between reliability, speed, and coverage was discussed as a potential solution to lowering these energy costs. During the event, the speakers discussed the key steps operators should target as a priority to lower these costs, specifically network-related factors such as: renewing passive infrastructure with new, more efficient hardware; key software up to date; and leveraging more efficient radio technologies, for example, moving subscribers from 4G to 5G. All three steps are arguably the way toward a more energy-efficient network, but the lead time to realize these benefits is long.

Artificial Intelligence

The webinar also touched on AI’s role in network management, including the use of video delivery and management optimization, as well as changes in video protocols, such as delivering lower-resolution content to devices with smaller screens instead of automatically utilizing the highest available bandwidth and pushing the highest resolution output.

“O2 Telefónica has introduced solutions from our vendors using AI,” explained Matthias Sauder. “AI sits on top and manages our power-saving features and layer standby mode.” This AI system has been running for over a year in the 4G network and is still in further development, but O2 Telefónica is already seeing huge results. “AI is squeezing out high single digits savings out of our whole system,” Matthias added.

Along with AI, speakers also discussed the tools to classify and manage different content flows, allowing them to discern between video and other forms of content so that video data can be managed more effectively. A traffic management solution, with AI and machine learning, could be deployed, which could optimize video content streaming in real-time, reducing the amount of data transferred without compromising users’ quality of experience (QoE). Research has revealed this could reduce network-wide energy consumption by as much as 10%.

Annie Turner concluded:

The biggest take away from this year’s MOVIC event was that the solution to ensure that ‘video streaming does not cost the earth’ was collaboration. The problem is multifaceted, and therefore the solution must be too”.

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Carelon Global Solutions launches Electric Vehicles for associate commute in Bengaluru ahead of Earth Day

ELE Times - Wed, 04/26/2023 - 10:43

Carelon Global Solutions India LLP (“Carelon”), one of India’s fastest-growing GCCs, is taking a step forward in its sustainability journey. As part of its commitment to reduce the carbon footprint, Carelon Global Solutions India LLP (“Carelon”), one of India’s fastest-growing GCCs, has introduced a fleet of 30 electric vehicles for associates’ daily commute in Bengaluru. Carelon has also announced its commitment to have 25% of its vehicles to be electric vehicles by 2025. Carelon has already onboarded 28 electric vehicles in Hyderabad and Gurugram. This initiative will also encourage employees who use personal transport to opt for electric vehicles.

“At Carelon Global Solutions, know that we can make an impact in our work environment and the environment we live,” said Mosur Saisekar, Chief Country Executive of Carelon Global Solutions. “By introducing electric vehicles for our associates’ daily commute, we are taking a significant step towards reducing our carbon footprint and promoting a cleaner, greener environment. This initiative aligns with our organization’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and helps make Carelon Global Solutions a great place to work where our associates and those we work with can make meaningful changes in the world around us.”

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Power tips #116: How to reduce THD of a PFC

EDN Network - Tue, 04/25/2023 - 17:16

Total harmonic distortion (THD) is the harmonic distortion present in a signal, defined as the ratio of the root-mean square (RMS) amplitude of a set of higher harmonic frequencies to the RMS amplitude of the first harmonic, or fundamental frequency. Equation 1 expresses THD:where Vn is the RMS value of the nth harmonic and V1 is the RMS value of the fundamental component.

In power systems, these harmonics can cause problems ranging from telephone transmission interference to conductor degradation; therefore, it is important to control the total THD. A lower THD means a lower peak current, less heating, lower electromagnetic emissions, and less core loss in motors.

Reducing THD needs a power factor correction (PFC), which is required for AC/DC power supplies that have input power greater than 75 W. PFC forces the input current to follow the input voltage such that the electronics load draws a sinusoidal current waveform that contains minimal harmonics.

THD requirements have become stricter, especially in server applications. The Modular Hardware System-Common Redundant Power Supply (M-CRPS) specification [1] defines a very strict THD requirement across the entire load range, as shown in Table 1. This is much stricter than the previous CRPS THD specification.

Table 1 The M-CRPS THD specification. Source: Texas Instruments

Meeting such strict THD specifications is a big challenge in PFC designs where traditional loop tuning may not be enough. In this article, I’ll suggest a few extra methods to help reduce THD.

 Make sure that the sensed signals are clean

The PFC controller senses the AC input voltage, inductor current and PFC output voltage. These sensed signals need to be clean; otherwise, they will affect THD. For example, because the AC input voltage signal generates a sinusoidal current reference, any spikes on the sensed signal will cause current reference distortion and affect THD.

Although the output voltage (VOUT) signal is not used for generating a current reference, it can affect THD because the spikes on VOUT will cause a ripple on the voltage-loop output, which affects the current-loop reference and eventually THD. If the spike’s magnitude is large enough, it may trigger a voltage-loop nonlinear gain, significantly raising THD.

One common practice is to put a decoupling capacitor close to the sense pin of the controller. You will have to carefully select the capacitance such that it will effectively reduce the noise but not cause too much delay. Using a digital infinite impulse response filter to process the sensed VOUT signal will further reduce the noise; because the PFC voltage loop is slow, the extra delay caused by this digital filter is acceptable.

For AC voltage sensing, however, it is not recommended to add a digital filter because it will cause a delay on the current reference. In this case, you can use a firmware phase-locked loop (PLL) to generate an internal sine wave signal in phase with the AC voltage, and then use that generated sine-wave signal to modulate the current reference. Since the PLL-generated sine wave is clean, even if there is some noise on the sensed AC voltage, the current-loop reference will also be clean.

Reduce the current spikes at AC zero crossing

Current spikes at AC zero crossing are an inherent issue for the totem-pole bridgeless PFC. These spikes can be so big that it becomes impossible to pass M-CRPS THD specifications. I’ve analyzed the root cause of these spikes [2], and noted that a pulse-width modulation (PWM) soft-start algorithm, as shown in Figure 1, will effectively reduce them.

Figure 1 Gate signal timing for AC zero crossing. Source: Texas Instruments

In this solution, when VAC changes from a negative to a positive cycle after AC zero crossing, active switch Q4 turns on first with a very small pulse width, then gradually increases to the duty cycle (D) generated by the control loop. A soft start on Q4 gradually discharges the switch-node drain-to-source voltage (VDS) to zero. Once Q4’s soft start is complete, synchronous transistor Q3 starts to turn on. It begins with a tiny pulse width and gradually increases until the pulse width reaches 1-D. When Q4’s soft start is complete and Q3’s soft start begins, the low-frequency switch Q2 turns on.

The zero-crossing detection could be undesirably triggered by noise. For safety purposes, at the end of the half AC cycle, turn off all of the switches. This leaves a small dead zone that will prevent the input AC from short-circuiting. The transition from the AC positive cycle to the negative cycle is the same. Figure 2 shows the test result.

Figure 2 Current waveforms without and with a PWM soft start: the traditional control method (a) and PWM soft start (b). Source: Texas Instruments

Reduce voltage-loop effects

The double-line frequency ripple on the voltage-loop output can affect the current reference and thus THD. To reduce this frequency ripple effect as much as possible—while at the same time not sacrificing the load transient response—you could add a digital notch (band-stop) filter between the VOUT sensed signal and the voltage loop. This notch filter can effectively attenuate the double-line frequency ripple while still passing all other frequency signals, including the sudden VOUT change caused by the load transient. The load transient will not be affected.

Another approach is to sense VOUT at the AC zero-crossing instance. Since the VOUT value at AC zero-crossing instance Vout_zc(t) equals its average value and it is a “constant” in steady-state, it is the perfect feedback signal for voltage-loop control. To handle the load transient, use this voltage-loop control law:

If ((Vref – Vout(t) < Threshold)
              Error = Vref – Vout_zc(t);
              VoltageLoop_output = Gv(Error, Kp, Ki);
              Error = Vref – Vout(t);
              VoltageLoop_output = Gv(Error, Kp_nl, Ki_nl);

If the instantaneous VOUT error is small, use the VOUT value at the AC zero-crossing instance Vout_zc(t) and small proportional-integral (PI) loop gain Kp, Ki for voltage-loop compensator Gv. When a load transient occurs causing an instantaneous VOUT error greater than the threshold, use the instantaneous Vout(t) value and PI loop gain Kp_nl, Ki_nl for Gv to rapidly bring VOUT back to its nominal value.


The PFC inductor current is a saw wave with DC offset in each switching cycle; the current then goes to a signal-conditioning circuit such as an operational amplifier to make the signal suitable for the PFC control circuit. However, this signal-conditioning circuit does not provide sufficient attenuation to the input current ripple. The current ripple still appears at the output of the amplifier. If this signal is sampled only once in each switching period, there is no perfect, fixed location where the signal represents the average current all of the time. Thus, with a single sample, it is very difficult to achieve good THD.

To get a more accurate feedback signal, I recommend an oversampling mechanism. Figure 3 shows that it is possible to evenly sample the current feedback signal eight times in every switching cycle, average the results, and send them to the control loop. This oversampling effectively averages the current ripple out such that the measured current signal gets closer to the average current value. Also, the controller becomes less sensitive to noise—both signal noise and measurement noise. Oversampling is one of the most effective ways to reduce current waveform distortions.

Figure 3 Oversampling eight times in every switching cycle. Source: Texas Instruments

 Duty-ratio feedforward

The basic idea of duty-ratio feedforward control [3] is to pre-calculate a duty ratio, then add this duty ratio to the feedback controller. For a boost topology operating in continuous conduction mode, Equation 2 gives the duty ratio (dFF) as:

This duty-ratio pattern effectively produces a voltage across the switch whose average over a switching cycle is equal to the rectified input voltage. A regular current-loop compensator changes the duty ratio around this calculated duty-ratio pattern.

Figure 4 depicts the resulting control scheme. After using Equation 2 to calculate dFF, it is then added to the traditional average current-mode control output (dI). You could then use the final duty ratio (d) to generate a PWM waveform to control PFC.

Figure 4 Average current-mode control with dFF. Source: Texas Instruments

Since the majority of the duty cycle is generated by duty-ratio feedforward, the control loop only adjusts the calculated duty slightly. This technique can help improve THD for applications with a limited controller loop bandwidth.

AC cycle skipping

In general, it’s harder to meet light-load THD requirements than heavy-load THD requirements; this is especially true for the 5% load THD requirement in the M-CRPS specification. If the PFC meets all other THD requirements except at a 5% load, even if you have tried all the methods mentioned so far, an AC cycle-skipping method can help.

Think of AC cycle skipping as a special burst mode: when the load is less than a pre-defined threshold, the PFC enters this mode and, depending on the load, skips one or more AC cycles. In other words, the PFC turns off for one or more AC cycles and turns back on for the next AC cycle. The turn-on and turn-off instance is at the AC zero crossing such that the whole AC cycle is skipped. Since PFC turn-on and turn-off at current equal zero, there is less stress and electromagnetic interference. AC cycle skipping is different than the traditional PWM pulse-skipping burst mode, where you skip PWM pulses randomly.

The number of AC cycles to skip is reverse-proportional to the load; the less load, the more AC cycles skipped. Figure 5 shows the skipping of one AC cycle. Channel 1 is the AC voltage, and channel 4 is the AC current.

Figure 5 AC cycle skipping at a light load. Source: Texas Instruments

When the PFC turns off because the current is zero, THD is zero. Since the PFC needs to compensate for the turn-off period, it delivers a large amount of power when it turns on, which is greater than the average value. Essentially, this operates the PFC either at medium load, or completely turns off. Since THD is much lower at a middle load than at a light load, light-load THD is reduced.

Test results

I implemented the methods described in this article on a 3-kW totem-pole bridgeless PFC [5] controlled by a Texas Instruments C2000™ microcontroller. Figure 6 shows the THD test result at 240 VAC.

Figure 6 THD test results. Source: Texas Instruments

The THD not only meets the latest M-CRPS THD specifications but also has plenty of margin, which guarantees that the PFC will meet specifications during mass production, even with hardware tolerance.

Bosheng Sun is a systems, application firmware engineer at Texas Instruments.

 Related Content


  1. The Open Compute Project. n.d. Open Possibilities. Accessed April 10, 2023.
  2. Sun, Bosheng. “How to Reduce Current Spikes at AC Zero Crossing for Totem-Pole PFC.” Texas Instruments Analog Design Journal article, literature No. SLYT650, 4Q 2015.
  3. Van de Sype, D.M., Koen De Gusseme, A.P.M. Van den Bossche, and J.A. Melkebeek. “Duty-Ratio Feedforward for Digitally Controlled Boost PFC Converters.” Published in IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics 52, no. 1 (February 2005): pp. 108-115.
  4. Sun, Bosheng. “AC Cycle Skipping Improves PFC Light-Load Efficiency.” Texas Instruments Analog Design Journal article, literature No. SLYT585, 3Q 2014.
  5. Texas Instruments. n.d. “3-kW, 180-W/in3 Single-Phase Totem-Pole Bridgeless PFC Reference Design with 16-A Max Input.” Texas Instruments reference design No. PMP23069. Accessed April 10, 2023.
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How 8-bit MCUs enable smart farm technology

EDN Network - Tue, 04/25/2023 - 11:07

The modern farm has been both blessed and cursed by the advancement of technology. Modern agricultural and horticultural techniques have enabled higher crop yields with smaller footprints supporting ever-growing populations. However, the quality of today’s farm fresh food has been deteriorating, while the quantity is still not enough to keep farmers profitable.

The agriculture industry is inherently unstable. This is largely due to the impact of external environmental circumstances on yield from year to year. The desire for more consistency and sustainability in agriculture is driving the adoption of another kind of modern technology in this industry (Figure 1). Enter the smart farm.

Figure 1 Farmers can remotely monitor crops and livestock health, providing valuable information that ensures consistency in the agricultural industry. Source: Microchip

The availability of networked livestock monitoring systems has increased the number of healthy animals, leading to improved quality of food. Soil and plant health monitors provide farmers with the ability to monitor crop health to levels of detail not previously possible. Thanks to today’s embedded networked sensor systems, the “smart farm” of the future will have the tools and capabilities needed to increase yield and profitability while still supporting the quality levels required by discerning customers.

The information that is gathered from these sensors can help guide farmers in making the best decisions for their farms, allowing them to nurture crops and livestock to higher productivity levels while decreasing the use of water, pesticides, and fertilizer. This can help reduce the farm’s impact on its natural environment and improve the quality of the land; thus, ensuring sustainability for generations to come.

Embedded and wireless key enablers

Simply put, the principal solution for ensuring sustainability in the modern farm is to supply usable information to farmers. Due to the innovation of today’s embedded and wireless technologies, this objective can be achieved by implementing massive arrays of low-cost networked sensors. These sensors will typically monitor on-location conditions—temperature, pH, moisture, activity data and GPS coordinates—from farmland or livestock. Next, these sensors will transmit this data via wireless communication networks such as 4G/5G cellular and LoRa to a centralized and typically cloud-based database.

The data can then be accessed online by any Internet-connected device, and quickly analyzed to determine if corrective actions are needed. This allows a farmer to access the farm’s analytics from anywhere in the world.

Networked sensor nodes are not a new concept; but to ensure a level of performance and reliability in this uniquely difficult space, some key requirements must be met. First, they need a reliable power source, which is a challenging situation to resolve since a farm does not come with 1,000-foot extension cords.

Nodes would need to be battery-powered and efficient enough to last months or even years without battery replacement. This challenge requires high system efficiency which is typically achieved by implementing a microcontroller (MCU)-based system that can manage various complex tasks without heavy core CPU usage and power down when the system is inactive.

Second, sensor nodes on the smart farm need to remain operable in harsh, remote areas and perhaps even be attached to animals. The entire system is exposed to the elements which requires practical but innovative solutions to ensure robustness and functionality. Nodes would need to remain in the field for long periods of time and require very little hardware service. All software updates need to be completed remotely and securely. This requires reliable remote connectivity via the most common wide area networking (WAN) infrastructure at the farm’s locale.

When designing networked systems destined for smart farm applications, engineers must anticipate an incredibly wide variety of plants and animals being monitored. Plant health monitoring systems may measure various environmental conditions—including water levels, soil conditions, pH levels and light levels—while livestock trackers may incorporate GPS coordinates, gait monitors, pulse oximeters, and other sensors that monitor key health data points.

In either case, an ideal commercial solution would be a common base node design that can be easily adapted to the needs of the individual farm at the time of purchase. To achieve this, the base node must be flexible enough to interface with a wide variety of analog and digital sensors.

Another, more difficult design challenge concerns the wide variety of engineering disciplines needed to implement in such a system. Smart farm component designers or engineering teams need to have expert-level experience in classical embedded design techniques, RF communication—including the ins-and-outs of LoRa, Wi-Fi, and cellular topology—and network security in addition to being well-versed in cloud infrastructure.

Enter 8-bit MCUs

The path to scaling smart farm infrastructure starts in a place that isn’t commonly thought of when discussing cutting-edge applications. Since the vast majority of sensor nodes on the smart farm are battery powered, remotely located and sporadically maintained, the optimal control solution must involve the most power-efficient microcontrollers on the planet.

The 8-bit MCUs have been with us for 50 years, and while they have always been the lowest-power option for most embedded tasks, the newest devices have been modernized to directly address the needs of smart agricultural and horticultural systems. Among the many new features, the core independent peripherals (CIPs) available on PIC and AVR microcontrollers are a “force multiplier” for embedded design.

CIPs can act independently from the chip’s CPU, which allows designers to set them up to handle common and repetitive tasks with the lowest amount of power consumed. An additional benefit that CIPs provide in low-maintenance environments is their ability to help designers increase system reliability. Since CIPs are programmed as though they were tiny FPGAs included with the MCU, they are effectively immune to software excursions such as stack overflows or underflows.

Interfacing with a wide variety of digital and analog sensors using the same Internet-connected base node controller can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are modern MCUs that are designed for this very application while minimizing external componentry. Such MCUs offer SPI and I2C interfaces for digital sensor connectivity as well as differential analog-to-digital converter (ADC) with programmable gain amplifier (PGA) and digital-to-analog converter (DAC) for a high level of sensor flexibility (Figure 2). This gives designers the freedom to build highly customizable and modular sensor nodes for smart farm applications.

Figure 2 Small, efficient MCUs are key to sustainability in smart farming. Source: Microchip

Alongside the modernization of MCU architectures, their accompanying development hardware and software environments have also come a long way. For engineering teams at small companies where embedded systems, RF antenna design and cloud connectivity are not all core competencies, rapid prototyping boards are life savers. This provides designers with an easy example to follow and even includes a GitHub repository with firmware to connect with popular cloud providers.

Remote sensor technology

Today’s agriculture and horticulture industries are undergoing a technological revolution. Access to plant and animal health data via the Internet in real-time is transforming the way farms are run, with a result of ever-higher yields and increased land viability (Figure 3).

Figure 3 The 8-bit MCU-enabled remote sensor technology to monitor farm health ensures that crops receive the necessary care to thrive. Source: Microchip

At the forefront of this revolution is “available anywhere” cloud connectivity, but its foundation will continue to be built with the venerable 8-bit microcontroller. Modern MCU architectures, such as AVR and PIC with CIPs, will be key components to bridge the gap between sensor and cloud for developers of sustainability-enhancing products—now and into the future.

Grace San Giacomo is an engineer at Microchip Technology’s 8-bit microcontroller business unit.

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Vertiv India Concludes its Annual Channel Conference for Partners Across the Greater India Region

ELE Times - Tue, 04/25/2023 - 10:58

Vertiv, a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions recently concluded its Annual Channel Conference in Goa for partners across India, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives. The event was attended by more than 120 partners and distributors, along with Vertiv India leaders and core channel team. At the event, Vertiv shared its channel roadmap for 2023 and its latest solutions, and hosted thought leadership panel discussions to engage channel partners. The conference took place in February 2023, at the Taj Convention Center in Goa, and was the first in-person gathering for Vertiv India and its channel ecosystem after three years of pandemic lockdowns and hybrid working.

The channel conference this year was focused on market growth opportunities and use cases for edge computing, as well as an introduction to Vertiv’s latest solutions and technologies that support the network edge. A panel discussion was held with Vertiv thought leaders and partners during the event, covering the latest trends shaping the industry. New partner incentive programs, enablement activities, and social media community management are among Vertiv’s key initiatives aimed at driving channel growth in 2023.

A session on motivation with Ankur Warikoo and Colonel Lalit Rai was one of the highlights of the conference for both Vertiv and its channel partners. The conference also featured numerous partner awards and accolades for the previous year’s performance and growth.

“As India is a key market for Vertiv, our channel partners are an integral part of our marketing strategy, and we continuously ensure they are engaged and are aware of any new offerings and innovation efforts we undertake”, said Prashant Bhatia, vice president – sales India at Vertiv. “We constantly work towards expanding our network across the country and this conference helps to bring together old and new partners to network and connect with our executives, technical experts and other partners in the channel ecosystem. This year’s conference was also an effort to recognize our important partners and distributors and take them through our channel roadmap, as we step into a new year of innovation and growth together.”

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UiPath to Offer the UiPath Automation Platform as an SAP-Endorsed Application

ELE Times - Tue, 04/25/2023 - 10:24

UiPath announced it has expanded its partnership with SAP to offer the UiPath Automation Platform to customers, building upon the strong momentum of SAP Build Process Automation. The expanded partnership enables customers to execute business transformations, migrate critical business systems to the cloud, and augment existing business systems with the UiPath Automation Platform. The partnership complements SAP Build Process Automation and will enable organizations to improve efficiency and productivity across SAP and non-SAP workloads. UiPath Automation Platform will be available as an SAP-endorsed application and on the SAP Store, the online marketplace for SAP and partner offerings. As part of this partnership, UiPath is also committed to their continued adoption of SAP S/4HANA® Cloud to run their own business operations.

“Business leaders today are facing crucial moments where they must profoundly adapt and evolve business models and accelerate digital transformation or be left behind,” said Scott Russell, President of Customer Success and member of the Executive Board of SAP SE. “Our partnership with UiPath builds upon the strong momentum we’ve seen with SAP Build Process Automation. It enables customers to become intelligent and sustainable enterprises that are more efficient and adaptable to change.”

“The need for digital transformation has never been more urgent. The most successful companies will undergo total enterprise reinvention over the next decade, transforming every part of their business through technology, data, and AI to create new business models and ways of working and engaging with employees and customers,” said Rob Enslin, UiPath Co-CEO. “UiPath is a leader in robotic process automation and has a broad set of connectors and pre-built content for various systems. This adds value to our customers’ landscape and helps complete their automation needs.”

UiPath integrates with other enterprise vendor applications and custom applications to automate processes and eliminate manual tasks across SAP and non-SAP solutions. This newly expanded partnership helps large enterprises take advantage of a clean core with SAP S/4HANA® Cloud. It enables customers to optimize business processes that can result in rapid innovation and better outcomes across the company’s entire value chain.

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Agentek is new distribution partner for high-quality inspection solutions in Israel

ELE Times - Tue, 04/25/2023 - 09:56

At GÖPEL electronic, the network of distributors is continuously expanding. We have recently agreed to work closely with Agentek (1987) Ltd. to further establish our inspection solutions in Israel.

Agentek distributes high-performance scientific instruments and quality control equipment developed by world-leading manufacturers. We have thus been able to gain an agile partner with excellent knowledge of the local market.

With Nir Tov, Industrial Department Manager at Agentek, an expert with many years of experience in quality control and measurement systems is available for potential prospects and customers for inspection systems. He shares his expertise to advise and assist customers in the selection of optical inspection solutions, automated X-ray inspection systems, solder paste inspection and machine vision.

“We are pleased to represent GÖPEL electronic with our regional office here in Yakum. This will allow us to better serve our existing customer base and expand our world-class solutions,” explains Nir Tov. “We are proud to partner with a leading German test specialist and provide our customers with the latest technologies for inspection solutions. Because our goal is to offer the highest quality and best service,” he adds.

The cooperation with Agentek is an important step in our global distribution strategy to sell a wide range of inspection systems worldwide. Through the network of experienced distributors, we can provide high quality inspection solutions for electrical assemblies to our customers worldwide.

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Mitsubishi Electric India Inaugurates CNC eXPerience Park

ELE Times - Tue, 04/25/2023 - 09:46

Mitsubishi Electric India CNC announced its strategic expansion in Peenya Industrial area with the launch of its new manufacturing facility and technology center named “CNC eXPerience Park”. The new Smart Technology Centre is launched to establish Mitsubishi Electric as a prime solution provider in the Machine Tool Industry with its state-of-the art technologies and improved delivery of supplies.

Mitsubishi Electric India started its CNC manufacturing facility in Peenya, Bengaluru in 2016 to support the ‘Make in India’ initiative and aid industries who want to adapt the latest manufacturing technology. Expanding its network in the leading Industrial area, the company came up with this new set-up spread across from existing 24,000 square feet to 92,000 square feet including the whole utility space, to gear up the Indian Machine Tool Market which can majorly impact the Indian Economy.

At present, Mitsubishi Electric CNC sales, service and corporate network comprise in 03 Regional Offices and 12 Satellite Offices across India with its passionate employees dedicatedly towards the CNC segment. The all new “CNC eXPerience Park” technology centre is designed for further network expansion and to provide a world-class workplace experience for its employees, visitors and customers, allowing them to work and learn in an environment that promotes innovation and sustainability.

The facility will feature a range of cutting-edge technologies, including a broad series of Computerized Numerical Controllers, the post-modern DX solutions and Demo Industrial Robots that showcase the latest advancements in CNC technology. The essence of a park adds an element of serenity to the experience, making it an ideal environment for learning and exploration. In addition, the “CNC eXPerience Park” will also feature a state-of-the-art Seminar and Training Facility to help the customers upskill and stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies in the Industries like Die-mold, Parts cutting, etc.

Addressing the occasion and the launch event, Mr. Masaya Takeda, General Manager- CNC Systems, Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt. Ltd. said, “Our Expansion in the Peenya Industrial Area with the establishment of this ‘CNC eXPerience Park’ is a significant milestone for the company enabling it to tap into the area’s strong manufacturing and technology ecosystem while also creating a world-class workplace experience for our employees, customers and visitors. Machine Tool industry of India is backed by advanced CNC machines and solutions, this expansion will strengthen the manufacturing capacity and reduce the delivery time, encourage technological innovation, enhance skill development and support our key contribution towards the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

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LANXESS and Advent International complete foundation of industry leading Engineering Materials joint venture

ELE Times - Tue, 04/25/2023 - 09:19

Specialty chemicals company LANXESS and private equity investor Advent International (“Advent”) have completed the formation of their engineering materials joint venture effective April 1, 2023. The new joint venture is the result of the combination of DSM’s Engineering Materials business and LANXESS’s former High Performance Materials business.

LANXESS holds about 40 percent of the joint venture, Advent about 60 percent. LANXESS also received a cash payment of around EUR 1.3 billion on March 31. LANXESS is using this mainly to reduce its debt and thus to strengthen its balance sheet.

As financial support for the joint venture, LANXESS will be providing a loan of EUR 200 million.

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Gartner Survey Finds the Need to Improve Developer Experience is Driving Software Engineering Technology Adoption

ELE Times - Tue, 04/25/2023 - 09:01

58% of Software Engineering Leaders Report that Developer Experience is Critical to Organization’s C-Suite

High-quality developer experience has become a critical priority in software delivery, with 58% of software engineering leaders reporting that developer experience is “very” or “extremely” critical to the C-suite at their organizations, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. Enhanced developer experience or productivity is cited as the top value factor for adoption of several technologies and practices across the software development lifecycle, including internal developer portals, performance engineering, the CI/CD toolchain and container management.

The survey was conducted in the second half of 2022 among 142 software engineering leaders from large enterprises across industry verticals in North America, EMEA and Asia/Pacific, to understand deployment plans, adoption timelines, value and risks posed by 47 technologies across core software engineering domains. The results help software engineering leaders see where their peers are finding real business returns and where they face significant deployment risks.

“Organizations are recognizing that a high-quality developer experience improves productivity and is critical to attracting and retaining software engineering talent,” said Philip Walsh, Sr. Principal, Research at Gartner. “Developer experience is more than just coding. Several of the technologies seen as having the highest value for developer experience focus on streamlining processes that tend to involve handoffs and interrupt the flow of value delivery.”

High or Unpredictable Costs Are a Primary Risk Factor for New Technology Adoption  

In addition to improving developer experience, reducing cost and delivering superior capabilities are among the numerous value factors driving software engineering technology adoption. However, high or unpredictable cost is the top risk, cited as the primary risk factor for adoption of 68% of the 47 technologies and practices included in the survey.

“Software engineering leaders are increasingly in a position of needing to do more with less,” said Walsh. “Economic headwinds and persistent challenges around hiring are colliding with the increasing centrality of software engineering to enterprises’ mission-critical priorities.”

Talent availability is the second most common adoption risk factor, cited as the primary risk factor for 17% of software engineering technologies and practices assessed. To overcome the talent shortage, Gartner recommends that software engineering leaders focus on upskilling and reskilling existing employees and new hires. The goal is to develop each employee’s skills ahead of demand, so they can serve a broader range of roles and contribute to technically challenging new efforts as technologies mature and new ones are introduced.

Organizations are Investing in High-Value Platform Technologies Despite Cost Concerns

Platforms are foundational technologies that provide a stable and scalable environment for building and running applications. Despite citing high or unpredictable costs as a top risk factor, software engineering leaders are deploying platform technologies to manage APIs, integrations and complex cloud environments.

The survey found that organizations are also prioritizing technologies to manage increasingly complex application architectures. Sixty-seven percent of the technologies in the architecture and integration category are planned for deployment in 2023, with respondents citing delivery of superior capabilities to the business or customer as the primary value driver.

“Software engineering teams’ workflows and technology needs are changing as organizations continue to shift to cloud-native, modular and API-centric application architectures,” said Walsh.

Gartner clients can read more in “2023 Technology Adoption Roadmap for Software Engineering.”  Learn how to build a technology adoption plan in the complimentary Gartner ebook Software Engineering Technology Roadmap.


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Airtel partners with Secure Meters to deploy 1.3 million NB-IoT powered smart meters in Bihar

ELE Times - Tue, 04/25/2023 - 08:42

This will be India’s first NB-IoT service with a fall-back option to ensure continuous connectivity

The new deployment will be India’s first NB-IoT solution on a narrow band with a fall-back option that will work on 2G and 4G and ensure real-time connectivity and uninterrupted transfer of critical data.

NB-IoT is a low-power, wide area, radio network technology developed by 3GPP which enables a wide variety of IoT devices and services including smart meters.

Ajay Chitkara, Director and CEO, Airtel Business, commenting on this venture, said, “IoT is one of the fastest-growing business segments for Airtel Business. This venture into NB-IoT strengthens our credentials as the largest cellular IoT player in the country and places us firmly as a partner of choice for Discoms looking to invest in smart meters. We look forward to being an active player in India’s energy transition.”

Ananya Singhal, Joint MD ─ Secure Meters, said, “We are thrilled to have partnered with Airtel for the implementation of NB-IoT services in our smart meter rollout in North Bihar. Their expertise, professionalism and dedication to providing top-notch services ensured we learnt together and had a successful launch. With Airtel’s support, we were able to seamlessly connect and monitor our meters, resulting in greater efficiency and cost savings for Secure and for our customers in North Bihar. We thank Bihar Discom management and staff for enabling us to work together. We highly recommend Airtel to anyone looking to implement NB-IoT services in their IoT solutions and look forward to a growing partnership.”

Airtel’s NB-IoT platform is future-ready and is scalable to 5G. Airtel’s NB-IoT proposition also includes its advanced IoT platform ‘The Airtel IoT Hub’ which has been customised to suit the needs of Advance Metering Infrastructure Service Providers (AMISPs). Its Enterprise grade Feasibility Tool helps AMISPs plan their meter deployments better. Other functionalities include customer life cycle management and advanced analytics tools like diagnostics, live sessions check, and real-time data usage among others.

Airtel’s network is ready for pan India NB-IoT deployment. It is designed for superior coverage to address the specific needs of the IoT market.

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AAEON Announce the World’s First Fanless Mini PC with Intel Core i3 Processor N-series

ELE Times - Tue, 04/25/2023 - 08:38

UP Squared Pro 7000 Edge combines the reliability of a fanless design with the power of Intel Core i3 Processor N-series, Atom Processor X Series, and Intel® Processor N-series platforms.

Converting the ingenuity of the UP Squared Pro 7000 board to its edge system range, AAEON’s UP Squared Pro 7000 Edge is the first mini PC to harness the power of Intel Core i3 Processor N-series, Atom® Processor X Series, and Intel Processor N-series processors in a fanless chassis.

The first fanless mini PC to utilize the processor platforms, the UP Squared Pro 7000 Edge provides developers with the same performance boost as its board counterpart, but with a more convenient route to market. The device’s heatsink offers effective heat dissipation without the obvious drawbacks of a fan-based cooling system, opening the door to deployment in more settings, such as smart manufacturing and healthcare.

First Fanless Mini PC

A multipurpose design, the UP Squared Pro 7000 Edge’s heatsink contains a removable section for users to access the PC’s expansion slots. This makes the installation of 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and AI expansion modules much more efficient and convenient. In keeping with the UP system range’s previous iterations, the device’s rear I/O also houses a 40-Pin GPIO for further expansion.

The UP Squared Pro 7000 Edge presents improvements across its external I/O, with both LAN ports supporting 2.5GbE, compared to only one in the case of its predecessor. Further, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port joins two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports; while two COM ports supporting RS-232/422/485 have been added across all SKUs, a feature which until now had been limited to one COM port available only on SKUs powered by Intel Atom CPUs.

For more information about the UP Squared Pro 7000 Edge, please visit our product page or contact an AAEON representative directly.

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