Step-Down Converters Save Energy and Space in IoT Devices

STMicroelectronics has announced its ST1PS01 step-down converters. The devices are engineered for small size, low quiescent current and high efficiency at all values of load current, to save energy and real-estate in keep-alive point-of-load supplies and IoT devices such as asset trackers, wearables, smart sensors and smart meters.

Leveraging synchronous rectification, efficiency is 92% at 400 mA full load and 95% when delivering just 1 mA. Power-saving design features keep the quiescent current to a miserly 500 nA and include a low-power voltage reference. There is also a pulse-frequency counter for controlling converter current at light load, with two high-speed comparators to help minimize output ripple.
Integrated feedback-loop compensation, soft-start circuitry and power switches ensure a space-saving solution that requires just a few small-outline passives to complete the circuit. The typical inductor value is 2.2 µH. In addition, output-voltage selection logic not only saves external voltage-setting components but also gives flexibility to configure modules digitally at manufacture or let the host system change the output voltage on the fly. Eight variants, each with four optional output-voltage settings, allow a choice of regulated outputs from 3.3 V to 0.62 5V. All models feature a Power-good indicator.

A wide input-voltage range, from 1.8 V to 5.5 V, further enhances flexibility for designers by allowing various battery chemistries or configurations as simple as a single lithium cell and extending runtime as the battery discharges. ST1PS01 regulators are also ideal for devices powered from energy-harvesting systems and feature a low noise-architecture that allows use in noise-sensitive applications.

An evaluation board, STEVAL-1PS01EJR, helps developers quickly understand how to take advantage of the ST1PS01’s high energy efficiency and feature integration.

ST1PS01 regulators are now in full production, packaged as 400 µm-pitch flip-chip devices measuring just 1.11 mm x 1.41 mm, and priced from $0.686 for orders of 1, 000 pieces.

STMicroelectronics | www.st.com

 

U-blox Low Power GNSS Receiver Tapped for Smart Watch Design

Technologies from U‑blox and TransSiP have been selected for the recently announced PowerWatch 2 from MATRIX Industries. Power Watch 2 claims to be the world’s first GPS smartwatch that you never need to recharge. The smartwatch embeds the ultra‑small, ultra‑low power U‑blox ZOE‑M8B GNSS receiver. Meanwhile, TransSiP’s PI technology ensures energy harvested is used at maximum efficiency.

The PowerWatch 2 does away with cables and external batteries by continually topping up its battery using thermoelectric energy generated from body heat as well as solar energy. The watch can connect to your smartphone and display notifications on your wrist, while tracking activities and visualizing them using dedicated iOS and Android apps, as well as with popular third-party health and fitness platforms.

The PowerWatch 2 delivers location tracking using the low‑power U‑blox ZOE‑M8B GNSS receiver module that consumes as low as 12 mW. Packaged as a (System‑in‑Package), the 4.5 x 4.5 x 1.0 mm module helps achieve the watch’s comparatively low 16‑mm thickness. And concurrent reception of up to three GNSS constellations means that it delivers high accuracy positioning in challenging situations such as urban or dense forest environments and when swimming.

Satellite based positioning is typically the most power‑hungry process on a sports watch. Providing highly efficient conversion of harvested energy into a very quiet supply of DC power, TransSiP PI enhances the ability of the ZOE‑M8B GNSS receiver module incorporating U‑blox Super‑E technology, to strike an ideal balance between power and performance. Working on a tight power budget, the watch supports 30 minutes of continuous GNSS tracking per day, with unused time accumulating in the watch’s battery pack—powering two hours of location tracking every four days.

TransSiP | www.transsip.com

U‑blox | www.u‑blox.com

March Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The March issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is out next week!. We’ve rounded up an outstanding selection of in-depth embedded electronics articles just for you, and rustled them all into our 84-page magazine.

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Here’s a sneak preview of March 2019 Circuit Cellar:

POWER MAKES IT POSSIBLE

Power Issues for Wearables
Wearable devices put extreme demands on the embedded electronics that make them work—and power is front and center among those demands. Devices spanning across the consumer, fitness and medical markets all need an advanced power source and power management technologies to perform as expected. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child examines how today’s microcontroller and power electronics are enabling today’s wearable products.

Power Supplies for Medical Systems
Over the past year, there’s been an increasing trend toward new products that have some sort of application or industry focus. That means supplies that include either certifications, special performance specs or tailored packaging intended for a specific application area such as medical. This Product Focus section updates readers on these technology trends and provides a product gallery of representative medical-focused power supplies.

DESIGN RESOURCES, ISSUES AND CHALLENGES

Flex PCB Design Services
While not exactly a brand-new technology, flexible printed circuit boards are a critical part of many of today’s challenging embedded system applications from wearable devices to mobile healthcare electronics. Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, explores the Flex PCB design capabilities available today and whose providing them.

Design Flow Ensures Automotive Safety
Fault analysis has been around for years, and many methods have been created to optimize evaluation of hundreds of concurrent faults in specialized simulators. However, there are many challenges in running a fault campaign. Mentor’s Doug Smith presents an improved formal verification flow that reduces the number of faults while simultaneously providing much higher quality of results.

Cooling Electronic Systems
Any good embedded system engineer knows that heat is the enemy of reliability. As new systems cram more functionality at higher speeds into ever smaller packages, it’s no wonder an increasing amount of engineering mindshare is focusing on cooling electronic systems. In this article, George Novacek reviews some of the essential math and science around cooling and looks are several cooling technologies—from cold pates to heat pipes.

MICROCONTROLLER PROJECTS WITH ALL THE DETAILS

MCU-Based Solution Links USB to Legacy PC I/O
In PCs, serial interfaces have now been just about completely replaced by USB. But many of those interfaces are still used in control and monitoring embedded systems. In this project article, Hossam Abdelbaki describes his ATSTAMP design. ATSTAMP is an MCS-51 (8051) compatible microcontroller chip that can be connected to the USB port of any PC via any USB-to-serial bridge currently available in the market.

Pet Collar Uses GPS and Wi-Fi
The PIC32 has proven effective for a myriad of applications, so why not a dog collar? Learn how Cornell graduates Vidya Ramesh and Vaidehi Garg built a GPS-enabled pet collar prototype. The article discusses the hardware peripherals used in the project, the setup, and the software. It also describes the motivation behind the project, and possibilities to expand the project in the future.

Guitar Video Game Uses PIC32
While music-playing video games are fun, their user interfaces tend leave a lot to be desired. Learn how Cornell students Jake Podell and Jonah Wexler designed and built a musical video game that’s interfaced with using a custom-built wireless guitar controller. The game is run on a Microchip PIC32 MCU and uses a TFT LCD display to show notes that move across the screen towards a strum region.

… AND MORE FROM OUR EXPERT COLUMNISTS

Non-Evasive Current Sensor
Gone are the days when you could do most of your own maintenance on your car’s engine. Today they’re sophisticated electronic systems. But there are some things you can do with the right tools. In his article, By Jeff Bachiochi talks about how using the timing light on his car engine introduced him to non-contact sensor technology. He talks about the types of probes available and how to use them to read the magnitude of alternating current (AC

Impedance Spectroscopy using the AD5933
Impedance spectroscopy is the measurement of a device’s impedance (or resistance) over a range of frequencies. Brian Millier has designed many voltammographs and conductivity meters over the years. But he recently came across the Analog Devices AD5933 chip made by which performs most all the functions needed to do impedance spectroscopy. In this article, explores the technology, circuit design and software that serve these efforts.

Side-Channel Power Analysis
Side-channel power analysis is a method of breaking security on embedded systems, and something Colin O’Flynn has covered extensively in his column. This time Colin shows how you can prove some of the fundamental assumptions that underpin side-channel power analysis. He uses the open-source ChipWhisperer project with Jupyter notebooks for easy interactive evaluation.

Low-Power PMIC Enables High Sensitivity Optical Measurements

Maxim Integrated Products has introduced its latest tiny, highly integrated power-management IC (PMIC). The ultra-low-power MAX20345 integrates a lithium charger and debuts a unique architecture that optimizes the sensitivity of optical measurements for wearable fitness and health applications. In wearables, optical-sensing accuracy is impacted by a variety of biological factors unique to the user. Designers have been striving to increase the sensitivity of optical systems, in particular the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), to cover a broader spectrum of use cases.
Traditional low-quiescent-current regulators favored in wearable applications come with tradeoffs that degrade SNR on the wrist, such as high-amplitude ripple, low-frequency ripple and long-settling times. Some designers have even turned to high-quiescent-current alternatives to overcome these drawbacks, but they must deal with increased power consumption, which reduces battery runtime or requires a larger battery. According to Maxim, the MAX20345 features a first-of-its-kind buck-boost regulator based on an innovative architecture that’s optimized for highly accurate heart-rate, blood-oxygen (SpO2) and other optical measurements. The regulator delivers the desired low-quiescent current performance without the drawbacks that degrade SNR and, as a result, can increase performance by up to 7dB.

The MAX20345 is also the latest in a line of ultra-low-power PMICs for small wearables and IoT devices that help raise efficiency without sacrificing battery runtime. To meet these needs, the MAX20345 integrates a lithium-ion battery charger; six voltage regulators, each with ultra-low quiescent current; three nanoPower bucks (900 nA typical) and three ultra-low quiescent current LDO regulators (as low as 550 nA typical). Two load switches allow disconnecting of system peripherals to minimize battery drain. Both the buck-boost and the bucks support dynamic voltage scaling (DVS), providing additional power-saving opportunities when lower voltages can be deployed under favorable conditions. The MAX20345 is available in a 56-bump, 0.4mm pitch, 3.37 mm x 3.05 mm wafer-level package (WLP.)

Key Advantages

  • Superior Performance for Optical Systems: the integrated buck-boost regulator provides the low ripple at high frequency that will not interfere with optical measurements. These short settling times support the high-sensitivity optical-sensor measurements on wearables.
  • Extended Battery Life: regulators with nanoPower quiescent current reduce sleep and standby power, which in turn extends battery runtime and allows for smaller battery size. High-efficiency regulators preserve battery energy during active states.
  • Small Footprint: by eliminating multiple discrete components, the MAX20345 provides a sophisticated power architecture for space-constrained wearable and IoT designs.

The MAX20345 is available at Maxim’s website for $4.45 (1000-up, FOB USA) and is also available from authorized distributors. The MAX20345EVKIT# evaluation kit is available for $57.00

Maxim Integrated | www.maximintegrated.com

 

SIMO PMICs Shrink Power Regulator Size in Half

Six new low-power power-management integrated circuits (PMICs) from Maxim Integrated Products are designed to reduce the power-management footprint by up to 50 percent for space-constrained products such as wearables, hearables, sensors, smart-home automation hubs and internet of things (IoT) devices. They increase the overall system efficiency by nine percent compared to the closest competitive solution, while also reducing heat dissipation, an important consideration for wearable products that make skin contact.
The unique control architecture in the MAX17270 (shown), MAX77278, MAX77640/MAX77641 and MAX77680/MAX77681 PMICs allows a single inductor to serve as the critical energy-storage element for multiple, independent DC-rail outputs. This allows engineers to reduce the number of bulky inductors in their designs, thereby improving efficiency, shrinking form factor and reducing heat dissipation. In addition, the low quiescent current of the PMICs plays an important role in extending battery life. With the intrinsic buck-boost operation of the PMICs, the power rails can operate over a battery’s entire range.

MAX17270: Smallest Size and Lowest Quiescent Current
At 50 percent smaller than previous-generation SIMO-only solutions, the MAX17270 SIMO buck-boost converter provides the industry’s smallest solution size while reducing the number of inductors and ICs that are required for a power tree. Its quiescent current of 850nA for one SIMO channel and 1.3µA for three SIMO channels is the lowest in the market and helps extend battery life of end devices. In addition, the product’s low power consumption prevents overheating and reduces frequent charging cycles for wearables and hearables. They are available in TQFN and WLP package options.

MAX77278: Power Path Charger Optimized for Small Li+ Batteries
This ultra-low-power SIMO PMIC provides three buck-boost regulators with independent voltage outputs (0.8VOUT to 5.25VOUT), 16µA operating quiescent current/300nA standby current and flexible power sequencing. The device is also a charger for small Li+ cells (7.5mA – 300mA CC range). It includes an adjustable 425mA current sink for an LED, eight general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins and a 3.7125V to 5.3V, 50mA low-noise low-dropout regulator (LDO) with fixed headroom control in a total solution size as low as 24mm2. The PMIC’s I2C interface allows an applications processor to monitor the status and control power management. The MAX77278 is ideal for remote controls, health and fitness monitors, body cameras and IoT applications.

MAX77640/MAX77641: Highly Integrated Battery Charging and Power Solutions
These ultra-low-power SIMO PMICs feature three buck-boost regulators, a low-noise 150mA LDO, a GPIO output port, a triple current sink for an RGB LED array and flexible power sequencing. Operating current is just 5.6µA and shutdown current is 300nA. Available in a 16mm2 total solution size, the MAX77640 and MAX77641 are ideal for applications with a built-in charger in areas like wearables, fitness and health monitoring and IoT.

MAX77680/MAX77681: Mini PMICs for Always-On, Low-Power Applications
These ultra-low-power SIMO PMICs provide three buck-boost regulators, 3.0µA operating quiescent current, 300nA shutdown current and flexible power sequencing. Total solution size is only 15.5mm2. Given their feature set, the MAX77680 and MAX77681 are ideal for more minimalistic platforms that require streamlined resources, such as hearables (Bluetooth headsets/earbuds) and miniaturized IoT devices (rings, watches, e-pens).

The MAX17270 is available for $1.84 (1000-up, FOB USA); the MAX77278 is available for $2.18 (1000-up, FOB USA); the MAX77680 and MAX77681 are available for $1.24 (1000-up, FOB USA); and the MAX77640 and MAX77641 are available for $1.71 (1000-up, FOB USA) at Maxim’s website. The ICs are also available from select authorized distributors.

The MAX17270EVKIT# evaluation kit is available for $100; the MAX77278EVKIT# evaluation kit is available for $100; the MAX77680/MAX77681EVKIT# evaluation kit is available for $100; and the MAX77640/MAX77641EVKIT# is available for $100.

Maxim Integrated | www.maximintegrated.com

Highly Integrated, Precision ADCs and DACs Feature Small Footprint

Texas Instruments (TI) has introduced four tiny precision data converters. The new data converters enable designers to add more intelligence and functionality, while shrinking system board space. The DAC80508 and DAC70508 are eight-channel precision digital-to-analog converters (DACs) that provide true 16- and 14-bit resolution, respectively. The ADS122C04 and ADS122U04 are 24-bit precision analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) that feature a two-wire, I2C-compatible interface and a two-wire, UART-compatible interface, respectively. The devices are optimized for a variety of small-size, high-performance or cost-sensitive industrial, communications and personal electronics applications. Examples include optical modules, field transmitters, battery-powered systems, building automation and wearables.

Both DACs include a 2.5-V, 5-ppm/°C internal reference, eliminating the need for an external precision reference. Available in a 2.4-mm-by-2.4-mm die-size ball-grid array (DSBGA) package or wafer chip-scale package (WCSP) and a 3-mm-by-3-mm quad flat no-lead (QFN)-16 package, these devices are up to 36 percent smaller than the competition. The new DACs eliminate the typical trade-off between high performance and small size, enabling engineers to achieve the best system accuracy, while reducing board size or increasing channel density.

In addition to their compact size, the DAC80508 and DAC70508 provide true, 1 least significant bit (LSB) integral nonlinearity to achieve the highest level of accuracy at 16- and 14-bit resolution – up to 66 percent better linearity than the competition. They are fully specified over a -40°C to +125°C extended temperature range and provide features such as cyclic redundancy check (CRC) to increase system reliability.

The tiny, 24-bit precision ADCs are available in 3-mm-by-3-mm very thin QFN (WQFN)-16 and 5-mm-by-4.4-mm thin-shrink small-outline package (TSSOP)-16 options. The two-wire interface requires fewer digital isolation channels than a standard serial peripheral interface (SPI), reducing the overall cost of an isolated system. These precision ADCs eliminate the need for external circuitry by integrating a flexible input multiplexer, a low-noise programmable gain amplifier, two programmable excitation current sources, an oscillator and a precision temperature sensor.

Both ADC devices feature a low-drift 2.048-V, 5-ppm/°C internal reference. Their internal 2 percent accurate oscillators help designers improve power-line cycle noise rejection, enabling higher accuracy in noisy environments. With gains from 1 to 128 and noise as low as 100 nV, designers can measure both small-signal sensors and wide input ranges with one ADC. These device families, which also include pin-to-pin-compatible 16-bit options, give designers the flexibility to meet various system requirements by scaling performance up or down.

Engineers can evaluate the new data converters with the DAC80508 evaluation module, the ADS122C04 evaluation module and the ADS122U04 evaluation module, all available today for $99.00 from the TI store and authorized distributors.

TI’s new tiny DACs and ADCs are available now with pricing ranging from $3.95 to $9.99 (1,000s).

Texas Instruments | www.ti.com

IoT Module Family Features Ultra-Compact Form Factor

Telit has announced the xE310 family of miniature IoT modules. With initial models planned in LTE-M, NB-IoT and European 2G, the new form factor will enable Telit to meet growing demand for ultra-small, high-performance modules for wearable medical devices, fitness trackers, industrial sensors, smart metering, and other mass-production, massive deployment applications. Telit will start shipping xE310 modules in Q4 this year.
Telit claims the xE310 family is one of the smallest LGA form factors available in the market with a flexible perimeter footprint supporting various sizes from compact to smaller than 200 mm2. The xE310’s 94 pads include spares to provide Telit the flexibility to quickly deliver support for additional features as technologies, applications and markets evolve. Spares can be used for modules supporting Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or enhanced location technologies—in addition to cellular—while maintaining compatibility with cellular only models. They can also be used for additional connections that may be required for new 5G-enabled features.

The new form factor also gives OEMs greater flexibility, efficiency and yield during design and manufacturing. The xE310 family provides easy PCB routing while minimizing manufacturing process issues such as planarity and bending. The unique circular pad facilitates correct package orientation for automated assembly.

To learn more about the new xE310 family, visit the Telit stand 431 at IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona, Spain on October 16-18.

For a look at how this new design is enabling smart metering applications, register for the Telit webinar on November 15: “From 2G to 5G: 5 things you need to know for smarter utilities”: https://www.smart-energy.com/industry-sectors/data_analytics/webinar-15-november-5-things-you-need-to-know-for-smarter-utilities/.

Telit | www.telit.com

Low-Power MCUs Extend Battery Life for Wearables

Maxim Integrated Products has introduced the ultra-low power MAX32660 and MAX32652 microcontrollers. These MCUs are based on the ARM Cortex-M4 with FPU processor and provide designers the means to develop advanced applications under restrictive power constraints. Maxim’s family of DARWIN MCUs combine its wearable-grade power technology with the biggest embedded memories in their class and advanced embedded security.

Memory, size, power consumption, and processing power are critical features for engineers designing more complex algorithms for smarter IoT applications. According to Maxim, existing solutions today offer two extremes—they either have decent power consumption but limited processing and memory capabilities, or they have higher power consumption with more powerful processors and more memory.
The MAX32660 (shown) offers designers access to enough memory to run some advanced algorithms and manage sensors (256 KB flash and 96 KB SRAM). They also offer excellent power performance (down to 50µW/MHz), small size (1.6 mm x 1.6 mm in WLP package) and a cost-effective price point. Engineers can now build more intelligent sensors and systems that are smaller and lower in cost, while also providing a longer battery life.

As IoT devices become more intelligent, they start requiring more memory and additional embedded processors which can each be very expensive and power hungry. The MAX32652 offers an alternative for designers who can benefit from the low power consumption of an embedded microcontroller with the capabilities of a higher powered applications processor.

With 3 MB flash and 1 MB SRAM integrated on-chip and running up to 120 MHz, the MAX32652 offers a highly-integrated solution for IoT devices that strive to do more processing and provide more intelligence. Integrated high-speed peripherals such as high-speed USB 2.0, secure digital (SD) card controller, a thin-film transistor (TFT) display, and a complete security engine position the MAX32652 as the low-power brain for advanced IoT devices. With the added capability to run from external memories over HyperBus or XcellaBus, the MAX32652 can be designed to do even more tomorrow, providing designers a future-proof memory architecture and anticipating the increasing demands of smart devices.

The MAX32660 and MAX32652 are both available at Maxim’s website and select authorized distributors. MAX32660EVKIT# and MAX32652EVKIT# evaluation kits are also both available at Maxim’s website.

Maxim Integrated | www.maximintegrated.com

The Dick Tracy Wristwatch TV

Input Voltage

–Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

JeffHeadShot

At my first technology editor job back in 1990, my boss at the time was obsessed with the concept of the Dick Tracy wristwatch. Dick Tracy was a popular comic strip that ran from the late 30s up until 1972. Now, let me be clear, even I’m not old enough to be from the era when Dick Tracy was part of popular culture. But my boss was. For those of you who don’t know, the 2-Way Wrist Radio was one of the comic strip’s most iconic items. It was worn by Tracy and members of the police force and in 1964 the 2-Way Wrist Radio was upgraded to a 2-Way Wrist TV. When chip companies came to visit our editorial offices—this is back when press tours were still a thing—in many editorial meetings with those companies, my boss would quite often ask the hypothetical question: “When are we going to get the Dick Tracy wristwatch?”

Confident that Moore’s Law would go on forever, semiconductor companies back then were always hungry to get their share of the mobile electronic device market—although the “device” of the day kept changing. My boss’s Dick Tracy wristwatch question was a clever way to spur discussion about chip integration, extreme low power, wireless communication and even full motion video. Full motion video on a mobile device in particular was a technology that many were skeptical could ever happen. In that early 90s period, the DRAM was the main driver of semiconductor process technology, and, in turn, the desktop PC was by far the dominant market for DRAMs. As a result, there was a tendency to view all future computing through the lens of the PC. It would be more than a decade later before flash memory surpassed DRAMs as the main driver of the chip business, and that was because the market size of mobile devices began to eclipse PCs.

As most of you know, Circuit Cellar has BYTE magazine as a part its origin story. Steve Ciarcia had a popular column called Circuit Cellar in BYTE magazine. When Steve founded this magazine three decades ago, he gave it the Circuit Cellar name. The April 1981 issue of BYTE magazine famously had a picture of basically a wristwatch with a CRT screen and keyboard with a mini-floppy disk being inserted into its side. That’s a vivid example that we humans are notoriously really bad at predicting what future technologies will look like. We have an inherent bias imposing what we have now on our view of the future.

Fast forward today and obviously we have the Dick Tracy Wristwatch and so much more—the Apple Watch being the most vivid example. Today’s wearable devices span across the consumer, fitness and medical markets and all need a mix of low-power, low-cost and high-speed processing. But even though technology has come a long way, the design challenges are still tricky. Wearable electronic devices of today all share some common aspects. They have an extremely low budget for power consumption, they tend not to be suited for replaceable batteries and therefore must be rechargeable. They also usually require some kind of wireless connectivity.

Today’s wearables including a variety of products including smartwatches, physical activity monitors, heart rate monitors, smart headphones and more. Microcontrollers for these devices have to have extremely low power and high integration. At the same time, power solutions servicing this market require mastery of low quiescent current design techniques and high integration. To meet those needs chip vendors—primarily from the microcontroller and analog markets—keep advancing solutions that consume extremely low levels and power and manage that power.

One amusing aspect of the Dick Tracy wristwatch was that it was referred as a 2-Way Radio (and later a 2-Way TV). With Internet connectivity, today’s smartwatches basically are connected to an infinite number of network nodes. I can’t claim to be a better predictor of the future than the editors of 1981’s BYTE. But now I need to come up with a new question to ask chip vendors, and I don’t know what the question should be. Perhaps: “When are we going to get the Star Wars holographic 3D image messaging system?”. And in wristwatch form please.

This appears in the May (334) issue of Circuit Cellar magazine

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Wireless MCUs are Bluetooth Mesh Certified

Cypress Semiconductor has announced its single-chip solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT) are Bluetooth mesh connectivity certified by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) to a consumer product. LEDVANCE announced the market’s first Bluetooth mesh qualified LED lighting products, which leverage Cypress’ Bluetooth mesh technology. Three Cypress wireless combo chips and the latest version of its Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) software development kit (SDK) support Bluetooth connectivity with mesh networking capability. Cypress’ solutions enable a low-cost, low-power mesh network of devices that can communicate with each other–and with smartphones, tablets and voice-controlled home assistants–via simple, secure and ubiquitous Bluetooth connectivity.

Previously, users needed to be in the immediate vicinity of a Bluetooth device to control it without an added hub. With Bluetooth mesh networking technology, the devices within the network can communicate with each other to easily provide coverage throughout even the largest homes, allowing users to conveniently control all of the devices via apps on their smartphones and tablets.

Market research firm ABI Research forecasts there will be more than 57 million Bluetooth smart lightbulbs by 2021. Cypress’ CYW20719, CYW20706, and CYW20735 Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) combo solutions and CYW43569 and CYW43570 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combo solutions offer fully compliant Bluetooth mesh. Cypress also offers Bluetooth mesh certified modules and an evaluation kit. The solutions share a common, widely-deployed Bluetooth stack and are supported in version 6.1 of Cypress’ all-inclusive WICED SDK, which streamlines the integration of wireless technologies for developers of smart home lighting and appliances, as well as healthcare applications.

Cypress Semiconductor | www.cypress.com

Analyst 2017 Review: Mobile Devices Dominated GPU Market

Jon Peddie Research (JPR), a market research and consulting firm focused on graphics and multimedia offers its annual review of GPU developments for 2017. In spite of the slow decline of the PC market overall, PC-based GPU sales, which include workstations, have been increasing, according to the review. In the mobile market, integrated GPUs have risen at the same rate as mobile devices and the SoCs in them. The same is true for the console market where integrated graphics are in every console and they too have increased in sales over the year.

Nearly 28% of the world’s population bought a GPU device in 2017, and that’s in addition to the systems already in use. And yet, probably less than half of them even know what the term GPU stands for, or what it does. To them the technology is invisible, and that means it’s working—they don’t have to know about it.

The market for, and use of, GPUs stretches from supercomputers and medical devices to gaming machines, mobile devices, automobiles, and wearables. Just about everyone in the industrialized world has at least a half dozen products with one a GPU, and technophiles can easily count a dozen or more. The manufacturing of GPUs approaches science fiction with features that will move below 10 nm next year and have a glide-path to 3 nm, and some think even 1 nm—Moore’s law is far from dead, but is getting trickier to coax out of the genie’s bottle as we drive into subatomic realms that can only be modeled and not seen.

Over the past 12 months JPR has a seen a few new, and some clever adaptations of GPUs that show the path for future developments and subsequent applications. 2017 was an amazing year for GPU development driven by games, eSports, AI, crypto currency mining, and simulations. Autonomous vehicles started to become a reality, as did augmented reality. The over-hyped consumer-based PC VR market explosion didn’t happen, and had little to no impact on GPU developments or sales. Most of the participants in VR already had a high-end system and the HMD was just another display to them.

Mobile GPUs, exemplified by products from Qualcomm, ARM and Imagination Technologies are key to amazing devices with long battery life, screens at or approaching 4K, and in 2017 people started talking about and showing HDR.

JPR’s review says that many, if not all, the developments we will see in 2018 were started as early as 2015, and that three to four-year lead time will continue. Lead times could get longer as we learn how to deal with chips constructed with billions of transistor manufactured at feature sizes smaller than X-rays. Ironically, buying cycles are also accelerating ensuring strong competition as players try to leap-frog each other in innovation. According to JPR, we’ll see considerable innovation in 2018, with AI being the leading application that will permeate every sector of our lives.

The JPR GPU Developments in 2017 Report is free to all subscribers of JPR. Individual copies of the report can be purchased for $100.

Jon Peddie Research | www.jonpeddie.com