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03.26.10 | e l e c t r o n i c d e s i g n . c o m
p|
26
ELECTRIC AND HYBRID VEHICLE TECHNOLOGIES
CHARGE
AHEAD
To meet conflicting requirements,
EV and HEV manufacturers are
struggling to adapt their cars to
societys needswithout a
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Cut the clutter! When it comes to digital-to-analog converters, Cirrus Logic means business. The CS4353 is
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CS4353 FEATURES
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Small 4 mm x 4 mm QFN Package

CS4353
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Cirrus Logic. We make it easier for you.
2010 Cirrus Logic, Inc. All rights reserved. Cirrus Logic, Cirrus and the Cirrus Logic logo designs are trademarks of Cirrus Logic, Inc.
All other brands and product names may be trademarks or service marks of their respective owners. ED03262010
LEARN MORE AT
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Because we listen to you.
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See why more and more engineers choose Agilent.
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IRGB4045DPBF TO-220 6.0A 2.14V 26 ns 12 ns 95 ns 32 ns
IRGB4060DPBF TO-220 8.0A 1.95V 28 ns 17 ns 117 ns 35 ns
IRGB4064DPBF TO-220 10.0A 2.00V 27 ns 16 ns 98 ns 33 ns
IRGB4056DPBF TO-220 12.0A 1.97V 30 ns 18 ns 102 ns 41 ns
IRGB4061DPBF TO-220 18.0A 2.15V 40 ns 25 ns 120 ns 40 ns
IRGP4062DPBF TO-247 24.0A 2.04V 40 ns 24 ns 125 ns 39 ns
IRGB4062DPBF TO-220 24.0A 2.04V 40 ns 24 ns 125 ns 39 ns
IRGP4063DPBF TO-247 48.0A 2.10V 55 ns 45 ns 165 ns 45 ns
600V Fast Switching Trench IGBTs for PWM*
Part Number Package Type Io+ Io-
IRS2113STRPBF SOIC 2.5 A 2.5 A
IR2114SSTRPBF SOIC 2.0 A 3.0 A
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Part Number Package Type Ic at 100C V
ce(on)
at Rated Current Qg R
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IRG4PC50SDPBF TO-247 41A 1.28V 180 nC 0.64 C/W
IRG4PC40SPBF TO-247 31A 1.32V 100 nC 0.77 C/W
IRG4BC30SPBF TO-220 18A 1.4V 50 nC 1.2 C/W
IRG4BC20SDPBF TO-220 10A 1.4V 27 nC 2.1C/W
600V Low Uce(sat) IGBTs for less than 1kHz*
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T H E A U T H O R I T Y
O N E M E R G I N G
T E C H N O L O G I E S F O R
D E S I G N S O L U T I O N S
V o l . 5 8 N o . 4 03.26.10 | e l e c t r o n i c d e s i g n . c o m
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
5
Contents
ELECTRONIC DESIGN (ISSN 0013-4872) is published monthly with an extra issue in March, June, September and October by Penton Media Inc., 9800 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, KS 66212-2216. Paid rates for a one-year
subscription are as follows: $120 U.S., $180 Canada, $240 International. Periodicals postage paid at Shawnee Mission, KS, and additional mailing offices. Editorial and advertising addresses: ELECTRONIC DESIGN, 249
West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011. Telephone (212) 204-4200. Printed in U.S.A. Title registered in U.S. Patent Office. Copyright

2010 by Penton Media Inc. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may
not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the copyright owner. For subscriber services or to order single copies, write to Electronic Design, PO Box 2100, Skokie, IL 60076. POSTMASTER: Send change of
address to Electronic Design, PO Box 2100, Skokie, IL 60076. Canadian Post Publications Mail agreement No. 40612608. Canada return address: Bleuchip International, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2.
Features
Columns
of
Table
EDITORIAL MISSION:
To provide the most current, accurate, and in-depth technical
coverage of the key emerging technologies that engineers need
to design tomorrows products today.
T H E A U T H O R I T Y
O N E M E R G I N G
T E C H N O L O G I E S F O R
D E S I G N S O L U T I O N S
26: Electric And
Hybrid Vehicle
Technologies
Charge Ahead |
Engineering Feature
Roger Allan
To meet conficting require-
ments, EV and HEV manufac-
turers are struggling to adapt
their cars to societys needs
without a roadmap.
34: Cut The Links To Your
Sensor/Actuator Networks
| Technology Report
Louis E. Frenzel
Heres what you need to know to take
advantage of the latest wireless tech-
nologies in networking sensors and/or
actuators.
56: New Interfaces In Flash Memory
Design Drive Innovation And
Lower Costs | Design Solution Kevin
Widmer, Spansion
As consumers demand more from the latest
gadgets, designers are turning to multiple-I/O
SPI for improved performance.
Editorial | Joe Desposito
13: If 3D TV Is Here, Can 3D Camcorders Be Far Off?
Lab Bench | Bill Wong
14: Tools Turn Robot Projects Into Childs Play
Testing The Limits | Eric Starkloff
16: What Can Toyota Teach Us About Test?
Point Of View | Henry Muyshondt, SMSC
18: USB Hub/Card Applications Hit The Road
Pease Porridge | Bob Pease
64: Bobs Mailbox
50: Improve The Design Of Your Passive Wideband ADC Front-End
Network | Design Solution Rob Reeder, Analog Devices
Its important to understand the various tradeoffs and considerations before you begin
your front-end design for high-speed data converters for wide-bandwidth applications.
42: Characterize
Your LEDs For
Almost All Occasions
| Engineering Essentials Mat Dirjish
First, you need to know
the different types of
LEDs. Then, you
need to know your
application.
21
address
lines
16
data
lines
3
control
lines
40 to 6
4 data
lines
2 control
lines
MCU or
ASIC
32-Mbit
parallel
ash
MCU or
ASIC
32-Mbit
SPI
ash
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
7
Product Features
62: Ad Index
2008 Winner
SILVER
EDITORIAL
AWARDOF
EXCELLENCE
2008 Winner
GOLD
EXCELLENCE
INMAGAZINE
DESIGN
Permission is granted to users registered with the Copyright Clearance Center Inc. (CCC) to photocopy any article, with the exception of those for
which separate copyright ownership is indicated on the first page of the article, provided that a base fee of $2 per copy of the article plus $1.00
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T H E A U T H O R I T Y
O N E M E R G I N G
T E C H N O L O G I E S F O R
D E S I G N S O L U T I O N S
V o l . 5 8 N o . 4 03.26.10 | e l e c t r o n i c d e s i g n . c o m
24: 18-Bit DAC Provides Precision, Linearity, And
Output Flexibility | Analog & Power Don Tuite
24: High-Speed Digital Debug Calls For Specialized
Tools | Test & Measurement David Maliniak
21: FPGAs Enter
The Third
Dimension |
Leapfrog
Bill Wong
TechView
Fold 0
Fold 1
Fold 2
Fold 3
Time
Embedded in Electronic Design Bill Wong
46: Multitouch Functionality Comes
To Bigger Screens
47: Module Packs I/O
Features
48: Microcontroller
TalksAnd Listens
Ideas for Design
59: Modified Phantom-Powered Microphone Circuit
Reduces Distortion | Dimitri Danyuk
60: Shift Register Generates Multiple Clocks From PWM
Signal | Christina Obenaus IneoS Ingenieur-Bro Obenaus
61: Configurable Logic Chip Stretches Pulses To Brighten
LED Flash | James S. Campbell, MD Medesign
C2
1 F
C1
1 nF
X1
R3
2.2k
C3
100 F
Q1
J305
R1
1G
R4
2.2k
C4
1 F
R2
1M
R10
10k
Q2
2SA992
R11
100k
C5
1 F
R5
390k
Q4
2SC1845
R6
100k
R14
3.9k
R7
47k
R8
75
C7
1 F
Output
1
2
3

XLR
+ +
+
J
OUT
R9
75
R12
10k
Q3
2SA992
R13
100k
C6
1 F
D1
12 V
C8
1 F
Q5
2SC1845
R15
1k
J
C1
Gnd Gnd
1
2
1
2
1
2
3 3 3

+ +
XLR
XLR
C31
C23
Cable
J
C2
C21 Gnd
XLR
Gnd
Rf1
6.81k
Input
J
IN
C+
+
+
C
To amp
Rf2
6.81k
+48 V
Design Solution
Formal Analysis: A Valuable
Tool For Post-Silicon Debug
Jamil R. Mazzawi, Pearl Lee, and Lawrence
Loh, Jasper Design Automation
Post-silicon debug
can be very stress-
ful. What can you
do when the chip
doesnt work and time is running out? Missing
the deadline can put ones joband ones
companyin jeopardy. Formal verifcation has
proved to be a lifesaver in these situations, as it
uncovers the root causes of bugs and validates
fxes when other approaches have failed.
electronicdesign.com
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
8
Web
the
On
03.26.10 | e l e c t r o n i c d e s i g n . c o m
Test Techview
David Maliniak, EDA & Test Editor
Handheld Vector Network Analyzer
Takes Accuracy Title
Last year, Agilents N9912A FieldFox RF vector
network analyzer broke new ground for the portable
category. Now the test giant is following up with its
N9923A FieldFox analyzer, which shares the same packaging and form fac-
tor as its predecessor but improves upon its performance in some important
ways.
Point of View
Television Tuners:
A State Of The Union Review
Pamela Lee, Fresco Microchip
TV sets have evolved dramati-
cally since their introduction,
with lifelike picture quality at
lower price points in thinner,
greener platforms. Yet the
fundamental front-end tuner
technology that determines how we receive
and transmit television broadcasts has not
changed in fve decades.
Webinar
April 27, 2010
Electronic Design brings you the latest in power design information in
our free online conference, One Powerful Day. Featuring industry ex-
perts, this daylong webinar will offer sessions on increasing photovoltaic
panel energy output, thermal management, portable battery and charger
options, LED solutions, power-supply testing, and MOSFET design. For
more, go to www.electronicdesign.com/opd.
Podcast
Designing With
Ultracapacitors
An Interview
With Chad Hall Of Ioxus
John Edwards, Contributing Editor
Ultracapacitors hold less electricity than
comparably sized batteries, but absorb and
release it much more quickly. This is crucial
for time-sensitive electricity storage, includ-
ing power-grid frequency regulation, fast
vehicle acceleration, and capturing energy
from vehicle braking, explains Chad Hall,
CEO of Ioxus.
Anti-glare 6.5-in.
LCD with
LED backlight
Backlit keypad
Dedicated marker keys for
quick marker function access
Navigate between four traces
using up/down arrows
11.5 in.
292 mm
7.4 in.
188 mm
Convenient side
strap makes it
easy to hold and
carry
Connector covers
help keep dust out
Task-driven keys
are grouped to
easily and
naturally perform
standard eld
measurements
Portrait design and
large buttons for
easy operation
even with gloves on
TURN ON THE
POWER
OF AVNET
Avnet lights the way to reliable,
durable, and sustainable LED Solutions.
Choosing LED technology for your design is only the rst step on the path.
Avnet Electronics Marketing helps light your way to selecting LEDs that
meet your reliability, visibility, and availability requirements. At each stage
of the design cycle, our team of illumination-focused engineers gives you
access to the latest information on LED products, ensuring you nd the
right solution to t your specic design needs. When tackling the challenges
of thermal management, power driver stage and secondary optics, our
experts are your source for leveraging the benets of LED technology.
As a unit of Avnet Electronics Marketing, LightSpeed brings together the
worlds foremost LED, high-performance analog and optical/electrome-
chanical manufacturers along with best-in-class technical expertise and
supply chain management services affording you quicker time to market.
Working together, we can help you bring your ideas to light.
For more information and to view the latest issue of Light Matters
visit us at: www.em.avnet.com/lightspeed
Avnet, Inc. 2009. All rights reserved. AVNET is a registered trademark of Avnet, Inc.
10
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
03.26.10
ELECTRONIC DESIGN
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D
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Electronics, Inc.
Call Toll Free 800-431-1064 Fax: 914-738-8225
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13
Editorial JOE DESPOSITO | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF joe.desposito@penton.com
If 3D TV Is Here, Can 3D
Camcorders Be Far Behind?
THE ARRIVAL OF a new baby in my family has led
me to take more video than usual. But as I shoot
with my standard-definition digital camcorder, I
wonder if Ill be getting grief from this kid once he
realizes that his vids could have been shot in high
def. And lurking in the back of my mind is some-
thing even more worrisome3D.
Since a good part of the civilized world has seen
Avatar, is there any turning back? Hollywood is
pumping out 3D movies faster and faster. Those
movies will wind up playing on 3D-capable flat-
panel TVs, as some are already doing now. As
more and more people start watching 3D movies at
home, whats the next step? Its obvious. Everyone
will want to shoot their own videos in 3D.
3D CAMCORDERS ANYONE?
I went searching to find out how close we are
to having an affordable 3D camcorder, and the
answer is pretty closemaybe two years. At Janu-
arys International CES in Las Vegas, Panasonic
unveiled the worlds first integrated Full HD 3D
camcorder (see the figure).
Yes, weve seen 3D cameras before. After all,
how else can Hollywood produce blockbusters
like Avatar? Those systems often use two separate
cameras melded into one with fancy electronics
and optics. But the Panasonic camera is different.
No, its not a consumer camera. Its for profession-
als. The cost says it all: $21,000. But its also the
shape of camcorders to come. Can the cost curve
slide by a factor of 10 in two years? Maybe.
Naturally, Panasonics Full HD 3D
camcorder takes advantage of
the latest technologies so you get what you might
expecta solid-state memory instead of tape or
hard disk as the recording medium. The lenses,
camera head, and dual Memory Card recorder
are integrated into a single, lightweight body. The
camcorder also incorporates stereoscopic adjust-
ment controls, making it easy to use and operate.
A twin-lens system in the camcorders opti-
cal section lets you adjust the convergence point,
which is where the left and right cameras optical
axes converge to produce 3D images. There are
also functions for automatically correcting hori-
zontal and vertical displacement.
With conventional 3D camera systems, these
adjustments are typically made with a PC or an
external video processor. This new camcorder,
however, will automatically recalibrate without
any need for external equipment, essentially giving
you the ability to capture 3D images without too
much fuss.
As you might expect, the solid-state memory
file-based recording system will let you take full
HD 3D videos in more challenging shooting envi-
ronments, since solid-state memory can take a
lickin and keep on tickin, as they used to say.
This camcorder is certainly lighter and smaller
than current 3D rigs, so handheld shooting is not
a problem.
DONT FORGET THE GLASSES
Panasonic has jazzed up 3D glasses compared
to the clunky versions that cinemas give out for 3D
movies. Im picturing an entire cottage industry
for fashion 3D glasses with vendors in malls and
other high-traffic venues. Get your glasses on and
cuddle up with the kids on the couch to watch your
favorite family vids in 3D.
More information about the camcorder, glasses,
and other 3D gear is available at www.panasonic.
com/CES2010. The camcorder is set to debut in the
fall, but Panasonic will start taking orders in April.
Does anyone out there have 21 grand to
burn?
Why settle for your old handheld digital
camcorder? The Panasonic Full HD 3D
camcorder targets the professional mar-
ket. If its $21,000 price tag is out of your
reach, less expensive consumer models are
probably just a couple of years away.
14
LabBench
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
Tools Turn Robot
Projects Into Childs Play
BILL WONG | EMBEDDED/SYSTEMS/SOFTWARE EDITOR bill.wong@penton.com
NATIONAL INSTRUMENTS LABVIEW has been
used with robots for decades. It mostly has been
employed by developers looking to take advantage
of graphical programming tools (search Lab-
VIEW: Graphical Programming at electronicde-
sign.com).
LabVIEW also was the underlying plat-
form for the popular Lego Mindstorms
robots (search The Mind Of Mind-
storms at electronicdesign.com). Lego
Mindstorms spawned a generation of kids play-
ing with robots from an early age (Fig. 1). It
remains the basis for the FIRST Lego League
robotics competition (search Future Engi-
neers Brace For Battle Of The Robots at
electronicdesign.com).
The ARM-based Lego NXT
control block was a signifi-
cant step up for most new
robotic developers with
a 48-MHz Atmel ARM7TDMI processor.
Children can start out using the graphical
programming environment that comes with
Lego Mindstorms, but there are lots of alternatives
ranging from free platforms like RobotC and the
Java-based LeJOS to commercial products like
Gostais URBI and Next Byte Codes NBC. Even
LabVIEW and IARs Embedded Workbench are
available options.
But more advanced systems like those often
used in the other FIRST competitions needed sup-
port for peripherals that NXT could not handle.
Likewise, the applications tended to be larger as
well, exceeding the storage capacity of the ARM-
based NXT brick.
National Instruments Compact-
RIO (Fig. 2) and its sibling, the
Single Board RIO (sbRIO),
wer e popul ar pl at f or ms
(search RIO Boards Target
Control And Data-Acquisition
Apps at electronicdesign.com).
With a processor and FPGA at their heart, theyre
designed for industrial applications, not just robot-
ics. These platforms also accept a range of stan-
dard and custom plug-in modules, which allows
the RIO platforms to handle data acquisition as
well as process control.
The RIO platforms arent the only Lab-
VIEW targets that find multiple uses.
National Instruments Smart Camera
(Fig. 3) also runs LabView appli-
cations (search Smart Camera
Runs Graphical Applications
at electronicdesign.com).
Handy as an intelligent sen-
sor in robotic applications, the
Smart Camera can communi-
cate with other devices
via Gigabit Ether-
net . However,
i t a l s o h a s
enough pro-
cessing power
t o p e r f o r m
a wi de range
of analysis and
compression algo-
rithms, reducing the
communication load.
ROBOT KIT
Given this wide range of
hardware and software sup-
port for robotics, it wasnt surprising
when National Instruments released its LabVIEW
Robotics Starter Kit (Fig. 4). Its based on the
sbRIO 9631 platform, which includes a Freescale
MPC5200 processor, 110 digital lines, up to 32
analog outputs, four analog inputs, and 32 indus-
2. CompactRIO and Single Board
RIO use an FPGA to link plug-in
modules to the system processor.
They run LabVIEW applications
directly.
1. Lego Mindstorms uses a graphics
programming system based on LabVIEW but
simplified for young designers.
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
trial 24-V digital I/O. The
ki t al so adds a f r ame,
motors, wheels, and sen-
sors in a compact robotic
development platform.
The system runs off a
12-V nickel-metal-hydride
(Ni MH) bat t ery. Gear-
driven 4-in. wheels provide
good traction and ground
clearance. The robot design
is rather wide to accom-
modate the sbRIO system
mounted on top. It has Ether-
net and serial port connectivity.
The kit is not ambitious enough to have
a Smart Camera included, but it does
have a Parallax Ping))) ultrasonic sensor
mounted on a servo.
BUNDLING ROBOT SOFTWARE
The hardware is impressive, but the
software makes the starter kit stand out.
LabVIEW is at its center, of course, but
robots require so much more. The system
includes LabVIEW RealTime, LabVIEW
FPGA, NI Vision, LabVIEW Control
Design and Simulation, NI SoftMotion,
LabVIEW Statechart, LabVIEW Math-
script, and LabVIEW PID Toolkit. The
Wind River VxWorks real-time operating
system (RTOS) provides the RealTime
support on the sbRIO.
National Instruments includes a vari-
ety of virtual instruments (VIs) targeted
at robotic sensors and controls such as
the Smart Camera and simpler systems
such as the robots motor control. This
is the start of a framework for a com-
mon robotic design and control system,
although it isnt as general or encom-
passing as Micro-
softs Robot-
ics Developer Studio
(search MS Robotics
Studio at electron-
icdesign.com). For
example, the Robot-
ics Developer Studio
includes a simulator
where appl i cat i ons
can be tested in a virtual environment.
Microsoft does provide a graphical pro-
gramming language called VPL (Visual
Programming Language), but it lacks the
massive support of LabVIEW. It does
meld well with Microsofts other tools
that do have comparable support, though.
Still, the Robot Starter Kit is a major
step forward for robotic development,
especially since linking together tools
such as planning and image recognition
is relatively easy with an environment
such as LabVIEW. The CompactRIO
platform is already in the hands of FIRST
teams, so designers looking for a com-
patible but less expensive solution will
definitely like this latest kit.
FIRST ROBOTICS LEGO LEAGUE
www.firstlegoleague.org
LEGO MINDSTORMS
http://mindstorms.lego.com
NATIONAL INSTRUMENTS
www.ni.com
LabBench
3. The Smart Camera
runs LabVIEW applica-
tions directly and com-
municates with other
LabVIEW applications via
Gigabit Ethernet.
4. National Instruments LabVIEW Robotics
Starter Kit is based on NIs Single Board RIO,
which can handle industrial chores.
16
TestingTheLimits
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
What Can Toyota
Teach Us About Test?
ERIC STARKLOFF | CONTRIBUTING EDITOR eric.starkloff@ni.com
WEVE ALL FOLLOWED the sto-
ries about Toyotas recent recalls.
The current estimate is that these
recalls will cost Toyota up to $2 billion. The damage to Toyo-
tas quality brand, which has been built over several decades,
also is likely to be very costly.
While its premature to speculate as to all the causes of
these recalls, they will likely include gaps in the engineering
process, the culture and corporate management, and how the
company responded to the defects once they were known.
Regardless of the causes, the visibility of Toyotas crisis
will create more focus across many organizations on quality.
Test, which provides the essential function of ensuring quality
during product design and manufacturing, has always been
challenging to justify as a strategic investment.
ALL MODELS ARE WRONG, BUT SOME ARE USEFUL
This often-quoted phrase, attributed to statistician George
E.P. Box, reminds engineers about the need to test our assump-
tions and verify models with real-world data. As device com-
plexity continues to increase, and as we push the physical
limits of mechanical and electrical systems, this reminder is as
relevant as ever.
Modeling and simulation are powerful tools in all engineer-
ing disciplines. But increasingly, test is being used throughout
the product development cyclefrom research through final
productionto verify and enhance modeling techniques.
In early research, measurement is used to create the models
of subcomponents. Complex components, like RF semicon-
ductors, often have inaccurate models. Only through real-
world measurement can more accurate designs be built. Dur-
ing the product development step, test is used to compare a
prototypes actual performance to the predicted performance
of system-level models.
Hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing combines modeling
with real-world data. An HIL system simulates parts of an
embedded system so its dynamic performance can be tested
in a variety of operating conditions. To test a motor control
system, an HIL test system uses real-world I/O to control the
inputs and measure the outputs of the controller while simulat-
ing the motor. HIL testing can provide a fast and cost effective
way to test complex embedded systems under many different
conditions to ensure correct and robust operation.
Ford uses an HIL system based on NI LabVIEW and PXI to
test prototype control systems for fuel-cell vehicles using PXI
I/O cards while simulating other parts of the system including
various sensors and actuators. Ford uses this system to rapidly
demonstrate prototype controllers in real-world conditions.
LINKING DESIGN AND PRODUCTION TEST
Test is performed throughout the product development pro-
cess. Yet all too often, it is done with different testing platforms
and techniques at each stage. This makes it difficult to correlate
problems encountered in manufacturing or in the field with
validation data. The challenge is that the testing requirements
of these different stages often differ in significant ways.
In the early stages of product design, quick measurements
are taken to verify a prototype. In verification testing, the
product goes through a very thorough suite of tests to test
different potential operating conditions, such as HIL. And, in
production, the goal is to test just enough to ensure quality and
to keep the manufacturing process in control.
While the measurement and test automation needs vary across
these use cases, a common testing platform with shared compo-
nents can address them all. Having a single platform enables bet-
ter correlation and traceability of data from a fault encountered
in production or in the field, back through to validation.
HOW MUCH IS TEST REALLY WORTH?
Too often, test is viewed as a necessary evil. We ask how
much it costs. Instead, we should be asking what test is worth.
Test improves a products performance, increases quality and
reliability, and lowers return rates. It is estimated that the cost
of a failure decreases by a factor of 10 when the error is caught
in production instead of in the field and decreases by a factor
of 10 again if it is caught in design instead of production.
By catching these defects and collecting the data to improve
a design or process, test delivers value. If you understand the
value of catching defects through test, you can make more
educated investments. Most companies under-invest in test,
yet paradoxically spend too muchin slower product devel-
opment, longer manufacturing cycles, and expensive repair
and recall costs.
Improving your results requires a strategy for testing
throughout product development that includes people, pro-
cess, and technology. The right people are required to develop
and maintain a cohesive test strategy. In test, this can be par-
ticularly challenging due to the growing experience gap in the
field of test engineering. Process improvements are required
to streamline test development and reuse throughout product
development. And, technology always offers new ways to
solve the challenges in testing complex products. The key is
tracking and incorporating new technologies to improve test
system performance or lower costs.
These elements can elevate your testing function from a cost
center to a strategic advantage. Toyotas issues give us another
motivationwhat is the risk to our company if we dont look
at test strategically? As test engineer, you must drive this stra-
tegic view and justify the investments. If you dont, your com-
pany might be in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
ERIC STARKLOFF, vice president of product marketing at National
Instruments, holds a bachelors degree in electrical engineering
from the University of Virginia.
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18
PointOfView
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
USB Hub/Card Applications
Hit The Road
HENRY MUYSHONDT | SMSC Henry.Muyshondt@smsc.com
USB AND FLASH memory cards
have become ubiquitous in the con-
sumer and industrial worlds. USB
implements a high-speed serial bus that runs at up to 480
Mbits/s. Many operating systems provide native support for
this technology with many hundreds of millions of devices
shipped to date. USB is not only used to transfer data between
devices, it also provides a means to charge portable devices.
As consumers expand their digital lifestyle to have their
content always available, more and more devices take advan-
tage of the economies of scale afforded by the explosion of
interconnections that ensue. Car makers are embracing this
trend as their vehicles integrate into the digital world.
Vehicles are also becoming storehouses of content and
information. They can include large amounts of storage capac-
ity for entertainment content and navigation information. One
of the most popular memory formats today is Secure Digital
(SD). The SD interface is also used in embedded applications
to attach devices like Wi-Fi (or wireless local-area networks)
and Bluetooth transceivers, as well as GPS receivers with an
SDIO interface.
SD memory can be used to replace rotating media like
hard disks, CDs, and DVDs. A state-of-the-art 32-Gbyte
card holds the equivalent of close to seven DVDs. Car mak-
ers can use memory cards both as a connection to consumers
and as a mechanism to upgrade different systems within the
vehicle, be they navigation systems or any other devices that
require software. Therefore, USB and flash media interfaces
are very useful in automotive applications.
AUTOMOTIVE QUALITY REQUIREMENTS
Before getting into the specific functions of the interfaces,
lets first consider automotive quality requirements. Devices
intended for the automotive market have to be designed, vali-
dated, characterized, qualified, fabricated, and supported spe-
cifically for use in automotive applications. Cars have very
long lifecycles, and any failure in the field is very costly in
terms of repair time and customer satisfaction.
When ICs that are designed for consumer applications
are used in automotive applications, they are often qualified
according to the Automotive Electronics Councils qualifi-
cation requirements (AEC-Q100). This standard, however,
only covers minimum common requirements for the quali-
fication of an automotive IC. Many car companies and tier
one automotive suppliers require
extensive additional qualifica-
tion tests, as AEC-Q100 alone
does not lead to the ultra-
low defect rates that they
require.
I n addi t i on, AEC-
Q100 primarily focuses
on the qualification phase of the product cycle of an IC. Other
phases such as the design and production of the IC, customer
support, and the handling and investigation of returns are not
covered in detail.
To reach the automotive goal of near-zero defect rates, all
phases of the IC product cycle need to be addressed thorough-
ly. Before even looking at a products functions, automotive
designers need to look at their suppliers capability to deliver
products with near-zero parts per million (ppm) defect rates.
MEMORY FOR STORAGE
Passengers use portable memory cards to transfer informa-
tion created on computers, portable media players, or cameras
to the car. Car makers also incorporate gigabytes of microcode
into some of todays most sophisticated vehicles. Further, they
need to store map data for their navigation systems.
As mentioned earlier, solid-state memory is increasing-
ly replacing rotating media inside automotive infotainment
devices. Maps for a large country, like the United States, can
fit in less than 2 Gbytes of storage. An SD card of this size
can be purchased at retail for less than $5.00, making it very
cost effective compared to the typical DVD player used for
many automotive navigation systems. In addition, reliability is
increased, as there are no moving parts associated with it.
The high-speed data transfer enabled by an SD interface can
simplify software updates for other components in the car as
well, like a head unit or other components.
These in-box use cases require true automotive-grade reli-
ability. The new combination hub and card reader devices
enable car makers to design highly reliable data access
devices for their information and entertainment systems,
whether those devices connect to internal peripherals or
provide external consumer access.
USB HUB AND CARD READER COMBINATIONS
A USB hub expands the number of available USB ports
while the card reader provides memory card interfaces, such as
SD/MultimediaCard (MMC) or Sony MemoryStick. The SD
interface is standardized for memory applications. It also pro-
vides a generic input/output interface known as SDIO.
The SDIO interface uses the same elec-
trical signals as the SD memory
interface but can be
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
19
used to attach modules that provide addi-
tional features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth,
and GPS connections. It is even possible
to build custom firmware to control new
applications attached through SDIO.
It is important for the card reader sup-
plier to have significant experience with
memory cards manufactured by many dif-
ferent suppliers because the specifications
for the SD interface allow some room for
interpretation and optional features that
can result in incompatibilities with differ-
ent products. SMSC has performed exten-
sive testing to support a large number of
cards currently in the market.
The current devices also support using
an external ROM to create secure mem-
ory formats or add customized appli-
cations based on system requirements.
Incompatibilities with cards from differ-
ent manufacturers could result in war-
ranty claims against a car maker. Service
calls are very expensive, so it is impor-
tant to avoid them if consumers bring in a
device that they got for free somewhere.
The combination hub/card reader func-
tion allows the placement of this device
away from the main host controller to
provide connectivity where it is needed.
For example, the glove compartment or
center console in a car could allow con-
sumers to easily connect their devices
without requiring long cables to the main
head unit.
CONCLUSION
USB interfaces and storage memory
provide useful enhancements to automo-
tive systems. Automotive requirements
result in stringent qualification processes
that only a limited number of worldwide
semiconductor suppliers can implement.
They also result in special features being
needed to simplify system design.
Flexibility in creating multiple plat-
forms with a single platform is a plus. Car
makers also require a very high level
of compatibility when dealing with
memory cards from multiple suppli-
ers. And, the devices must be able to
operate in a rugged environment with
high temperatures and widely varying
environmental conditions.
HENRY MUYSHONDT is senior director of
business development for the Automotive
Information Systems group of SMSC. He also
serves as the MOST Cooperations Technical
Coordinator and U.S. Management
Representative. He has been working with
the MOST multimedia network since 2000.
Also, he is helping the automotive and con-
sumer industires deploy this new technology.
He currently leads working groups within the
MOST Cooperation and within the Consumer
Electronics Association to develop standards
to connect accessory and aftermarket
devices to on-board vehicle networks.
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21
T
abulas ABAX chips take FPGA
design to the next level. They
implement a virtual 3D archi-
tecture by dynamically chang-
ing the underlying FPGA definition on
each clock cycle. Accomplishing this
feat while maintaining compatibility with
existing design tools and methodolo-
gies has meant overcoming a number
of challenges, including changing the
underlying structure of the system at a
rate of 1.6 GHz.
From a designers point of view, the
40-nm ABAX looks like an FPGA. The
A1EC06 version has 630,000 lookup
tables (LUTs), 5.5 Mbytes of RAM, and
1280 DSP blocks. The chip also has 48
high-speed, 6.5-Gbit/s serializers/deseri-
alizers (SERDES) and 920 I/O ports. The
various components are arranged in reg-
ular blocks like a typical FPGA, including
the interconnects, which are configured
by the programmer, along with the LUTs.
AN EIGHT-FOLD INCREASE
Tabulas SpaceTime architecture
increases the number of LUTs and
interconnects by a factor of eight. The
company calls the configuration of the
underlying FPGA structure a fold. The
current incarnation of ABAX chips can
handle up to eight folds. The trick comes
in the form of a time via.
The time via is a transparent latch found on every intercon-
nect on the chip. It lets information pass through to logic
configured within a fold. It also propagates the data to the
next fold in the sequence (Fig. 1). Information in registers and
memory is maintained between fold transitions too. The dif-
ference is that the time vias are implicit in the system and not
specified by the designer, whereas the registers and memory
are explicitly allocated.
The approach resembles Achronixs Speedster FPGA,
which employs picoPIPE elements on the interconnects like
the time vias (search 1.5-GHz FPGA Takes Clock Gating
To The Max at electronicdesign.com). The Archonix FPGA
definition is static, though, and the latches provide a way for
data to flow through the system. Also, the picoPIPE elements
are more like single-bit FIFOs, allowing asynchronous opera-
tion. The SpaceTime time vias, on the other hand, operate in
a synchronous fashion.
Tabulas chips are divided into regions that can have differ-
ent fold definitions and operate at different clock frequencies
(Fig. 2). Regions can be grouped together, providing larger
fold groups. All areas within a common region have the same
number of folds, and they operate in lockstep with respect to
fold transitions.
Operation at lower frequencies is more power-efficient
since the definitions within the region dont change as often.
Different regions can be synchronized when they operate at
the same frequency or multiples of each other. This enables
synchronous data exchange between regions.
The SpaceTime architecture has advantages when it
comes to signal propagation as well (Fig. 3). A signal moves
no faster within a fold than it normally would, but it can prop-
agate significantly farther within the cycle. Each fold allows a
signal to move farther from its source. This is the same type
of approach used in conventional FPGA design, except reg-
isters must be explicitly utilized on the clock transitions.
FPGAS ENTER THE THIRD DIMENSION
Fold 0
Fold 1
Fold 2
Fold 3
B0 A0
B1 A1
B2 A2
C0
B3 A3
Time
Fold 0
Fold 1
Fold 2
Fold 3
Time
1. Tabulas approach splits the logic into one or more folds. Each fold runs for one clock cycle,
and the FPGA layout changes each cycle. Data in registers and time vias will be passed between
folds. A time via is a transparent latch for each interconnect, allowing data from any LUT output
to be used by logic within a fold or the next fold. The last fold feeds the first fold. Maximum clock
frequency is 1.6 GHz.
22
TechView
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
Tabulas design offers an added advantage because the
logic changes with each new fold so the original source LUTs
can be used for computation based on the data from the prior
fold. A conventional FPGA has to move the signal to a point
where the subsequent logic is located.
The upper limit of the number of folds in the current chip
may seem limiting, but it isnt. Additional folds provide more
logic within a given space and more reach for a given signal.
In practice, the first fold in the series follows the last fold. In
theory, data from the last fold can be used within the first
fold as if it were the next fold in the sequence working on this
information while the other logic within the first fold is working
on new information. The last fold cannot reuse the logic in the
first fold, but it can use other logic defined within the first fold.
SUPERIOR SOFT CORES
Soft-core processors are used in a significant number
of new projects. FPGA designers have a challenge when it
comes to optimizing a soft-core design for a particular FPGA
platform. In addition, soft-core designs are often behind their
ASIC counterparts because of the overhead and design
restrictions of the FPGA fabric. One of these is multiport regis-
ter file support. FPGAs typically provide dual-port register files
to address these design requirements.
Tabula only provides single-port register files. This might
panic soft-core designers until they consider the impact of
the 3D architecture because a single-port register file can
deliver one piece of information for each fold. This meshes
nicely with pipeline architectures for two reasons.
First, an eight-fold region essentially has eight port register
files within its cycle. Second, each new fold has a new set of
logic next to the register so the processing pipeline can start
next to or near the register file propagating outward toward
more logic. The same approach works with memory inter-
faces as well.
Soft cores that target existing FPGA platforms initially
will be used on the ABAX. It will be interesting to see how
designers take advantage of the virtual 3D architecture when
trying to improve designs. Likewise, it will be interesting to
see how much of the underlying system Tabula will give to
designers because the tools essentially hide the underlying
complexity of the system. In the future, it might be possible for
designers to select the sophistication of the soft-core design
the same way that developers select features like cache and
cache size.
MANAGING COMPLEXITY
Tabula is taking the same approach to providing a more
powerful FPGA platform as Achronix. Essentially, the chips
are presented as a conventional FPGA with the layout tools
churning out multifold definitions. In fact, the platform even
partitions regions.
The layout tools account for timing details, putting logic
at the far end of a chain in folds farther from the start. Deep
logic benefits from more folds. The layout tools provide details
about the number of folders. Users have some control over
regions by providing clocking details about the logic. This
approach will work well because details like time vias are
transparent to designers.
On the other hand, these types of features could provide
interesting design options in the future. Achronix has had
this same issue with its picoPIPE elements. If designers can
specify that a latch is employed at a particular point, as in a
soft-core processor pipeline, they may be able to take better
advantage of the underlying architecture.
Power management also comes into play with the layout
tools. The static power of the chip is lower compared to
another FPGA since fewer LUTs are needed because of the
virtual 3D architecture. Dynamic power requirements can vary
depending on the application. The layout tools can handle
some automatic power-down details. For now, all the fold
details are available to Tabulas experts, with a limited amount
provided to developers.
The 3D architecture offers some interesting possibilities
when it comes to debugging. Consider a design that uses
fewer than eight folds. The unused folds could be used for
additional debugging logic. There are timing considerations,
but it is an option that could lead to some interesting designs.
Four versions of the ABAX 3D programmable logic device
chips are available. Pricing ranges from $105 to $200. They
compete with FPGA chips that cost two to four times as
4 folds
1x clock
8 folds
1x clock
4 folds
2x clock
3 folds
1x clock
Fold 0
Fold 1
Fold 2
Fold 3
2. A Tabula chip can be partitioned into regions of almost any size. Each
region has a fixed number of folds and runs at its own clock rate. Regions
can run independently or be synchronized based on data exchange
requirements.
3. The SpaceTime architecture has advantages when it comes to signal
propagation since the reach of a signal increases as data propagates
outward. The approach improves propagation distance by a factor of 3.2.
24
TechView
much. The chips are equipped with flex-
ible SERDES that can handle a range of
chores from interfaces like PCI Express
and Gigabit Ethernet to storage inter-
faces like SATA.
The ABAX represents a major shift in
FPGA capabilities that essentially place it
in its own category. Still, its compatibility
with FPGA tool chains makes it a much
more flexible FPGA platform. Its ability
to support features such as multiport
RAM within soft-core processor designs
will radically change designers views of
FPGA platforms. BILL WONG
TABULA
www.tabula.com
18-BIT DAC PROVIDES
PRECISION, LINEARITY, AND
OUTPUT FLEXIBILITY
In addition to 18-bit resolution and
remarkable dynamic performance speci-
fications, Linear Technologys LTC2757
parallel-output, multiplying digital-to-
analog converter (DAC) offers two unusu-
al features: current-output and register-
programmable output-voltage ranges.
Providing current rather than voltage out-
put allows custom-fitting output amplifiers
appropriate to each application. This makes
it possible to provide wider output voltage
output swings than possible using voltage-
mode DACs, in which the DACs dc supply
constrains the output voltage range. It also
enables designers who work with the DAC
to optimize the amplifier on the basis of
their applications need for speed, accuracy,
noise, power, and other factors.
Being able to program different output
ranges (0 to 5 V, 0 to 10 V, 10 V, 5 V,
2.5 V, and 2.5 to 7.5 V) makes it unnec-
essary to add precision gain stages. The
output range is selected either via a serial
interface or, if on-the-fly selection is not
needed, by pin-strapping. At power-on,
the DAC output is reset to 0 V regardless
of output range. It can also be reset by the
use of a CLR pin.
Intended for high-performance instru-
mentation, automated test equipment,
data acquisition systems, and medical
devices, the DAC has impressive dynam-
ic specs: guaranteed maximum integral
and differential nonlinearity of 1 LSB
and 2.1-s full-scale settling time. Glitch
impulse is specified as 1.4 nV s.
The LTC2757s bidirectional parallel
input/output interface allows both pro-
gramming and readback of the DAC out-
put span setting as well as the contents of
other internal registers. Voltage-controlled
offset and gain adjustment pins provide
the ability to null system offset, gain error,
or reference errors.
The LTC2757 DAC comes in a 7- by
7-mm, 48-pin leaded quad-flatpack. Unit
pricing begins at $25.50. DON TUITE
LINEAR TECHNOLOGY
www.linear.com
HIGH-SPEED DIGITAL DEBUG
CALLS FOR SPECIALIZED TOOLS
The proliferation of high-speed digital
serial links is causing all kinds of test-related
headaches for designers. The measurement
requirements for these high speeds are differ-
ent from those for typical digital debug and
rather resemble whats needed for RF test.
A quick look at a PCI Express (PCIe)
eye diagram would tell you that. The
same goes for USB 3.0, which clocks at
5 Gbits/s. Creating sharp-edged pulses
at these speeds is a major challenge. The
physical-layer challenges posed by PCIe
3.0 are considerable as well. (For more
information, see www.pcisig.com/news_
room/faqs/pcie3.0_faq/.)
At 8 GT/s, eye diagrams are completely
closed, says Jun Chi, marketing manager
for Agilents digital-debug solutions prod-
uct line. As signals come through on the
transmit side, we have to perform equal-
ization to open up the eye so that we can
find the right probing points to capture
samples and measure them.
Its the same story on the receive side of
a link. Further, jitter components are more
important at these signal speeds. For scope
users in digital designs, the most popular
measurement is jitter analysis. This and
crosstalk are now more important on the
digital side than they ever used to be on
the analog side. These features are most
popular in todays scopes.
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
I
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(
L
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B
)
1.0
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1.0
D
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(
L
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1.0
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1.0
0 65536 131072 196608 262143
Code
10-V range 10-V range
Code
0 65536 131072 196608 262143
The integral nonlinearity (INL) and differential nonlinearity (DNL) of Linear Technologys LTC2757 18-bit DAC do not exceed 1 LSB.
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
Another emerging issue in the debug-
ging of PCIe 3.0 links is signal degrada-
tion in the transmission line. One can
examine the signal out of the transmitter
and verify that the eye pattern looks good
and that jitter is within specification. But
a PCIe signal can travel a maximum dis-
tance within a system of 16 inches. When
it arrives at the destination receiver chip,
the eye pattern is closed once again.
We havent tested much in the past for
receivers, but now we have to do that,
says Chi. Theres now a requirement to
determine whether the receiver port can
tolerate signals coming through.
Agilent has been building up a complete
test suite for PCIe 3.0. For the testing of
PCIe 3.0 receiver ports, the company
offers its N4903B J-BERT (see Jitter-
Tolerance BERT Targets Forwarded-,
Embedded-Clock Designs at www.elec-
tronicdesign.com), which is used to inject
jitter on the receive side of a PCIe link to
simulate less than optimal conditions.
The critical element on the transmit
side is jitter and crosstalk, explains Chi.
The N4903B J-BERT precisely injects
known jitter components into the receiv-
er. By doing so, we can check on the physi-
cal level to see if the receiver can tolerate
the jitter.
The N4903B has been augmented by
the release of the N4876A, a 2:1 multi-
plexer that extends the J-BERTs data rate
to 28 Gbits/s. To further improve the
N4903Bs utility for receive-side testing
in USB 3.0 applications, Agilent has add-
ed a second output channel that enables
the instrument to support USB 3.0s tri-
level mode.
To generate and stimulate the low-
power mode in USB 3.0, we need to gen-
erate three different signals. The two out-
puts used in combination generate that
third level, says Chi.
The latest element in Agilents PCIe
3.0 test suite is its Digital Test Console, a
complete and integrated x1 through x16
protocol analyzer and exerciser for the
PCIe 3.0 protocol specification (see the
figure).
With an oscilloscope, you use a trigger
point to trigger on a certain signal and
capture it for analysis, says Chi. Pro-
tocol analyzers have to behave like a real
signal, equalizing it in real time and link-
ing with the DUT (device under test)
properly.
To this end, the Digital Test Console
features a proprietary Agilent ASIC that
uses equalization snoop probe (ESP)
technology for reliable data capture at
8 GT/s. The technology accounts for a
wide spectrum of losses when probing
at different points on the bus. It provides
auto tuning to account for being plugged
into any location in the channel. It also
compensates automatically for probe
cable losses. The result is a properly
equalized signal at 8 GT/s with a usable
eye diagram.
Additionally, the console incorporates
a link training and status state machine
(LTSSM) exerci ser to validate new
encoding and protocol state-machine
designs. Intel and other chip companies
are still working on chips to generate
PCIe 3.0 protocol schemes, and they ll
be coming this spring, says Chi. Mean-
while, developers of PCIe 3.0 bus systems
need a way to emulate their DUTs to see
if they comply with the specification. The
Digital Test Consoles LTSSM exerciser
delivers the means for doing so.
The Agilent Digital Test Console for
PCIe 3.0 is available now, with an average
system price of $100,000.
DAVID MALINIAK
AGILENT TECHNOLOGIES
www.agilent.com/find/pcie3
The latest element in Agilents PCIe 3.0 test suite is its Digital Test Console, a complete and
integrated x1 through x16 protocol analyzer and exerciser for the PCIe 3.0 protocol specification.
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26
EngineeringFeature
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
ELECTRIC
ANDHYBRID
VEHICLE
TECHNOLOGIES
CHARGE AHEAD
To meet conflicting
requirements, EV and HEV
manufacturers are struggling
to adapt their cars to
societys needs
without a roadmap.
Tesla Model S Concept 2009 Studio Sedan
Electric Photo: Copyright 2002-2007 Tesla Motors Inc.,
All Rights Reserved
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
27
E
lectric vehicle (EV) and hybrid electric vehicle
(HEV) technologies are on a roll. Major automo-
tive manufacturers around the world have unveiled
or are on the verge of unveiling many such cars for
the market, as all of these companies are eager to
adopt the technology.
Thats not surprising, given governmental regulations and
incentives. Theres also the need to reduce pollutants as well as
our dependence on oil. And, the mass market is ready for a car
that fits into the average consumers already squeezed budget.
Most experts say that such an inexpensive
EV or HEV wont be easy to achieve in the
short term, though. Plus, no one knows
how the current electric grid infrastruc-
ture will handle a significant increase in
automotive batteries that require dai-
ly recharging. And, todays most
advanced battery technologies
are still quite costly.
Most projections for HEVs
put their price tag around
$40,000 to $50,000, which
is too high for mass-mar-
ket appeal. Some num-
bers bandied about for
EV end-user prices are
over $100,000. Much
of this is due to high
battery pack costs,
which are projected
to range anywhere
from several thou-
sand dol l ar s t o
well over $10,000
each (see Battery
Chal l enges For
Electric Vehicles
at www.electron-
icdesign.com).
A study by Car-
negie Mellon Uni-
versity published by
Energy Policy points
out that HEVs like
the Chevy Volt from
General Motors (GM)
will not save enough on
gas to cover the higher
purchasing cost of the
car. The studys authors
conclude that the only way
the Volt will save car owners
energy costs over the vehicles
lifetime would be for both gasoline
ROGER ALLAN | CONTRIBUTING EDITOR rsallan@optonline.net
and electricity costs to
drop substantially from
present levels, which is
unlikely to happen.
Still, GM is putting its
muscle behind the Chevy
Volt, a plug-in series
HEV slated for market
introduction this year.
Its internal combustion
engine (ICE) is engaged
to generate power for its
electric-drive motor and
its battery pack, not to
power the wheels. In a
parallel hybrid vehicle, the electric motor is connected directly
to the cars ICE flywheel, allowing the clutchless powertrain to
capture torque from both the electric motor and the ICE.
Besides GM, other major automakers are actively pursuing
more energy-efficient HEV and EV technologies. One of the
most notable HEVs is the Ford Fusion, which was introduced
to the market last year. The Fusion can be driven at speeds up to
47 mph from solely its nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) battery.
After that, its gas-powered ICE kicks in. The popular Toyota
Prius automatically starts its gas ICE at 25 mph.
A MILD HYBRID FORM
In a typical HEV system, a gasoline-powered high-efficien-
cy ICE works with a rechargeable battery to power the car. The
ICEs output is also fed to a planetary gear power-split device,
which in turn feeds an ac synchronous generator. The batterys
output is fed to a high-voltage dc-ac inverter. The inverter also
accepts the generators output and feeds a permanent-magnet
ac motor. A circuit controls the power (Fig. 1).
To satisfy legislative efficiency and environmental require-
ments, automakers are grappling with many different forms of
relatively inexpensive HEV technologies. One such form that
may soon take off rapidly is the belt alternator starter (BAS)
system. Many call it a mild hybrid technology, though pure
hybrid enthusiasts may cringe at this naming convention. A
BAS system is considered a relatively low-cost approach to
HEV technology that can provide some meaningful benefits.
General Motors is of advocate of BAS systems, which offer
additional fuel savings and fewer tailpipe emissions at a slight-
ly higher cost. Fuel savings of 5% to 10% are possible, mostly
for city driving. Currently, most BAS systems are limited to
being used with engines of about 3 liters and six cylinders
or less. However, such
engines are expected to
see rapid growth in the
next few years, making
the adoption of BAS sys-
tems easier.
In a BAS system, an
electric motor replaces
the conventional belt-
driven al t ernat or and
starter. When the engine
is running, the electric
motor acts as a genera-
tor and charges a separate
36-V battery. When the
engine has to be started,
the motor starts its torque
via the accessory belt for
cranking (Fig. 2). The
BAS system can perform
engine stop/start, electro-
mechanical launch assist,
regenerative braking, high-power generation, and other func-
tions without the need for large changes in a cars design.
The actual implementation of the BAS system depends on
the performance level sought in the car in terms of motor/
generator efficiency and output-power capability. Some BAS
systems, which might not include a starter motor, will have
heavier loads while starting an engine, particularly in very cold
weather. In general, BAS systems improve fuel economy by
10% to 15% (mostly in city driving) over conventional gas-
powered ICE cars.
Although they provide only about half the benefit of a full
HEV, BAS systems only cost automakers 15% to 20% more
and dont require significant engine-compartment and chas-
sis modifications. Vehicles equipped with BAS systems dont
provide much of a benefit for highway driving, though. Nev-
ertheless, their relative simplicity is causing a lot of optimism
among automotive system designers.
Within the next five to 10 years, every car will have a BAS
system, because it will provide a lot of benefit for very little
added cost and complexity, says Ted Bohn, an electrical engi-
neer at the Argonne National Laboratorys Center for Trans-
portation Research.
Regulations covering the use of the BAS concept in HEVs
are under discussion in both the U.S. and Europe and will prob-
28
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
EngineeringFeature
Drive wheels
Power split
device
Power circuit
Inverter
Motor
Engine
Generator
Engine
Electric
machine
Power
electronics
36/42 V 12/14 V
Fossil,
biomass,
electrolysis,
etc.
Transport
Transport
Transport
Power grid
Power grid
H
2
Battery
Petroleum
Gasoline
Hybrid
Fuel cell
Power grid
1. In a typical hybrid electric vehicle
system, a high-efficiency gas-power inter-
nal combustion engine and a recharge-
able battery supply the power to drive
the cars wheels. (courtesy of Freescale
Semiconductor)
2. In a basic belt alternator starter (BAS)
system, an electric motor replaces the
cars conventional belt-driven alterna-
tor and starter. Modest levels of fuel
efficiency are achieved as a result,
mostly though for city driving. (courtesy
of Technology Considerations for Belt Alternator
Starter Systems, Delphi Corp., SAE International
World Congress)
3. This vehicle-to-grid technology concept allows users of electric, hybrid-
electric, and alternative-fuel vehicles to sell back to the electric utility
excess energy storage from their cars. It was developed at the University
of Delaware.
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ably be finalized by 2015. Germanys
BMW has been adopting leading-edge
implementations of the BAS concept in
all of its HEVs.
THE ALL-ELECTRIC VEHICLE
All-electric vehicles have been in devel-
opment for many years. EVs are generally
propelled by electric motors powered by
rechargeable NiMH and more recently by
lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Yet due to the
battery technologies, EVs are expensive to
produce commercially. Moreover, their driv-
ing range and speed are limited.
Two decades ago, General Motors dem-
onstrated the EV1, one of the companys
Impact concept electric cars, as an example
of how GM would meet future clean air
government mandates. In 2007, Miles Elec-
tric Vehicles in the U.S. announced that it would bring the
XS500, a highway-capable all-electric sedan, to the market
by 2009. The car is not available yet. And despite the success
of its high-end Roadster, Tesla Motors Inc. doesnt expect its
standard Model S sedan to hit the marketwith a $49,900
base priceuntil 2012.
The success of EV technology has been more pronounced
in overseas markets than the U.S. According to The Wall Street
Journal, about 56,000 EVs are in use, most of which are lim-
ited to low-speed driving and have limited range.
Nissans Leaf operates from a Li-ion battery with a
top speed of 90 mph and a range of 100 miles. Teslas
Roadster also operates from a Li-ion battery and has
an electronically limited top speed of 125 mph.
Tesla says the Roadster set the world distance
record of 311 miles (501 km) for a production elec-
tric car on a single charge on Oct. 27, 2009, during
the Global Green Challenge in the outback of Aus-
tralia. According to an independent analysis from
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
the Roadster can travel 244 miles (393 km) on a
single charge from its battery pack and can acceler-
ate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 s. Tesla says the Roadster
operates with an average efficiency of 92%.
The worlds most popular EV is the REVAi, also
known as the G-Whiz, made by Indias REVA Elec-
tric Car Co. The car is used in 24 countries across
Europe, Asia, and Central America. It was launched
in the United Kingdom in 2001.
Another EV in the works, the Mini E from BMW,
is being assembled in the United Kingdom. Its Li-ion
battery pack provides enough power for a 150-mile
range. It uses a transversely mounted 204-hp-torque
electric motor mated to a single-stage helical gear-
box. It can go from 0 to 60 mph in 8.4 s, and its top
speed is 95 mph.
One aspect of plug-in EV (PEV) technology that
makes for a new business model: selling a PEVs
stored energy back to the electric-grid
utility during charging. Delaware is set to
become the first U.S. state to allow elec-
tric-car owners to charge PEVs at night
when electricity rates are low. They can then
sell back excess stored electricity during the
day at a profit.
To take advantage of this new business
model, GE and Juice Technologies announced
a joint development agreement to create intel-
ligent PEV charging devices for U.S. and
global markets. The chargers integrate GEs
smart meters with Juice Technologies Plug
Smart engine to help customers charge their
cars during low-demand and lower-cost time
periods.
Our smart charging system and advanced
technology have been in development over
the past two years, says Rich Housh, CEO
of Juice Technologies. Weve collaborated with utilities and
Ohio State Universitys Center for Automotive Research to
develop the right solution for both utilities and consumers, and
our collaboration with GE gives us the expertise we need to
bring our solutions to market.
The University of Delaware has already developed a vehi-
cle-to-grid (V2G) technology (Fig. 3). The enabling technol-
ogy has been licensed to AutoPort Inc., which has retrofitted a
few test PEVs for the state government of Delaware and plans
30
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
EngineeringFeature
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I/O bridge I/O bridge
4. Michelins active wheel concept
involves putting a pair of electric
motors in a wheel hub. One spins
the wheel and transmits power to the
ground, and the other acts as an active
suspension system. The system can be
used on electric cars powered by batter-
ies or fuel cells and eliminates the need
for any grearbox, clutch, transmission
shaft, universal joint, or anti-roll bar.
5. Freescale Semiconductors 32-bit dual-core MPC5644XL Leopold processor is
designed to meet safety-critical automotive requriements. It was co-developed with
STMicroelectronics.
Gigabit multiport LVDS crosspoint
switches minimize system cost
DOUT3+
DOUT3-
DOUT0+
DOUT0-
PD
SCL
DOUT1+ DOUT2+
DOUT1- DOUT2-
UPLINK PORTS
DIN0+ DIN1+
DIN0- DIN1-
DIN2+
DIN2-
SDA
S5 S4 S3 S2 S1 S0
ROUTING
CONTROL
REGISTERS
I
2
C/LIN
INTERFACE
MAX9134
DOWNLINK PORTS
C
a
sca
d
e
fo
r la
rg
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itch
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rke
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L
IN
Reduce the number of point-to-point LVDS links
LIN, I
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C, or pin programmable
-40C to +105C operating temperature range
25kV ESD protection*
Preemphasis improves signal integrity
Ideal for automotive applications
Flexible crosspoint switch
Mux any input to any output
Broadcast any input to all outputs
3:2 (MAX9132) and 3:4 (MAX9134)
configurations
Greater flexibility
*ISO Air-Gap Discharge Model.
Innovation Delivered is a trademark and Maxim is a registered trademark of Maxim Integrated Products, Inc. 2010 Maxim Integrated Products, Inc. All rights reserved.
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DIRECT
www.maxim-ic.com/shop
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TM
to have 100 more such vehicles on the road within the next 15
months. The converted vehicles will make use of an electric-
drive system called the eBox, which is manufactured to the
V2G specifications by AC Propulsion Co. Initially, the Toyota
Scion EV will use such eBoxes.
For those PEV drivers concerned about the hassle of hav-
ing to plug in their vehicles batteries for recharging, Evatran
LLCs hands-free technology simplifies matters. Its patented
Plugless Power concept is a dual-component system based on
inductive charging. Its vehicle adapter, which can be attached
to any car, inductively links up with a basestation located at a
Plugless Power station.
Evatran is launching the proximity charging system in field
trials using pre-production units in and around the companys
location in Wytheville, Va. The trial involves three Whip EVs
from Wheego Electric Cars Inc., a Current EV from Electric
City Motors, and a ZENN EV from ZENN Motor Co. Eva-
trans parent company is MTC Transformers.
THE ACTIVE WHEEL CONCEPT
A couple of years ago, Michelin Tire Co. suggested pro-
pelling cars by putting a motor in one or more of their tires,
improving fuel efficiency and reducing carbon-dioxide (CO
2
)
emissions. Michelin showcased the latest generation of this
technology, known as the active wheel, on the Volage electric
roadster from Monacos Venturi at this years North American
Auto Show (Fig. 4).
The concept is basically a standard wheel that houses a pair
of electric motors. One of these motors spins the wheel and
transmits power to the ground. The other motor acts as an active
suspension system to improve comfort, handling, and stability.
The system can be used on electric cars powered by batteries or
fuel cells. It also eliminates the need for any grearbox, clutch,
transmission shaft, universal joint, or anti-roll bar.
The active wheels compact drive motor and integrated
suspension system allow for standard disc brakes to be fitted
between the motors. This means a single wheel can house all
needed braking, drive, and suspension components.
Palmer Labs is trying to commercialize a retrofit kit that can
transform existing cars into HEVs by placing an electric motor
inside each of their four wheels. The Hybrid Retrofit Kit was
developed by former IBM researcher Charles Perry, who has
partnered with the Tennessee Technological University, which
will build a working prototype.
Our approach is different in that we dont need to modify
anything in existing vehicles to turn them into hybrids, Perry
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
32
EngineeringFeature
a leap ahead
in DC/DC-converters
AS1337 Buck/Boost
0.65 - 4.5V Input Voltage
2.5 - 5.0V Output Voltage
200mA Current
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Ideal for battery powered devices
Part No.
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Step-Down Converter
AS1324 2.7 to 5.5 0.6 to VIN 600 96 TSOT23-5
AS1341 4.5 to 20 1.25 to VIN 600 96 TDFN(3x3)-8
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Step-up Converter
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AS1326 0.7 to 5.5 2.5 to 5.0 650 96 TDFN(3x3)-10
AS1343 0.9 to 3.6 5.5 to 42 180 85 TDFN(3x3)-10
Buck-Boost Converter
AS1331 1.8 to 5.5 2.5 to 3.3 300 90 TDFN(3x3)-10
AS1337 0.65 to 4.5 2.5 to 5.0 200 97 TDFN(3x3)-8
High Efciency
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Supports all Batteries
Seamless Switching between
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www.austriamicrosystems.com/AS1337
Free samples online at ICdirect
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ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
says. The Retrofit Kit is installed in the space between the
wheels brake mechanism and the hub.
CONTROL AND POWER OPPORTUNITIES
Given the many aspects and complexity of HEV, EV, and
PEV designs and relevant safety and energy requirements,
semiconductor IC manufacturers perceive many opportunities
to supply necessary control and power IC components.
Theres a need for ICs to handle high-voltage, battery,
charging, and electric-motor management and control, says
Cherif Assad, power and hybrid segment manager for Free-
scale Semiconductor. At each level, there will be a require-
ment for a microcontroller. I believe that this will lead to the
use of multicore processing.
An exampl e of t hi s i s Freescal e Semi conduct ors
MPC5644XL single-chip dual-core Leopold 32-bit microcon-
troller, co-developed with STMicroelectronics (STs part num-
ber is SPC56EL) for safety-critical automotive systems (Fig.
5). This complex device is designed to specifically address
the safety requirements of the International Electrotechnical
Commissions 61508 standard and the International Standards
Organizations 26262 standard. It is based on Freescale Semi-
conductors Power Architecture.
Rechargeable Li-ion batteries in HEVs, EVs, and PEVs are
bringing in the need for battery monitoring and management
(see Li-ion Suppliers Try To Find The Right Chemistry With
Car Buyers at www.electronicdesign.com). This is necessary
to ensure that all the cells in the battery are at the same voltage
level prior to charging them, enabling accurate measurement
data and cell balancing. The more information that is known
about a batterys power status, the more accurately one can pre-
dict mileage. Battery management involves sensors, an analog-
to-digital converter (ADC), and a microcontroller.
In a multicell environment like that of a Li-ion battery pack,
each cell has its own impedance and discharge characteristics,
requiring sophisticated battery management. This extends the
batterys lifetime and the applications runtime, explains Mat-
thew Borne, marketing manager in Texas Instruments power
management unit and a member of TIs C2000 team.
The C2000 is a high-performance 32-bit microcontroller
(see Texas Instruments controlSUITE Streamlines Motor
Control Development at www.electronicdesign.com). The
C2000 team develops the algorithms for this type of battery
management, as well as for power conversion and electric
motor control. Many of the functions needed for precision bat-
tery management and control are available from TI.
EngineeringFeature
33
Check our inventory on-line at:
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TechnologyReport
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
LOU FRENZEL | COMMUNICATIONS EDITOR lou.frenzel@penton.com
N
etwork everything. That seems to be the trend
in wireless as in all other communications tech-
nologies. Its difficult to identify any segment of
electronics today that isnt networked.
Local-area networks (LANs), personal-area
networks (PANs), metro-area networks (MANs),
wide-area networks (WANs), the Internet, and the forthcoming
Smart Grid all envelop us. And now a newer form of network
is finally being widely deployed: the wireless sensor network
(WSN) or, more precisely, wireless sensor and actuator networks
(WSANs).
Both have been discussed extensively over the years and have
been the subject of intensive research and development in univer-
sity, military, and other research labs around the globe. Its only
now that were beginning to see the many useful possibilities,
especially for the home-area network (HAN) that is going to be
the core of the coming Smart Grid rollout.
Heres what you need to know to take advantage of
the latest wireless technologies in networking
sensors and/or actuators.
CUT THE
I LINKS
TO YOUR
SENSOR
/
ACTUATOR
NETWORKS
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
35
WSANS DEFINED
A WSAN i s a net work
infrastructure that can sense its
environment and react to specific
conditions of interest. It can moni-
tor and control its environment with-
in its design capability. In many cases,
it also can be set up to do some amount
of relevant computing.
Many if not most WSANs are sense-
only networks. As a result, theyre called
WSNs since they dont involve controlling
functions within the environment. Some
organizations refer to WSANs as wireless
data acquisition or wireless telemetry. In
these traditional functions, a major consid-
eration is the recording and storage of the
collected data along with some analysis
and display.
The network is made up of miniatur-
ized nodes that consist of a sensor and its
related signal conditioning circuitry, a
radio transceiver, some memory, and
an embedded controller. The battery-
powered unit is designed for very low
power consumption. These nodes can
communicate with a central master con-
trol point or with one another.
A central controller or master node
with more extensive computing capability
collects the information gathered by the sen-
sors and passes it along to some data center, usually
through the connection to some other network like a company
LAN or the Internet. The nodes are usually stationary but could
be mobile. They also could be location-aware.
The nodes can monitor any physical characteristic for which
an electronic sensor has been developed. The most common
sensors are for temperature, pressure, light, sound, motion,
humidity, and pollutants. Some WSNs can accommodate video
input. As for control, the actuators may be lights, motors, fans,
valves, relays, solenoids, pumps, appliances, or any other elec-
tromechanical device.
A primary consideration of any WSAN is network topology.
The two most widely used topologies are the star and mesh.
The star network, also called multipoint-to-point (MPP), has
a central master control node with computing power with
multiple nodes (Fig. 1a). The nodes only talk to the controller
rather than to one another.
In the mesh network, the nodes communicate with one
another and offer a multi-hop capability back to a central col-
lection point (Fig. 1b). In the mesh topology, the nodes report
the status of their own sensors and act as relay points that sim-
ply retransmit the data from nearby nodes.
The method allows sensors to be spread over a wider range
than the single-node range. It also provides a form of network
reliability. If a nodes battery dies or its signals are blocked,
the network automatically and dynamically reroutes the data
through other adjacent nodes. WSANs can use other hybrid
forms of network topologies as required as well. These may be
a mix of tree, star, or mesh.
THE HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE
The main hardware element is the node. Nodes also are
known as motes, a mote being a tiny particle, such as dust.
The sometimes stated goal of WSNs is to make the nodes that
small. Nodes as small as a dime or quarter are fairly common,
but thats about as small as they get today.
The nodes basic architecture has an embedded controller
and memory at its core (Fig. 2). The controller hosts a small
operating system that runs the networking software and man-
ages the I/O (see Interfacing The Sensor at www.electron-
icdesign.com). The sensor, its signal conditioning, and the
analog-to-digital converter (ADC) comprise another major
section, while the radio transceiver with its antenna form yet
another. In some cases, there may be multiple sensors and
related circuitry.
An essential part of the node is the power-management
portion. The power source is a battery, of course, but power
management is critical to long battery life. Some of this control
may be handled by the MCU.
The software consists of a small specialized operating sys-
tem (OS) and all the related drivers and applications programs.
More than a dozen OSs are associated with WSANs. A popular
one is TinyOS and its related programming language called
network embedded system C (nesC), an extension to C. TinyOS
is an event-driven OS that calls event drivers for specific tasks
as opposed to a threading OS. Other software is related to the
sensor such as the communications media access controller
(MAC), the protocol and networking functions, and any appli-
cation software that performs related data manipulation.
RADIO TECHNOLOGY AND STANDARDS
Many existing wireless networking technologies are suitable
for use in WSANs (see Important Wireless Facts To Keep
In Mind, p. 38). The most widely used are IEEE 802.15.4,
ZigBee, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, and 802.11 Wi-Fi. There are also
other proprietary technologies including RFID.
If any one technology dominates the WSAN arena, its IEEE
802.15.4 and the enhanced version known as ZigBee. The
IEEE standard defines the physical layer (PHY) and MAC
layer of the system while ZigBee adds the upper network
and applications layers. This wireless technology is based on
direct-sequence spread-spectrum (DSSS) and uses the carrier
sense multiple access with collision avoidance (CSMA/CA)
channel access method.
The standard defines several different modulation methods
based on phase-shift keying (PSK). It also defines three pri-
mary operating bands using unlicensed spectrum. First is the
868.3-MHz frequency in which a maximum data rate of 20
kbits/s can be achieved with raised-cosine binary phase-shift
keying (BPSK) modulation. The maximum range is about 1
km. This version is used primarily in Europe.
In the U.S., the 902- to 928-MHz band is often used. The
standard defines 10 channels, each 600 kHz in width and

spaced 2 MHz apart. Again, the raised-cosine BPSK modula-
tion is used. A maximum data rate of 40 kbits/s can be achieved.
Range is about 1 km.
The most often used version of the IEEE 802.15.4 standard
operates in the 2.4- to 2.4835-GHz range. The standard defines
16 channels, with each one 3 MHz wide and spaced 5 MHz
apart. The modulation is offset quadrature PSK (O-QPSK),
which permits a data rate to 250 kbits/s. The maximum range
is about 220 m.
The protocol is relatively complex but has an addressing
scheme with a 64-bit address so many nodes can be accom-
modated. The maximum packet size is 127 bytes. Data is
transmitted in short packets in a burst mode so transmit time
is minimal, saving considerable power. Most radios using this
standard consume very little power thanks to the very short
transmit duty cycle.
ZigBee adds more layers to the basic protocol stack. This
allows a wide range of topologies and applications to be sup-
ported, including mesh, which may be the most widely used
form in WSANs.
An interesting variation of the 802.15.4 standard is called
6lopan, which means IPv6 over low-power wireless PANs.
With 6lopan, extreme mesh networking over the Internet for
the Smart Grid movement is a possibility. The Internet Engi-
neering Task Force (IETF), an organization that develops and
maintains Internet standards, is developing 61opan. The stan-
dard is designated as IETF RFC 4944 and 4919.
More and more devices are connected to the Internet, and
each needs an Internet Protocol (IP) address. Thats where
IPv6 comes in. The IP networking standard has a 128-bit
address, unlike the 32-bit address of the older IPv4 standard. It
permits IP packets to be carried over low-speed WSANs.
The maximum packet size of the 802.15.4 standard is 127
bytes. The RFC 4944 standard allows the WSAN to carry up to
1280 bytes as required by IPv6. It does this by using a form of
encapsulation and header compression. The standard is still a
work in progress, but a final version is expected this year.
Bluetooth is another potential radio technology for WSANs.
It is an ad-hoc PAN that also operates in the 2.4- to 2.4835-GHz
band. It uses frequency-hopping spread-spectrum (FHSS)
technology. The hop rate is 1600 hops per second over 79 fre-
quencies spaced 1 MHz apart. Maximum data rate is 1 Mbit/s
with a throughput of 723 kbits/s. Modulation is Gaussian
frequency-shift keying (GFSK).
Yet another faster option afforded by Bluetooth V. 2.1,
enhanced data rate (EDR), uses different modulation methods
to achieve a 2- or 3-Mbit/s data rate. The most common range
is about 10 m with a typical 4-dBm power amplifier (PA). An
external PA with 20-dBm power output is defined to extend the
range to almost 100 m.
An important feature for WSANs is the ability of Bluetooth
nodes to form piconets, which comprise links to seven other
Bluetooth devices. Piconets can then be interconnected to
form scatter nets for a greater number of nodes as the applica-
tion requires. An ultra-low-power version of Bluetooth is also
available to extend battery life.
ZigBee/802.15.4 and Bluetooth radios are most common
when distances between nodes are less than about 10 m. If the
nodes are more widely dispersed, an alternative is the popular
IEEE WLAN 802.11 (Wi-Fi) standard. Maximum range is
about 100 m if the nodes are in the clear.
Another advantage of Wi-Fi is its higher data rate potential of
11 Mbits/s for .11b, 54 Mbits/s for .11a/g, and over 300 Mbits/s
for .11n. However, its rare to find an application requiring
the .11n data rate as sensor sampling is extremely infrequent.
Thus, the low data rates defined by ZigBee and Bluetooth are
more than adequate.
Furthermore, Wi-Fi consumes much more power than either
ZigBee or Bluetooth, making it unfriendly to long battery life
requirements. Another disadvantage of Wi-Fi is the lack of
36
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
TechnologyReport
RAM Flash
Embedded
Controller
Signal
Conditioning
ADC
Radio
Transceiver
Power
Management
Battery
Sensor
Antenna
2. A sensor node contains an embedded microcontroller running an
OS and the application program. The sensor input is conditioned and
digitized. The transceiver establishes the communications link with the
network. A power-management component makes the most of the limited
battery power.
To LAN
or WAN
Controller
Sensor
node
(a) (b)
To LAN
or WAN
Node
1. The most common WSAN network topologies are the star (a) and mesh
(b). The star topology is used when the distances from nodes to controller
are relatively short. Mesh is used over a wider range since most nodes can
relay signals from adjacent nodes.
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
37
a defined mesh networking protocol, but thats about to end.
The IEEE Task Group recently approved a mesh networking
standard (802.11s) that should be ratified later this year with
products coming shortly. In general, Wi-Fi isnt a widespread
choice for WSANs. However, its most likely used as the link
between the WSAN collection point and either a company
LAN or the Internet.
There also is a mix of proprietary standards in the industrial,
scientific, and medical (ISM) bands. One of the most wide-
spread, known as Z-Wave, was designed for low-power, short-
range sensor and actuator applications. It uses the unlicensed
frequency of 908.42 MHz in the U.S. and can deliver a data
rate of 9.6 kbits/s or 40 kbits/s
using FSK. The protocol is opti-
mized for mesh networking in
WSANs.
Anot her s t andar d f r om
EnOcean uses the 868-MHz or
315-MHz unlicensed band with
a data rate to 125 kbits/s. Its
maximum range is about 300 m,
and its designed for ultra-low-
power consumption and mesh
networking. Crossbow Technol-
ogy (now MEMSIC) has WSN
modules that use 802.15.4/
ZigBee but also a proprietary
module using the 868/916-MHz
frequencies with a data rate of
38.4 kbits/s.
Ultra-Wideband (UWB) has
been used as the wireless link
in WSANs. In its WiMedia
orthogonal frequency-division
multiplexing (OFDM) format,
it consumes little power and has
a very high data rate. For some
applications it may be an alter-
native to consider.
Many other wireless tech-
nologies can be deployed in
some applications. Two addi-
tional examples are cellular
networks and RFID. Embedded
cell-phone modules are widely available for what are called
machine-to-machine (M2M) applications, in which sensors or
actuators are interfaced to the radio module. The module then
reports back to a monitor and control point via the cellular net-
work. These modules can comprise a multipoint system but not
a mesh network. The range is greater than 2 or 3 km, and the
reliability is excellent.
Some systems may need to include RFID. The system would
consist of multiple RFID readers near the objects that are wear-
ing RFID tags. The readers can read many tags, but the range is
only a few feet for a passive tag. Active tags that use a battery
can have a range of up to a hundred feet depending upon the
frequency of operation. The readers would be networked back
to a central data collection place where the ID is made. Mesh or
multipoint arrangements can be used.
WSAN APPLICATIONS
The number of potential applications for WSANs is astro-
nomical. But as it turns out, there are a few widely imple-
mented systems.
Building automation: WSANs are used to monitor lights,
temperature, humidity, and other conditions for HVAC con-
trol. They are also used to monitor motion, smoke, and envi-
ronmental factors.
3. The Ember EM35x 802.15.4/
ZigBee radio module is part of
the development kit.
ZigBee
home-area
network
(HAN)
Utility
network
Electric
meter
Thermostat
HVAC system
Smart
appliances
Gas meter
Water meter
In-home display
Lighting
Controls
Home automation
system
4. The home-area network (HAN) is the main target for most WSANs today. The HAN wireless modules talk
to the thermostat, electric meter, lights, appliances, and other items to be monitored and controlled. (courtesy
of Ember)
Home automation and control: The primary use is in moni-
toring temperature and humidity to control HVAC systems.
WSANs can also monitor and control the energy usage of
lights and appliances as part of a Smart Grid system.
Weather monitoring: Sensors monitor all common weather
conditions, collecting, storing, and transmitting data over a
large area.
Environmental monitoring: Sensors are used to make desired
measurements of pollutants and other factors. Applications include
detection of forest fires, floods, and earthquakes, as well as crop
monitoring and watering.
Industrial automation: Sensors monitor machines to determine
usage, wear, maintenance, and serviceability. They also provide
environmental monitoring for pollutants and abnormal conditions.
Civil engineering: Sensors monitor the structural integrity of build-
ings, bridges, and other structures. They also can monitor highways
for traffic and road conditions.
Medical and health care: Uses include patient monitoring, patient
records, information sharing, and emergency communications.
Logistics: WSANs are used to track items in warehouse storage,
inventory control, and shipping and handling.
Military: Uses include equipment location and tracking, battlefield
monitoring and management, surveillance, and troop and weapon
activity sensing.
Security: WSANs have uses in presence, motion, and break-in
detection as well as in video surveillance.
Robotics and remote vehicles: WSANs can monitor all functions,
surroundings, and controlling operations.
REPRESENTATIVE RECENT PRODUCTS
With dozens of both component and end-equipment sources,
engineers have a rich environment to choose from when designing
a WSAN. For example, sources of 802.15.4/ZigBee equipment
abound. Chips are available from Freescale, Texas Instruments, and
Microchip Technologies.
Ember is another long-time participant in the field. Its latest Zig-
Bee systems-on-a-chip (SoCs), the EM351 and EM357, include a
full 802.15.4 2.4-GHz radio with ZigBee protocol stack. They also
include a 32-bit ARM Cortex M3 processor to run the application.
The EM351 has 128 kbytes of flash, while the EM357 offers
192 kbytes.
With a power output in the +3- to +8-dBm range
and a receiver sensitivity of 102 dBm, the link
budget is exceptional. Power consumption
is low. With good power management,
battery life can last many years.
Users can obtain a development
kit radio module using the
EM35x (Fig. 3). One of
the most common appli-
cations for the Ember
modules is in HANs
(Fig. 4).
38
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
TechnologyReport
WHEN SELECTING AND applying
wireless modules in a wireless sensor and actua-
tor network (WSAN), keep some of these facts in
mind:
The range of each module is a function of trans-
mitted power, antenna gain, and wavelength ().
The greater the transmit power (Pt), transmit and
receive antenna gains (Gt and Gr), and wavelength
(), the higher the received power (Pr) for a given
distance (d) or range. This is summed up in the
basic Friis formula:
Pr = PtGtGr
2
/16
2

2
The key takeaway is that the range is greater at
longer wavelengths or low frequencies.
Path loss in dB can be estimated with the modified
expression:
dB = (1/GrGt)(4d/)2
Another path loss estimator is:
dB = 32.4 + 20log(f) + 20log(d) where d is in km
and f is in MHz.
For the popular 2.4-GHz band, the path loss can be
estimated with:
dB = 40.2 + 20log(D) with d in meters and 8 m
dB = 58.3 + 33log(d/8) for d 8 m
For all these path loss calculations, assume a clear
line-of-sight (LOS) path.
Obstacles like walls, floors, and trees add from 3 to
18 dB to the path losses, depending upon the wall
and floor composition and the frequency of opera-
tion. There is less loss at the lower frequencies.
Brick and concrete have a higher attenuation than
wood frame and sheet rock.
At higher frequencies (2.4 GHz and beyond), reflec-
tions and multipath become a problem if there are
many nearby objects.
Lower frequencies are generally preferred but
require longer antennas or less efficient shorter
antennas.
IM
P
O
R
TA
N
T W
IR
E
L
E
S
S

IM
P
O
R
TA
N
T W
IR
E
L
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S

F
A
C
TS
TO
K
E
E
P
IN
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IN
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F
A
C
TS
TO
K
E
E
P
IN
M
IN
D
5. The EnOcean radio modules for the
868-MHz band include a wire antenna.
Tadiran Batteries
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Suite 125E
Lake Success,
NY 11042
1-800-537-1368
516-621-4980
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Where power is hard to find,
Tadiran has the solution.
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An interesting proprietary technology
comes from EnOcean, whose Dolphin
platform was designed for building auto-
mation, home networks, and other sys-
tems requiring very low power consump-
tion and long life. The radio technology
uses the 868-MHz band or the 315-MHz band. Even at low
power, practical ranges are possible because of the low-fre-
quency design.
Typical range within buildings is 30 m, but up to 300 m can
be achieved over a free-space path. The data rate is 125 kbits/s,
transmission may be one-way or two-way, and a unique 32-bit
ID is used. The basic radio modules (Fig. 5) can operate with-
out batteries using three types of energy harvesting:
Mechanical: A magnet and coil inside a light switch generates
power each time the switch is actuated. A self-powered light
switch generates power and converts it to a radio signal every
time the light switch is pressed.
Solar: Most of the sensors (occupancy/motion, door/window,
photo/light) are powered by collecting and storing energy
from light. When combined with smart and ultra-low-power
radios, sensors can operate with just 40 lux of ambient light.
(In a typical indoor setting, more than 400 lux is usually avail-
able.) The energy is stored in capacitors, which allows the
sensors to do their job even when theyre in complete dark-
ness for days.
Thermal: When energy is needed to control sensors residing
in permanent darkness, temperature differentials can generate
energy for wireless communications. This is the newest form
of micro energy harvesting, and its enabling self-powered
controls such as valve actuators.
The Z-Wave products from Sigma Designs (formerly Zen-
sys) are also unique. Using a mesh architecture, the nodes can
be used with switches, lights, thermostats, and appliance con-
trollers. They are also compatible with some of the Advanced
Metering Infrastructure (AMI) electric meters being installed
as part of the Smart Grid initiative to manage and control
energy usage in the home.
The Z-Wave modules operate on 908.42 MHz in the U.S.
using FSK modulation and can deliver a data rate of 9.6 or 40
kbits/s as needed. The Z-Wave ZM3102Ns 8051 controller
runs the protocol and mesh network. With low power, battery
life can be very long.
Dozens of companies use the Z-Wave modules for home
monitoring and control, such as the Z-Wave-enabled Trane
thermostat (Fig. 6). These and other end products are widely
available in Lowes and Radio Shack stores.
Microchip Technology has a line of 802.15.4/ZigBee prod-
ucts as well as some low-power ISM-band radio chips. But
the companys recent acquisition of ZeroG Wireless included
a WSAN product called Wi-Fi I/O. The primary product is
the ZG2100, an 802.11b Wi-Fi module designed for very low
power consumption.
The ZG2100 runs the standard .11b protocol but speed is
limited to 1 or 2 Mbits/s. It is Wi-Fi certified and runs the
available WEP, WPA, or WPA2 security.
Also, it uses a serial peripheral interface (SPI) and is only 21
by 31 by 3.7 mm. If you need the speed as well as low power
consumption, this is an attractive option. And, its very easy to
incorporate into existing LANs.
One of the more interesting new products to address the
WSAN market is Silicon Laboratories Si10xx wireless MCU
family. This series of devices packages an ISM-band radio
along with an 8051 controller, giving designers multiple ways
to design their product. A unique power system with an effi-
cient low-dropout (LDO) regulator and dc-dc converter adds
a new dimension to the need for low power consumption and
super-long battery life.
The top-of-the-line device is the Si1000, which features a
25-MIPS 8051 with 64 kbytes of flash and the usual mix of
I/Os and interfaces as well as timers. A 10- or 12-bit ADC is
also on chip in addition to a temperature sensor and voltage
comparators.
The radio is a real gem. It can be programmed to operate over
the 240- to 960-MHz range, which covers the standard ISM
frequencies of 315, 433, or 868 MHz. Modulation is FSK or
GFSK with a data rate to 250 kbits/s. The receive sensitivity is
an amazing 121 dBm while the programmable transmit power
can be up to 20 dBm for a net link budget of 141 dB. This can
extend range up to 3 km over a clear line-of-sight path.
The big news is the internal LDO and dc-dc converter with
their programmable power-management unit, which keeps
total power consumption low under all possible operating con-
ditions. The EZMac software lets designers create a protocol
for point-to-point, multipoint-to-point, and simple mesh net-
works. The Wireless M-Bus software, also available, is widely
used for metering in Europe. Availability is scheduled for the
second quarter of this year.
DESIGN ISSUES
The main design issues for WSANs vary depending on the
applications, but three stand out: power consumption, ease of
network modifications, and security.
Because the nodes are battery operated, long life is essential
to minimize the time, the cost, and the inconvenience of chang-
ing batteries. Some of the newer modules offer a battery life
of years, though most are considerably less. Look for products
that transmit data in packets at high speed to minimize trans-
mitter on time. A short transmit duty cycle is essential to long
battery life.
Next, how easy is it to remove modules or add modules? The
most desirable situation is one in which the system is ad hoc
and modules may come and go without any reprogramming or
intermediation.
Finally, security may be an issue in your application. Most
standards provide some level of security, but you have to verify
that it is sufficient for your application.
40
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
TechnologyReport
6. Trane thermostats include Z-Wave wireless
modules for communicating with the home-area
network that is part of a Smart Grid connection
to monitor, control, and conserve energy.
TECHNOLOGY
SESSION: The Smart Grid
The Smart Grid promises to be the next driver for innovation in
electronics and jobs for design engineers. This session will examine the
implications of the Smart Grid for a range of stakeholders from utilities
to consumers, along with the reasons that its penetration into business
and daily life are unstoppable.
PRESENTER: Erich Gunther, EnerNex
MODERATOR: Don Tuite
BATTERIES
SESSION: What Kind Of Batteries Are Out There, And
What Are They Good For?
Matching the battery type to the application has become increasingly
challenging as battery makers have pushed old frontiers backward. Are
lithium batteries inevitably flame-throwers? Is silver too expensive for
anything but military applications? How much energy can you really get
from a printed battery? Find out here.
PRESENTER: Dr. Robin Tichy, Micro Power Electronics
MODERATOR: Sam Davis
DEVICES
SESSION: Understanding Gallium-Nitride MOSFETs
Gallium-nitride MOSFETs promise to be a game changer in the power
space. Will the reality measure up to the hype? When will these super
MOSFETs be ready for prime time? And, what do designers need to
know about this new technology to use these devices effectively in their
new designs?
PRESENTER: Alex Lidow, EPC
MODERATOR: Don Tuite
PACKAGING
SESSION: Packaging Power Supplies
What are the important design considerations for packaging: EMC,
thermal management, physical size, power consumption, etc.?
PRESENTERS: Dr. Avram Bar-Cohen and Professor McCluskey,
University of Maryland
MODERATOR: Sam Davis
MOTOR CONTROL
SESSION: Controlling Permanent Magnet Synchronous
Motors
As the cost of processor-based motor control continues to drop, many
applications can now affordably take advantage of the many benefits of
PMSM topologies, such as increased efficiency and smoother operation.
This session covers the basic operation of PMSMs and how they can
be controlled using field-oriented control (FOC) with both sensored
and sensorless techniques. IPM motors also will be presented, with a
discussion on how their saliency affects sensorless FOC.
PRESENTER: Poul Erik Dokkedal, International Rectifier
MODERATOR: Don Tuite
THERMAL MANAGEMENT
SESSION: Thermal Management
Rejecting heat from electronic system components to ambient air
can be a challenge. Accepting this challenge are heatsinks, heat
exchangers, heat pipes, thermal interface materials, and forced air
cooling. In addition, several types of thermally enhanced circuit
boards aid the cooling process. Backing up these approaches,
computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software provides a picture of
the effectiveness of the cooling technique.
PRESENTER: Patrick Loney, Consultant
MODERATOR: Sam Davis
SESSIONS
Online Conference
April 27, 2010
www.electronicdesign.com/opd
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O
D
A
Y
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03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
CHARACTERIZE
YOUR LEDS FOR
ALMOST ALL
OCCASIONS
A
s the name implies, a light-emitting diode (LED) is a
semiconductor (diode) that, when forward biased via a
voltage/current source, radiates visible light of a particular
color (wavelength) and at a brightness level determined by
its parameters and by the parameters of its power source.
The first LED, attributed to General Electric researcher
Nicholas Holonyak circa 1962, was a fairly low-power device capable of
producing low-intensity red light, but with a hefty price tag.
Breaking price barriers by 1968, the Monsanto Company and Hewlett
Packard began mass production of red LEDs in 1968 using cost-
effective gallium arsenide phosphide (GaAsP). Initially, red LEDs
found fruitful employment as replacements for incandescent and
neon function indicators such as on/off/standby lights and shortly
after as segments in alphanumeric displays.
Evolving on an upward flight path not unexpectedly similar to
television, LEDs are now available in a wide range of colors as well as single units
capable of producing multiple colors, brightness, and power levels and in various
unique package types. Myriad devices also can deliver non-visible light from the infra-
red (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) ends of the spectrum.
Naturally, the rapid evolution of device types often leads to revolutionary applica-
tions. No longer just performing as indicators, visible-spectrum LEDs are supplanting
incandescent and fluorescent components in almost all lighting (practical and decora-
tive) and signage applications because of their low-power/low-heat characteristics,
significantly longer lifespan, and lower cost in both long and short runs.
Over the years, LEDs also have
wandered into esoteric, non-lighting
designs such as wave shapers in audio
circuits (Fig. 1). IR and UV LEDs are
proving to be viable in numerous appli-
cations ranging from remote control to
medical as well.
First, you need to know the different types of LEDs. Then, you
need to know your application.
+

Generic red LEDs replace R2 in feedback loop


Op
amp
In
R1
R3
R4
Out
1. In certain preamplifier configurations,
generic red LEDs were sometimes placed
in the feedback loop of an op amp to
incur soft distortion similar to that of
vacuum tubes.
MAT DIRJISH | COMPONENTS EDITOR mat.dirjish@penton.com
EngineeringEssentials
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
43
VISIBLE LIGHT LEDS
Today, LEDs are available in a wide variety of sizes, colors,
shapes, and types with diverse electrical specs and parameters,
in standard and unique packages, and all with varying price
points. Each addresses one or more applications such as gener-
al lighting, flash functions in digital cameras, LCD backlight-
ing, and, getting back to basics, indicators, plus many more.
Usually made from aluminium gallium arsenide (AlGaAs),
gallium arsenide phosphide (GaAsP), aluminium gallium indium
phosphide (AlGaInP), or gallium phosphide (GaP), generic, low-
cost moderate-power LEDs for basic indication chores, prototyp-
ing, and hobbyist interests are still around and plentiful (Fig. 2).
With red still being the most common color, these devices are
also available in green, orange, yellow, and blue and operate with
a forward voltage drop in the realm of 1 to 2 V with a forward
current around 20 mA.
In addition to the standalone device, other general-purpose
LEDs include alphanumeric displays, bi-color and tri-color
LEDs, and red-green-blue (RGB) components and flashing
LEDs. For no-frills designs with few power and size restric-
tions, one of these should fit the bill and budget.
Primarily targeting lighting applications, be they industri-
al, commercial, residential, or decorative, high-power LEDs
(HPLEDs) and HPLED modules are rapidly replacing tradi-
tional incandescent and fluorescent fixtures, especially as their
cost recedes. These LED alternatives are notable for their long
life of more than 50,000 hours, exceeding the 10,000 hours or
more for fluorescents and 1000 hours or more for incandescent
bulbs even under inordinate on/off cycling. Power efficiency
is an equally desirable benefit with the HPLEDs delivering
brightness levels beyond 105 lumens/W.
One example of the LED supplanting inef-
ficient technologies is the XLamp
MPL EasyWhite LED from Cree
(Fig. 3). Promising better per-
formance, color consistency, and
lumen density than conventional
light sources, its optimized for direc-
tional lighting applications, including
PAR-style or BR-style light bulbs. With
attention to system design, it can deliver the
same light output as a 3000-
K, 75-W equivalent BR-30
light bulb while consuming
78% less energy than incan-
descent technology.
In a package measur-
ing 12 by 13 mm, the MPL
EasyWhite delivers up to
1500 lumens at 250 mA.
Additionally, its available
in 2700-K, 3000-K, 3500-
K, and 4000-K color tem-
peratures that are in the cen-
ter of the respective ANSI
C78.377-2008 color bins.
Naturally, when character-
izing LED packages for a particular lighting task, other viable
options are out there.
One of the roadblocks to overall efficiency is that LEDs
require a dc power source, which entails the use of power
converters for many lighting applications. In addition to more
parts, these converters need to be well designed, upping the
cost of the LED topology.
Seoul Semiconductor may have this solved in part with its
Acriche LED bulb, which operates directly from an ac power
source. The 100-lumen/W Acriche light source specifies 25%
greater efficiency than existing LED products (Fig. 4). Requir-
ing no ac-dc converter, it generates less than one-tenth the car-
bon emissions of an incandescent bulb, the company says.
LEDs in general run pretty cool. But when theyre grouped
en masse for brighter lighting apps or restricted to heavily pop-
ulated boards or extremely tight quarters, heat does become a
concern. Also putting its fingers in the LED pie, semiconductor
company Vishay offers the VLMW321xx and VLMW322xx
surface-mount, white LED families in thermally enhanced
PLCC-4 packages (Fig. 5). For wider pin compatibility with
similar devices, the VLMW321xx has three anodes and one
cathode while the VLMW322xx LEDs offer three cathodes
and one anode.
2. General-purpose, low-cost LEDs, usually requiring a 1-V
forward voltage and a quiescent current of 20 mA, are
available in a range of colors, sizes, and shapes.
4. For efficient lighting
applications, Seoul
Semiconductors 100-lumen/W
Acriche LED operates from an
ac source, requiring no ac-dc
converter.
3. Housed in a 12- by 13-mm package, Crees
XLamp MPL EasyWhite LED outputs as much as
1500 lumens at 250 mA.
5. To beat heat issues, the Vishay
VLMW321xx and VLMW322xx surface-
mount white LEDs come in thermally
enhanced PLCC-4 packages and deliver
luminous intensities from 1400 to 3550
mcd.
The devices exhibit a thermal
resistance down to 300 K/W
and a power dissipation up to
200 mW. Groomed expressly
for automotive applications,
both families are AEC-Q101
qualified. Other shared features include a luminous intensity
from 1400 to 3550 mcd, luminous flux from 7000 to 8900
mlm, a 60 angle of half-intensity, and a luminous intensity
ratio per packing unit of less than 1.6.
INVISIBLE LIGHT
You cant see it, but that doesnt mean you cant use it. IR
and UV LEDs operate at wavelengths above 750 nm and below
400 nm, respectively. These devices find gainful employment
in remote control (TVs, home entertainment centers, etc.),
communication, and optically isolated signal routing in medi-
cal applications.
IR devices are generally made of GaAs or AlGaAs, while
UV parts come in diamond, boron-nitride, aluminium-nitride,
aluminium-gallium-nitride (AlGaN), and aluminium-gallium-
indium nitride (AlGaInN) flavors. Some examples include the
use of IR LEDs in the sensor bar of Nintendos Wii game sys-
tem and UV LEDs for sterilization of certain bacteria, curing of
adhesives, and plant synthesis.
Night photography is one of the many applications for IR
LEDs. Enabling image capture in total darkness, LEDtronics
offers IR LED lamps in 850-, 880-, and 940-nm wavelengths
with industry-standard bases and several angles of emission
(Fig. 6). The lamps resist ambient-light and electromagnetic
interference (EMI) and are available in all standard domestic
and international voltages.
Notably, the use of multiple LEDs allows the lamp to pro-
vide adequate light even if one or more emitters fail. Other
advantages include an average life span beyond 100,000 hours.
In addition to the standalone device, other general-purpose
LEDs include alphanumeric displays, bi- and tri-color LEDs,
and RGB components and flashing LEDs.
Jumping to the other end of the spectrum, the QuasarBrite
family of UV LEDs from Lumex lasts 10 times longer (more
than 50,000 hours) and provides tighter beam angles, greater
durability, and up to 50% cost savings over comparable devic-
es, the company says (Fig. 7). Available in 385-, 405-, and 415-
nm wavelengths, applications include bacterial and superficial
sterilization, industrial control related to leak and biohazard
detection, forensics such as counterfeit detection and analysis
of bodily fluids, and ink fluorescing.
OLEDS
A category unto themselves, organic LEDs (OLEDs) appear
to be the wave of the future. In December 2009, DisplaySearch
indicated in its Quarterly OLED Shipment and Forecast Report
that worldwide OLED revenues broke the last record, reaching
$252 million in revenue for the third quarter of 2009, up 31%.
Notably, OLED shipments totaled 21.7 million in the same
quarter, showing a 19% increase over the prior year.
OLEDs use a layer of organic compound as a light source
between their anode and cathode. Depending on the configura-
tion, light can be emitted either from the top or the bottom of
the device, enabled by a transparent electrode.
There are three types of OLEDs: transparent (TOLED),
stacked (SOLED), and inverted (IOLED). TOLEDs rely on
transparent electrodes on both sides of the device, so they can
emit light from the top or bottom, while SOLEDs stack red,
green, and blue to achieve full-color displays. The IOLED
exploits a bottom cathode that interfaces with a thin-film transis-
tor (TFT) backplane to create an active-matrix OLED (AMO-
LED) display.
Increasingly, OLEDs are finding their way into many display
applications due to their advantages over traditional LCDs. For
example, they dont require a backlight, resulting in lighter and
thinner panels. Also, OLED displays can turn pixels completely
off to display true, deep black. Sonys XEL-1, which the com-
pany calls the industrys first OLED television, features a 3-mm
thick panel and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 (Fig. 8).
These are just a few of the types of LEDs available, not to
mention their numerous variations. Characterizing the right
type of LED is quite easy, but it gets a bit tricky when you have
to choose the right one within the given typology.
BASIC CHARACTERIZING
Some general guidelines apply to most of the design gantlets
surrounding LEDs. One would be hard pressed to disagree
with Rob Harrison,
engineering man-
ager of OSRAMs
Solid-State Light-
ing Business, when
44
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
EngineeringEssentials
7. Poised for bacterial
sterilization, industrial
control, and forensic
applications, the
Lumex QuasarBrite
ultraviolet LEDs feature
a lifespan in excess of
50,000 hours.
6. For total-dark photography,
infrared LED lamps from
LEDtronics come in wavelengths
of 850, 880, and 940 nm and
promise to turn night into day.
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
45
he points out that the first thing to grasp is a complete under-
standing of the application requirements.
Since variables abound, designers must establish the bound-
aries of critical parameters: voltage, current, power consump-
tion, heat dissipation, thermal resistance, color, color tem-
perature, color sensitivity, brightness, ambient conditions,
packaging, and lifespan. Be prepared to whittle down your
choices from hundreds of LEDs to about 10 or less, Harrison
says. He also points to thermal resistance as the most critical
factor. Obviously, heat will affect not only overall design per-
formance but also the lifespan of the LEDs.
In addition to good system design for heat dissipation, ener-
gy efficiency is a priority. More and more designs need to meet
a number of efficiency standards such as Energy Star. With the
increasing focus on environmental concerns, this will become
even more critical in the very near future.
A CASE STUDY
A global appliance manufacturer approached Lumex look-
ing to transition away from incandescent bulbs to illuminate
the cavity for its ice and water dispenser. The application
required a higher light intensity, even light distribution, and
high efficiency for energy savings.
The manufacturers vision entailed using a high-power, 1-W
LED with a cool-white color temperature. Light had to hit the
activation paddles, water dispenser, and ice dispenser, prefer-
ably with the same light intensity and color. Also, the illumina-
tion module had to be easily field replaceable.
Echoing Harrisons pinpointing of thermal factors as a pri-
mary concern, the Lumex design team concluded
that the high-power LED would create numer-
ous challenges, particularly
heat management, shorter
lifespan, and uneven light
distribution.
As an alternative, Lumex
developed a small molded
module integrating a print-
ed-circuit board (PCB) sup-
porting three low-power, 5-mm white
LEDs with a quick-disconnect two-pin
connector at the end of a wire assem-
bly (Fig. 9). The LEDs were color and
intensity matched so each had the same
2700-K cold color temperature. This
approach additionally allowed light to be aimed at exact loca-
tions in the cavity.
According to Lumex, the solution reduced service costs by
replacing the incandescent bulb with an LED with a 10-year
service life. Also, its energy costs were lower since the module
consumed less power than a traditional solution. It bested the
initial concept of using a 1-W LED, driving three LEDs at 18
mA versus using a 1-W device as well.
EMERGING LED TECHNOLOGY
Whatever the design challenge may be, something is
usually coming out to address itor, at the very least, its on
the drawing board somewhere. For example, Bayer Materi-
alScience recently unveiled a unique form of light-diffusion
technology that hides LED hotspots while transmitting higher
light levels.
The companys approach creates the effect of softened LED
light with minimal reflection, allowing the diffusion of trans-
lucent white colors at normally unattainable light-transmission
levels. This technology promises nearly limitless freedom for
light diffuser packages and a broad palette of colors to custom-
ize the application.
This is an exciting time to be a colorist because we are able
to offer product designers and OEMs a design solution specific
to their needs, says Terry Bush, senior chemist at Bayer Mate-
rialScience.
To create a unique diffuser package using the technology,
designers select a Makrolon polycarbonate resin grade that
suits their particular application. The better the base resin, the
better the overall performance of the diffuser package, says
Gerald DiBattista, market segment leader, IT, Electrical/Elec-
tronics Polycarbonates, Bayer MaterialScience.
Available resins include Makrolon LED2643 for indoor and
outdoor applications. The formulation resists UV light, water
exposure, and immersion. Perhaps the first clear polycarbonate
to pass UL 94 5VA flame-rating requirements at 3 mm, Makro-
lon FR7087 suits lenses and covers. Makrolon 6717, a flame-
retardant grade resin, supports extruded applications such as
light bars and light guides. Makrolon 3103, a high-viscosity,
UV-stabilized polycarbonate, handles a number of applications
including automotive and consumer.
Attesting to the fact
that there will always
be a design solution on
the horizon, DiBattista
reiterates, No matter
what the final lighting
application, there will
likely be a solution that
meets the applications
needs.
EngineeringEssentials
8. Sonys XEL-1 OLED
television sports a 3-mm
thick panel and specifies
a contrast ratio of
1,000,000:1.
9. Lumexs field-
serviceable module
hosts a PCB supporting
three low-power white,
5-mm LEDs, each
delivering a 2700-K cold
color temperature.
Multitouch Functionality
Comes To Bigger Screens
BILL WONG | EMBEDDED/SYSTEMS/SOFTWARE EDITOR bill.wong@penton.com
LARGE MULTITOUCH DISPLAYS with fancy graph-
ics are the rage on TV shows. Even local weath-
er reporters use multitouch interfaces. Bringing
the technology to the masses, though, is still
a challenge.
Smaller devices like the Apple iPhone and Motor-
ola Droid have multitouch support and have been
shipping in the millions. But in this case, small has
its advantages. The release of Apples iPad (Fig. 1)
has sparked interest in larger form factors (search
Success Of iPad Is All About Software at elec-
tronicdesign.com).
Mid-range all-in-one PC platforms like HPs
TouchSmart also employ multitouch technology.
The TouchSmart PC product line is based on a
23-in. HDTV display with multitouch support, but
the platform commands a premium price (Fig. 2).
Touch support is only one aspect of the cost, yet it
provides one of the more obvious benefits of the all-
in-one configuration.
NANOWIRES AND PROJECTIVE CAPACITIVE
TOUCH SENSING
Single-touch detection is common these days,
and low-end micros can easily handle it. Multi-
touch for small devices like smart phones is typi-
cally limited to two or maybe three touch points
simply because the surface is so small and usable
by only one hand. Large screens on the order of
50-in. displays have the potential for more interac-
tion, raising the number of contacts much higher.
New technology from Displax addresses this
arena with a mesh of nanowires to implement a pro-
jective capacitive touch-sensing system. This is the
same approach used by the iPhone but with a larger
form factor. Displax can detect up to 16 touches
on display sizes of 30 to 116 in., suiting all of the
high-definition LCDs and plasma displays on the
market. The actual diagonal range for this technol-
ogy is 18 cm to 3 m.
The projective capacitive touch sensing detects
physical contact as well as near-field positioning. It
also can detect air movement when someone blows
on its surface. The system can even report the direc-
tion and intensity of the air movement.
The ability to handle large screens and more than
a couple simultaneous touches means Displax can
handle collaboration between multiple people. The
near-field position should allow for creative user
interaction as well.
The technology initially will be deployed in the
form of a film with a USB-based controller. It can
be mounted behind or on top of a surface. When
its mounted behind a surface, the material must be
less than 15 mm thick. The film targets flat-panel
displays but works equally well for transparent
projection screens.
The nanowire technology is not limited to a flat
film. It can be applied to almost any non-conduc-
tive smooth surface. Imagine a globe with touch
detection, as users point to anywhere on the Earth
and the system responds with information on the
selected location. Just think of the possibilities.
DISPLAX
www.displax.com
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
46
Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED Embedded in ED
1. Apples iPad has a 9.7-in. LCD touch-
screen with multitouch support.
2. HPs TouchSmart line is based around a
23-in. HDTV display that even comes with a
remote control.
BILL WONG | EMBEDDED/SYSTEMS/SOFTWARE EDITOR bill.wong@penton.com
Module Packs I/O Features
DIAMOND SYSTEMS WANTS to make it easier to interface
chores while reducing costs and increasing the number of
available options when using high-speed serial interfaces like
PCI Express and USB. Its FeaturePak module is designed to
provide peripheral expansion. Up to six modules can be con-
nected to a host (Fig. 1). A standard single-board computer
typically might host one or two. In a sense, it is the opposite
of the computer-on-module (COM) approach, where the host
is on a board.
FeaturePak can work in several different configurations,
such as having the processor on a COM board or in a stack.
In this case the host would simply be a carrier board for the
COM and FeaturePak modules.
The module is designed to be small enough to work with
stackable architectures like PC/104, EPIC Express (search
An EPIC Tale: PC/104 Hitches On To PCI Express at
electronicdesign.com), SUMIT (search SUMIT Brings Big
Improvements In Small Packages at electronicdesign.com),
and Stackable USB (search Micro/sys Dishes Out Stackable-
USB For Embedded I/O at electronicdesign.com).
A FeaturePak edge connector plugs into a high-density,
low-cost MXM socket that has 230 I/O connections. The
connections are different from other MXM-based standards
such as those used by Qseven. It can handle data rates up to 2.5
Gbits/s, allowing it to work with PCI Express and USB 2.0.
About half of the pins are used for the two application-specific
I/O ports. There are 50 pins allocated for each port, with 34
unused pins for isolation between I/O signals and use with
high-speed links such as Ethernet. The modules are designed
for rugged environments. Each has a pair of mounting holes so
it can be bolted to the carrier board.
MULTIPLE CONTROL OPTIONS
The modules features can be accessed through PCI Express,
USB, UART, or the SMBus (I
2
C) interface. However, PCI
Express and USB are the primary means for controlling and
accessing the peripherals on the module.
Modules can have multiple PCI Express and USB ports.
Typically, though, a module will only need one. A host socket
must provide either a PCI Express 1x and USB link (Fea-
turePak compliant) or a pair of USB links (FeaturePak USB
compliant).
The modules are designed for 3.3-V operation with a mini-
mum of 2 A available from the host. The 5-V supply is 1 A. The
12-V connection allows a module to monitor the supply.
Standard modules are 4.8 mm high. Tall modules can be up
to 10 mm high. A standard module will fit within a PC/104
0.6-in. stacking height. FeaturePak is designed for developers.
JTAG connections on the board allow modules to be part of a
JTAG scan chain.
Diamond Systems created FeaturePak with the intent to
move it to a standards group. Other companies such as Con-
gatec are already working on FeaturePak modules like the
Diamond Systems digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and digi-
tal I/O modules (Fig. 2 and 3).
Of course, these modules will
only be useful when combined
with a carrier board, so expect
announcements of single-board
computers with FeaturePak
sockets.
More details can be found on
the FeaturePak Web site.
DIAMOND SYSTEMS
www.diamondsystems.com
FEATUREPAK
www.featurepak.com
Embedded in ED
47
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
PCI Express
switch
USB
hub
Microcontroller
FeaturePak
module
FeaturePak
module
Up to
6 modules
ID 1 ID 6
UART
SMBus I/O I/O
0, 1, or 2 PCI Express x1 links
1 or 2 USB 1.1 or 2.0 links
1 UART (optional)
1 SMBus (optional)
2 I/O ports (50 pins each)
ID (3 bits, xed for each slot)
3.3-V power and I/O
5-V power
12-V power (monitor only)
FeaturePak interface
1. A host microcontroller can support up to six FeaturePak modules. A PCI
Express switch or USB hub may be required depending on the number and
type of modules supported.
2. The Diamond Systems FP-DAQ1616 provides a
16-channel, 16-bit DAC interface.
3. The Diamond Systems FP-GPIO96 provides 96
digital I/O ports.
Microcontroller TalksAnd Listens
BILL WONG | EMBEDDED/SYSTEMS/SOFTWARE EDITOR bill.wong@penton.com
THE NLP-5X MICROCONTROLLER from
Sensory not only generates speech from
text, it also handles speaker-independent
and speaker-dependent voice input. The
voice input is limited to short phrases to
improve accuracy, so leave dictation to
a PC. Still, the NLP-5x chip is ideal for
a range of applications including voice-
activated appliances.
The 80-MHz NLP-5x is based on a
16-bit DSP core tailored for voice process-
ing (see the figure). Combined with Sen-
sorys FluentChip firmware, the chip can
handle up to 750 seconds of compressed
text-to-speech (TTS) without using off-
chip memory. It can also store multiple
speaker-dependent vocabularies as well
as speaker-independent vocabularies.
REAL VOICE RECOGNITION
The voice recognition system is about
95% accurate for voice-independent inter-
action. It can recognize multiple phrases.
Also, it can handle user training with
voice interaction for speaker-dependent
recognition. The choice of words is key
to improving accuracy, and Sensory
works with most customers to optimize
their vocabulary. Changing one or two
keywords often can significantly improve
recognition performance.
Developers have a choice for audio
output. A simple pulse-width modula-
tor (PWM) can drive a low-end speaker
directly. The two 16-bit digital-to-analog
converters (DACs) are designed for ste-
reo output including speech and sound
effects using a 48-kHz sample rate.
The software also supports 24-voice,
MIDI-compatible, stereo music synthe-
sis. The MIDI support operates in par-
allel to voice support, allowing the two
outputs to be mixed.
Audio output can be synchronized
with external devices like motors. As
a result, the mouth movements of toys
can be linked to the speech output.
Likewise, the system supports beat
detection from the audio input. This
primarily targets toys where the user
beats out a rhythm. All this support as
well as the voice recognition support is
integrated into Sensorys scripting lan-
guage, which greatly simplifies appli-
cation development.
MORE THAN A PRETTY VOICE
The NLP-5x is designed to be more
than a voice processing system. It has
plenty of headroom and peripherals to
handle many application-oriented chores
including motor control for up to three
motors. The infrared (IR) support allows
it to work with a remote control.
Most of the digital peripherals and
3.6-V tolerant I/O ports are the same as
those found on other microcontrollers
and digital signal controllers (DSCs) in
this realm.
Overall, Sensorys NLP-5x line rep-
resents a powerful, low-cost, single-chip
solution for voice-related man-machine
interfaces. Pricing starts at $2. A devel-
opment kit costs $1500.
SENSORY
www.sensory.com
Embedded in ED
48
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
INTEL CORE FINDS HOME
ON VME DSP BOARD
The Champ-AV5 from Curtiss-
Wright Controls Embedded Computing
hosts a pair of 2.53-GHz Intel dual-core
Core i7-610E processors. The 6U VME64x
Champ-AV5 complements the companys
other new board, the SVME/DMV-1905
single-board computer. The SVME/DMV-
1905 is also based on a Core i7 proces-
sor. The Champ-AV5 has a 17-Gbyte/s
(peak) DDR3 memory subsystem. Each
processor has 2 Gbytes of error correction
code memory. A PMC/XMC slot provides
expansion. The Champ-AV5 is pin-com-
patible with the Curtiss-Wright Controls
MPC7447/7448-based Champ-AV4. Air-
cooled and conduction-cooled versions of
the Champ-AV5 are available. The system
comes with a VxWorks 6.x BSP and Linux.
Pricing starts at $14,500.
CURTISS-WRIGHT CONTROLS EMBEDDED
COMPUTING
WWW.CWCEMBEDDED.COM
COMPACT COM EXPRESS
MODULE COURTS CORE I7
The conga-BM57 Type 2 COMExpress
module from Congatec AG sports a
2.66-GHz dual-core Intel Core i7-620M
processor with a 35-W TDP. The chip has
a 4-Mbyte L2 cache and a dual-channel
DDR3 memory controller with access to 8
Gbytes of memory. The processor is paired
with the Mobile Intel QM57 Express Chip-
set, which includes an integrated graphics
controller that supports Intels Flexible Dis-
play Interface. It can drive a pair of inde-
pendent video channels on VGA, LVDS,
HDMI, DisplayPort, or SDVO interfaces.
The module has five PCI Express lanes,
eight USB 2.0 ports, three SATA, an EIDE,
and a Gigabit Ethernet interface. It also
offers an LPC bus and support for Intels
High Definition Audio feature set.
CONGATEC AG
WWW.CONGATEC.COM
Pre-amp
with
gain control
Pre-amp
with
gain control
Microphone
3-channel
16-bit
ADC
Dual
comparators
USB UART I
2
S SPI 40 GPIO LCD IR Motor control
NLP-5x
16-bit DSP
core
Timers Watchdog Power
128-kbyte
OTP code
22-kbyte data SRAM
2-kbyte code SRAM
Memory controller
16-bit DAC DAC out
PWM Speaker out
16-bit data
23-bit address
16-bit DAC DAC out
News
The NLP-5x has the typical complement of microcontroller peripherals with the analog tuned to
voice chores. The one-time-programmable (OTP) memory can be augmented using off-chip memory
and the code SRAM.
Embedded in EDNews
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
TINY AMC MODULE PACKS
QUAD-CORE PROCESSOR
Kontron is delivering Intels 45-nm,
quad-core LC5518 Xeon processor with
Intels 3420 platform controller hub (PCH)
and Direct Media Interface (DMI) in a com-
pact AMC form factor. Designed for MicroT-
CA platforms, the board can hold up to 24
Gbytes of ECC, 1066-MHz, DDR3 memory
accessible by the Xeons triple-channel mem-
ory controller. It also has a pair of 10-Gbit
XAUI Ethernet ports, two Gigabit Ethernet
ports on the front panel, and two for the
backplane. Other interfaces include two USB
2.0 ports, one VGA port and one COM port,
and PCI Express x4 AMC.1 and four SATA
ports, with two for the AMC.3 support and
on the extended AMC connector. The SATA
interface has built-in RAID support.
KONTRON
www.kontron.com
BARE METAL HYPERVISOR
LETS CLIENTS SHARE
INTERRUPTS
Real-Time Systems RTS Hypervisor 2.2
bare metal hypervisor features shared cache
and interrupts. It permits the use of message
signaled interrupts (MSIs) even if the client
operating system does not. MSIs allow the
sharing of interrupts, preventing conflicts or
forced partitioning of the underlying system.
The latest versions open control module
provides a high-performance virtual network
interface, shared memory, and other virtual-
ization components for paravirtualize clients.
REAL-TIME SYSTEMS
real-time-systems.com
WALL-MOUNT COMPUTER
FITS HOME AUTOMATION
Advantechs UbiQ-480 wall-mount
touch computer targets home automation
applications. It hosts a Freescale i.MX31
processor running Windows CE 5.0. Six
programmable function keys, a built-in
1.3-Mpixel camera, an infrared
receiver, a microphone with echo
cancellation, and a speaker for full
multimedia support surround
the 7-in. 16:9 touchscreen
panel. Interfaces include a pair of
Ethernet ports, serial ports, USB 2.0 ports,
and parallel I/O ports. 802.11b/g support and
Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) are optional. Pric-
ing starts at $695.
ADVANTECH
www.advantech.com
LIGHTWEIGHT, OPEN-
SOURCE RTOS FITS MCU
PLATFORMS THAT NEED TASK
SCHEDULING
Atomthreads is a compact open-source
RTOS that targets microcontroller platforms
that need task scheduling but not higher-
level services such as Internet Protocol
(IP) network stacks or file systems. It has a
preemptive and round robin scheduler. Also,
it provides interprocess communication ser-
vices such as queues and semaphores. The
ANSI C source code isnt tied to a particular
compiler. The first power was for Atmels
8-bit AVR microcontroller family. Atom-
threads is available under a BSD license.
ATOMTHREADS
www.atomthreads.com
SODIMM DRIVES DISPLAYS
The TX51 from Strategic Test puts Free-
scales i.MX51 onto a 200-pin small-outline
dual-inline memory module (SODIMM)
form-factor system-on-module (SOM). The
i.MX51 is based on ARMs 800-MHz Cortex-
A8, including ARMs Neon single-instruction
multiple data (SIMD) media accelerator
with hardware acceleration for OpenGL
and OpenVG, HD 720p decoder, and D1
encoder, plus video support up to 1280 by
768 at 24 bits/pixel. The i.MX51 includes an
Ethernet interface, camera interface, serial
ports, SDIO, I
2
C, SPI, USB 2.0, and SSI/
AC97/I
2
S audio support. The module also
offers 128-Mbyte mobile DDR-SDRAM,
128-Mbyte NAND flash memory, and a
200-pin SODIMM connector. It runs a range
of operating systems including Linux and
Windows CE.
STRATEGIC TEST
www.strategic-embedded.com
49
Low Profile from
.19"ht.
See EEM
or send direct
for FREE PICO Catalog
Call toll free 800-431-1064
in NY call 914-738-1400
Fax 914-738-8225
PICOElectronics,Inc.
143 Sparks Ave. Pelham, N.Y. 10803
E Mail: info@picoelectronics.com
www.picoelectronics.com
Audio Transformers
Impedance Levels 10 ohms to 250k ohms,
Power Levels to 3 Watts, Frequency Response
3db 20Hz to 250Hz. All units manufactured
and tested to MIL-PRF-27. QPL Units available.
Power & EMI Inductors
Ideal for noise, spike and Power Filtering
Applications in Power Supplies, DC-DC
Converters and Switching Regulators
Pulse Transformers
10 Nanoseconds to 100 Microseconds. ET
Rating to 150 Volt Microsecond, Manufactured
and tested to MIL-PRF-21038.
Multiplex Data Bus
Pulse Transformers
Plug-In units meet the requirements
of QPL-MIL-PRF 21038/27.
Surface units are electrical equivilents
of QPL-MIL-PRF 21038/27.
DC-DC Converter
Transformers
Input voltages of 5V, 12V, 24V And 48V.
Standard Output Voltages to 300V (Special
voltages can be supplied). Can be used as self
saturating or linear switching applications. All
units manufactured and tested to MIL-PRF-27.
400Hz/800Hz
Power Transformers
0.4 Watts to 150 Watts. Secondary Voltages 5V
to 300V. Units manufactured to MIL-PRF-27
Grade 5, Class S (Class V, 155
0
C available).
S
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rfa
c
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M
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u
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t
(a
n
d
P
lu
g
In
)
T
r
a
n
s
fo
r
m
e
r
s
a
n
d
In
d
u
c
t
o
r
s
See Picos full C
atalog im
m
ediately
w
w
w
.p
ic
o
e
le
c
tro
n
ic
s
.c
o
m
D
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live
ry-S
to
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to
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k
fo
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q
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titie
s
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
Its important to understand the various tradeoffs and considerations before you begin
your front-end design for high-speed data converters for wide-bandwidth applications.
DesignSolution
A
s c onve r t e r t e c hnol ogy
improves, so does the demand
to resolve very high interme-
diate frequencies (IFs) accu-
rately at high speeds. This poses two
challenges: the converter design itself
and the front-end design that couples the
signal content to the converter. Even if
the converter itself is excellent, the front
end must be able to preserve the signal
quality too.
High-frequency, high-speed convert-
er designs exist in many applications,
with wireless infrastructure and instru-
mentation pushing these boundaries.
These applications demand high-speed,
100-Msample/s+ converters with resolutions of 12 to 16 bits.
(Wideband represents the use of signal bandwidths greater
than 100 MHz and ranging into frequencies of 1 GHz and
above.)
FRONT-END BACKGROUND
Front end implies a network or coupling circuit that con-
nects the last stage of the signal chain (usually an amplifier, gain
block, or tuner) and the converters analog inputs (Fig. 1). This
assumes everything in the preceding signal chain circuitry has
the proper bandwidth to support the frequencies to be resolved.
This last stage, or front-end circuit, also needs to have the
proper bandwidth, but there is more to it than that. It must
also be very linear, well balanced, and properly laid out on
the printed-circuit board (PCB) to preserve the signal content
properly. If not, the converter will pick up these nonlinearities
imposed by the front end, which show up as distortions and
noise in the frequencies of interest. The front-end network has
to be carefully designed to meet the demands of any high-speed,
high-resolution converter.
Typically, there are two types of front ends: passive and
active. Active front ends use an amplifier or gain block
to drive the signal into the converters analog inputs. These
front ends are generally easier to design with as long as the
proper amplifier is chosen. But when very high frequencies are
required for the design, amplifiers tend to be performance lim-
ited, in linearity terms, to 200 MHz. In fact, some wideband
amplifiers have usable bandwidths of greater than 200 MHz,
but they tend to be high in power consumption.
TRANSFORMERS: SPECS, TOPOLOGIES, AND TYPES
The transformer, which can imply a flux coupled transformer
topology, is inherently ac-coupled, since it is galvanically iso-
lated and will not pass dc levels. It provides a quick and easy
way of translating from a single-ended to a differential circuit,
which is the common analog input interface for converters.
A center-tapped transformer provides the freedom to set the
common-mode level arbitrarily. This combination of virtues
reduces component count in front-end designs, where it is criti-
cal to keep complexity at a minimum.
Care should be taken when using center-tapped transformers.
If the converter circuit presents large imbalances between the
differential analog inputs, a large amount of current could flow
through the transformers center tap, possibly saturating the
core. For example, instability could result if the VCM/CML pin
is used to drive the center tap of the transformer and a full-scale
analog signal overdrives the converters input, turning on the
protection diodes.
The transformer also provides basically noise-free gain,
which depends on the designers choice of turns ratio. Sig-
Improve The Design Of Your Passive
Wideband ADC Front-End Network
ROB REEDER | ANALOG DEVICES rob.reeder@analog.com
50
ROB REEDER is a senior converter applications
engineer working in the high-speed signal-
processing group at Analog Devices Inc. He
has worked for the company since 1998 and
is responsible for development and support on
high-speed ADCs. He received his MSEE and BSEE from Northern
Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.
Amplier or
gain block
R
O
Front end
0.1 F
XFMR
1:XZ
0.1 F
R
t
R
t
0.1 F
0.1 F
R
s
R
s
*C
f
*Optional
V
IN+
V
IN
R
ADC
C
ADC
Converter
internal
input Z
1. In this context, a front end is a coupling circuit between the last stage of the signal chain and
an ADCs inputs. Besides providing sufficient bandwidth, it needs high linearity, good balance, and
proper layout.
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
51
DesignSolution
nal gain is ideally equal to the turns ratio of the transformer.
Although voltage gains are inherently noise-free, using a trans-
former with voltage gain does gain the signal noise as well as
tradeoff bandwidth.
A transformer should be seen simplistically as a wideband
passband filter with nominal gain. The more gain in the trans-
former, the less bandwidth. Finding a 1:4 ratio transformer
with low insertion loss performance in the gigahertz region is
difficult today.
Although simple in appearance, transformers should not be
taken lightly. A couple of brief equations relate the currents and
voltages occurring at the terminals of an ideal transformer (Fig.
2a). When a transformer steps up voltage, its impedance load
will be reflected back to the input.
The turns ratio, a = N1/N2, defines the ratio of primary volt-
age to secondary voltage. The currents are inversely related (a =
I2/I1), and the ratio of the impedance seen in the primary reflect-
ed from the secondary goes as the square of the turns ratio (Z1/
Z2 = a
2
). The transformers signal gain is expressed simply as 20
log (V2/V1) = 20 log/(Z2/Z1), so a transformer with a voltage
gain of 3 dB would have a 1:2 impedance ratio.
A host of inherent and parasitic departures from the ideal
comes into play with a transformer (Fig. 2b). Each has a role in
establishing the transformers frequency response and linearity.
These departures can help or hinder performance, depending on
the front-end implementation. Figure 2b provides a good way to
model a transformer to get first-order expectations about band-
width response, insertion loss, and return loss.
Linearity models of the transformer are more difficult to come
by and develop. Understanding the ferrite linearity is key when
developing a model of this type, which still presents a hand-
ful of unknowns. Some manufacturers may provide modeling
information, either on their Web site or through a support group.
Designers planning to perform the model analysis using the
hardware will need a network analyzer
and a handful of samples to make all of the
measurements properly. However, neither
of these methods will divulge all linearity
insights other than phase and amplitude
imbalances, which can commonly cause
even order distortions.
All real transformers have losses and
limited bandwidth. As the configuration
of parasitics implies above, one can think
of a transformer as a wideband bandpass
filter, which can be defined in terms of its
3-dB points. Most manufacturers will
specify transformer frequency responses
in terms of the 1-, 2-, and 3-dB bandwidth.
A phase characteristic accompanies the
amplitude response. Usually a good trans-
former will have a 1% to 2% phase imbal-
ance over its frequency passband.
The transformers insertion loss, or the
loss over the specified frequency range,
is the most common measurement speci-
fication found in any transformer datasheet. Return loss is the
transformers mismatch of the effective impedance of the sec-
ondarys termination as seen by the primary.
For instance, if the square of the ratio of secondary to primary
turns is 1:2, one would expect a 50- impedance to be reflected
onto the primary when the secondary is terminated with 200 .
However, this relationship is not exact.
For example, the reflected impedance on the primary changes
with frequency. First, find the return loss at the center frequency
specified for the design. This example uses 110 MHz. Zo is
found not to be 50 as assumed for an ideal transformer. It is
lower, as found in Equation 3:
Return loss (RL) =
18.9 dB @ 110 MHz =
20*log((50 Zo)/(50 + Zo)) (1)
10^(18.9/20) = ((50 Zo)/(50 + Zo)) (2)
Zo = 39.8 (3)
Ratio the primary Zo result in Equation 3 and the secondary
ideal impedance, 200 in this case. Do the same for the primary
ideal (50 ) and solve for the real secondary impedance:
(a)
Primary
1
2
I1
V1 (Z1)
1:N turns
I2
V2 (Z2) Secondary
3
4
(b)
Primary
1
2
Secondary
3
4
C1
R1
R2
L1
L2
R
Core
L
Primary
C2
C3
1:1
Z ratio
L
Secondary
C4
C5
L3
R3
L4
R4
C6
2. The ideal transformer and its equations
(a) are straightforward. But inherent and
parasitic departures from the ideal play parts in
establishing a real-life transformers frequency
response and linearity (b).
x(t) XFMR
x
1
(t)
ADC
h(t)
h(t)
y(t)
x
2
(t)
3. A mathematical analysis in the text, based on this simple ADC model,
helps explain why transformer nonlinearity rises with imbalance.
52
DesignSolution
Z(primary reflected)/Z(secondary ideal) = Z(primary ideal)/
Z(secondary reflected) (4)
39.8/200 = 50/X (5)
Solving for X:
X = 251 (6)
The secondary needs to have a 251- termination when using
a 1:2 turns-ratio transformer. Therefore, using a higher termina-
tion accounts for the core losses inside the transformer, yielding
not only a better match, but also an improved input drive on the
primary side of the transformer.
Having an improved input drive implies less power is required
to reach the converters full-scale input. In general, as the imped-
ance ratio goes up, so does the variability of the return loss.
Keep this in mind when matching the front-end design of the
preceding stage with any transformer.
Amplitude and phase imbalance are two of the most critical
performance characteristics when considering a transformer or
balun. These two specifications give the designer some perspec-
tive on how much linearity to expect when a design calls for high
(above 100 MHz) IFs.
As the frequency increases, the nonlinearities of the trans-
former also increase, usually dominated by phase imbalance,
which translates to even-order distortions (mainly second har-
monic) as seen by the converter. Dont be quick to blame the
converter, though. Look at the front-end design or transformer
first if the expected spurious is way off.
Imbalance is important (Fig. 3). Consider the input, x(t), to
the transformer. It is converted into a pair of signals, x1(t) and
x2(t). If x(t) is sinusoidal, the differential output signals, x1(t)
and x2(t), are of the form:
(7)
The analog-to-digital converter (ADC) is modeled as a sym-
metrical third-order transfer function:
(8)
Then:

(9)
IDEAL CASE: NO IMBALANCE
When x1(t) and x2(t) are perfectly balanced, they have the
same magnitude (k1 = k2 = k) and are exactly 180 out of phase
( = 0). Since:
(10)
(11)

Applying the trigonometric identity for powers and gathering
terms of like frequency:
(12)
This is the familiar result for a differential circuit. Even harmon-
ics cancel for ideal signals, while odd harmonics do not.
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
(17)
In Out
Out
In Out
Out
Single congurations
In Out
Out
In Out
Out
Double congurations
In Out
Out
Triple conguration
4. Multiple transformers can be used in various configurations for single-
ended to differential conversion.

ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
53
DesignSolution
MAGNITUDE IMBALANCE
Now suppose the two input signals
have a magnitude imbalance, but no phase
imbalance. In this case, k1 k2, and
= 0:
(14)
Substituting Equation 7 in Equation 3 and
again applying the trigonometric power identities in Equation
14 (see the equation box). We see from Equation 8 that the sec-
ond harmonic in this case is proportional to the difference of the
squares of the magnitude terms, k1 and k2, viz:
(15)
PHASE IMBALANCE
Assume now that the two input signals have a phase imbal-
ance between them, with no magnitude imbalance. Then, k1 =
k2, and 0:
(16)

Substituting Equation 10 in Equation 3 and simplifying, we
get Equation 17 (see the equation box). From Equation 17, we
see that the second harmonic amplitude is proportional to the
square of the magnitude term, k:
(18)

A comparison of Equation 15 and Equation 18 shows that the
second-harmonic amplitude is more severely affected by phase
imbalance than by magnitude imbalance. For phase imbalance,
the second harmonic is proportional to the square of k1. For
magnitude imbalance, the second harmonic is proportional to
the difference of the squares of k1 and k2. Since k1 and k2 are
approximately equal, this difference is small.
Higher-order turns or impedance ratio transformers have a
lower tolerance to imbalance. If the right transformer can-
not be found and linearity is an issue for the application, try
using multiple transformers or baluns in a cascaded fashion.
By employing a second transformer, second-harmonic distor-
tions usually decrease because the second transformer acts to
rebalance the previous signal converted from single-ended to
differential on the first transformer.
Two or, in some cases, three transformers can be used to help
convert the single-ended signal to differential more adequately
across high frequencies (Fig. 4). The downside of using this
method is the increased PCB space, higher cost, and higher
insertion loss (i.e., higher input drive). New high-frequency
transformers are on the market today. Anarens patented design
uses a coreless topology allowing for extended bandwidth in the
gigahertz region that only employs a single device.
Not all transformers are specified the same way by all manu-
facturers, and transformers with apparently similar datasheet
specifications may perform differently in the same situation.
The best way to select a transformer for the design is to collect
and understand the specs of all transformers being considered
and request any key data items not stated on manufacturers
datasheets. Alternatively, it may be useful to measure their per-
formance using a network analyzer.
WIDEBAND CONSIDERATIONS
Understanding the transformer and its specifications provides
a great starting place for figuring out how the front end is going
to perform in the end. Essentially, three other metrics need to
be thought about when designing a wideband network as well:
bandwidth, matching, and the PCB layout itself. Each is impor-
tant and can play a pivotal role in achieving the best performance
required by the front end.
While the transformer has a specified bandwidth, the front-end
design can limit the actual bandwidth provided because inherent
PCB and internal ADC parasitics tend to roll off the transformer
early. Some designs may require more bandwidth than actually
measured, even though the transformer bandwidth was selected
appropriately. From the converters standpoint, there is still
plenty of bandwidth. But from the front-end design, this could be
limited or extended depending on the topology used.
One way to extend the bandwidth of the transformer is to
place low-Q inductors or high-frequency ferrite beads in series
(L
S
) with each of the converters analog inputs. (Fig. 5). Pass-
band flatness can change, and it needs to be re-evaluated with
this technique. Figure 5b shows results of different value induc-
tors versus bandwidth. In the baseline results, no L
S
is present.
0.1 F
XFMR
1:XZ
0.1 F
R
t
R
t
0.1 F
0.1 F
L
s
L
s
R
s
R
s
V
IN+
V
IN
R
ADC
C
ADC
Converter
internal
input Z
(a)
Analog
input
Input
Z = 50
Wideband
conguration
(b)
A
m
p
l
i
t
u
d
e

(
d
B
F
S
)
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Frequency (MHz)
0 50 100 150 200 250 300
Baseline
Inductor 1
Inductor 2
Ferrite bead 1
Ferrite bead 2
5. Low-Q inductors or high-frequency ferrite beads in series (L
S
) with a
converters analog inputs can extend bandwidth (a). However, this can
affect passband ripple (b). The baseline measurement was performed
with no inductor.
54
DesignSolution
Matching the front end
can imply a couple of things,
depending on the designers
viewpoint (Fig. 6). By defi-
nition, it simply means that
a certain source and load
resistance (usually 50 ) has
been defined for the front-end
network and should be equal.
This yields the maximum sig-
nal power transfer between
the source and the load to
minimize reflections.
Usually, this takes the form
of a complex conjugate match since the converters internal
input impedance is complex, as well as the transformers non-
idealities in the front-end network design. The source is defined
as the preceding stage before the front-end network. The load
will encompass the front-end network. This includes the trans-
former, any termination or filtering between the secondary of
the transformer and the analog inputs of the converter, and the
converters complex input impedance.
Matching also relates to bandwidth. As the bandwidth rolls
off on the front end, it is a good indication that the equal source
to load is moving apart. Matching the front end over the intend-
ed bandwidth gives rise to preserved performance through many
specifications, not just dynamic performance, i.e., signal-to-
noise ratio (SNR) and spurious free dynamic range (SFDR).
This is particularly important at higher frequencies since front
ends tend to roll off quicker as discussed.
A particular front end was designed to have a pass-band region
from 10 to 70 MHz using a 1:9 impedance ratio transformer with
a datasheet bandwidth specification of 250 MHz. Going through
the various tradeoffs, many different approaches can be used to
achieve the boundary conditions for the design.
Often, only one design will work or be the best choice. In this
example, REVL was chosen because it
has the best match over the specifica-
tions required for the design. The design
meets the dynamic spurious performance
above 85 dB. It also has the best input
impedance match over the entire band of
interest, allowing for 92% of the signal
power to be transferred to this network
while maintaining a passband flatness
specification below 1 dB.
The term matching can be used
loosely. However, it really implies opti-
mization over the band of interest given
a set of defined performance parameters
for the front-end network.
Layout is another variable that can
wreak havoc on any front-end design,
particularly at high frequencies. Improper
layout can mess up the front-end design,
causing unexpected performance. Dont
undo all the hard work done to define
the front end. Take the time to keep the
layout sound and symmetrical.
One example using multiple transform-
ers in cascade as described can keep the
even order distortions at bay (Fig. 7). The
two layout diagrams depict small differ-
ences between the layouts of two trans-
formers used in front of the ADC. One
layout (b) performs better over a wide
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
C1
C2
C3
C4
T1 T2
C1
C2
C3
C4
T1 T2
(b)
(c)
In
In
(a)
C1
C2
C3
C4
T1
T2
Out
Out
(b)
A
m
p
l
i
t
u
d
e

(
d
B
F
S
)
0
Frequency (MHz)
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200
RevA
RevB
RevD
RevF
RevL
(a)
Z
Source
XFMR
R
R
L
R
C
C R
A
IN
A
IN
R
ADC
C
ADC
Converter
internal
input Z
Z
Source
Z
Load
Z
Load
Maximum power transfer
occurs when Z
Source
= Z
Load
(conjugate)
Z = R + jX

Z = R jX
Signal source
Signal source
Z = 50
7. The same cascade of transformers
(a) yields different results depending
on how symmetrically the traces are
routed on the PCB (b and c).
6. Matching means
more than defining
an ohmic impedance
and matching it across
source and load (a).
To achieve maximum
signal power transfer
implies optimization
over the band of
interest (b).
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
55
DesignSolution
band of frequencies, though. It is more symmetrical and forces
return currents or ground references to be common.
Proof can be seen in the fast Fourier transform (FFT) perfor-
mance plot measurements of an AD9268, 16-bit, 125-Msample/s
dual-channel ADC (Fig. 8). Figure 8a was obtained using the
symmetrical layout. It yielded a second harmonic of 85 dB with
a 140-MHz IF applied at 1 dBFS. Figure 8b shows the perfor-
mance under these same conditions with the non-symmetrical
layout. The second harmonic was measured at 79.5 dBa great-
er than 5-dB loss in performance!
FERRITE VERSUS NON-FERRITE
Traditionally, wire wound or ferrite transformers have been
the solution of choice in converter front-end circuit design to
convert the last stage of the signal chains signal from single-
ended to differential with typical transformation impedance
ratios of 1:1, 1:2, and 1:4. Wire wound topologies deliver good
performance at frequencies below 200 MHz, where they exhibit
good balanced phase and amplitude performance and good
insertion and return loss.
However, wire wound baluns suffer from some drawbacks,
the most serious of which is the deterioration of performance at
higher frequencies. Wire wound baluns are essentially lumped
element components that work well at lower frequencies, but
whose performance deteriorates as the effects of parasitics
become more pronounced at higher frequencies and ferrite
losses increase.
By definition, lumped element components arent suited for
use as the wavelength of operation becomes comparable to the
physical dimensions of the component. However, Anaren offers
a series of baluns that are non-ferrite coupled, microwave strip-
line structures and are inherently suited for operation at higher
frequencies, i.e., above 200 MHz.
These baluns are coupled stripline designs that use softboard
(PTFE/Teflon) material as the dielectric medium. The dielectric
is typically low loss, keeping insertion loss to a minimum at
higher frequencies. In addition, this technique allows a signifi-
cant amount of circuitry to be packed into a package, minimiz-
ing package size and yielding up to 80% space savings over
typical ferrite topologies.
Unlike wire wound
baluns, no ferrites are
used in an Anaren
balun structure (Fig.
9). Another advantage
to non-ferrite trans-
former technology
is its insensitivity to
variations in differen-
tial impedances over
wider bandwidths,
which are common
when using unbuf-
fered ADCs that have
a change i n i nput
impedance when the
converter moves between the sample and hold domains. Any
sensitivity on part of the balun or transformer to the converters
impedances could reveal degradation in performance.
When designing a wideband network in front of the ADC,
choose the transformer and collect the specifications required
to make the best selection for the application. In particular, keep
imbalance performance in mind when choosing a transformer.
Two or possibly three transformers may be required for the
design as shown in the topologies above.
If extra bandwidth is required, use series low-Q inductors
or high-frequency ferrite beads on the secondary of the trans-
former. But remember to re-evaluate passband flatness to make
sure it is still in check. Matching over the entire band can be
difficult. Matching should really encompass optimization of all
specifications defined by the design to get the maximum power
transferred to the front-end network.
On the layout side, dont disregard symmetry on the front end
or the performance may be mitigated. Finally, keep in mind that
other solutions available today tackle some of the widest band
applications, improving on passband flatness and dynamic per-
formance at higher frequencies while saving PCB space.
0
15
30
45
60
75
90
105
120
135
0
15
30
45
60
75
90
105
120
135
6 M 12 M 18 M 24 M 30 M 36 M 42 M 48 M 54 M 60 M
2
+ +
2
3 3
4 4
5 5
6 6
6 M 12 M 18 M 24 M 30 M 36 M 42 M 48 M 54 M 60 M
A
m
p
l
i
t
u
d
e

(
d
B
F
S
)
0
Frequency (MHz)
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000
Baseline
Anaren balun
9. One can see a considerable difference in passband flatness using the
same AD9640 125-Msample/s coverter fed with a conventional ferrite
balun and with an Anaren stripline balun.
8. The more symmetrical output arrangement of the upper transformers in Figure 7b produced the spectrum on the left.
Note that the second harmonic is 5 dB lower than in the non-symmetric design on the right.
56
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
C
ompetitive pressures are forcing designers of con-
sumer electronics such as digital TVs, high-end print-
ers, PCs, digital still cameras, and set-top boxes to
lower system costs without sacrificing performance.
To meet these needs, memory manufacturers shrink die sizes,
minimize feature sets, and reduce pin counts by multiplexing
address and data pins. However, these approaches have failed to
satisfy the increasing demand for lower memory subsystem cost
and higher system performance.
First-generation Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) devices were
successful in reducing costs but only offered small densities and
low performance. Read performance, for example, declined as
much as 80% when compared to parallel NOR.
High-end electronics system designers require more memory
and the best performance possible to be competitive and innova-
tive. To address this challenge, manufacturers must look at the
entire system and not just the individual components. This cre-
ates an opportunity for new interfaces in flash memory.
SPI simplifies designs and lowers costs while achieving
adequate performance for low-end applications. SPI devices typi-
cally read information serially or one bit at a time.
Single-I/O (SIO) SPI is only the beginning. A new level of
performance can be achieved with a multiple-I/O (MIO) SPI. An
MIO SPI device can support increased bandwidth from the same,
low-pin-count SPI device and package.
With multiple I/Os, devices can transmit and receive data either
one, two, or four bits at a time, enabling faster speeds while still
requiring only eight total pins or six active pins to retain the origi-
nal benefits of SIO SPI. The enhanced performance means that
MIO SPI devices can be used to support faster execution-in-place
(XIP) code execution, potentially reducing the amount of RAM
required by the system and enabling faster system boot-up times.
A dual-I/O (two-bit data bus) interface enables transfer
rates to double compared to the standard serial flash memory
devices, while a quad-I/O (four-bit data bus) interface improves
throughput four times and opens up a much wider range of appli-
cations that require higher performance (Fig. 1).
SPI flash memories support increasingly higher performance
with clock rates up to 104 MHz in SIO mode. When an MIO SPI
device is used in quad-mode operation, 80 MHz equates to run-
ning the flash at an effective clock frequency of 320 MHz with up
to a 40-Mbyte/s continuous transfer rate (see the table).
This is more than six times the transfer rate of standard serial
flash memories running at a clock rate of 50 MHz. In addition,
random access overhead can be reduced by eliminating 28 clock
cycles required for each read instruction.
A quad-I/O SPI can enable faster boot times for devices with
larger file systems. A 128-Mbit MIO SPI running in quad-I/O
mode, with a serial clock (SCK) of 80 MHz, can boot three times
faster than a standard 128-Mbit SIO SPI (SCK of 104 MHz). A
128-Mbyte MIO SPI running in quad-I/O mode, with a SCK of
80 MHz, can boot almost four times faster than a standard parallel
NOR with a 90-ns initial access time.
New Flash Memory Interfaces
Drive Innovation And Lower Costs
KEVIN WIDMER, director of strategic mar-
keting, holds a masters degree in business
administration, as well as bachelor of science
degrees in electrical engineering and physics
from Florida Atlantic University.
KEVIN WIDMER | SPANSION kevin.widmer@spansion.com
As consumers demand more from the latest gadgets, designers are turning to multiple-
I/O SPI for improved performance.
80
60
40
20
0
M
b
y
t
e
s
/
s
Sustained throughput (Mbytes/s)
Pins
80
60
40
20
0
P
i
n
s
x16 ASYNC/PAGE NOR x1 SPI x4 SPI
61 Mbytes/s
48 pins
40 Mbytes/s
8 pins 8 pins
13 Mbytes/s
Compared to standard serial flash memory devices, dual-I/O interfaces 1.
double the transfer rate while quad-I/O interfaces improve throughput by
a factor of four and open up a broader range of applications that require
higher performance.
DesignSolution
INTERFACE SPECIFICATIONS
Serial I/O Dual I/O Quad I/O
Data throughput 13 Mbytes/s 20 Mbytes/s 40 Mbytes/s
Clock frequency 104 MHz 80 MHz* 80 MHz**
* Effective clock frequency of 160 MHz ** Effective clock frequency of 320 MHz
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
57
DesignSolution
THE RIGHT MEMORY SUBSYSTEM
NOR flash memory has grown to a $5
billion market, according to WebFeet
(October 2009), and 90% of NOR flash
memory revenue shipments today have a
parallel NOR interface. Benefits include
fast random access and high reliability.
Fast random access is best leveraged with
broadside addressing architectures where
the host presents the byte or word-level
random address, and data is available at
the I/O about 100 ns later.
Over the past several decades, host
ASICs have invested in memory subsys-
tem architectures with parallel NOR to
enable XIP for fast boot and memory con-
troller configuration and, in some cases,
shadowing code to DRAM for operating-
system code execution.
The parallel NOR interface continues to
be popular for several reasons. The strong
supplier base for parallel NOR flash and
a desire by ASIC designers and software
architecture designers to protect their
investment mean that parallel NOR flash
will be around for many years to come.
However, some applications and mar-
kets need a new memory solution. For
these applications, multi-IO SPI offers
a compelling alternative. There is a tre-
mendous level of industry investment to
improve the interface to address higher-
performance applications. Host designers
are evaluating their memory subsystem
needs and finding that SPI offers the right
balance between fast initial access and
high-performance burst-type reads.
Whereas parallel NOR flash has broad-
side addressing for fast initial access, SPI
has a internal multi-bank architecture
thats ideal for seamless, continuous-burst
applications where code or data can be
rapidly streamed into DRAM for host
controller access (Fig. 2). System design-
ers now have the choice between parallel
and serial interfaces based on their memo-
ry subsystem architecture needs.
For applications where SPI is the right
solution, the switch from a parallel flash
memory to SPI affects more than just the
flash memory. There are several system
level benefits from SPI. First, simpler
ASIC memory controller designs result in
lower engineering costs and faster time-
to-market.
Additionally, SPI yields lower-cost
ASICs due to the elimination of approxi-
mately 40 pins, while maintaining scal-
ability to higher densities in the future.
And finally, it leads to lower-cost printed-
circuit boards (PCBs) due to fewer inter-
connects and less board area from a small
SO8 package footprint. In some cases,
system designers reduced the PCB from a
six-layer board down to a two-layer board.
In addition to the system benefits, the
SPI flash component costs can be reduced.
21
address
lines
16
data
lines
3
control
lines
40 to 6
4 data
lines
2 control
lines
MCU or
ASIC
32-Mbit
parallel
ash
MCU or
ASIC
32-Mbit
SPI
ash
2. Parallel NOR
flash has broadside
addressing for fast
initial access, but SPIs
internal multi-bank
architecture is ideal for
seamless, continuous-
burst applications
where code or data can
be rapidly streamed
into DRAM for host
controller access.
58
DesignSolution
The flash die size can be reduced by elimi nating approximately
40 bond pads and using simpler SPI periph eral logic on the die.
There also is a package cost reduction by reducing pin count and
packaging material by approximately 80%.
Another key benefit of SPI is scalability of density without
increasing pin count. Parallel flash requires an additional address
pin for each successive density. The multiplexed data and I/O
structure of SPI allows system designers to support higher-densi-
ty devices without dedicating additional ASIC address pins.
For example, migrating SPI designs from 32 Mbits to 64 Mbits
or 128 Mbits does not require additional address pins, unlike
parallel NOR flash. This enables easy density migration for cus-
tomer board designs and the ability to add more functionality into
application code.
DESIGN CYCLES DRIVE SPI ADOPTION
Building in new features to create differentiation and innova-
tion is also easy with an MIO SPI. By reducing pin count, system
designers are finding new ways to take advantage of high-per-
formance SPI devices to innovate and add value to their system
applications.
Rapid design cycles and the continuous drive to lower system
cost are prevalent in the consumer space. There are strong region-
al influences on the adoption of innovative memory subsystems.
Many consumer systems-on-a-chip (SoCs), such as digital TV
ASICs, are designed and then assembled into original equipment
and design manufacturer reference designs in greater China for
the local and export markets. To meet the demands of the con-
sumer market for high performance at the best price point, these
designers have embraced and adopted SPI.
There are many examples of how the adoption of SPI is benefit-
ing applications in the consumer space. Digital TV designers use
ASIC pins saved by moving from parallel NOR interface to add
additional HDMI ports. Multi-function printers take advantage of
the x1 SPI interface on eight-pin small-outline IC (SOIC) pack-
ages to reduce the cost of printed circuit boards. STB applications
migrate from a NOR execute-in-place memory subsystem to an
SPI boot and shadow to DRAM model.
MIO SPI flash can improve performance and reduce costs.
Design engineers should look to new interfaces in flash memory
and explore other possibilities to improve system performance,
lower pin count, and lower the overall system cost.
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
59
Ideas
forDesign
PHANTOM POWERING IS the most
common way to power a microphone. The
technique supplies 48 V provided through
two 6.81-k resistors in a differential
input line.
1
This idea explains an improved
way to use phantom power to run ultra-
sound microphones requiring long cables.
Typically, the microphone should incor-
porate a signal-splitting circuitdc block-
ing capacitors or a transformerto separate
the phantom power from the audio signals.
The capacitors/transformer pass the audio
on the differential pair while blocking dc
power. The designer must select compo-
nents that do this without degrading the
audio signal.
Another approach used in variations
for some time now, the Shoeps circuit,
employs the 6.81-k resistorsRf1 and
Rf2as load resistors for direct-coupled
emitter followers with pnp transistors Q2
and Q3 (Fig. 1).
2
The input amplifier stage
uses a JFET (Q1) with a very high input
impedance.
The input stage not only acts as an imped-
ance converter for the cartridge, it also
performs phase-splitting, turning the input
signal from the cartridge into two paraphase
outputs. The output stages act as current
amplifiers with a unity voltage gain.
Blocking capacitors C5 and C6 are placed
between the outputs of the impedance con-
verter and the inputs of the voltage follow-
ers. Because of the high input impedance
of the voltage followers, the value of these
capacitors is small, so quality film capacitors
can be used.
However, using a voltage follower with
a current-setting resistor has a limitation:
asymmetrical transient response with a
capacitive load. A long cable creates a load
capacitance that will charge slowly through
the current-setting resistor and discharge
fast through the pnp device.
The average current through each
6.81-k resistor is about 4 mA. This cur-
rent will charge cable capacitance (C21 +
C23) at the rate of (4 mA)(C21 + C23). So,
an input sine wave with amplitude V
p
would
be output as a triangle-wave if the frequency
is greater than (4 mA)(C21 + C23)/2 V
p
.
The addition of npn emitter followers
Q4 and Q5 speeds up the charging of the
cable capacitance, eliminating this slew-rate
limiting and lowering total harmonic distor-
tion (THD). Figure 2 compares the two
techniques. The square nonlinearity of the
impedance converter JFET causes the gradu-
al rise of distortion with the input amplitude.
REFERENCES
1. IEC 61938 Audio, Video, and Audiovisu-
al SystemsInterconnections and Match-
ing ValuesPreferred Matching Values of
Analogue Signals, clause 7.4
2. J. Wut t ke, Mi kr of onauf sat ze,
Schalltechnik Dr.-Ing. Schoeps, 2000,
p. 83; www.schoeps.de/D-2004/PDFs/
Mikrofonbuch_komplett.pdf
Modified Phantom-Powered
Microphone Circuit Reduces Distortion
DIMITRI DANYUK | CONSULTANT dimitri@danyuk.com
DIMITRI DANYUK is a consultant.
He received his training in electrical
engineering at Kiev Polytechnic
Institute, Ukraine.
C2
1 F
C1
1 nF
X1
R3
2.2k
C3
100 F
Q1
J305
R1
1G
R4
2.2k
C4
1 F
R2
1M
R10
10k
Q2
2SA992
R11
100k
C5
1 F
R5
390k
Q4
2SC1845
R6
100k
R14
3.9k
R7
47k
R8
75
C7
1 F
Output
1
2
3

XLR
+ +
+
J
OUT
R9
75
R12
10k
Q3
2SA992
R13
100k
C6
1 F
D1
12 V
C8
1 F
Q5
2SC1845
R15
1k
J
C1
Gnd Gnd
1
2
1
2
1
2
3 3 3

+ +
XLR
XLR
C31
C23
Cable
J
C2
C21
Gnd
XLR
Gnd
Rf1
6.81k
Input
J
IN
C+
+
+
C
To amp
Rf2
6.81k
+48 V
1. In this phantom-powered microphone circuit, the 6.81-k receiving-end resistors act as a portion of
a dc-coupled output-follower stage.
60
IdeasForDesign
THIS CIRCUIT TRANSFORMS a pulse-width-modulation
(PWM) signal into non-overlapping clock signals, whose number
depends on the length of a shift register. These clock signals can
be used to power up different loads in a predetermined sequence,
as is sometimes necessary in complex systems.
The circuit uses D-flip-flops, two of which are included in each
SN74LVC74 IC. The example circuit generates eight indepen-
dent clock signals (Fig. 1). A pulse generator or a microcontroller
can provide the PWM input, which can vary in frequency and
duty cycle.
The circuit shown can accept signals with 1% to 99% duty cycles.
A circuit for an actual clock system must account for the operating
conditions specified in the datasheets for the chosen logic family.
Also, the value of pull-up resistors R3-R10 will depend on the cir-
cuits operating speed.
1
The PWM signal is fed to the clock inputs
of the flip-flops as well as to the output-enable inputs of the gates
inside of IC3 and IC6. As a result, a clock pulse is generated at the
eight clock outputs when the PWM pulse is also present.
To ensure that the pulse widths of the clock outputs are similar
to the duty cycle of the PWM signal, the Q output signals of the
different flip-flops are fed to the respective driver gates. The gates
in IC3 and IC6 (SN74LVC125) are three-state drivers. Pull-up
resistors R3-R10 guarantee a correct signal level at the eight clock
outputs when these gates are in three-state status.
The Q output of the first flip-flop drives the D input of next flip-
flop, and so on, forming the shift register. The Q output of the last
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
Shift Register Generates Multiple
Clocks From PWM Signal
CHRISTINA OBENAUS | NEOS INGENIEUR-BRO OBENAUS, ARNSDORF, GERMANY christina.obenaus@t-online.de
T
H
D

(
d
B
)
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
T
H
D

(
d
B
)
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
Input amplitude (mV
RMS
) Input amplitude (mV
RMS
)
60 70 100 200 300 400 500 700 1000 60 70 100 200 300 400 500 700 1000
(a)
(b)
Cable length:
Blue = 100 ft
Red = 200 ft
Green = 300 ft
2. These measurements using a 20-kHz input signal show how total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD+N) increases greatly at longer cable lengths
and higher input amplitudes for the original circuit (a) compared to the modified circuit (b).
Clk
P
o
w
e
r
-
o
n
_
R
e
s
e
t
R
e
s
e
t
IC3a IC3b IC3d IC3c IC6a IC6b IC6d IC6c
+3.3 V
Gnd
SN74LVC07A
SN74LVC07A
SN74LVC07A SN74LVC07A SN74LVC07A SN74LVC07A
10
12
11
13 4 1
9
8 6 3 8
9
6
5
4 1
2
3
10 13
12
11
2 5
IC2a
IC1c
IC1a
IC1b
IC1d IC1e IC1f
PR
D
CLK
CLR
Q
Q
SN74LVC74
4
2
3
1
5
6
1A
3A
5
1 2
3 4
6 9 8 11 10 13 12
3Y
1A 1Y
2A 2Y
SN74
LVC125
IC2b
PR
D
CLK
CLR
Q
Q
SN74LVC74
IC4a
PR
D
CLK
CLR
Q
Q
SN74LVC74
4
2
3
1
5
6
IC4b
PR
D
CLK
CLR
Q
Q
SN74LVC74
10
12
11
13
9
8
IC5a
PR
D
CLK
CLR
Q
Q
SN74LVC74
4
2
3
1
5
6
IC5b
PR
D
CLK
CLR
Q
Q
SN74LVC74
10
12
11
13
9
8
IC7a
PR
D
CLK
CLR
Q
Q
SN74LVC74
4
2
3
1
5
6
IC7b
PR
D
CLK
CLR
Q
Q
SN74LVC74
10
12
11
13
9
8
10
R3
10k
R1
270
R2
270
1OE
12
11
13
9
8
2A
2Y
SN74
LVC125
R4
10k
2OE
4A
4Y
SN74
LVC125
R5
10k
4OE
3A
3Y
SN74
LVC125
R6
10k
3OE
1A
1Y 1Y
SN74
LVC125
R7
10k
1OE
2A
2Y
SN74
LVC125
R8
10k
2OE
4A
4Y
SN74
LVC125
R9
10k
4OE
3A
3Y
SN74
LVC125
R10
10k
3OE
4A 4Y 5A 5Y 6A 6Y
C
l
o
c
k
_
1
C
l
o
c
k
_
2
C
l
o
c
k
_
3
C
l
o
c
k
_
4
C
l
o
c
k
_
5
C
l
o
c
k
_
6
C
l
o
c
k
_
7
C
l
o
c
k
_
8
C7
100 nF
C6
100 nF
C5
100 nF
C4
100 nF
C3
100 nF
C2
100 nF
C1
100 nF
IC1 IC6 IC3 IC7 IC5 IC4 IC2
+
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
7
14
7
14
7
14
7
14
7
14
7
14
7
14
1. This example circuit creates eight clock signals. Designers can adapt it to generate more or fewer clocks and to vary the speed, power-supply levels,
and rise and fall times of the clock signals.
ELECTRONIC DESIGN GO TO WWW.ELECTRONICDESIGN.COM
61
IdeasForDesign
A RECENT DESIGN project required a bright LED flash each
time a 100-s pulse occurred. The pulse repeated every 300 ms.
Because the pulse was so short, driving the LED directly, even with a
transistor driver, created a pulse too short to be seen well. So, I need-
ed a pulse stretcher to increase the LEDs On period to about 1 ms.
In researching solutions, I found that the SN74LVC1G97 con-
figurable multifunction logic gate from Texas Instruments could
be wired in four ways to accommodate inputs and outputs of either
polarity. The figure shows the four configurations and the Boolean
logic equation for each.
Because the inputs are all of the Schmitt-Trigger type, the circuit
can use slow rising (or falling) R-C inputs that allow output pulses
up to several seconds in length. These circuits are all non-retrigger-
able. Any input pulse during the output active period will be ignored,
though holding the input active longer than the output pulse width
will keep the output active until the input pulse goes inactive.
The input pulses can be as short as 10 ns at supply voltages
of 3 to 5 V. The output pulse width is approximately one time
constant: T = R1 C1. Due to manufacturing process variations,
the Schmitt trigger levels may change the output timing slightly
from device to device, but the timing is accurate enough for LED
flashes, relay driving, etc.
Note the addition of Schottky diode D1 in the active-low cir-
cuits. Although the inputs are protected against negative-going
spikes, the positive input spike that occurs when the output
returns high can cause a damaging overvoltage condition on the
input pin. D1 keeps this spike within the safe operating input
maximum of 5.5 V for a 5-V power supply.
Configurable Logic Chip Stretches
Pulses To Brighten LED Flash
JAMES STEWART CAMPBELL, medical design consultant,
received a BSEE from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa., and
an MD from Albany Medical College, N.Y.
JAMES S. CAMPBELL, MD | MEDESIGN, PFAFFTOWN, N.C. jimcampbell@ieee.org
Input
high
Input
low
Output high
Gnd
Gnd
In
R1
V+
C1
3
1
6
In0
In1
In2
I1
Y = IN0 OR NOT IN2
Y = IN1 AND NOT IN2
V+
V+
V
5
Y
4
2
Out
Gnd
Gnd
In
R1
V+
C1
3
1
6
In0
In1
In2
I2
Y = IN1 OR IN2
V+
V+
V
5
Y
4
2
Out
Gnd
Gnd
In
R1
D1
V+
C1
3
1
6
In0
In1
In2
I3
Y = IN0 AND IN2
V+
V+
V
5
Y
4
2
Out
Gnd
Gnd
In
R1
D1
V+
C1
3
1
6
In0
In1
In2
I4
V+
V+
V
5
Y
4
2
Out
Output low
A configurable logic chip, the SN74LVC1G97, can serve as a pulse stretch-
er when the original (input) pulse is too short to perform the required
task. The designer can wire the circuit in four configurations.
flip-flop in the chain is connected to the
D input of the first one, closing the ring
structure of the shift register. By adding or
subtracting flip-flops and three-state gates
to/from the structure and including an
appropriate connection between the first
and last flip-flop, the designer can create
different numbers of clocks as needed.
Connecting low or high signal levels,
respectively, to the PR and CLR inputs
of individual flip-flops during the shift-
ing sequence will determine whether the
circuit will generate a shifting pulse at the
eight output clocks, more parallel shifting
pulses, or a special selected pulse scheme.
The pulses in the selected scheme will shift
also with each step of the PWM signal.
After power-up, a Power-on Reset signal
must be fed to the respective circuit input.
A signal from the PWM signal-generating
microcontroller or another signal source
used for control purposes can be applied.
Figure 2 shows the results from a system
supplying six clock pulses, which are gen-
erated by the PWM signal provided by a
microcontroller (channel 1). Channels 2
through 4 display the resulting signals at
three of the circuits clock outputs that fol-
low each other according to the selected
sequence. The results indicate a clear rela-
tionship between the PWM signal and the
clock output signals.
REFERENCE
1. Das TTL-Kochbuch, G. Becke and E.
Haseloff, Texas Instruments Deutschland
GmbH, 1996.
CHRISTINA OBENAUS is
the owner of IneoS Ingenieur-
Bro Obenaus, a design
company that performs R&D
work for other companies in
electronic and optic design.
She is a diploma engineer.
2. Channel 1 shows the PWM signal used to
generate six clock signals. The three clock signals
on channels 2 through 4 illustrate the relationship
between the input and the clock outputs.
62 03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
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64
Pease Porridge
03.26.10 ELECTRONIC DESIGN
Mailbox
BOB PEASE | CONTRIBUTING EDITOR czar44@me.com
DEAR BOB,
That Electronic Design article (Whats All This
Microsoft Stuff, Anyhow? March 11, p. 80) was
delightfulbrought a big smile to my face. Ive
been with AOL for 14 years, and have encountered
a number of problems in that time, but consider
myself lucky in that most were rather trivial. Now,
McAfee, thats a different story. I hate the way it
sneaks in and overpowers whatever you are doing.
(Uh, yeah... /rap)
Yesterday, McAfee turned on while Retrospect
was doing its daily backup of my files. Normally
when another program interferes, it just slows down
the operation. This time, even the time display of
hours and minutes was stalled to show the time
two hours earlier when the backup turned on. The
computer was frozen, immovable, unreachable,
and had to be reset to reboot. That kicks Retrospect
into a never-start mode, and I had to intervene and
manage my scripts today to get it onto automatic
mode again. But McAfee is free, included with the
AOL service, so I guess Ill keep it. (Free, aha,
but not without terrible cost. /rap)
In another room, I have an old 80386 computer
running on Widows 3.1, with no connection to the
Internet and no need to have an antivirus program.
Its so reliable, its wonderfulboots up in about
30 seconds. It contains two PCL-812 data acqui-
sition cards that I use to run testing on a small
consumer electronics product that I designed. Its
nice to have something you can depend on. Those
cards are twice as long as could be contained in any
modern computer. And the computer can even read
a 5.25-in. floppy disk!
Speaking of old things, did you ever have any
experience with a GEDA analog machine? I cant
say computer because it wasnt programmable
except through patch cords. It was a Goodyear
Electronic Differential Analyzer, with
about 20 high-gain amplifiers that could
be configured into very respectable inte-
grators, since they were serviced by a
rotary sampling switch that looked at
all the amplifiers input terminals in
sequence and fed an amplified correction
signal into the rebalancing inputs to make
the voltage close to zero at the inputs. It
was a rotating chopper-stabilized ampli-
fier system. There were also one or two
analog multipliers included with the sys-
tem for doing nonlinear stuff.
In my first job out of Cornell in 1953, I kept
popping into the lab out of curiosity where the
GEDA was supposed to be working, but it wasnt.
That was at the General Electronics Advanced
Electronics Center near the airport in Ithaca, N.Y.,
which was also a relic of the past. (I never saw, nor
worked on, or heard much about the GEDA. /rap)
I got it working and stayed on call in case the
lab needed any further assistance. Whenever the
system became unstable or went out of limits
where the rotary chopper couldnt handle the sig-
nals, relays were triggered that acted as some sort
of crowbar on the amplifiers to prevent their dam-
age. It sounded just like a room full of mousetraps
gone crazy.
I did help them quite a bit when they needed a
source of white noise to test a simulated missile
guidance system for its response to noise as the
missile approached its target. I set up a bank of
NE-2 neon bulbs as relaxation oscillators. Some
were fed from a positive voltage and the rest from
a negative voltage.
The firing times were random, determined by
the R-C networks charging times. The discharge
currents fed into a common small resistor for all
of them, and the signal across this resistor was the
noise signal fed to the amplifiers.
On a more serious note, back at my regular job
there, I did obtain U.S. patent #3,899,244, along
with Bill Porter for a Frequency Diversity Radar
System or anti-jamming radar. It was classified
Secret for years after issue, and even I couldnt
have a copy until it was declassified.
Years after that I learned in the magazine Ameri-
can Heritage of Invention and Technology that
Heddy Lamarr (the actress) had also obtained an
earlier patent for a frequency diversity radio sys-
tem for submarine torpedo guidance!
J. DAVID PFEIFFER
HELLO, JOHN,
Thats an old story, now well known. Thanks for
writing. And to hell with McAfee! RAP
Comments invited! czar44@me.com or:
R.A. Pease, 682 Miramar Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94112-1232
BOB PEASE obtained a BSEE from MIT in 1961 and
was a Staff Scientist at National Semiconductor Corp.,
Santa Clara, Calif.
Finally
, LTC, LT, LTM, Module and LTspice are registered trademarks
and ThinSOT is a trademark of Linear Technology Corporation.
All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
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