Next-generation power demonstration
STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM) demonstrated a next-generation variation of its smart power technology, which could enable significant power consumption decreases in electronic systems for manufacturing, hybrid-electric-vehicle chargers, power conversion, medical equipment, consumer devices, home appliances, and other applications.
The ultra-low-power semiconductor technology was used as a demonstrator chip for ultrasound scanners that can handle more than one hundred channels, a step on the way to next-generation scanners with thousands of channels. Current chips typically handle eight channels, ST said.
The new technology is a next-generation variation of ST’s BCD (Bipolar-CMOS-DMOS) smart power semiconductor technology that combines SOI (silicon-on-insulator) substrate technology with 0.16-micron lithography. ST said this will enable chip designers to combine high-density logic circuitry (1.8V and 3.3 V CMOS) with full dielectric isolation and a component including power MOSFET transistors that can operate up to 300 V, low-noise devices, and high-value resistors. The result is expected to be ASICs that cannot be implemented using conventional bulk-silicon substrates, ST noted.
Claudio Diazzi, group vice president, technology R&D, STMicroelectronics, noted in the March 28 announcement that the cost of prior low-power solutions “has previously been too high to make them commercially viable” for many applications.
An advanced European Union R&D project, ENIAC (European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council) initiative, prompted the work in which 18 European partners, formed the SmartPM (Smart Power Management in Home and Health) consortium, including ST and other companies and academic institutions from nine countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden. The energy-efficiency advances seem likely to benefit circuit designs and system architectures in applications beyond home and healthcare, including low-power industrial and instrumentation applications.
In separate news, at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, CA, May 2-5, 2011, ST will give away 1500 of its STM32L-Discovery kits based on the ultra-low-power STM32L microcontroller for ST EnergyLite applications, using ultra-low-power STM32L Cortex M3-based microcontrollers. Each kit includes a 6-digit LCD display, one touch-sensing slider, two LEDs, one user button, current measurement, and the embedded debugger ST LINK/V2. Numerous applications are available to learn, reuse, and modify code for rapid proof-of-concept or demonstration. Other kits available from ST include STM8S, STM8L, and the STM32F.