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Qualcomm is also under investigation by the European Commission, which is investigating whether Qualcomm has engaged in “tied selling” of 3G and 4G mode chips as well as whether it has engaged in “predatory pricing.” One of the issues that the KFTC has highlighted is that Qualcomm bases its percentage royalty rate on the value of the equipment it’s technology is embedded in, but also demands that individual chip companies should be licensees. The KFTC states that this violates Korean competition law. ARM, for example, calculates royalties for its technology based on the price of the SoC processor in which it is included and the SoC vendor is the licensee. In its statement Qualcomm states that “device licensing” is a worldwide industry norm and that it has been doing this for almost two decades. However, some observers reckon that Qualcomm’s on-off relationship with Samsung could have a bearing on the outcome of the investigation. Qualcomm was a long-time supplier of Snapdragon application processors to Samsung before, earlier this year, Samsung decided to go exclusively with its own Exynos 7 Octacore processor in the flagship Galaxy S6 smartphone. Meanwhile, Qualcomm’s finances have started to falter. Qualcomm has hopes that its Snapdragon 820 could be included in next year’s Galaxy S7 smartphone and maybe others but it is notable that Samsung has just rolled out its own Exynos 8 application processor. “We intend to vigorously defend ourselves at the Commission hearings and remain hopeful that the Commission will reject the conclusions of the Examiners Report. We expect the process to take some time,” Qualcomm states. However, it seems likely that neither South Korea nor Europe will be satisfied with a deal with Qualcomm any less beneficial than that obtained by China. And the more those deals chip away at Qualcomm’s licensing base the harder it is for the company to make money in the uber-competitive mobile-phone market where it appears that self-builders such as Apple and Samsung are winning the day. Printable lightweight body temperature sensors PBy Paul Buckley rofessor Takao Someya and Dr. Tomoyuki Yokota’s research group at the Graduate School of Engineering have developed a printable, flexible, lightweight temperature sensor that shows a high change in electrical resistance of up to 100,000 times across a range of five degrees centigrade which allows accurate body temperature measurement without additional complicated display circuitry. The key to the sensor is the ability to precisely control the target temperature of the sensors. The sensor is composed of graphite and a semicrystalline acrylate polymer formed of two monomers, molecules that bond together to form a polymer chain. The target temperature range at which the sensor is most precise can be selected simply by altering the proportions of the two monomers. The research group achieved target temperatures between 25 and 50 degrees centigrade, with response times of under 100 milliseconds and a temperature sensitivity of 0.02 degrees centigrade. The device was also stable even under physiological conditions, providing repeated readings up to 1,800 times. Startup CircuitSeed wants to be the ARM of analogue By Julien Happich Founded last summer after two years of preliminary research and with several patents pending, Californian startup Circuit Seed embarks father and daughter cofounders Bob and Susan Schober onto a licensing quest for their sub-micron CMOS-based analogue circuits. The two founders describe their inventions, Complementary Current Field-Effect Transistors (CiFET) as a charge-mode analogue CMOS circuit design relying on a slightly different read-out strategy, with a focus on looking at what the charges are doing in the device. An approach involving what they call an additional current port input (iPort) for each MOSFET gate. This charge controlled port provides a bidirectional current sink/source without analogue extensions. The new technology, they claim, could scale down alongside digital circuits process nodes, potentially replacing most add-on analogue circuits and fulfilling the Holy Graal of full mixed signal SoC integration at any node. The two co-founders documented a 3‐Stage CiFET feed‐forward amplifier, yielding a 20-bit accuracy in linearity and gain and say they have proven their design methodology with several analogue blocks within a 40nm die, including amplifiers, ADCs and phase lock loops, with scope for operation under 0.1V. Running at logic speed, the circuits are self-biasing, and are not subject to parametric changes, according to the authors, while amplifiers could be boasting gradual gains up to 10,000 and a dynamic range up to 1010. “The smaller we go, the better the results are”, emphasized Susan Schober, insisting that in principle, CiFETs are scalable down to any digital node. Umbrella company InventionShare is now looking for licensing partners to license Circuit Seed circuit designs as an alternative to traditional low power analogue devices. In principle, as they sit on top of 100% digital parts and because they are only subject to the limitations of digital design rules, the analogue blocks proposed would be easier to automate through EDA tools, pending analogue circuit libraries are offered pre-configured and parameterized for a given process. They would also be highly portable, from one node to the next. With the right licensing deals for what they call a revolutionary technology, CircuitSeed’s founders hope to become the ARM of analogue design, no less, moving analogue components from PCBs to SoCs. 8 Electronic Engineering Times Europe December 2015 www.electronics-eetimes.com


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