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EETE FEBRUARY 2013

Taking a new direction with analog By Paul Buckley With the introduction of the MCP19111 single chip solution, Microchip is claiming the world’s first digitally enhanced power analog controller. The company has integrated an analog-based PWM controller with a fully functional Flashbased microcontroller to offer design engineers the flexibility of a digital solution with the speed, performance and resolution of an analog-based controller. The launch of the mixed-signal device marks a key development for Microchip and according to Stephen Stella, Microchip’s Product Marketing Manager Analog & Interface Products, it indicates a new direction for Microchip’s Analog division. “Although Microchip is best known for microcontrollers we do have a significant analog group,” explained Stella. “Microchip is known for being profitable. After all we have achieved 88 quarters of consecutive profitability. The Analog division has helped that profitability and started around the 2000/2001 period when we acquired a company by the name of Telcom Semiconductor that gave us a fundamental start to our analog portfolio. The Analog business has grown steadily since 2001 but in the last two years we have seen a significant growth in analog revenues”. There are currently 28 product lines within Microchip’s analog portfolio which cover a wide array of analog-type peripheral devices that surround the microcontroller. The company now has more than 830 products in the Analog business portfolio and the number is growing rapidly. “The key ones in our linear group include a very broad array of operational amplifiers that are used in sensor-type applications,” explained Stella. “However, power management is becoming a key investment area for Microchip.” “Seeing this growth Microchip’s leadership team has continued to invest in analog technology and analog design, the outcome of which are new products like the digitally enhanced power analog controller and new processes that we are developing”. Stella continued: “Microchip’s standard analog strategy has been historically supporting the microcontrollers business. As the Microchip microcontrollers are designed in products, there are a lot of components that go around them to enable the microcontroller in its application. Historically our analog strategy has been to attach ourselves to the microcontroller be it as amplifiers or ADCs or LED drivers or power MOSFET drivers. What the analog development team does is to enable the microcontroller to do what it needs to do in a particular application. We are now expanding the scope of that strategy not just to Microchip microcontroller type applications but also to stand-alone full analog applications”. “We recognize that there is an integration path on the microcontroller side where a lot of the simplistic analog capabilities are being pulled into the microcontroller. Even though the requirements intensify it still makes sense to do things outside the microcontroller. If you look at an A-to-D conversion then it is clear that for some 24-bit super highspeed A-to-D converter the process technology needed to handle that does not necessarily match up to the process technology needed to support an 8-bit micro. Most of Microchip’s 8-bit business is in simple embedded controllers”. “At least 90 percent of our products are for one-stop shopping,” suggested Stella. Stephen Stella, Microchip’s Product Marketing Manager Analog & Interface Products takes Microchip’s Analog division into a new direction. “Microchip has not historically been an innovation leader in the analog space. In the past, the developments have been really to supplement the microcontrollers that we have. But now we are starting to do new and interesting things that no one else is doing. As we take those enabling technologies we are starting to focus more on six core application areas”. These core application areas are power and flow metering (which relates to power monitoring and energy metering); smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; PC/laptops/servers and gaming; consumer type devices; temperature measurement; and power supplies. “Each one of these applications is a power management sub-application,” explained Stella. “All of them use and need power management type devices and all of them have unique requirements. We have recognized this and have started to put applications support behind them to leverage all of the strengths and capabilities and products within Microchip to develop valuable solutions for our customers.” “There is an application need for Microchip to support higher voltage technologies,” advised Stella. “We want to start building that into our portfolio. That has opened us up to some higher power applications so we went to driving higher current and that made us look at how we should support higher current applications. And as you extend into even higher power applications then efficiency becomes more and more of a key factor. So we need to look at how we can make solutions that enable our customers to achieve higher efficiency in their target applications”. “The high level application areas being addressed by the new digitally enhanced power analog controller will focuses on computing, consumer and communication,” explained Stella. “These are DC-to-DC point-of-load type of applications. Microchip has its dsPIC device on the digital serial controller side which handles power levels The MCP19111 digitally enhanced power analog controller. 14 Electronic Engineering Times Europe February 2013 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE FEBRUARY 2013
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