Page 14

EETE OCT 2013

ARM is for control Returning to the topic of the mobile equipment motherboard, Bagherli stressed that an understanding of the fundamental role of IC manufacturing process technology helps guide product and strategy decisions at Dialog. In essence, three types of IC tend to serve as focuses for further integration on the mobile motherboard: the digital domain (dominated by the application processor), the RF domain (dominated by connectivity chips), and the analog and high-voltage domain, where PMICs are key and often sweep up audio and other circuits, such as LED drivers for screen backlights, into one or a few ICs. “I don’t want to produce something that Qualcomm or Broadcom could just integrate out of existence in the next generation of apps processor.” Instead of pursuing the digital domain, Dialog plays in the analog, HV, and connectivity domains. The need to support multiple voltages -- and use a BCD manufacturing process -- is one reason PMICs are set to have their own place on the motherboard for years to come. It would not be economical (or even possible from an integration standpoint) to build an application processor in a BCD process for the sake of integrating the multiple voltage converters required for a cellphone or tablet. However, it is possble to add some digital circuitry to the PMIC, which is about to go through a revolution as software programmability starts to be included. Dialog took a Cortex-M0 license from ARM in March 2012. (See: Dialog licenses Cortex-M0, moves ARM into PMICs.) The fruits of that work will come to market soon. The PMIC talks to the power management core inside the application processor about providing about the voltages needed. Up until now, that has been done using state machines. However, with the move to quad-core and big-little application processors, power sequencing and sleep and hibernation modes are getting too complex, Bagherli said. As a result, PMICs will have to start running software. That said, the first Dialog chips to use the ARM core will be a fuel gauge IC and a intelligent charging controller IC. The fuel gauge is specified to measure the amount of charge within a battery to within 1 percent, Bagherli said. These separate functions are likely to be integrated within the PMIC in a year to 18 months. MEMS the word But consideration of Bagherli’s three domains model of mobile manufacturing processes reveals one key part of the mobile phone that also resides within the analog and HV circle; MEMS and sensors. “This is something we are very interested in. Particularly something like MEMS sensor fusion where you can use algorithms to turn sensor data into useful information,” Bagherli said. The method of engagement is likely to be an acquisition, similar to the acquisition of iWatt, Bagherli agreed. “Our engagement would be fabless but we have to find a way to differentiate ourselves,” he said. “We have worked in research partnership with SiTime on stacking their MEMS an oscillator for crystal replacement on top of our PMIC.” “We have a very open door to startups. We have invested in Arctic.” Bagherli also agreed that MEMS technology could have a neat fit with energy harvesting and back into power supply and power conversion. “We’re working on a Bluetooth chip to run off solar power. We’re already at half the power and half the size of the competition,” he said. Dialog also has research engagements on novel multi-touch touchscreen technology. Dialog has a range of analog, mixed-signal, power and RF product categories for mobile and power efficient use and ambitions to get into many more. But when asked what the difference is between Dialog now and Dialog as it was in the first half of the last decade Bagherli reckons that previously Dialog was too European in its perspective and looked for customers too close to home. The technology now is much the same as it was, although it has developed. The engineers are much the same as they were, although there are about 800 more of them. The main difference is that Dialog started thinking and competing globally. Under Bagherli Dialog attacked the mobile device market and Dialog’s boat has floated up on the rising smartphone and tablet computer tide. Bagherli sums the difference up in one word: ambition. Of which there still seems to be plenty. Multi-chip LED headlights adapt to driving situations By Christoph Hammerschmidt carmakers now can more easily implement Advanced Forward Lighting Systems (AFS) - systems that adapt their illumination direction to the direction of the bend when driving through curves. With the Osram Ostar Headlamp Pro, Osram Opto Semiconductors has developed a specific LED component for this particular implementation. The five chips of the multi-chip LED can be individually controlled and thus flexibly switched on and off according to the driving situations and positions of other road users. The device uses sensors and electronic components for high beam light without glare by flexibly concealing areas within the light cone of the headlight according to the specific driving situation and with dynamic adaptation to the positions of other road users. Likewise, adaptable cornering light and spot light can be implemented for illuminating possible obstacles at the edge of the carriageway. A distinct bright-dark contrast of 1:65 between illuminated and non-illuminated chips is required to achieve a sufficiently efficient lighting profile. This means that concealed chips must be genuinely dark and must not be illuminated by their adjacent chips. An integrated shutter also enables a clearly defined light beam from the headlight. 14 Electronic Engineering Times Europe October 2013 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE OCT 2013
To see the actual publication please follow the link above