My favourite product

My favourite productTechnical specialist distributors put one of their most innovative lines in the spotlight The power behind the button?
Almost every mains power supply should be based on the TOPSwitch family from Power Integrations, according to Sequoia product manager Craig Lowe.
The trouble is, that designers often just re-use existing power supply designs, without realising that they can now create something much smaller, much cheaper to build, that runs cooler and is much more efficient.
As an illustration of what can be achieved, Sequoia and one consumer electronics giant started from a blank piece of paper with a power supply design for one system, and managed to cut the materials cost alone by ?3. This saving came from reducing the total part count by over forty compared with an earlier generation design.
To show just how small a power supply can now be, the surface mount TOP210 can be used to create a 4W universal input power supply for stand-by applications in less than 1.5 inches squared with only 12 components. Setting the Scenix
Ambar Components’ latest exclusive UK representative and franchised stocking distributor deal is with two-year old Californian start-up Scenix Semiconductor.
According to Simon Phillips, Ambar Components managing director, we are extremely excited about our new partnership with Scenix, one of the most exciting semiconductor start-ups in recent years. The technology is very promising and offers enormous growth potential. With up to ten times the performance of the other 8-bit MCUs, the SX Series will enable our customers to address applications previously limited to much more expensive 16- and 32-bit MCUs.
Scenix Semiconductor was founded in 1996 and announced its first silicon, the SX series of microcontrollers in August 1997. The SX Series is a family of 8-bit MCUs that deliver up to 50 MIPS of processing power.
As Philips points out, this unequalled performance enables system designers to use “virtual peripherals”, software implementations of functions that otherwise require dedicated and costly hardware, such as timers, UARTs, A/D converters, and I/O controllers. The software code for these functions occupies a small portion of the on-board flash EEPROM and requires relatively little of the MCU’s resources for execution.
The SX architecture contains 43 instructions, including 33 that are designed to be object-code compatible with the PIC16C5X series MCUs, enabling designers familiar with PIC to quickly become productive working with the SX Series. Flint’s great value micro
With OTP parts at just 85p – and mask for only 50p, Holtek’s HT48 8-bit Risc micros provide such value that designers sometimes become suspicions, claims Doug Gilmour, marketing manager at Flint Silicon.
However, they compare very well in terms of performance with much more expensive devices – and are supported with low cost and easy to use development tools. In combination with other Holtek parts, they can yield a remarkably low cost system: an ‘electronic key’ can be achieved with a silicon cost of sub ?1 using the HT48 together with Holtek’s rolling encoder. By adding Holtek’s DTMF chips, you have the bones of a telephone handset at the same budget.
Holtek has designed its micros as low cost, high performance solutions especially for battery powered applications. Key features include operation down to 2.4V, a halt/ wake up function, an interrupt controller, and a system clock that can be derived from a crystal or RC network. Getting a fix on GPS
Demand for GPS is set to expand dramatically in the next five years, particularly in automotive applications, and the SiGEM portfolio offers the most straightforward route into this market, says Trevor Cullen, managing director of Broadband Technology.
The communications specialist distributor is particularly optimistic about its recently announced GPS (global positioning system) franchise. We have already recruited a high-speed GPS design engineer to ensure that expert, board-level design support is readily available for our customers, says Cullen.
Canadian firm SiGEM’s product portfolio was developed in conjunction with STMicroelectronics.
It includes what Cullen calls, the industry’s smallest 12-channel GPS receive module, the SGM5600S.
Measuring just 89mm by 33mm by 8mm, this 30-pin SIMM implementation provides genuine “plug and play” connection to remote patch antennas.
In addition, the module, which operates from a single 3.3V or 5V supply, features a “warm start” time of just seven seconds, ensuring reliable performance even in demanding, urban-based automotive navigation applications. Power without isolation
Acal Power Solutions recently saw a gap in the market for DC-DC converters where the customer did not need isolation.
However, says Acal’s Steve Sessions, as non isolated converters, particularly at higher current ratings, were not available through distribution, customers were having to pay for isolation they didn’t need.
Acal has recently signed as a distributor for Power Trends, a US company that is well established in the market for linear regulator replacement devices, typically rated at 1-2A and with an input voltage of 5V. However, over the last year or two Power Trends has been introducing ranges of non-isolated converters offering wide input voltage ranges coupled with high current-handling capability.
By avoiding the use of isolated devices, designers can save both money and board space. The performance and reliability of the Power Trends non-isolated converters are similar to, or better than, isolated devices, but the ?/W ratio is between a half and one third, as there is no cost overhead for unnecessary isolation.

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