New-Tech Europe Magazine | Q1 2021
16 3D Power Packaging for Low Power DC/DC converters 20 Imec increases focus on industry- ready sensor and actuator developments 24 "How Software Configurable Hardware Helps for Flexibility in Industrial I/O Modules" 28 Is code inflation going to ruin your dev operations, and what does compilation time have to do with it?
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8 l New-Tech Magazine Europe
10 LATEST NEWS 16 3D Power Packaging for Low Power DC/DC converters 20 Imec increases focus on industry-ready sensor and actuator developments 24 "How Software Configurable Hardware Helps for Flexibility in Industrial I/O Modules" 28 Is code inflation going to ruin your dev operations, and what does compilation time have to do with it? 32 With the surging ransomware attacks in the Middle East, this is how you keep the threats at bay 34 Solving automotive electrification challenges with a modular approach to a 48V power architecture
38 OUT OF THE BOX 40 NEW PRODUCTS 50 INDEX
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New-Tech Magazine Europe l 9
Telia and Ericsson first to trial 5G carrier aggregation in the Nordics
To support Telia’snationwide5G rollout with further enhanced capacity, coverage, and speed, Telia and Ericsson have launched the first successful 5G carrier aggregation trial in Norway. Customers can now look forward to an even better 5G user experience.
with 50 percent of the country projected to have coverage by the end of 2021. Espen Weum, Acting Head of Infra, Telia Norway: “We are very proud to together with Ericsson be the first in the Nordics to successfully test 5G carrier aggregation. With this new technology, our mobile and FWA customers will
As part of Telia’s ambition to bring nationwide 5G coverage to Norway by 2023, Telia and Ericsson have
experience enhanced capacity, coverage, and speed on our fast-expanding 5G network. We will begin to roll out carrier aggregation in our network as soon as we have completed the on-going testing phase.” “Initial test results from our Lillestrøm trial show an increase in 5G coverage of over 50 percent in the 3.6 GHz band, which really shows the potential of 5G carrier aggregation. We will also be able to considerably improve indoor coverage with this solution”, he continues. “We are very pleased to be supporting Telia’s ambitions for a better-connected world with our technology. As a game-changer for utilizing valuable mid-band spectrum, 5G Carrier Aggregation will help meet the growing demand for mobile data and give Telia’s customers access to more bandwidth at greater speed,” says Daniel Ode, Head of Global Customer Unit Telia Company, Ericsson.
initiated a 5G New Radio (NR) TDD-FDD carrier aggregation for coverage extension trial in Lillestrøm, a town located next to Oslo, the capital city of Norway. To drive optimal 5G user experience, carrier aggregation will enable Telia to maximize its existing spectrum and extend coverage in the mid-band frequencies (3.6 GHz), boosting capacity and increasing peak throughput for faster data speeds. With the successful trial, Ericsson and Telia demonstrated the revolutionary nature of 5G carrier aggregation. The solution further enhances the 5G user experience by extending coverage of the mid-band TDD bands using the uplink of the FDD band. With 5G Carrier Aggregation, the download speed further out in the cell was significantly improved. Alongside the trial, Telia and Ericsson are already making progress toward Telia’s 2023 goal and are expected to deliver 5G to 19 more cities by mid-2021,
BAE Systems acquires Pulse Power and Measurement Limited; an independent developer of high-end electronics
Pulse Power and Measurement Limited (PPM) and BAE Systems have today announced that BAE Systems has acquired PPM, an independent developer and manufacturer of high-end electronics. Pulse Power and Measurement Limited (PPM) and BAE Systems have announced that BAE Systems has acquired PPM, an independent developer and manufacturer of high- end electronics. PPM’s technology has the potential to increase the speed
and ease of sharing large volumes of data over a network, giving users greater ability to exploit that data. As volumes of data grow, this ability is crucial to give military and security customers an information advantage. Based in Shrivenham with approximately 60 employees, PPM specialises in the design and manufacture of a wide range of radio frequency (RF) over fibre systems, which allow radio frequency signals to be transmitted over fibre optic cables. The company also provides bespoke systems
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Martin Ryan, Managing Director, Pulse Power & Measurement Ltd: "PPM will become a wholly- owned subsidiary of BAE Systems, retaining the name of Pulse Power & Measurement Limited." This acquisition is part of BAE Systems’ strategy to develop breakthrough technologies, with continued investment in research and development, working with our customers,
for the renewable power industry and electrification of automotive and aerospace vehicles. PPM has a strong track record of working within the defence and communications sector, cyber security and commercial test and research markets in both the UK and USA and it strongly complements BAE Systems’ digital and data capabilities. Together the
cloud platforms, to launch their transformative solution. The venture produces high image quality and high energy efficiency for AI inference nodes, benefiting a wide range of applications in industrial automation, smart devices, smart retail, and others. Innovative AI Edge Device Cuts Costs and Delivers Faster Performance Leopard Imaging has been working to address the need for affordable multiprocessing power in deep learning applications. Using Socionext’s SC2000 image signal processor and the Hailo-8™ M.2 AI acceleration module, Leopard Imaging’s industry partners, SMEs and academia, and pursuing bolt- on acquisitions where they complement existing capabilities and provide an opportunity to accelerate our position in key areas. The latest move builds on recent acquisitions such as Prismatic, Techmodal and two high end technology acquisitions in the US, as we continue to strengthen and evolve our portfolio towards customer priorities and future growth areas. PPM’s technical excellence, developed over 25 years, has earned it a reputation for quality and reliability in the Satellite and Broadcast markets by providing innovative RF and fibre optic products used in the ground based communications segment. Amongst its wide range of capabilities PPM provides pit lane and car telemetry in Formula 1, specialist measurement equipment for aircraft clearance, and high performance electronic sub-systems for power trains on electric vehicle and aerospace platforms.
Delivers Next-generation AI Processing Solution for Video Analytics Leopard Imaging Inc. (Leopard Imaging), a leading global provider of embedded camera design and manufacturing, is collaborating with three leading companies to deliver EdgeTuring™: a next-generation artificial intelligence (AI) processing solution for video analytics. Leopard is working with Hailo, an AI chipmaker for edge devices, Socionext, a leading provider of advanced system-on-chip (SoC) solutions for imaging and video systems; and Amazon Web Services (AWS), one of the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted companies have a shared goal to expand the use of RF systems and power electronics technologies across a range of applications for military and commercial customers. Pulse Power and Measurement Limited and BAE Systems are an excellent fit; both companies have superb technology credentials, thrive on innovation and work closely with military and government customers to deliver pioneering technology-based solutions. The acquisition further advances our strategic objective to develop and grow our capabilities in secure systems and information exploitation. Ian Muldowney, Chief Operating Officer and Engineering Director, for BAE Systems’ Air Sector: "We are excited about joining BAE Systems and bringing together our complementary capabilities which will give our innovative team of specialists and engineers access to world-class expertise and ensure our successful business continues to grow."
Leopard Imaging Collaborates with Socionext, Hailo, and AWS to Launch EdgeTuring™
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EdgeTuring™ consumes less power, performs at a higher level, and ensures greater reliability for video analytics and privacy at the edge than alternative solutions. Leveraging AWS services such as Amazon Kinesis Video Streams and Amazon Kinesis Data Streams (Amazon KDS), EdgeTuring™ creates a seamless experience for customers to stream and analyze videos using a simple internet connection.
significantly reduce operating costs—increasing precision and improving reliability. “We are excited to work with Leopard Imaging, Socionext, and AWS to bring unprecedented AI-based products to the edge market,” said Orr Danon, CEO and Co-Founder of Hailo. “As demand for AI at the edge grows, our innovative AI processor and acceleration modules, together with
Source - Hailo
the solutions created by these industry leaders, will help usher in a new generation of AI that is more powerful, more scalable, and more cost-efficient.” “It’s a pleasure to announce our strategic collaboration with three global leaders in the AI solutions space,” said Takuji Nukiwa, President at Socionext America. “When it comes to edge technology, our new generation of chips enables more capabilities, and these new capabilities lead to new opportunities. The transformation of edge technology ushers in a new wave of smart industries that will continue to evolve and grow with the changing technologies.” AWS provides coverage connected by high throughput, low latency, and highly redundant networking, which allows EdgeTuring™ to combine the advantages of both edge computing and cloud computing to achieve more functions in more applications. The field of AI computing solutions is thriving and involves applications for broader markets that rely on high data rate, fast processing, low power consumption, and low latency. For example, smart cities need numerous cameras to produce video streams that need to be quickly processed, meaning every millisecond counts. Presenting in real time on the production floor means a more effective and efficient process—leading to higher quality outputs and reducing operational costs.
“EdgeTuring™ has an accuracy ranging from 95% to 99% for several state of the art deep learning – based computer vision applications, such as object detection, image classification and others. Additionally, it processes frames much faster, supports more functions, consumes less power, and costs much less than any comparable solution—all with the ability to stream inputs in real time,” said Bill Pu, President and Co-Founder of Leopard Imaging. “We believe that this strategic collaboration will help us carve a new path forward in the AI-driven camera industry. We want to break away from the status quo and embrace these opportunities to adopt new AI solutions.” Launched just last year, the Hailo-8TM enables customers to integrate high performance AI capabilities of 26 Tera Operations Per Second (TOPS) into edge devices, providing a more flexible solution for accelerating a wide range of deep learning-based applications with high efficiency—optimizing time to market with a standard form factor. A comparison between the Hailo-8’s average Frames Per Second (FPS) with competitors across multiple standard NN benchmarks (based on the latest published figures) shows that Hailo’s AI modules achieve up to 26x higher FPS rate. Leopard Imaging has previously launched various high-definition embedded camera products with AI solutions. By creating more efficient processes and solutions, their products have helped
Powell Electronics signs European deal with EMC leader, P&P Technology
Innovative range of EMC gaskets, honeycomb shielded vents and silicone solutions available ex-stock in Europe Powell Electronics, the supplier of connectors and more for high- rel applications including defence, aerospace and industrial, has signed a Pan-European franchise distribution agreement
with P&P Technology, one of Europe’s leading and most trusted manufacturers of radio frequency and EMI screening products. As well as providing highly-effective EMC solutions, P&P also offers very fast turnaround on custom parts and competitive pricing.
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and shielding products on the market, offering high degrees of attenuation. They are also very responsive, offering fast turnaround and short leadtimes, and can be up to 30% more cost- effective that other producers.” Added Lewis Richmond, Sales Manager for P & P Technology: “Most of our products are custom- fabricated so it is important that we have a distribution partner
Powell is stocking a broad portfolio of P&P
Technology’s EMC products at state-of-the-art warehouse facilities outside Dublin, Eire. Included in the range are EMC gaskets which fit all standard connector profiles, ‘honeycomb’ EMI shielded vents and air filters, and filters produced using oriented wire in silicone rubber that combine excellent environmental protection with a high level of shielding effectiveness. Commented Powell Electronics’ European MD, Gary Evans: “P&P offers one of the most extensive ranges of EMC filtering
that is able to provide technical design-in support and be very flexible. With the opening of its new European HQ and warehouse, Powell is the perfect partner for P&P.”
Siemens and MaRS partner to accelerate innovation for startups in development of autonomous and connected vehicles Partnership offers MaRS
capabilities such as data management, advanced simulation, and manufacturing software. MaRS understands these needs and challenges and strives to provide foundational services to their startup community that enable development and growth. “Through this partnership with Siemens, we will provide our community with access to
start-up community access to industry-leading Siemens design and simulation software Siemens Digital Industries Software and MaRS Discovery District, a Toronto-based innovation hub, have partnered to provide over 1,400 Canadian science and technology companies with access to Siemens’ Xcelerator™
portfolio of software and services to support and accelerate the development of autonomous and connected vehicle technologies. The design and simulation software can help companies in the MaRS ecosystem conduct early design development and advanced verification of autonomous function and performance systems. Startup companies are at the forefront of engineering and product innovation and they encounter similar complex design challenges as their larger counterparts, so it’s vital that they build a foundation of digital technology that enable expansion and growth as company needs evolve. Most startups begin with core CAD and CAE technologies but evolving product complexity, for example the quantity of parts and design complexity, often require additional
a complete autonomous vehicle software platform for complex system design, from ideation through realization,” said Oshoma Momoh, chief technical advisor at MaRS. “This industry-leading technology will help our community to speed innovation in the area of autonomous and connected vehicle development, which is a key focus area for MaRS. Siemens’ support for the startup community can help remove barriers, transforming engineering ideas into successful products that will benefit the future of mobility in Canada and around the world.” The partnership offers MaRS clients access to multiple solutions of Siemens’ Xcelerator portfolio including: Solid Edge® software for 3D CAD, simulation, and
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design management, NX™ software for advanced high-performance 3D computer aided design (CAD), the Teamcenter® portfolio for product data and lifecycle management, Simcenter™3D software for fully integratedCAE addressing multidisciplinary product performance engineering, Simcenter™ Prescan™ software for advanced simulation of autonomous systems, helping to reduce field testing and expand coverage over infinite possible real-world scenarios. Other solutions of the Xcelerator portfolio will also be made available as needed and requested. MayaHTT, a long-time Siemens partner with unique expertise in addressing complex technical challenges from chip design to full vehicle system validation will support MaRS companies with software deployment and training services. “The rise of autonomous and connected vehicles is changing the way the vehicles are designed, manufactured and tested. This emphasis on agile development cycles requires
new partnerships and collaboration across the supply chain,” said Jamie Dinsmore, Vice President and Country Manager, Canada at Siemens Digital Industries Software. “We are proud to partner with MaRS to empower Canadian startups by providing data management and simulation tools they can use from the beginning of their journeys, which can enable traceability, collaboration and early design validation that can improve product delivery and success.” For further information on Siemens’ solutions for startups, please see here. Siemens Digital Industries Software is driving transformation to enable a digital enterprise where engineering, manufacturing and electronics design meet tomorrow. The Xcelerator portfolio helps companies of all sizes create and leverage digital twins that provide organizations with new insights, opportunities and levels of automation to drive innovation. For more information on Siemens Digital Industries Software products and services, visit www. sw.siemens.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
A&D and automotive sectors saw double-digit sentiment growth in Q4 2020, says GlobalData
possible production ramp-up and the return of Boeing’s 737 Max. Not to mention that positivity around defense expenditure is likely to have driven sentiments for defense companies.”
The aerospace & defense (A&D) and automotive sectors had the highest earnings transcript sentiment growth in Q4 2020 verses Q3, according to the filing analytics database by GlobalData, which identified a respective 13% and 12%
On the other hand, the automotive sector witnessed adverse impacts due to COVID-19 in Q2 2020. However, pent-up demand in Q3 and Q4 2020 seems to have moderated the declines. Pereira adds: “GlobalData does not expect light vehicle production to reach pre-COVID levels until 2023. That said, themes such as sustainability and electric vehicles influenced sentiments in Q3 and Q4 2020. It is also evident from the fact that with several companies facing uphill battles. Tesla is in the driving seat, gaining multifold in its market cap.”
growth. Rinaldo Business
Fundamentals Analyst at GlobalData, says:
Source - Company Filing Analystics Database
“Stoppage of travel and stay-at-home orders had lasting effects on commercial aerospace. Discussions around ‘production’ and ‘supply chain’ issues in the A&D sector rose by over 25% in 2020, compared to 2019. However, defense expenditure did not face declines in 2020, according to GlobalData’s A&D market database, and is likely to grow by around 7% in 2021. “In Q4 2020, the A&D sector witnessed around double- digit sentiment growth due to the positivity around Airbus’
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COVID-19 triggers multi-million euro in contracts for Polytex’s automated hygienic workwear management solution in France and Spain
Sales in both countries have nearly doubled in the past 12 months as hospitals install Polytex technology to combat contamination. Major hospitals are adopting and expanding use of the company’s fully automated workwear management solution Israeli workwear management company Polytex Technologies has witnessed explosive growth in the
customers, who quickly adapted Polytex’s service in order to increase hygiene and lower operating costs. The Frenchmarket haswitnessed phenomenal growth as well. Over the past twelve months, Polytex has won contracts at major French hospitals in Rouen, Rennes, Pithiviers, Dax, Poissy, Ajaccio and at a large hospital laundry service in the Paris region. This is in addition
Yariv Matzliach CEO of Polytex. Photo – Benny Gam Zo Letova
Spanish and French markets over the past year with multi- million euros in new contracts. The trend is continuing in both markets. Seven new hospitals throughout France and additional hospitals in Spain will be installing for the first time or expanding their use of Polytex’s solution that provides improved protection for health workers, which has become even more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the technology leads to a significant operation efficiency with reduction in inventory levels and therefore lower expenses on uniforms. Spain is currently the third largest market for Polytex outside Israel and France the fifth. The pandemic triggered a 90% increase in sales in Spain and a similar increase in France. Two significant projects for Polytex were recently closed in Spain. One is the the extension of Polytex’s project with the Bellvitge University Hospital, near Barcelona, and the second is a new project for the Servicio Navarro de Salud (SNS), which will equip the operating rooms of the Navarra Hospital, the Virgen del Camino Hospital, and the Reina Sofia Hospital with systems for the management of pajamas and clogs. Polytex entered the Spanish market in 2007 and Spain has already become the company’s third country of reference in volume beyond the borders of Israel, only surpassed by the United States and Germany. More than 200 systems have been installed to serve more than 50 clients distributed throughout the country. The pandemic has led to a strong increase in sales, of which 40% comes from existing customers, who needed to increase their capacity to meet the increase in clothing consumption, and the remaining 60% were new
to the eight hospitals and a pharmaceutical industrial site in various parts of the country, which have already installed Polytex’s workwear and scrubs management solution. Hospital managers in both countries report that the Polytex system helps to simplify the distribution of workwear and led to a 40% on average reduction in expenses on uniforms and laundry. The actual volume of workwear needed was reduced substantially as was the amount of storage space required. The Polytex solution is fully automated and enables hands-free dispensing and collecting of individual uniforms. The system itself is sealed, keeping garments in a clean environment that is opened only by laundry professionals during collection and restocking. The system is available on a 24/7 basis and often installed at multiple locations enabling staff to receive and return garments in seconds, thereby avoiding unnecessary crowding. Refilling the machines with fresh clothing is very quick and takes only a couple of minutes. The units can also be moved to special temporary wards dedicated to infectious diseases like COVID-19. The Polytex automated system is backed by a centralized cloud-based management and monitoring applications for end-to-end tracking. “In the past year we have nearly doubled our sales in both Spain and France as the global pandemic has made hygiene an even more critical issue for hospitals,” said Yariv Matzliach, CEO of Polytex. He added that “both countries are currently among our largest and most strategic markets in Europe with tremendous growth potential in the coming years.”
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3D Power Packaging for Low Power DC/DC converters
Matthew Dauterive, DC/DC Product Manager RECOM
Low power non-isolated DC/DC switching regulators and isolated converters need to be cost-effective, despite ever-increasing demands for better performance and improved power density. Manufacturers have responded over time with many form-factors that leverage low cost manufacturing, often with a minimal component count with transformers and inductors hand-soldered to traditional PCBs. Tominimize the PCB footprint, through-hole SIP versions are often used, though they can complicate the assembly, requiring mixing of wave, or even hand soldering with the reflow process for the other SMT components used on the board. Although millions of this style of through-hole DC/DC converter are sold each year, a long-term goal for RECOM has been to develop versions which can be handled,
placed and soldered like any other modern SMT component, but also with a low profile to match today’s slim-line products. However, the footprint must still remain small to realize the advantages of a module over a discrete design. To achieve this, non-isolated DC/DC switching regulators and isolated converter modules have to utilize the Z direction by integrating 3D assembly techniques. The evolution of low power surface-mount DC/DC packaging The first SMT DC/DCs on the market were simply versions of potted through-hole types with the leads bent into ‘gull-wing’ shapes. These could not withstand a regular reflow soldering profile, so often still required hand assembly. A natural progression was to switch to a
package using an internal leadframe with high melting-point solder joints which was then injection- molded with material that could withstand IR-reflow temperatures. However, lead-free soldering raised peak soldering oven temperatures to over 300°C, causing difficulties with the reliability of internal joints and anyway, the lead-frame plus injection-molding technique only allowed for the inclusion of a few discrete components in the simplest of circuits, any IC being difficult to include. Since then, manufacturers have moved to open-frame converters to avoid any reflow soldering problems, accepting that the internal component solder joints would reflow again, but stay on their substrate. SMT pin terminations have varied from gull-wing to blocks and pillars to solder balls and more recently land grid arrays. This has
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become standardized as the DOSA format for higher power SMT converters, with multilayer internal boards and planar magnetics, but also with the expectation that airflow is available for full output power. As modules, these products have a clear advantage over discrete solutions which could not easily fit in the same footprint. At low power however, cost considerations rule- out expensive multi-layer boards and components so the hunt for an ‘IC style’ solution continued. Non-isolated DC/DC switching regulator use has proliferated in ‘buck’ or ‘step-down’ formats, initially often replacing the traditional ‘three-terminal’ linear regulators, but now used widely as higher input voltage Point-of- Load regulators, providing a set of precise low-voltage rails for highly integrated ICs such as CPUs GPUs and SoC devices. Again, to confer a benefit over discrete solutions, a DC/DC switching regulator should occupy the absolute minimum footprint and height and run cool while meeting the exacting regulation and noise requirements of modern ICs. To achieve this small size implies high efficiency, which traditionally has meant low switching frequency and a consequently large output inductor – exactly the opposite of what’s needed. However, improved semiconductors, converter topologies and magnetic materials have allowed frequencies to push into the MHz range while maintaining excellent efficiency with a small integrated inductor. This has allowed converter designers to be creative with the packaging and achieve astonishing miniaturization, even with an integrated inductor Isolated and non- isolated package technologies vary
Figure 1: Flip chip on leadframe construction in the RECOM RPX series
which utilizes plugged and blind vias for good thermal conductivity and efficient use of the available space, along with an integrated inductor. Construction is a four- layer PCB enclosed by six-sided metallic shielding for low EMI. This type of construction is low profile, but needs a little over 1.4 cm² of real estate to allow proper heat dissipation in order to deliver full power at ambient temperatures exceeding +85°C. The advantage of the RPMB/ RPMH design is that the complex construction is all inside the module. The end-user can use a low- cost two-layer PCB without using expensive plugged vias, yet still be able to utilize a high performance, very compact, SMT on-board power supply without resorting to forced air (fan) cooling. There are three RPM series available, all with identical pad designs so that they are interchangeable:
in the package. For example, the RECOM RPX series has a footprint of just 4.5mm x 4mm and 2mm high in a QFN package, yet provides up to 2.5A of output current at a peak efficiency of over 90%. The 1A version is even smaller, just 3mm x 5mm x 1.6mm high. This power density is achieved with a low-cost flip-chip on leadframe and integrated-inductor construction with over-molding, with the added benefits that the tight switching current loops generate very low EMI, along with high power density and optimized thermal performance, in a QFN package, that cannot be matched by a discrete solution. At higher powers, the RECOM RPMB/RPMH series are examples of 30W buck or step-down DC/DC switching regulators in a thermally- enhanced 25-pad LGA package 11.7mm x 12.19mm x 3.75mm high. This power density is achieved with a multilayer internal PCB
Series Input Voltage Range Output Voltage Output Current Options RPM Up to 15V Up to 17V 3.3V or 5V, trimmable 3.3V or 6V, trimmable 1A, 2A or 3A 6A
3.3, 5, 12, or 15V, trimmable 3.3, 5, 12, 15V or 24V, trimmable
RPMB Up to 36V
2A or 3A
RPMH Up to 65V
Figure 2: Summary of RECOM RPM/RPMB/RPMH series specifications Evaluation boards are also available to permit rapid prototyping or to confirm the performance in the end application.
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The examples described so far have been non-isolated DC/DC switching regulators. When safety agency- rated isolation is required, necessary creepage and clearance distances define a minimum X or Y dimension. For example, in medical applications with mains system voltages, 8mm creepage is required between input and output for two Measures Of Patient Protection (2MOPP). Given this minimum packaging dimension, a more traditional approach can be taken, with an internal die for a power and control IC wire-bonded to a DVE SOIC-16 leadframe, then conventionally over-molded, such as in the RECOM R05CTxx part. The transformer in this DC/DC converter is a proprietary, very low profile, planar-type design, achieving 5k VAC isolation voltage and reinforced, 2MOPP isolation. The overall height of the part is only 2.65mm, making it suitable for card-type applications as the height of the isolated DC/DC converter is no higher than all of the other SMT components. The RECOM R05CTxx delivers 500mW with 5V input and 5V or 3.3V outputs and is particularly suitable for powering isolated interfaces, in critical medical and industrial applications offering full line and load regulation with an external enable input. The goal of making low power
Figure 3: Half watt isolated DC/DC in an SOIC-16 package
non-isolated DC/DC switching regulators and isolated converters IC-like is now largely achieved using a combination of innovative 3D packaging and integrated- inductor technologies, with further improvements to performance and power density expected in the future. RECOM has a range of products that represent the state- of-the-art in 3D DC/DC converter packaging in modern formats such as QFN and SOIC-16. An evaluation board is available, showcasing the products mentioned in this article, which can be ordered at www.
recom-power.com/3dpp (Figure 4). RECOM is an Austria-based power conversion company with a global design and manufacturing infrastructure,withmultiple locations in Europe, Taiwan and China. RECOM lowers supply chain risk for its customers with representation by major distributors round the world, offering comprehensive logistics and technical support.
References  RECOM: www.recom-power.com
Figure 4: An evaluation board showcasing latest RECOM DC/DC packaging technology
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Imec increases focus on industry-ready sensor and actuator developments Paul Heremans , IMEC
The large number of sensors and actuators in industrial equipment or mainstream household devices is hard to ignore. Visual and touch interfaces are omnipresent on industrial equipment, as well as all kinds of sensors that tell exactly what is going on inside the machinery. A bit like the evolution in household printers, guiding you step by step whenever a sheet of paper gets stuck or an ink cartridge needs replacement. Nowadays, even an electrical toothbrush comes with OLED screen and Bluetooth connectivity. Imec internally reorganized and upgraded its activities on sensor and actuator technologies to better cater to the evolving needs of this growing industry. A shift towards higher TRL levels in combination with more pro-active developments
on specific applications are amongst the strategies, as Paul Heremans, vice president sensors and energy technologies at imec, explains. Market trends The number of sensor and actuator devices in industrial and consumer devices has never been so high. The industrial-sensors market exceeded $20B in 2019, according to a report by Global Market Insights. The demand in sectors such as manufacturing, energy&power and healthcare will push global shipments of industrial sensors above three billion units by 2026. A staggering number, and at the same time only half of what is observed in the imaging industry. IC Insights estimates image-sensor shipments to surpass six billion units in 2020 already. Which might not come as a
surprise knowing there’s an average of more than three cameras in each smartphone nowadays. Key to back these immense growth numbers are the scalability of the sensor and actuator devices and their building blocks. Scalability in terms of ‘manufacturing capacity at acceptable cost’ and scalability often also in terms of ‘downscaling their form factor to fit into embedded or mobile devices’. Take for example a high-end infrared camera. Depending on the desired specs, its current price point can go up and around ten thousand euros. Which puts it within reach of only a limited number of application areas such as military and space. Once similar capabilities can be integrated at the fraction of the cost (and size), an explosion of new markets and use cases can happen in industries
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such as life sciences, security, instrumentation, agrofood… The current approach to use III-V materials and flip-chip assembly will not be sufficient to reach the necessary miniaturization and cost- efficient manufacturing goals. For this to happen, upscalable CMOS- based technology on 200 or 300mm wafers is an indispensable enabler. Aside from these quantitative targets, the industry is also looking for new modalities and additional ways to integrate sensor and actuator solutions. For example, but not exclusively, to get certain applications within closer reach of a larger number of end users. A good example is Apple’s integration of a light-detection and ranging (LiDAR) scanner in the iPad Pro 11. The trends in mobile displays can be taken as an example to get an idea of the possibilities in a wide range of applications. OLED displays are becoming the dominant technology for mobile phones and watches. There is barely a need to further increase the resolution (~500ppi in the state of the art), but the trend is to make the display as large as the screen, i.e., to remove all visible bezels. As a consequence, the sensors that are integrated in the front screen need to disappear in the display: ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, selfie camera, fingerprint sensor, face recognition, heartbeat. Furthermore, we may expect in the future more sensors to find their way in the display, e.g. an integrated 5G antenna, or haptic feedback. And as the smartphone is becoming the prime personal assistant, there is a trend to integrate in particular more health- monitoring sensors, such as an
Figure 1: By processing a thin-film multilayer stack with photoactive layer sensitive in the infrared range (right), on top of a Silicon readout circuitry (ROIC), imec created an IR-sensitive CMOS imager (left) compatible with mass manufacturing.
both by leveraging on the available semiconductor expertise. As for new modalities, the development of a short-wave-infrared CMOS camera is a good example of a recent achievement. In 2019, imec demonstrated a camera- integrated solution allowing Si- based CMOS sensors to detect short-wave infrared wavelengths that are normally out of reach
oxygen saturation sensor, glucose sensor, analyzer for allergens, etc... And this is ‘just’ about smartphones. Similar scenario’s can be depicted for almost all other application areas as well. Technology enablers Imec’s focus is twofold: to enable miniaturization and to develop new sensor and actuator modalities;
Figure 2: Imec develops integrated touchless interfaces based on ultrasound-based haptic feedback.
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for them because of physical and optical laws. Scale-down was shown at IEDM 2020. Thanks to imec’s approach and expertise, such short- wave-infrared cameras can soon be made in high volumes and at much reduced cost compared to today. Another example is imec’s work on photo-acoustic imaging. In photo- acoustic sensing, a light source sends radiation of a specific wavelength into a sample, where absorption causes thermal expansion. This results in sound waves that can be picked up by a sensitive microphone. Photo- acoustic systems have a benchtop- size today and have been shown to be extraordinarily sensitive. They for example allow to non-invasively measure blood-glucose levels – or the concentration of analytes in other contexts - with extreme precision. By using semiconductor technologies, imec aims to integrate ultra-sensitive microphones and light sources with high spectral purity onto a chip; and, as such, bring photo-acoustic sensing to the next level. On a somewhat related topic, imec is also using acoustics, ultrasound in this case, for haptic- feedback systems. Haptic feedback is an emerging human-machine interface, in which a machine can ‘touch’ its operator by triggering mechanoreceptors in the human skin without physical contact. This adds a new dimension of ‘touchlessness’ to currently available user interfaces and can play a critical role in the low-touch economy which is expected to emerge post-COVID-19. At the heart of the first-generation of haptic-based interfaces are bulky piezoelectric ultrasound transducers, which are cumbersome in use,
knowledge and insights of what these promising markets might need. Two of those domains could certainly be life sciences and industrial equipment. For those, there are numerous potential applications for sensor and actuator technologies and they are close to imec’s application-oriented R&D divisions. In life sciences, one could think of all kinds of optical and acoustics- based system enhancements for diagnostics and surgery and leverage can be created via imec’s life-science technologies division. Also, the entire industry 4.0 vision relies on sensor and actuator enabled solutions and can internally build on imec’s unique ecosystem of equipment suppliers. But also other sectors will be investigated. For example, agrofood, the focus area of imec’s OnePlanet initiative, could benefit from e.g. integrating SWIR cameras on drones for crop monitoring or using ultrasound technology to monitor fruit ripening. And in waste management, short-wave infrared or other electromagnetic waves can be used to sort plastics that are difficult or impossible to distinguish in visible light. And as soon as imec’s sensor and actuator engine is oiled and running in these business-to- business sectors, it won’t shy away from consumer-electronics domains either.
impede a very fine interaction and limit end-product integration possibilities. Imec’s ambition is to develop a dense array of one or more ultrasound transducers types in large area format to modulate the output power and precisely focus the ultrasound beam in mid- air at distances ranging from few centimeters to tens of centimeters. Imec technology moves up the TRL ladder As becomes apparent through these examples, compatibility with semiconductor manufacturing always inherently enables scalability, often goes hand in hand with miniaturization and often with improved performance as well. Looking at the traditional building blocks of an electrical system (processing, memory, connectivity, input/output), imec is world-leading in each of them and now reinforces its focus on the sensor and actuator technologies that enable the system input and output. The new internal strategy builds on two main foundations. It is more proactive in the technology development for high-potential application areas and takes these selected technologies towards a higher technology-readiness level. Until now, imec was in its sensor and actuator developments mainly focusing on its underlying capabilities (e.g. ultra-low power electronics, thins-film technologies, imagers, microfluidics), and generic integration capabilities. In the new strategy, imec will keep strengthening its capabilities and - on top of that -be more proactive in developing prototypes and system demonstrators based on its own
Paul Heremans, IMEC
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How Software Configurable Hardware Helps for Flexibility in Industrial I/O Modules Hakan Uenlue, Senior Field Applications Engineer , Analog Devices
Whether used for a process control installation or an industrial automation system, an I/O module or a field junction box has a variety of unique challenges in the whole product life cycle. Product management faces decisions on how many channels and which combinations will be necessary for each product. Electronic designers must decide how to implement the best performance and cost-efficient system for various analog or digital signals in the projects. Installation technicians can be overwhelmed by all the different products and numerous wiring schemes. Wouldn’t life be easier if we could design a system with the ultimate flexibility against such difficulties? Analog Devices’ new product family of software configurable input/ output (SWIO) ICs achieve this goal by supporting literally any function
and any combination on any pin at any time. For an industrial programmable logic controller (PLC) or distributed control system (DCS) in process control or factory automation, end- customers and applications have differing requirements. For product managers to define the correct product, strategy and optimization is a huge task.1 One end-customer may require more analog output channels, such as 4 mA to 20 mA, while another one asks for more digital inputs. Or the same customer can ask for more analog channels for one platform, whereas the other platform requires more digital channels. Examples of this dilemma are shown in Figure 1. As Industry 4.0 rises, manufacturers need flexible systems that can quickly and easily adapt to changing requirements, all driven by shifts in
consumer behavior and demand. As a result, they can no longer rely on fixed, large-scale systems designed for mass-market products and predictable demand. Instead, flexible systems that can be reconfigured quickly with minimal downtime and capital investment are required. SWIO components enable their channels to be programmed, not only as input or output, but also as analog or digital. Furthermore, they can be efficiently set up for reading 2- or 3-wire RTDs or thermocouples. Software configurable I/O also acts as a bridge to Ethernet-based control networks, as it can further be applied to brownfield installations requiring updates to 10BASE- T1L Industrial Ethernet systems. It enables the development of standardized, configurable field I/O units capable of translating between
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