Thursday, October 20, 2016

Energy harvesting in mobile phones brings battery and wireless charging boost

I talked with a very interesting startup that is looking to use RF energy harvesting to capture all the energy wasted in an RF link. Putting an antenna on the back of a phone or tablet can capture that energy, and also provide free space wireless charging up to 5m. Marc Chen at Radient Micro-Tech explains more about how it works and how it will be used:

Harvesting RF energy for longer battery life and free space wireless charging | EETE Power Management:

By Nick Flaherty

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Power news this week

This week's Power News from EETimes Europe

. Smart storage startup raises $85m to build a virtual power station

. Collaboration to boost reliability of silicon carbide intelligent power modules

. Semi-solid lithium ion cells start commercial tests

. Full sized battery-powered helicopter takes flight


. High-current EV charging with 400 A comes within reach

. Silicon anode spinout targets batteries with 50 per cent more energy

. Photovoltaics and energy storage threads for smart fabrics

. Stacked perovskite solar cell tops 17% efficiency


. Complete and qualified PLC modem platform has fully integrated software

. 150 V power MOSFETS drive move from TO-220 to SuperSO8 packages

. 700W medical ATX PC power supply: CCC and KC certified

. AC/DC open-frame PSU outputs 40W from 4.5 sq in footprint



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Vorago and IAR target harsh embedded environments

By Nick Flaherty

IAR Systems is now providing a safety-critical code development flow for a new embedded microcontroller that can operate in harsh environments. 

The VA108x0 microcontrollers (MCUs) from VORAGO Technologies are based on the ARM Cortex-M0 core and are designed specifically for harsh environments with radiation and extreme temperature (-55° to 200°C), in industries such as aerospace, automotive, industrial, oil and gas, and space. Based on VORAGO’s patented and proven HARDSIL technology, the VA108x0 MCUs provide developers with robust embedded solutions that reduce development complexity and power consumption, while increasing reliability and longevity.

“Many of our customers have requested the possibility to use IAR Systems’ software tools in their development, and we are delighted that our MCUs are now supported in IAR Embedded Workbench”, says Ross Bannatyne, Marketing Director, VORAGO Technologies. “The combination of VORAGO’s extreme temperature and radiation resistant MCUs and the powerful toolchain IAR Embedded Workbench will enable companies to create many robust and high-reliable applications in the near future.”

The IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM is a complete C/C++ compiler and debugger toolchain and includes a functional safety version certified by TÜV SÜD according to the requirements of IEC 61508, ISO 26262 and EN 50128.

Support for VORAGO’s VA108x0 MCUs is available now in the latest version of IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM. More information about the tools and free trial versions are available at

Power news and exclusive interviews this week

Full sized battery-powered helicopter takes flight


Monday, October 10, 2016

CEVA looks to push ARM out of IoT chip designs

By Nick Flaherty

CEVA has launched a lightweight, multi-purpose, processor IP core to streamline the design of cellular-enabled low data rate industrial and consumer loT devices. 

The CEVA-X1 IoT processor deploys a single-core DSP+CPU architecture, specifically designed to address the severe size, power and cost limitations demanded for deploying the latest LTE Cat-M1 (formerly eMTC) and Cat-NB1 (formerly NB-IoT) standards as well as future FeMTC and 5G cellular IoT use cases.

“The CEVA-X1 is a first-of-its-kind processor, custom designed to address the unique and diverse needs of connecting the IoT ecosystem," said Michael Boukaya, vice president and general manager of the Wireless Business Unit at CEVA. "Our deep knowledge in cellular and wireless connectivity allowed us to develop the industry’s lowest power processor for cellular IoT, and ensure outstanding performance for any other IoT related standard.”
The CEVA-X1 also serves as a multi-purpose, multi-mode processing hub for a range of tightly-associated IoT workloads, including Wi-Fi 802.11n, 802.11ac, Bluetooth/BLE, Zigbee/Thread, LoRa, SIGFOX, narrowband voice, GNSS and sensor fusion. Crucially, the CEVA-X1 can handle multiple processing workloads simultaneously, allowing developers complete flexibility to tailor their system to meet the requirements of any IoT use case.

“The 3GPP’s recent launch of the Cat-M1 and Cat-NB1 standards paves the way for billions of IoT devices to connect via the cellular networks in the coming years," said Will Strauss, President of Market Research Firm Forward Concepts. "The CEVA-X1 IoT processor addresses the stringent power, cost and performance constraints of this new wave of low data rate devices, offering a compelling solution upon which to develop multi-mode IoT products for this burgeoning market.”

The latest core derived from the NEW CEVA-X architecture framework, the CEVA-X1 employs an extended Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) that, in addition to DSP processing, also allows it to efficiently handle CPU software workloads, such as protocol stack and system control. Comparing EEMBC CoreMark scores, a commonly used benchmark to measure the performance of CPU processing in embedded systems, the CEVA-X1 CoreMark/MHz score of 3.3 is on par with the most commonly used CPU for IoT stacks - the ARM Cortex-M4 - which achieves a CoreMark/MHz score of 3.4. 

This effectively eliminates the requirement for a separate CPU core in the system when using the CEVA-X1, providing significant cost, power consumption and ease-of-programming benefits of a single-core approach.
The CEVA-X1 also enables further differentiation through CEVA-Connect, its advanced system control interface to offload the processor using dedicated control and data plane hardware, and automate traffic management between the CEVA-X1 and CEVA or customer proprietary hardware accelerators such as the Cat-M1 Turbo decoder.

Illustrating the use of the CEVA-X1 for low data rate, multi-purpose IoT devices, in a wearalone smartwatch use case, the complete Cat-NB1 modem including protocol stack and PHY running concurrently with GPS requires less than 150MHz, including ample headroom to handle additional functions such as sensor fusion. This exceptional performance is achieved using the CEVA-X1 together with optional dedicated Cat-NB1 instructions, optimized software libraries, protocol stacks and a peripherals subsystem which reduce the power consumption of the Cat-NB1 modem, excluding RF, by a further 30%.

The CEVA-X1 IoT processor and the optional dedicated Cat-NB1 components are available for licensing now. For more information on the CEVA-X1, visit

Linear drives Advantech's IoT network roll out

MicroEJ looks to drive its OS into IoT designs via SIGFOX networks

By Nick Flaherty

Operating system developer MicroEJ has teamed up with Witekio (formerly Adeneo Embedded) on a demonstrator for the SIGFOX low-power wide-area network.

The partnership aims at offering Witekio’s system software integration services to customers using the MicroEJ OS for cloud connected IoT designs. The software runs on an ARM-based board fromST Microelectronics.

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  • The design is a geolocation system that illustrates how the SIGFOX LPWAN can be used to collect and store location data of connected objects. The demonstrator includes an embedded device prototyped on STMicroelectronics STM32F7 evaluation kit running MicroEJ OS and connected to the SIGFOX network through a SigBee radio module. Dedicated embedded applications were developed for MicroEJ OS: a system configuration app, a graphical user interface for live positioning, a system interaction app for triggering position recording through a GPS module, and a data push app for pushing location data over the SIGFOX network. Published location data is stored on SIGFOX network backend infrastructure. Data can be collected and observed on a user-friendly map from a mobile application running on Apple iOS or Google Android tablets and smartphones and connected to the SIGFOX backend.

    “This project demonstrates how MicroEJ solutions can be used to create connected and interactive applications for cost-effective embedded and IoT devices in record time thanks to MicroEJ OS and associated development tools,” said Fred Rivard, CEO of MicroEJ.

    Witekio started 15 years ago under the name Adeneo Embedded, as a precursor of complex and connected embedded systems. Witekio is an embedded software expert with a system level approach, engineering and integrating intelligent systems software for any device from the hardware to the cloud from both low (OS, driver, firmware) and high level software (application, connectivity, cloud).

    Friday, October 07, 2016

    Wireless medical sensor design looks to spin off into industrial and IoT applications

    By Nick Flaherty

    ST Microelectronics and HMicro have teamed up to develop the industry’s first single-chip solution for clinical-grade, single-use disposable smart patches and biosensors. The product, HC1100, targets the 5 billion wired wearable sensors, such as those for vital-sign monitors and electrocardiogram leads, used each year.

    The companies are now looking to move this technology into industrial applications for the Internet of Things (IoT). 
    The HC1100 chip is the first to be based on HMicro's WiPoint technology and a purpose-built silicon platform jointly created by HMicro and ST. This embeds three ultra-low-power radios for Wi-Fi, Ultra-wideband, and Medical Band (MBAN), multiple sensor interfaces, an ARM Cortex M0 application processor, 352kB of RAM, and power-management circuits on a single chip. 

    The dual-core ARM Cortex M0 architecture uses ST's ultra-low-power design technology and wireless-connectivity IP to ensure reliable operation. The multi-sensor interfaces support monitoring of heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and respiration, as well as the capability to interface to MEMS micromachined microphones and motion MEMS sensors that could be used to monitor and detect patient behavior via activity recognition. 

    The HC1100’s patent-protected specifications meet key requirements for mission-critical products and functions that demand ultra-high reliability through a robust wireless connection suitable for high sensor-data accuracy.

    “Disrupting the current wired protocols of multi-monitor use is where we believe the IoT can be most effective in the medical and industrial settings,” said Surendar Magar, CEO and co-founder of HMicro. “Creating and developing a fully optimized, unique silicon platform makes possible the conversion of high-volume sensors to the equivalent wireless, disposable sensors. We aim to seamlessly cut the body wires in current clinical settings while maintaining the same clinical procedures and monitoring equipment.”

    “A decade ago we started the MEMS revolution by offering ultra-low-power cost-effective micro sensors to the consumer market. Now, together with HMicro we are merging ultra-low-power wireless connectivity with a high-resolution analog front-end and the best processing portfolio based on ARM platform,” said Benedetto Vigna, EVP and GM of STMicroelectronics’ Analog and MEMS Group. “The HC1100 is the first product of the new wireless sensor family that can find application whenever ultra-low-power RF and highly accurate sensor interfaces are needed.”

    Thursday, October 06, 2016

    AT&T starts pilot IoT trial using LTE Cat-M

    By Nick Flaherty

    US network operator AT&T is to start a pilot trial of LTE Cat-M technology for the INterenet of Things (IoT) next month n San Francisco. The trial brings together technology from Altair (Sony), EricssonQualcommSierra Wirelessu-bloxWistron NeWeb (WNC) and Xirgo Technologies.

    LTE-M technology will connect a wide variety of IoT solutions such as smart utility meters, asset monitoring, vending machines, alarm systems, fleet, heavy equipment, mHealth and wearables. This will provide lower cost modules with a battery life of up to 10 years and better coverage for IoT devices underground and deep inside buildings.
    "We have pulled together players from across the ecosystem to pilot solutions for a myriad of industries and applications," said Chris Penrose, senior vice president, Internet of Things Solutions, AT&T. "LTE-M will provide a unique combination of enhanced coverage and longer battery life with carrier-grade security. It's part of our strategy to offer the widest range of IoT network options to our customers." The company plans to roll the service out in the US commercially next year.

    Other participants in the pilot will include:
    Badger Meter – analyzing how the LTE-M network, which is dedicated to supporting the IoT, may be used to enhance communications for smart water devices.
    CalAmp – exploring how the LTE-M network can help companies more efficiently manage their connected vehicles and assets.
    Capstone Metering – demonstrating how LTE-M can improve Smart Cities sensor technologies. It will look to increase battery life and improve connectivity and sensor monitoring for underground smart water meters.
    PepsiCo -- examining and testing ways that sensors can improve the in-store experience with smart vending solutions for the thousands of PepsiCo products consumers love and enjoy.
    Samsung – evaluating an LTE-M-based solution to enhance performance for consumer solutions. This may include wearables or other consumer devices.

    Wednesday, October 05, 2016

    Flexible batteries boost embedded design options

    By Nick Flaherty

    Batteries aren't very flexible. If you twist them, they tend to lose their charge, and that is a major problem for embedded designers looking at wearable systems who have been restricted to button or even AAA cells. This limits how small the designs can be.

    Now Panasonic has developed a new flexible battery that is just half a millimetre thick and retains its charge through 1000 twists, allowing wearables to be powered more effectively. The details, at EETimes Power, also show the weight varies from 0.7g to 1.9g, helping designers with lightweight systems.

    The family of 3.8V rechargeable batteries ranges from 17 mAh to 60 mAh and can retain their characteristics even after repeatedly bent into a radius of 25mm or twisted to an angle of 25 degrees. The battery can maintain more than 99% of its initial capacity after 1,000 bends with a radius of 25mm, or after twisted 1,000 times with an angle ±25°/100mm

    This comes from a newly developed laminated outer layer and newly developed internal laminate structure and stacked electrode, where Panasonic has filed 25 patents from the development.

    STMicro looks to WiTricity for wireless charging in industrial and IoT applications

    Interesting move from ST Micro as it teams up with WiTricity to put wireless charging into a wider range of applications, embedded it into IoT and industrial devices.

    WiTricity is part of the AirFuel Alliance, which competes with the Wireless Power Consortium's Qi specification. Using magnetic resonance has advantages in industrial applications as it can be used with metal bodies systems which is a challenge for inductive charging.

    WiTricity teams with STMicro for AirFuel wireless charging chips | EETE Power Management:

    By Nick Flaherty

    Tuesday, October 04, 2016

    This week's power news

    Thisweek's power news from EETimes Europe

    . Full sized battery-powered helicopter takes flight

    . Energy harvesting power management chip startup starts production

    . Acquisitions impact power chip vendor rankings

    . First fully integrated DDR memory power chip for industrial and automotive

    . 15W Qi wireless transmitter takes on wired chargers


    . Stacked perovskite solar cell tops 17% efficiency

    . Flexible battery retains charge after twisting in wearable designs

    . Water-cooled braking resistor increases vehicle energy efficiency


    . High current 780W power interface module for ATCA applications

    . 1500W modular power supply series has lowest acoustic noise and full MoPP isolation

    . Sofware-less fan motor drivers simplify appliance design


    Power Trends: Customization and consolidation drive the market - Excelsys Technologies

    Power Trends: Heliatek on a roll

    Intersil looks to 48V opportunities after takeover


    Digitally-enhanced analogue power controllers improve support for battery charging and DC-DC converters

    Switch design kit is aimed at self-powered IoT

    Single chip for rugged wireless charging of wearable devices

    Half-Bridge 600A IGBT module gives flexible and reliable power conversion

    Single chip for rugged wireless charging of wearable devices


    The promise and challenges of LED lighting: a practical guide

    New Nordic Engineering: Battery powered wireless sensor networks

    Linear Technology: How the Internet of Things Can Take Advantage of Wireless Charging & Energy Harvesting

    Intersil: A smarter way to power wearables

    SiLabs: CMOS isolated gate drivers enhance power supplies


    High Integrity Software conference; Nov 1st, Bristol, UK

    Electronica adds hall to dedicate two to power

    Monday, October 03, 2016

    Linear drives Advantech's IoT network roll out

    By Nick Flaherty

    It's nice to see two embedded companies join forces to simplify the Internet of Things (IoT).

    Board and gateway maker Advantech is using SmartMesh IP networking from Linear Technology (now part of Analog Devices) to enable wireless mesh connectivity for industrial IoT applications with its open standard M2.COM sensor platform. This pushes Advantech down to the node level, working with its gateway devices and cloud services. 
    The M2.COM platform combines wireless technology, a microcontroller unit (MCU) and networking capability with a standardized interface for sensors. The inclusion of SmartMesh IP mesh networks on this platform offers customers the opportunity to embed wire-free mesh communications into their industrial IoT solutions. 

    The SmartMesh IP mesh networks (developed by Dust Networks) are based on the 6LoWPAN standard and the global IEEE 802.15.4 standard, and include a pre-compiled networking stack that delivers >99.999% network reliability at ultralow power. This is particularly important for industrial IoT applications, where wireless sensor networks may be deployed in harsh and remote environments. 

    M2.COM was launched earlier this year to create an open and standardized sensor platform to simplify and accelerate IoT sensor applications for makers and sensor manufacturers. Target applications include outdoor wireless sensors, wireless measuring instruments such as CO2 meters and pH meters, agriculture moisture sensors, sensing/tracking devices for supply chain/logistics, and intelligent wireless controllers that allow remote management for things such as street lighting, traffic signals and waste management.

    “In order to help our customers bring their IoT solutions to market faster, it is important for us to provide a standardized module interface with the flexibility to support industrial strength wireless mesh connectivity,” said Miller Chang, Vice President of Advantech Embedded Computing Group. “Linear Technology’s SmartMesh products are well recognized in the industry for their robust performance, ease of integration and world class low power consumption. We are pleased to be able to offer this important wireless IoT connectivity option to our customers as part of the M2.COM standard product line.”

    “Advantech’s M2.COM open platform has the potential to accelerate the adoption of IoT in industrial applications,” said Joy Weiss, President of the Dust Networks product group at Linear Technology. “We look forward to working with Advantech to promote the use of SmartMesh IP mesh networks as a wireless connectivity option of the M2.COM platform.”

    ZTE Selects IDT's 50Gbit/s RapidIO chips for next generation wireless basestation designs

    By Nick Flaherty

    Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE is to use the new RapidIO 10xN interconnect chips from IDT for its new generation of wireless base stations. The IDT chips, members of the recently introduced RXS switch family, will enable the ZTE systems to evolve and meet the ever-growing need for greater capacity and scalability over the coming years.

    IDT's prior generation RapidIO switches are used in virtually every 4G LTE phone call and download made today.

    "The data being pushed and pulled over networks is growing at an extraordinary rate, so when we were building our latest wireless base stations, we were careful to select components that can grow and meet future demands," said Tian Sen, chief engineer of ZTE's Baseband Unit Department. "IDT RapidIO switches are ubiquitous in the communications field, and this new generation of switches delivers significantly better performance, preparing us well for the systems of tomorrow."

    The 50Gbps RapidIO interconnect enables efficient communication with deterministic latency for use in LTE, next generation LTE-A and 5G systems. These system architectures require communication between many heterogeneous processing components, including ASICs, FPGAs, and processors connected through a RapidIO fabric.

    IDT's RXS switches exceed the latest RapidIO 10xN specification and deliver more than twice the performance of IDT's previous generation of switches. In addition to 4G LTE-A and 5G, the RXS switches are ideal for applications with intensive bandwidth and low latency requirements, such as mobile edge computing, high-performance computing, and data analytics.

    "More than ever, our network customers are requiring low latency and greater scalability and capacity for their systems," saidRon Jew, general manager in IDT's Computing and Communications Division. "The new RapidIO RXS switches can play a significant role in helping ZTE maintain its leadership position in wireless infrastructure."

    Related stories

    Top stories for September show shift in IoT

    By Nick Flaherty

    The market is shifting from hype about the Internet of Things to implementation and tackling concerns about security.

    The technology for the IoT has always been akey element,and the prospect of low power magnetic MRAM memory has definitely caught the imagination of developers, leading the way for the top stories last month. Security also plays a much stronger role, from the node to the network. Artificial intelligence moving to the IoT node is also an interesting trend, but the Renesas takeover of Intersil highlights the many other areas of embedded design that are important. With a potential Qualcomm/NXP/Freescale deal in the wings, the battle to dominate the market for silicon in embedded designs continues.

    13 Sep 2016


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