Electronica 2014 – Latest News Roundup

electronica 2014A concise roundup of the latest news from around Electronica 2014, which runs 11-14 November in Munich, at the Messe Munchen.

At Munich? You are welcome to meet the Electronics Weekly team at stand Hall A6 Booth 569. (If you drop by you can pick up a free copy of the magazine, but there are also a couple of competitions running.)


Dev kits, bootstraps and IoT, Europe is changing

Mouser builds design community around NI MultiSIM Blue

Industrial Ethernet kit has pre-loaded stacks

Electronica: Fraunhofer to reveal 10Gbit/s in-car network, and IoT receiver

Electronica: What to see at the show, part I

Electronica news: What to see at the show, part II

Electronica news: What to see at the show, part III



Alun Williams

Dev kits, bootstraps and IoT, Europe is changing

electronica 2012The internet of things (IoT), industrial automation, robotics, wearable tech and 3D printing will no doubt be high-profile trends at Electronica this year – and all present huge opportunities for growth in the electronics industry, writes Richard Curtin.

Visit the team at Electronics Weekly’s stand in Hall A6 – 569

However, with new electronics trends seemingly appearing ever more frequently and the traditional boundaries of the industry blurring, it’s becoming clear that simply focusing on the distribution of components alone is no longer enough for a distributor to survive.

Instead, engineers and purchasing professionals are looking to the distribution industry to supply everything that they need to innovate and see their designs through to production. They want information, research, products, collaborative working and manufacturing services all in one place.

Crucially, modern customers are looking for pre-developed packages of technologies that they can integrate directly in to their projects. These solutions are vital if they are to cut costs, reduce the number of suppliers they work with and shorten their time-to-market. This makes sense when considered in the context of the complex technology that enables most modern trends.

Take the IoT, for example: developing an IoT project from scratch would require designers to understand and make decisions about communication standards, radio equipment and interoperability issues before focusing on their build. This is valuable time not spent creatively working out new solutions to the specific challenge they’ve set out to overcome.

This is why designers are becoming increasingly interested in purchasing pre-created design modules to bootstrap their projects, handling the basic technology set-up and allowing them to focus on innovation.

This expanding remit of what businesses in our sector should offer has opened up a host of new opportunities, but it has also had a significant impact on how businesses in the European market operate. A year ago my conversations with suppliers would typically be about how many components from their latest product offering we hoped to add to our catalogue. Now we talk to their product development teams directly and work with them to add value through new product offerings that are able to support customers in a variety of applications.

These relationships are vital to anyone hoping to take advantage of the opportunities. Ever evolving trends, technologies and approaches to design mean that businesses supplying these packages need to listen to their customers and respond, creating new solutions that suit their needs.

This requires close links with suppliers and, as in our case strategic acquisitions like Embest, CadSoft and AVID, that strengthen the broader proposition to support development projects through design, test and manufacture.

Together, these changes are seriously disrupting the dynamics of design, distribution and supply in the European electronics market. Customers are no longer approaching designs in the same way and they expect to be supported right from the start of the design process all the way through to production.

For the business that can carefully approach this in the right manner – and listens to its customers – a host of exciting new opportunities are there for the taking.

Richard Curtin is global director of strategic alliance at Farnell element14


richard wilson

First 1kV integrated power switch

Fairchild FSL4110LR Fairchild has integrated a 1kV power switch, claiming it to be the first in production.

In an ac-dc converter chip called FSL4110LR, the switch is a VDMOS SenseFET (BVDSS=1,000V).

The IC also includes a PWM with built-in line compensation for a 45 to 460Vac input range, input over-voltage protection, and a safe auto-restart mode for all protection conditions.

Maximum output power is 9W (Vin 85-460Vac), and 4W down to 45Vac

Fairchild FSL4110LR block“Fairchild’s power switch is the only solution of its kind that provides ‘abnormal over-current protection, which protects the power converter from transformer abnormalities and is particularly important for smart metering applications,” said Fairchild v-p Gaurang Shah. “With the world’s highest breakdown voltage, the FSL4110LR is an excellent solution for any designer implementing flyback converters that need to meet three phase input voltage or unstable single phase input voltage requirements.”

Fairchild FSL4110LRPWM operating frequency is 50kHz within a few percent right across -40 to +125C, with random fluctuations to reduced measured EMI, plus there is a burst mode. Power can come from self-biasing or from a bias winding.

Current limiting is pulse-by-pulse, and thee are further protections for: overload and over-hot die (with hysteresis). Under-voltage lock-out is included.

Applications are expected in smart meter, appliance and industrial systems.

Fairchild is exhibiting the switch at Booth A4.506 at Electronica 2014 in Munich.

steve bush

NI director: Fixed personality devices are dead

Rahman Jamal

Rahman Jamal

Electronic instruments designed for a single function are becoming as out-dated in industrial markets as they are in the consumer market.

In that market products such as mobile phones and TVs are becoming multi-function devices defined by the software which runs on them.

According to Rahman Jamal, marketing director at National Instruments, single function, or fixed personality devices, are becoming less attractive in industrial automation and test applications.

“Custom design, fixed personality devices are dead,” said Jamal, speaking at the NIDays technology conference in London.

“The industry must meet the expectations of users, as has happened in the consumer market. As a resul,t fixed-personality devices are becoming out of date,” said Jamal.

He said it is now possible to have modular hardware systems which can have their function defined by software, similar to the way that downloadable apps change the function of a smartphone.

“Very soon there will be an app store for industrial instruments,” said Jamal.

This is an area of product development for NI, which already has software-defined instruments, such as its vector signal transceiver.

Earlier this year it introduced a number of instruments which can have their function defined in software for automated test and research applications in mobile, semiconductor, automotive and aerospace/defence sectors.

In these instruments digital functions are defined by programming a processor or FPGA in the instrument.

According to Jamal, the extent to which the test or measurement function can be defined by the user will ultimately increase to other elements of the instrument, as has happened with the mobile phone, which can become a music player a digital camera or navigation device.

“This represents a big change for users and the industrial automation market is not immune to this change,” said Jamal.


richard wilson

Electronica news: What’s at the show, part III

electronica 2012Another two years has gone by for the European electronics industry and again its business managers and engineers will head to Munich for Electronica 2014 (November 11–14) the world’s most important electronics fair.

More than 70,000 visitors are expected to attend the exhibition over four days. As well as an exhibition with over 2,000 exhibiting companies, there is a conference programme covering automotive, embedded platforms and wireless technologies.


Visit the team at Electronics Weekly’s stand in Hall A6 – 569

What to see at the show – Part III

Melexis will be demonstrating its latest factory-programmed Hall effect sensors for use in automotive, industrial and other harsh environments.

The MLX90290 magnetic sensor IC has integrated amplifier, analogue output and internal compensation circuits. It converts magnetic flux into an analogue output and guarantees the critical functional parameters (such as sensitivity, offset and their respective thermal drift characteristics) to absolute levels, thus simplifying integration processes by removing the need for end-of-line calibration.

The supplier offers off-the-shelf versions of the MLX90290 for different sensor requirements. Standard versions of the MLX90290 when combined with microcontroller units allows rotary, linear or motor commutation applications to be realised. It also be applied to sense DC and AC current when combined with a ferrite toroid core.

Rohm Semiconductor
(Hall A5-Booth 562) will be presenting its design capability in automotive LED drivers. For example, the constant current LED driver series BD1837x is used in automotive light clusters. It has diagnostic options and PWM dimming, additionally, each channel can be fine-tuned by calibration setting and individual on/off switching.

Also on show will be silicon carbide (SiC) mosfet modules available in 1200V/120A and 1200V/180A high voltage types, along with a new half-bridge module and a 1200V/300A type.

Swindon Silicon Systems (Booth 470 in Hall A6) will be at the Electronica exhibition demonstrating its design capabilities for mixed-signal Asics. Its designs are used in industries such as automotive, industrial sensors, process control, aerospace, defence and healthcare.

Swissbit (Hall A6, Booth 319) will present first samples of its X-60 series of the SATA III devices supporting data rates of up 490Mbyte/s. Versions of the chip are available for the industrial, automotive and telecommunications markets. With data security in mind the supplier will be demonstrating its storage-based security chips the PS-100u PE and PS-100u DP are available in the micro SD form factor.

Vishay Intertechnology have demonstrate at the exhibition its latest powdered-iron-based, WPC-compliant (Wireless Power Consortium) wireless charging receiving coil designed for 10W applications. The Vishay Dale IWAS-4832FE-50 is designed to have an efficiency of greater than 70 % for wireless charging up to 10W for portable electronics including and handheld medical equipment.

The powdered iron is not affected by permanent locating magnets, and the device blocks charging flux from sensitive components and batteries. As an alternative to ferrite-based solutions, which can saturate in the presence of a strong magnetic field, the IWAS-4832FE-50 offers a magnetic saturation of < 50 % at 4000 gauss.

The RoHS-compliant device features inductance of 15 µH at 200 kHz with a ± 5 % inductance tolerance, DCR of 255 mΩ at + 25 °C, and Q of 60 minimum at 200 kHz.

29oct14pickeringPickering Electronics will be demonstrating at the exhibition its latest 117 series reed relays designed for high density applications such as ATE switching matrices or multiplexers.

They are available in 3V and 5V, 1 Form A and 2 Form A variants. The supplier’s smallest changeover single-in-line reed relay, the 3W 113, is magnetically screened and requires a board area of only 3.8 x 12.7mm.

Zytronic will be showcasing touchscreen display applications at Electronica this year. This will include a proof-of-concept kiosk incorporating a concave 40-inch multi-touch screen. A waist height 19-inch ‘Qwerty’ touchscreen keyboard has also been included on the same ‘zero bezel’ printed glass interface, with the two touch sensors managed by a pair of Zytronic ZXY200 controllers managed by a single PC.

It will also show its ZXY300 touch controller designed for large format MPCT touchscreens, above 55-inches.

Electronica news: What’s at the show, part II

Electronica news: What’s at the show, part I

richard wilson

Glass seals MEMS for harsh environments

Schott Hermes glassGlass with hermetic conductive through-hole vias can seal MEMS for 3D wafer-level chip size packaging (WLCSP), according to Schott of Germany.

Its product is called Hermes.

“Through-glass via substrates enable fully gastight and therefore long-term robust enclosures for MEMS devices,” said Schott. “The fine pitched vias allow the reliable conduction of electrical signals and power into and out of the MEMS device. Since Hermes can be placed directly under the silicon MEMS, it makes miniaturised, fully hermetic 3D WLCSP possible.”

Schott Hermes glassThe firm is aiming at industrial, medical and radio-frequency applications in harsh environments, claiming its glass can exceed the performance of ceramic and silicon enclosures exposed to mechanical, thermal and chemical stress, for example withstanding body fluids and repeated sterilisation in medical applications.

“Thanks to the low dielectric constant of glass and the possibility to use highly conductive via materials, Hermes wafer packaging offers excellent RF performance,” it added. “And the optical transparency of the glass wafer enables better processing and quality control during the production process of a MEMS device.”

Wafer-scale anodic bonding with silicon, glass frit and solder is possible.

There are three glass options: Borofloat 33 floated borosilicate glass, AF 32 eco 33 alkali-free flat glass, and D 263T eco borosilicate glass (see table below).

Wafer thickness 500±20μm (350μm minimum)
Wafer size 4, 6, 8inch
Contact via pitch 250μm 200μm 150μm*
Contact via diameter 100μm 80μm 50μm*
Via density 50k* (6″), 100k* (8″)
Via materials Tungsten (W) – combined with Borofloat 33 and AF 32 eco 33
Iron Nickel (FeNi) – combined with D 263 T eco
(others available on request)
Hermeticity [≤ 1 × 10–9 Pa • m3/s], [≤ 1 × 10–8 mbar/s], [≤ 1 × 10–8 atm cc/s]
Glass material Borofloat 33 AF 32 eco 33 D 263 T eco
Coefficient of thermal
3.25 x 10-6/K
(match to Si)
3.2 x 10-6/K
(match to Si)
7.2 x 10-6/K
Dielectric constant @ 1MHz 4.6 5.1 6.7
Refractive index (@ 600nm) 1.47 1.51 1.52

* in development



steve bush

Cyborg insects home in on sounds of distress

NCSU insectCyborg cockroaches may be the search-and-rescue teams of the future. The enhanced roaches can pinpoint the source of a noise using electric pulses delivered to their antennae, and then crawl towards it.

The insects are the work of Alper Bozkurt and his team at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. They have built two types of audio-sensing “backpacks” that can be strapped on to Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

One has a single high-resolution microphone that can identify sound sources fairly accurately. The other has a three-microphone array that gets a precise fix on the source using the amplitude information from each microphone.

Using a computer to integrate the data from a network of 10 to 15 insects, the cockroaches are then guided towards the sound source via automated electric pulses to their antennae. The nerve stimulation causes the insects to turn left or right, essentially by simulating contact with obstacles in front of them. Bozkurt presented the work at a conference in Spain last week. Watch a video of them crawling here.

Hacking cockroaches like this is nothing new. Bozkurt and his group have been working with them for the past five years, and last year a Kickstarter project made “RoboRoaches” commercially available for the very first time. But Bozkurt’s newest project moves the field into more practical applications. His team hopes the cyborg cockroaches may be used to find disaster victims, for example people buried under rubble in the aftermath of an earthquake.

“Cockroaches as a platform are certainly better in terms of performance than anything we are currently able to build, and that will remain true for many years,” says Shai Revzen at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “But one of the problems with these approaches is that they work well in the lab, where there are no distractions, but are much more tricky to apply reliably in real-world environments.”

That’s why the next stage of Bozkurt’s research is to take the insects out of the lab – though not to a terrain as complex as a dense pile of rubble, as yet. Once the lab phase is complete, his team plans to use cyborg roaches equipped with geiger counters to search for leaks in nuclear power plants.

“There are a number of applications where we can get insect-bot sensors out into the field to collect useful information,” says Bozkurt. “But in the next five or six years, we think this project will be ready to be fully deployed under the rubble.”

Azeen Ghorayshi, New Scientist

Image: Eric Whitmire/NCSU

Alun Williams

Very few places left for Elektra Awards 2014

Elektra Awards table picThe Elektra Awards 2014 are just a few weeks away, and there are only a few places left. The event takes place on the 26th November at the Lancaster London hotel, W2 2TY, to discover who the 2014 Elektra winners will be.

You can either book online or contact John Richards on 020 8253 8678 or email john.richards@metropolis.co.uk.

The shortlists have been drawn up, online voting for the Product Innovation and Technology Blog awards have closed, and winners have now been selected. All that is left is to ensure your seat at the industry’s biggest night out of the year!

To help get you in the mood for the evening take a look at some pictures from the 2013 Elektra Awards.

Elektra Awards 1

Alun Williams

Power Integrations launches InnoSwitch

PI InnoSwitch

PI InnoSwitch

Today, Power Integrations announces  its InnoSwitch family of switcher ICs combines primary, secondary and feedback circuits into a single, worldwide safety-rated, surface-mount package.

“InnoSwitch ICs are the first switchers to combine the simplicity and low component count of primary-side regulation with the high performance of secondary-side control,” says Power Integrations vice-president Mike Matthews. “The InnoSwitch family’s high level of integration reduces power supply component count and its secondary-side regulated topology allows the use of simpler, lower cost, auto-wound transformers, yet improves production yield, resulting in significantly lower manufacturing cost. Two of the world’s leading mobile device makers are in production with chargers using InnoSwitch family ICs which incorporate FluxLink technology.”

InnoSwitch ICs will enable designers to exceed all global regulatory standards for efficiency and no-load consumption, claims the company, while minimising component count and providing accurate constant voltage and constant current up to 25W.

The InnoSwitch family is intended for use in smart mobile device chargers and adapters for a range of applications such as set-top boxes, networking equipment and computer peripherals.

Inside the device, secondary-side direct voltage and current measurements are communicated across the safety isolation barrier using high-speed digital FluxLink technology.

This proprietary feedback technique permits precise control without the need for a bulky optocoupler, Power Integrations says, without the performance compromises inherent in primary-side regulation (PSR), such as limited accuracy and efficiency and poor transient response versus no-load consumption.

InnoSwitch-based secondary-side regulated (SSR) designs are inherently less sensitive to the tolerance of external components such as transformers, diodes, resistors and capacitor,s the company says, which increases manufacturing yield and reduces total power supply cost.

Mobile device chargers up to  A can have a total component count as low as PSR designs, with accurate CV and CC control (±3% and ±5% respectively) and low voltage ripple.

InnoSwitch power-supply ICs include a high-voltage power mosfet, primary-side controller, FluxLink feedback technology and a secondary-side controller with synchronous rectification (SR). By combining the SR function with the secondary-side master controller and by leveraging the speed of the FluxLink communication channel, the SR switch timing is optimised for maximum efficiency.

The fast communication link also ensures reliable SR operation, eliminating shoot-through in either discontinuous conduction mode (DCM) or continuous conduction mode (CCM), even during transient loads and fault conditions. Effective SR operation in both DCM and CCM modes is especially beneficial in adaptive-voltage charger applications.

InnoSwitch ICs start up using bias current drawn from a high-voltage current source connected to the DRAIN pin, eliminating the need for external start-up components. An external bias winding reduces no-load and increases system efficiency during normal operation. The ICs also include comprehensive system-level features such as output over-voltage protection, overload power limiting, hysteretic thermal protection and frequency jitter to reduce EMI.

Samples are available now, priced at $0.59 to $0.78 in 10,000-piece quantities.

Reference design RDR-420 describes a 5V, 2A USB charger design and is available for download on the Power Integrations website.

david manners