EN-Genius Network Announces 2010 Product Of The Year Winners
As ever, it is a pleasure to present EN-Genius Network's annual Product Of The Year awards for exceptional product releases throughout 2010. Award winners are selected from among the products reviewed by our editorial team in the course of the year, on the basis of their technical merit and likelihood of market success. Our warmest congratulations to all our 2010 recipients!
Note: Awards are listed alphabetically by the recipient company's name.
Best Li Battery Charger
Advanced Analogic Technologies AAT3698 Single 4.2 V Li Battery Charger
The AAT3698 is a Li battery charger for single 4.2 V cells in two versions, the AAT3698-1 and AAT3698-2. It uses the now conventional pre-conditioning, constant current, constant voltage charge cycle and also provides an always-on 5 V 50 mA LDO (with overvoltage protection).
The charging current is programmable by a single external resistor for up to 1.6 A or as low as 50 mA.
This is a nicely complete battery charger for single Li (Lithium-ion and Lithium-polymer) cells with very few external components needed and, therefore, offering a low real estate profile. The addition of the always-on LDO is a nice touch. The maximum input voltage of 7 V is a limitation for low-cost wall-wort applications but is ideally suited for USB. With a maximum charge current of 1.6 A this is one of the highest that is available in the industry in what is a very readily-accepted package. The part is underpriced and will move large volumes.
Best VDSL Line Driver
Analog Devices ADLD8404 ‘Class-H’ ADSL2 /VDSL2 Line Driver
We have problems with Analog Devices patent claims (US Patent 6,636,103) because of prior art, and the limited technical data supplied by the company suggests that this part is actually a Class-G, with the switching between only two different positive and negative voltage rails, and not a Class-H amplifier. The tracking charge pump is the subject of optional claims so the basic notion is that Class G or H amplification is patented by ADI. Considering that power supply boosting in amplifiers has been in use since at least the 1940s, this is difficult to swallow.
Nevertheless, and despite the bluster of this announcement and the lack of technical data available, and presuming that the process used is reliable at the voltages required, the ADLD8404 should find multiple homes in ADSL2 and VDSL2 central office line cards. The pricing is very low for a dual offering.
Best Stereo Audio DAC
Cirrus Logic CS4354 Stereo Audio DAC
The CS4354 is a stereo DAC with ground-centered line level audio outputs. The architecture includes the level shifting from an I2C serial audio input, the digital interpolation filters, a multibit delta-sigma modulator, and the DAC itself. Digital de-emphasis is included as well as analog filtering and the audio line drivers. Conversion is up to 24 bits and at audio sampling rates up to 192 kHz.
It is really good to see Cirrus pulling ahead in this sort of line level application. The use of an inverting charge pump to provide a negative rail for minimal audio gain distortion is hardly novel but this seems to be a good implementation – allowing for the avoidance of dc blocking capacitors that also compromise low frequency audio performance – and for the provision of full-scale 2 Vrms outputs with a 5 V rail. The part produces differential linearity with low distortion and a minimal external component count. Pricing is extremely competitive and the Pb-free package is one that just about every OEM will find easy to accommodate in production. The CS4354 will be extremely successful.
Best Video Equalizer
Intersil ISL59605 Adaptive Composite Video Equalizer
Intersil started the present-day trend toward video differential receiver/equalizers for security systems, and the like, with the Elantec-numbered EL9110, which very deservedly won one of our Product of the Year Awards in 2003. The EL9110 required manual adjustments to correct the received image but it was a criterion of the IC that no pre-distortion of any kind was required at the transmit end of the system – making the installation of a security camera, for example, very much a plug-and-play operation for just about anybody who could climb a ladder.
I noted in our review of the EL9110 that, “With some intelligence available in an application it should also be possible to automate the adjustments by looking at a single transition in the signal.” It took a few years for a competitor to take up that cudgel with a product that should have been from Intersil if they had been keeping an eye on the ball.
The distance performance of the ISL59605 – and its silicon siblings – is out to 1800 m with Cat-5e cable or RG-59 coax and the parts operate automatically with any composite video input but an optional SPI can be used for signal monitoring functions. The inputs are ac coupled from the Cat-x cabling and the first stage provides differential-to-single-ended conversion as well as dc sync tip restoration. The adaptive equalization stages are followed by an output buffer than can drive a double-terminated 75 Ω load. A voltage reference is on-chip
These parts are a major jump forward in distance equalization for Cat-5/-6/-7 video applications with the automated operation offering a quite dramatic increase in installation ease over Intersil’s previous offering. These parts will make a lot of money for Intersil.
Best RF Detector
Linear LTC5583 Dual Rms RF Detector
The essential measurement of rms power is the single most important characteristic in determining the efficiency of output PA stages, and controlling them for linearity and radiation effectiveness.
Linear ran with the technology in the form of the 6 GHz LTC5581, which won a Product of the Year Award from us in 2008. The 10 GHz LTC5582 closely followed, and we now have what is apparently a dual version in the form of the LTC5583. Power dissipation over the LTC5582 has, expectedly, doubled (with a nominal 3.3 V rail) and the package has gone from a DFN-10 to a QFN-24. There is also a trimming back of the frequency range to 6 GHz.
The single-ended input capability (up to 2.4 GHz) remains a solidly-useful feature of the Linear parts and the LT5583 provides linear outputs from both channels and also has a difference amplifier that is cross-fed from both channels which, when connected as forward and reverse from directional coupler(s) or RF sniffers, will give a representation of VSWR.
It is more likely that the dual channels of the LTC5583 will be used as input and output power monitoring of basestation RF channels for the control of gain and predistortion linearity corrections.
Best Advance In Remote Load Power Sensing
Linear Technology LT4180 Virtual Remote Sense Controller
Instead of monitoring and adjusting the dc voltage directly on a remote load (using separate, and possibly lengthy, sensor wires to do so), the Linear sense system looks at the changes in voltage caused by incremental changes in current driving the lines to the load. This voltage, across a series sense resistor, then tells the controller to adjust the drive voltage to correct for the change, hopefully creating a more accurate voltage at the load. Controlling the power supply feedback system means that any architecture type of isolated or non-isolated supply can be employed, although it is recommended that the LT4180 is synchronized to any switching regulator, controller, or supply that is used.
The longer the drive line being used the more likely the LT4180 will make economical sense. Also, for those applications where running additional sensor wires is simply not practical – often the case in updating existing installations such as in surveillance – the LT4180 is a unique solution to load regulation. The LT4180 has enough design-in considerations to be met that it will keep Linear’s FAEs rather busy for what will be a very profitable part.
Best Ultralow Input Voltage Dc-Dc Power Module
Linear LTM4611 1.5 V Input 15 A µModule
The LTM4611 is an ultralow voltage input (down to 1.5 V – with a top end of 5.5 V) dc-dc power regulator for 15 A dc outputs. The output voltage range is from 0.8 V up to 5 V with a total maximum of ±1.5% error. The complete regulator is within the LGA module with the power stages and all the passives including some of the input and output filtering capacitance, together with MOSFET gate drive circuits.
Multiple LTM6411 modules can be paralleled to raise the available load current, with say 2, 3, or 4 modules to deliver 30 A, 45 A, or 60 A. External synchronization of the modules allows them to be driven with out-of-phase clocks; this reduces the output ripple and lowers the external capacitance requirements.
The LTM µModule family has been a major boon for Linear. It shouldn’t have been: with only the semiconductor products in house – and that only after acquiring the power MOSFET technology to go ahead – there should have been other vendors who could have raced ahead with all the passives in house as well. But Linear has focused on just a few sizes of LGA packaging and has secured a supply chain of passives to keep well ahead of the competition. The LTM4611 is no exception to that and it will be a highly profitable major volume part with uses in many varied point-of-load applications.
Best Stereo Class-D Audio Amplifier
Maxim Integrated Products MAX98302 2.4 W Stereo Class-D Audio Amplifier
The MAX98302 is a 2.4 W per channel stereo Class-D audio amplifier with five selectable fixed voltage gains for each channel at 6 dB, 9 dB, 12 dB, 15 dB, or 18 dB selected by the connection of a gain pin. The switching frequency of the Class-D system is a nominal 300 kHz with a ±7 kHz spread-spectrum modulation bandwidth to reduce EMI, sufficient for the amplifier to meet EN55022B standards, Maxim says. Typical efficiencies are about 80%.
2.4 W is a good level for many applications. Maxim suggests uses in cellular phones, MP3 players, and other portable audio players. For those it is an overkill in power. Where the stereo part will be ideal is in smaller TV displays and notebook/netbook applications. The pricing is extremely aggressive and the MAX98302 will sell in very large volumes. It is a good compromise in size/power and performance.
Best PWM Controller
Maxim Integrated Products MAX5974 Current-Mode Spread-Spectrum PWM Controller
The MAX5974, in its four different configurations, is a PWM controller for a 25 W to 50 W actively clamped synchronous rectification continuous-conduction mode forward converter. The sizing of the main switch gate driver and that of the clamped auxiliary switch driver are optimized for 25 W PoE (802.3af/at) designs. For EMI limiting the PWM frequency can be dithered by ±10% spreading switching harmonic frequencies.
The innovative output regulation system avoiding a feedback optocoupler will be well received and the four versions cover the majority of supply possibilities for PoE-powered devices as well as portable/quasi-fixed applications such as wireless nodes and security cameras. The parts look to be very efficient and will do very well.
Best RF/IF Dual VGA
Maxim Integrated Products MAX2062 Dual Series/Parallel-Controlled Analog/Digital VGA
Each channel consists of a digital attenuator, an analog attenuator, and an amplifier stage. Control circuits are independent for the two channels. The most important thing about the MAX2062 is the flexibility that can be achieved because the input and output of each stage (all at 50 Ω) are available on the pin out. This allows the part to be optimized for lowest noise (with the amplifier first in the chain), or for lowest OIP3 (with the amplifier at the output of the chain), or with a NF/OIP3 compromise with the amplifier mid-chain (typically with the digital attenuator as the first element).
The digital attenuator in each chain offers a total of 31 dB range and the analog attenuator offers a 33.2 dB range while the amplifier stage (at 5 V supply) offers a small-signal gain (including the attenuator insertion losses) that is 20.3 dB at 50 MHz and falls to 16.5 dB at 900 MHz.
The control arrangement allows for four on-the-fly (Rapid-Fire in Maxim parlance) attenuator states to be accessed without reprogramming.
The flexibility is a gem for designers but it will also be a headache for Maxim’s application engineers as they fight the limited RF knowledge base that is out there. The superb return loss numbers will, however, make things quite straightforward for those who know what they are doing. The part will do exceptionally well and we would expect to see it specified in multiple applications, including military.
Best Low-Noise ADC Driver/Op Amp
National LMH6629 Low-Noise High-Speed Op Amp
The need for operational amplifiers that are capable of driving, properly, 16-bit ADC applications has never been greater.
It should be noted that the 8-pin package does not use the standard single op amp layout. The inputs are on pins 3 (inverting) and 4 (non-inverting) with the output on pin 7 and the rail applied across pins 8 and 5. The output is also taken back across the package to pin 2, to act as the feedback pin, while pin 1 is used for power-down and pin 6 is used for compensation.
National has broken the bogey of noise numbers for 16-bit operation with the LMH6629 although it will be up to the designer to come up with circuit layouts that allow full use of the performance. Manufactured on National’s CBiCMOS8 SiGe process (capable of producing both npn and pnp devices) the LMH6629 takes full advantage of both the high speed and low noise characteristics that are offered. The part is under priced for the noise premium that is available. Layout issues will keep National’s applications engineers busy, as will stability issues with higher source/sink currents.
Best PLL Synthesizer
Peregrine Semiconductor PE33631 UltraCMOS Fractional-N Frequency Synthesizer
The PE33631 is a ∆-∑ (delta-sigma) modulated fractional-N frequency synthesizer with operation out to 3.5 GHz. It uses a divide-by-10/11 dual modulus prescaler on the VCO input depending on the modulus select value – which can be bypassed – driving a main 9-bit counter to a phase detector. The other side of the phase detector is driven by a latch system using a primary 21-bit latch and a pair of secondary and auxiliary 20-bit latches. The secondary latch drives the main counter and a secondary reference (R) 6-bit counter while the auxiliary latch drives the modulator and the main counter. The delta-sigma modulator modulates a separate A counter (for the modulus select logic) outputs to provide the required fractional step and aids in producing fine frequency resolution as well as controlling fractional spurs. Data are written into the internal registers using the three-wire interface.
Phase noise performance is extremely good with numbers (at 1.9 GHz) of low to high -80s dBc/Hz at 100 Hz offsets, about -100 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz offsets, and falling to about -140 dBc/Hz at 1 MHz offsets.
The low phase noise and the exceptionally-low quiescent currents of these two synthesizers show the quality of the UltraCMOS process. Both parts are derived from earlier 20 MHz comparison components, such as the PE3336, with the PE33631 adding direct programming for the first time. The new products will do exceptionally well in roles as varied as cellular basestations, CATV, and test & measurement applications.
Best Synchronous Dc-Dc Converter
Semtech SC120/1/2 Boost Dc-Dc Converters
With a footprint of just 3mm2 the Semtech parts beat what I believe is the next smallest at 9.6mm2. A significant feature is that if the feedback pin is grounded the output of the boost converter goes to 3.3 V. If you want to set any other voltage (except in the SC122) then a conventional resistive divider from the rail to the feedback pin does just that.
Synchronous PWM operation is at a nominal 1.2 MHz which, with the internal low resistance switches (600 mΩ p-channel and 500 mΩ n-channel on-resistances at 3.3 V output), offers efficiencies from 60% to 90% depending on the difference between input and output rails, and the load.
These three parts are ideal for single-cell operation in portable devices, which could include a myriad of products. These applications have real estate as a critically important factor and the SC12*s cannot fail to please in this respect, especially with the low pin and external component count. I personally believe, however, that the pricing is far too low. Volumes will be impressive.
Best High-Efficiency Switch-Mode Battery Chargers
Summit Microelectronics SMB328A/B Single Cell Battery Chargers
The most important aspect of the SMB328A/B is the high efficiency, dramatically reducing thermal problems associated with linear solutions, together with real estate savings.
The parts can be used with either a 4.35 V to 5.5 V USB source of either 100 mA or 500 mA, or with an ac-dc wall wort between 4.5 V and 6.0 V with 200 mA to 1.8 A sourcing. The USB operation also includes a 750 mA “turbo-charge” that is automatically switched in. The output current to the battery can range up to 1.2 A while the input is protected up to 20 V (not operational).
This latest generation of battery charger from Summit is going to be ideal for mixed power source applications in portable and handheld devices for the charging of single-cell Li-Ion, Li-Polymer, and Li-FePO4 battery systems. The parts are priced to sell.
Best Low Distortion ADC Driver
Texas Instruments THS770006 Differential Driver Amplifier
The THS770006 has been presented very much as an RF channel device by TI. I have only once ever seen what amounts to a wide-band op amp having noise figure specifications called up for it. The quoted noise figures at 50 MHz and 200 MHz throws overall noise performance of the chain back to the source, which is probably going to be an LNA and downconverter. In quoting suitability for 16 bit conversions, however, we are more likely to be keener at looking at the input noise of the driver and the effect of that level of noise on resolution. In this case the input referred voltage noise is quoted at 1.7 nV/rtHz (>100 kHz) which is just about at the limit for effective 16 bit conversions to follow.
The THS770006 stands out for its distortion performance and is approaching ideal for 16-bit IF analog-to-digital conversions. It is going to do extremely well in the market. TI might do well to keep ahead of the game by offering a dual version of the amplifier to be able to get precise channel timing for wide-band I/Q modulation techniques.
Best Perspective Into ECG Front-End Technology
Texas Instruments ADS1298 8-Channel ECG Front-End
The 8-channel ADS1298, and its 4- and 6-channel siblings, offers a perspective into EEG and, particularly, ECG front-ends that we believe is unique at this time. It is rather amazing to think that the pioneering work on ECG technology was undertaken as long ago as the 1930s and 1940s, principally by Frank Norman Wilson (1890 – 1952). Wilson suggested among other techniques the use of a central reference terminal formed with 5 kΩ resistors from each terminal of the limb leads. Unipolar potentials measured with respect to this central terminal, Wilson suggested, would approximate the potential at infinity. In fact, the Wilson central terminal is the average of the limb potentials.
The eight channels of PGA plus separate 24-bit delta-sigma ADCs, the Wilson center terminal, and the augmented Goldberger terminals, and their amplifiers, provide for a full, standard 12-lead ECG system. The ADS1298 is a major move forward in seeing a vendor fully understand what implementing ECG front-ends really requires, and the designers have clearly listened to electrocardiography professionals. EEG systems will also benefit from the basic architecture, although not to the same degree, and there are, undoubtedly, other multchannel data acquisition challenges that the part can solve. In these applications of the medical imaging world real estate space is critical and we believe that the part is under priced compared to the savings achieved in both board space and component count in the overall solution provided. The complete family will be extremely successful.
Best Low-Power Bluetooth Solution
Texas Instruments CC2540 SoC Low-Power Bluetooth Solution
The CC2540 is highly integrated allowing for master/slave operations with very few external components required. It includes a complete 2.4 GHz transceiver with an 8051 microprocessor, programmable Flash memory (either 128 kbyte or 256 kbyte), 8 kbyte of RAM, together with 4 timers, a USB interface, an analog comparator, op amp, and audio ADC (with AES encryption/decryption), on-chip 32 MHz and 32.768 kHz crystal oscillators, 32 kHz and 16 kHz RC oscillators, and a voltage regulator.
The maximum receive sensitivity of -93 dBm and the maximum transmit output power of 4 dBm gives a maximum link budget of 97 dB which is absolutely more than adequate for several meters distance of operations.
The CC2540 is a very low-power complete Bluetooth solution which will do extremely well in mobile phones, computer interfaces, vehicle interfaces, and health care products.
Best Development In Light Sensing
Vishay VCNL4000 Proximity/Ambient Light Sensor
The VCNL4000 is a surface-mount proximity/ambient light sensor with a signal conditioning IC and I2C communications included. The sensing uses an LED IR emitter with photodiodes for both proximity and ambient light detection. The included ASIC has both the signal processing stages and a 16-bit ADC.
With effective proximity detection out to about 200mm (with 20% reflectivity), the VCNL4000 about doubles other system capabilities. The modulation frequency used is 390 kHz which suppresses ambient light crosstalk and the radiant intensity peaks at a wavelength of about 890nm. The relative spectral sensitivity of the detector diode also peaks at about 890nm while the ambient light detection reasonably follows the responsivity of the human eye with a peak at about 530nm and a detection range from about 0.2 lux to 13 klux with both 100 Hz and 120 Hz flicker noise reduction. The emission and sensitivity angular displacements are circular.
Vishay has taken its superb experience of light detection into this part in a way that makes it ideal – from both performance and sizing – for mobile device proximity sensing and display/keyboard contrast control and dimming applications. It is extremely well priced and will do exceptionally well.
Best High-Voltage Power MOSFET
Vishay-Siliconix SiR880DP 80 V Drain-Source Rated MOSFET
The striking thing about the n-channel SiR880DP is the combination of its high voltage rating together with its 4.5 V gate drive rating, offering superbly low on-resistances of 8.5 mΩ at 4.5 V, 6.7 mΩ at 7.5 V, and 5.9 mΩ at 10 V (all at 60 A).
The 80 V drain-source rating opens up applications in telecom point-of-load scenarios as well as automotive uses. The 4.5 V rating will allow for higher frequency converter designs using 5 V PWM ICs, a departure from the 6 V presently experienced. Pricing is very attractive and will allow for early design wins in dc-dc converters. Proving this low-resistance technology also intrigues as to what is going to follow on in this family stable in the coming days.