Electronic Design

Check Out 2007’s Best As You Get Ready For 2008

Welcome to our Best Electronic Design issue, and what a year it was. A blockbuster consumer product came on the scene in January and took the world by storm when it was released in June. Thatâ??s the Apple iPhone, of course. And it went far beyond the hype to become a great example of innovation in consumer electronics engineeringâ??and then some.

Who can forget teenager George Hotz, who gained international attention by hacking the iPhone? Then there was the story of the 250,000 iPhones that Apple said people purchased with the intention of unlocking them. But for engineers, the most interesting writeups probably were the teardowns that showed which vendors had gotten designed into this remarkable device. Lou Frenzel writes more about the iPhone in his Best Designs of the Year piece on communications.

Weâ??ve divided this issue into two key sections: Best Technologies of the Year as they relate to the beats covered by our technology editors and the Best Designs of the Year in vertical markets such as communications, computers, and automotive electronics. Then, we look at the Best Leapfrog, Ideas for Design, and other newsworthy events in 2007.

TECHNOLOGY TRIUMPHS
Don Tuite offers his perspective on analogto- digital converters and how the best of them fared for different applications this year. Then, Dan Harris gets back to basics with his take on important developments in transistor technology, which led to the launch of the new Intel Penryn multicore processors.

For accomplishments in EDA, Dave Maliniak explains why the best of the year may be tools for working with FPGAs, such as GateRocketâ??s Rocket Drives. Sam Davis calls National Semiconductorâ??s PowerWise technology the best in power as he covers the wide variety of parts that use it.

Bill Wong has prepared a whirlwind tour of embedded systems and software as he points out the best in class among boards, development platforms, and embedded multicore processors. In communications, Lou Frenzel focuses on the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA), which promises to deliver the quality of service required for tripleplay services via the coax wiring already available in most homes.

For test and measurement, Lou notes that general-purpose instruments now have performance specs that are quite good, and there is no better example this year than the Tektronix MSO4000 mixed-signal oscilloscopes. As he writes, these bench instruments make complex measurements a snap. And in components, Mat Dirjish acknowledges display technologies such as Immersionâ??s TouchSense technology for LCDs and Clairvoyanteâ??s PenTile technology for OLEDs.

VERTICAL VICTORS
In the vertical markets, Mark David presents Hellaâ??s lane-change warning system as the best automotive design and describes a few runners up as well. The Hella system communicates with the driver via warning lights in the side-view mirrorsâ?? valuable information to avoid accidentally encroaching on another driverâ??s space.

In computers, Bill Wong goes through the top performers this year in motherboards, hard-disk drives, video adapters, and other parts of a computing system that almost every one of us would like to own. Then, Bill assembles a high-def dreamscape as he reviews the best HDTVs, DVD players, and remote controls in the consumer products space.

As Bill says, consumer products are driving the success of the electronics industry. According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), consumer electronics represent a $160 billion industry in this country and $600 billion worldwide.

For industrial applications, I selected two MEMS components that have significantly improved on previous-generation products. One is an inclinometer from Analog Devices and the other a flow sensor from Omron Electronic Components. In medical technology, Dan Harris gives the nod to advances in medical imaging, remote-controlled robots, and devices that address congestive heart failure.

Guest editor Jack Browne of Microwaves & RF offers an overview of some of the advances in military technology and then hones in on some equipment that had a significant impact this year, such as the Micro Air Vehicle (MAV), a circular-ducted-fan unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Honeywell.

For the communications industry, Lou Frenzel cites the Apple iPhone for setting standards across all categories. As Lou puts it, the iPhone was more than the best cell phone of 2007. It also was the best consumer technology and perhaps the best overall innovation of the year.

Continued on Page 2

READERSâ?? CHOICE
For a romp
through the year, Kristina Fiore and John Arkontaky pick the best stories of 2007. Bob Pease describes some of his best trick circuits. Rich Gawel chooses the best quotes of the year. Finally, we asked you to select the best Leapfrog and Ideas for Design (IFDs) of the year.

Creeâ??s CR-E power LEDs took the top spot as the Best Leapfrog. Contributing editor Roger Allan details how this product has developed since the Leapfrog story was published.

Next, Don Tuite comments on your selections for the Best IFDs of 2007: Dhananjay Gadre and Anurag Chugh of the Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology in New Delhi, India, put Charlieplexing to good use while Michael Wong and Tamara Papalias of Intersil demonstrate a simple high-speed, full-wave rectifier.

Congratulations to all of the contributors, technologies, and products selected as the Best Electronic Design of 2007.

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