Sizing Up Zigbee, Literally

Cambridge, England: Upon announcing its development partnership with STMicroelectronics, Ember—the ZigBee platform vendor—now expects to double in size by the end of 2006.

Ember’s 11-strong hardware design team has already developed two ICs at the site—including a ZigBee single-chip solution that integrates both radio and microcontroller. It’s now finalising the specifications for several new IC programs with STMicroelectronics, and actively recruiting digital and analogue engineers for the development phases.

“We expect the U.K. design centre to be at least 20 strong by the end of 2006,” says Nick Horne, director of IC Engineering at Ember Europe. “Ember has an intellectual lead in this exciting new wireless semiconductor marketplace. We’re capitalising on that by developing new generations of product in partnership with STMicroelectronics, who are providing semiconductor IP as well as access to advanced fabrication processes and semiconductor research.”

Ember Europe faces a number of IC design challenges. For instance, it must find ways to minimise the number of external components usually required to build a radio, and to use finegeometry semiconductor fabrication processes in a way that doesn’t degrade radio performance. Also on the company’s radar is how to obtain high radio sensitivity in close proximity to high-clock-rate digital circuits, and how to optimise operating modes and powermanagement schemes to suit ultra-long lifetime operation from battery power.

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