Despite the global economic slowdown, the electronics sector in Europe is staying quick on its feet. Developments in transistors, communications, and displays are particularly setting the pace.
Scientists at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, have developed the world’s smallest diamond transistor. At just 50 nm long, the “gate” of the diamond transistor developed by David Moran of the Department of Electronics Electrical Engineering is more than 1000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair and is half the size of the previous smallest diamond transistor, developed by Japanese firm NTT.
This very small transistor represents such an important development because of the basic electronics principle by which a gate in a transistor controls current flow— the smaller the gate, the faster the transistor works. Diamond is being hailed as an ideal material for the next generation of nanoscale electronic devices and could help with the development of technologies such as terahertz imaging and automotive collision detection.
Terahertz imaging uses terahertz radiation (T-rays)—electromagnetic waves of a frequency range between microwaves and infrared that can penetrate a range of materials, including clothes and flesh—to create a picture. Because it is non-ionizing, it doesn’t damage cells and has potential applications in security scanners to detect concealed weapons through clothes as well as safer medical imaging.
Automotive collision detection or automotive radar is an advanced safety feature currently being heavily researched by the car industry. With it, cars and other automotive vehicles will have an effective radar zone around them that will allow them to detect potential collisions from any side of the vehicle. So, a diamond could prove to be a driver’s best friend as well.
NEW FRONTIER FOR LAST.FM
Audio technology specialist Frontier Silicon is the latest chipset platform provider to partner with Last.fm, the global music platform owned by CBS Corp. This partnership means approved consumer electronics manufacturers can now integrate into their products a feature that will provide end users with easy access to Last. fm services.
The company’s Venice 6.2 module and IR2.0 software development kit (SDK) form a solution for developing products enabling multiple content streams, Internet radio, digital radio (DAB/DAB+/DMBA), FM, network audio, and music services. Headquartered in the U.K., Frontier Silicon also offers the Jupiter 6.2 reference platform, which includes the module.
“All market indicators show great potential for growth in Internet radio. Hence, we are extremely pleased to achieve this certification,” said Anthony Sethill, CEO of Frontier Silicon. “Our Venice 6.2 module with the IR2.0 software stack is the most complete networked consumer electronics and DAB digital receiver solution on the market, with comprehensive software that allows manufacturers to quickly implement streaming and networked audio capability.”
In Colchester, England, single-board computer (SBC) specialist Concurrent Technologies has aimed its latest technical development squarely at the telecommunications, defense, and homeland security markets. Its PP 66x/071 family of 6U CompactPCI boards is one of the first product ranges to use the quad-core 2.13-GHz Intel Xeon processor L5518 or the dual-core 2.0-GHz Intel Xeon processor L5508 (see the figure).
Based on 45-nm process technology and the new Intel micro-architecture, formerly codenamed “Nehalem,” both processors are from the Intel embedded roadmap, which offers at least seven-year availability. With up to 64 Gbytes of DDR3-1066 error correction code (ECC) SDRAM, two 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports, and several SAS and SATA300 disk interfaces, the PP 66x/071 family has one of the highest specifications available to 6U Compact- PCI users today.
The Intel Xeon processors feature Intel QuickPath technology and Intel Turbo Boost technology, which, along with Intel’s Hyper-Threading Technology, are well suited to bandwidth-intensive applications. QuickPath provides a high-speed, point-to-point connection between the microprocessor and the Intel 5520 I/O Hub. Turbo Boost elevates performance for specific workloads by increasing processor core frequency.
BIG SCREENS GET EVEN BIGGER
In Hamburg, Germany, Sharp Microelectronics Europe announced that its parent company has been building a new LCD plant in Sakai near Osaka. The new production center will be capable of processing LCD glass panels 8.7 square meters (2880 by 3130 mm) in size.
Despite the recession, demand for highquality LCD panels is growing, especially in emerging markets such as China. According to DisplaySearch, the market for LCD TVs will rise by 17% to 120 million sets in 2009. In Europe, estimates by Sharp show a need for 37 million TVs this year, which is 7% over last year.