Electronic Design UPDATE: April 9, 2003

April 9, 2003
Editor's View -- Micro Fuel Cells Get Ready To Power Up by Ron Schneiderman. Want the battery in your cell phone or PDA to last forever? Okay, how about 10 times longer than your current battery? Developers of fuel cells for these "micro" devices...


Electronic Design UPDATE e-Newsletter
Electronic Design Magazine
http://www.planetee.com April 9, 2003




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Today's Table of Contents:
1. Editor's View -- Commentary
2. News -- From The Editors
3. Upcoming Industry Events
4. Magazine Highlights
1. Editor's View -- Exclusive to Electronic Design UPDATE

Micro Fuel Cells Get Ready To Power Up By Ron Schneiderman, Professional /Careers Editor

Want the battery in your cell phone or PDA to last forever? Okay, how about 10 times longer than your current battery? Developers of fuel cells for these "micro" devices believe they have the potential to offer about 10 times the energy density of current lithium battery technologies, which means a lot more runtime for mobile computing and communications products. Most of the more than 30 companies active in this area haven't said much about their plans in the past two years, presumably for competitive reasons. But market analysts who follow this technology expect it to begin to show up as an option for some laptop and notebook computers, as well as cell phones and PDAs, by the end of this year, led by Toshiba, Samsung, NEC, and Sanyo. (Intel's venture capital group has invested in two U.S.-based companies, PolyFuel and Neah Power Systems, and Intel demonstrated a fuel-cell-powered laptop at its developers conference in February.) Initially, because of their size, these fuel cells probably won't be fully integrated into the devices they're designed to power. More likely, they will be outboard accessories. But they will be designed for a specific product. For example, the first fuel cells designed for PDAs will probably be about the same size and form factor as the handheld units, but they will clip on to the handheld devices. Yes, they will add weight and cost. But like any other portable consumer electronic product, they're expected to start dropping in weight and price almost as soon as they enter the market. Currently, there are three major fuel-cell types for portable electronic products. One is direct-methanol fuel cells (DMFCs). Another is proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMs). Then, there are metal-air fuel cells. It's still not clear which one is going to "win" in terms of market share--that is, which one will be the smallest, lightest, and cheapest, all at once in the early going. Indeed, one of the most important tasks for micro fuel-cell developers is to miniaturize their products as quickly as they can. (Chip-based fuel cells are being predicted by as early as the end of 2005.) Clearly, the market potential is huge. Just add up all of the portable computers, PDAs, cell phones, camcorders, electric handtools, MP3 units, and everything else you can think of over the next few years that could use these fuel cells. Huge!

Contact Ron Schneiderman at: mailto:[email protected]

To discuss this article, go to http://lists.planetee.com/cgi-bin3/flo/y/eQP10Gl4E70EmQ08hP0AB

2. News -- From The Editors
QAM/QPSK Demodulator Includes AGC Capability In addition to the usual I/Q mixers, the AD8348 quadrature demodulator features a variable-gain IF amplifier to implement automatic gain control (AGC). The amplifier's linear-in-dB AGC range is 45 dB. The IC's IF input is differential and can span 50 to 1000 MHz. The local oscillator input may be as high as 2 GHz. The mixers are Gilbert cells with 0.6-degree phase accuracy and 0.3-dB amplitude balance. The third-order intercept is +26-dBm minimum and -7-dBm maximum at 450 MHz. The mixers connect to differential output amplifiers designed to interface directly to analog-to-digital converters for digitizing and baseband post-processing. Available in a 28-pin TSSOP package, the device runs on a single 2.7- to 5.5-V supply. For more information, go to http://lists.planetee.com/cgi-bin3/flo/y/eQP10Gl4E70EmQ05Tq0AL

***Ultra-Wideband Personal-Area Networks Advance At a recent meeting of the IEEE 802.15.3a task force, Focus Enhancements' Semiconductor Group presented a promising technique for implementing the new standard's ultra-wideband (UWB) personal-area network (PAN). The approach uses a modified orthogonal frequency-division-multiplexing (OFDM) technique that divides the standard's 7.5 GHz of bandwidth into five bands or bins over which the data is spread. Each bin is modulated to the max. Combined, they provide maximum power over the total band to deliver a UWB speed of 200 Mbits/s up to 25 meters and 480 Mbits/s over four meters. The task force presented 23 different approaches that might be used to implement a UWB PAN, which was approved by the Federal Communications Commission in February 2002 for use in the 3.1- to 10.6-GHz range at a power level of -41 dBm/meter. The IEEE hopes to establish a standard with a target performance of 110 Mbits/s over 10 meters, 200 Mbits/s over four meters, and 480 Mbits/s at less than four meters. For more information, visit Focus’ Web site at http://lists.planetee.com/cgi-bin3/flo/y/eQP10Gl4E70EmQ08hA0Au

***Flash Disk Adds Data Security Features M-Systems has enhanced the security features on its IDE- and SCSI-based fast flash-disk products. The line now incorporates a data-sanitize procedure and selective and auto-resume quick security-erase capabilities. With these features, users can purge (erase) confidential data from flash memories within rigid standards set down by the Department of Defense, National Security Agency, Air Force, Army, and Navy. The security-erase feature erases all data in seconds, or it can be used selectively, erasing only a portion of the flash disk. This partial-erase capability lets customers purge confidential data only, so the flash disk can be immediately reloaded with new mission data. The auto-resume capability guarantees the automatic erasure of sensitive data, even if power is unstable or completely lost. Once power returns, the disk will automatically continue the erase procedure. For more information, go to http://lists.planetee.com/cgi-bin3/flo/y/eQP10Gl4E70EmQ08hB0Av

***Mega-Merger Produces Semiconductor Powerhouse Two of the largest Japanese semiconductor manufacturers will combine most of their product lines to form a new company, Renasas Technology Corp., which will control all the R&D, product definition, manufacturing, and marketing for a broad range of devices. Headquartered in Tokyo, Renasas will integrate multiple product families from Mitsubishi and Hitachi, including flash memory, SRAMs, microcontrollers, ASICs, and application-specific standard products. Hitachi will also add its IC-card products, its RF modules, and its mixed-signal products to the new company. However, Mitsubishi has sold its DRAM product line to Elpida, the company formed by the consolidation of DRAM product lines from several Japanese suppliers. Additionally, Mitsubishi will retain control of its optoelectronic products, its high-frequency RF devices, and its power devices. For more information, check out http://lists.planetee.com/cgi-bin3/flo/y/eQP10Gl4E70EmQ08hC0Aw

***x86 Competition To Continue... At Least For A Few Years VIA and Intel have settled their host of patent infringement cases. Under terms of the settlement, both companies entered into a 10-year patent cross-license agreement covering each other's products. VIA can create and sell processors that are instruction-set compatible but not pin- or bus-compatible with Intel processors. VIA received a four-year license to design and sell chip sets that are compatible with the Intel microprocessor bus.

***CORRECTION In the March 26 UPDATE, an incorrect link was provided for the Eclipse Consortium. The correct location is http://lists.planetee.com/cgi-bin3/flo/y/eQP10Gl4E70EmQ08hD0Ax

3. Upcoming Industry Events

April 22-24, Third International Conference on Lead-Free Components and Assemblies, Fairmont Hotel, San Jose, Calif. Jointly sponsored by IPC and JEDEC, this conference offers technical presentations, tutorials, guest speakers, and educational classes. http://lists.planetee.com/cgi-bin3/flo/y/eQP10Gl4E70EmQ08CH0AQ or http://lists.planetee.com/cgi-bin3/flo/y/eQP10Gl4E70EmQ08CI0AR

April 22-26, Embedded Systems Conference, San Francisco, Calif. This show will present more than 140 conference sessions, including tracks concentrating on system-on-a-chip designs and consumer electronics. Topics will include security, Wi-Fi, audio and video, Linux, and real-time design. http://lists.planetee.com/cgi-bin3/flo/y/eQP10Gl4E70EmQ08CJ0AS

April 23-24, Military and Aerospace Electronics East Show with COTScon, Baltimore, Md. http://lists.planetee.com/cgi-bin3/flo/y/eQP10Gl4E70EmQ08CK0AT or call (603) 891-9267.

April 27-May 2, Networld + Interop, Las Vegas, Nev. One of the largest networking conferences and expositions of the year will feature workshops and testing lab demonstrations. http://lists.planetee.com/cgi-bin3/flo/y/eQP10Gl4E70EmQ08Se0AB

May 11-13, NanoBusiness Spring, New York Marriott Financial Center, New York. Produced in association with the NanoBusiness Alliance, the show will feature presentations, demonstrations, networking, and business deals covering the emerging business of microsystems and nanaotechnology. http://www.nanobusiness.org

May 27-30, 53rd Electronic Components Technology Conferfence, New Orleans, La. Organized by the IEEE/CPMT ( http://lists.planetee.com/cgi-bin3/flo/y/eQP10Gl4E70EmQ08CR0Aa ), the conference focuses on electronic components,with a concentration on packaging. It includes sessions on optical and fiber-optic components. http://lists.planetee.com/cgi-bin3/flo/y/eQP10Gl4E70EmQ08CM0AV

4. Magazine Highlights
In case you missed them, here are some of the high points of our most recent issue, March 31, 2003.

* Cover Feature -- Success Story: Automotive Electronics -- OnStar System Puts Telematics On The Map Millions of drivers now take advantage of this interactive automotive security, convenience, and roadside-assistance infrastructure.

* Leapfrog: Industry First -- Cost-Savvy DSP Chip Trio Keeps Peformance High Second generation of Blackfin low-power processors targets converging multimedia and communications.

* Design View -- Troubleshoot High-Speed Buses By Clearing "Clock Scheme Fog" High-speed digital buses continuously evolve. Not only are they faster, they're also changing how a system clocks data.

For the complete Table of Contents, go to http://lists.planetee.com/cgi-bin3/flo/y/ePk30GmPTq0EmQ07xN0AY




Editorial: Lucinda Mattera,
Associate Chief Editor: mailto:[email protected]
Advertising/Sponsorship Opportunities: Bill Baumann,
Associate Publisher: mailto:[email protected]


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