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Friday, July 19, 2019

Transceiver for '6G' wireless

By Nick Flaherty

Engineers at the University of California, Irvine, have developed a transceiver that leapfrogs over the 5G wireless standard operating in the 28 to 38GHz range into the proposed 6G standard which is expected to work at 100GHz and above.

The chip developed by UCI's Nanoscale Communication Integrated Circuits Labs with a 55nm SiGe BiCMOS process from TowerJazz and STMicroelectronics measures 2.5 x 3.5 mm and operates in the 115-135-GHz band using an 8PSK receiver with multi-phase RF-correlation-based direct demodulation. 

"We call our chip 'beyond 5G' because the combined speed and data rate that we can achieve is two orders of magnitude higher than the capability of the new wireless standard," said Payam Heydari, NCIC Labs director and UCI professor of electrical engineering & computer science. "In addition, operating in a higher frequency means that you and I and everyone else can be given a bigger chunk of the bandwidth offered by carriers."

The key is that the output of the RF direct conversion receiver architecture is demodulated bits, avoiding the need for power-hungry high-speed-resolution data converters. It has a maximum conversion gain of 32 dB and a minimum noise figure (NF) of 10.3 dB, giving a a data rate of 36Gb/s at a distance of 30cm, consuming a total DC power of 200.25 mW. As a result, this could be used to replace high speed fibre optic cables in data centres say the researchers.

"Our innovation eliminates the need for miles of fibre optic cables in data centres, so data farm operators can do ultra-fast wireless transfer and save considerable money on hardware, cooling and power," said Huan Wang, a UCI doctoral student in electrical engineering & computer science and an NCIC Labs member.

"The Federal Communications Commission recently opened up new frequency bands above 100 gigahertz," said lead author and postgraduate researcher Hossein Mohammadnezhad, a UCI grad student at the time of the work who this year earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering & computer science. "Our new transceiver is the first to provide end-to-end capabilities in this part of the spectrum."

Heydari said that in addition to enabling the transmission of signals in the range of 100 gigahertz, the transceiver's unique layout allows it to consume considerably less energy than current systems at a reduced overall cost, paving the way for widespread adoption in the consumer electronics market.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Posix operating system runs on manycore chip

By Nick Flaherty

French multicore chip maker Kalray is supporting the eMCOS POSIX1 Real Time Operating System (RTOS) from eSOL in Japan to run on Kalray’s MPPA intelligent processor. The deal is aimed at Automotive, Industrial and Medical Markets. This support extends the already existing eMCOS Core profile that has been available for several years on the MPPA architecture.

eSOL supports the AUTOSAR automotive standard allowing the use of a wide range of applications on the MPPA processor including advanced control frameworks like Robot Operating System for robot control, Autoware for autonomous driving, and other embedded software frameworks. eSOL also has a strong presence and experience on medical and industrial markets.

eSOL’s distributed microkernel architecture enables optimal use of manycore processors such as Kalray’s MPPA, especially with the transition from MPPA 2nd generation Bostan to 3rd generation Coolidge, reusing similar tools to develop applications.

“Massive system consolidation especially on the automotive domain, are now becoming realistic architecture option with the impressive amount of power available on the current and next-generation of Kalray’s intelligent processor” said Masaki Gondo, eSOL CTO. “eSOL and Kalray will continue this fruitful cooperation to provide relevant optimized and integrated solutions to satisfy our joint customers’ ever-growing needs for performance, safety and security.”

"Disruptive technology such as Kalray’s MPPA needs development environment such as eSOL’s eMCOS to enable smooth adoption at customers for a wide and growing range of applications. eMCOS POSIX provides a full-featured RTOS ensuring POSIX compatibility to OEMs, with the capability to execute multiple applications in parallel” said St├ęphane Cordova, Vice-President of Embedded Business Unit at Kalray, “Combining eMCOS with the high performance of MPPA® processors gives customers a unique solution for a fast ramp up."

The eSOL POSIX multi-process RTOS offers the capability to define complex systems such as autonomous vehicles. While eMCOS Core provides a PSE51 single-context POSIX API for high-performance parallel computing, eMCOS POSIX adds PSE53 multi-process POSIX support for advanced software integration where more memory is available.

eSOL and Kalray are also cooperating to provide AUTOSAR-compliant software platforms, including both AUTOSAR Classic Platform and Adaptive Platform, to conform to modern automotive standards. This integration will help customers aggregate more functions on MPPA®-based systems, while still meeting the isolation and safety level requirements.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Oxford PV raises $90m for perovskite solar cell production ... Excitons boost solar cell efficiency ... Wireless charging at a distance approval ... Danifuse deal with NI

By Nick Flaherty


. Oxford PV closes $90m round for perovskite solar cell production

. Littelfuse breaks ground on Asian power module assembly plant

. Danisense partners with National Instruments on power analysis

. Excitons boost silicon solar cell efficiency to 35 percent

. Ossia gets approval for wireless charging at a distance


. Power entry module integrates fuse holder

. DC-DC converter in a standard quarter brick aims at hi-rel designs

. 600V and 700V MOSFET families built on 300mm technology


. CAN bus IMU for autonomous car safety

. Avnet Silica and ON Semiconductor - Designing for the IoT as Intelligence Moves to the Edge

. NI-Key Considerations for Powertrain HIL Test

26 5G devices announced last month for a total of 90

By Nick Flaherty

The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) today confirmed that the number of announced 5G devices has more than doubled in the last three months, with 26 new devices added in June alone. The total of commercialised 5G devices that have been announced is now 90 globally, from 39 vendors. New 5G device form factors reported for the first time include drones, laptops and robots.

The June 2019 5G Ecosystem Report containing summary statistics can be downloaded for free from

At the end of June 2019, GSA had identified 39 vendors who have confirmed the availability of forthcoming 5G devices with 90 different devices including regional variants, up from 64 in May. There were 13 announced 5G device form factors, compared to nine in the previous month.

Breakdown per form factor:
  • 25 phones (plus regional variants)
  • 7 hotspots (plus regional variants)
  • 23 CPE devices (indoor and outdoor)
  • 23 modules
  • 2 Snap-On dongles / adapters
  • 2 routers
  • 2 IoT routers
  • 2 drones
  • 1 laptop
  • 1 switch
  • 1 USB terminal
  • 1 robot
“As we see operators commercially launching their first 5G services, so this is being mirrored in the wider 5G ecosystem with a significant acceleration in the rate of new device announcements,” said Joe Barrett, President, GSA. 

 “Significantly, we’re also seeing range of form factors continue to grow as manufacturers turn to 5G to deliver the connectivity in their new devices. While not all devices are available immediately and specification details remain limited for some devices, what is beyond any doubt is that the 5G vendor ecosystem is racing to fulfil a need in the market for an ever-increasing range of connected devices capable of delivering new services, experiences and economies.”

Monday, July 01, 2019

Cryogenic batteries take on power stations ... Inductive charging can kill batteries ... Electrothermal storage uses volcanic rock

Power news by Nick Flaherty at eeNews Europe Power

. World’s first giga-scale cryogenic battery takes on power stations

. Inductive charging threat to lithium battery performance

. Volcanic electrothermal energy storage system starts up in Germany

. BMW test car explores the limits of electric drives

. Dutch energy harvesting PMIC boosts NB-IoT chip

. Stretchable nanogenerator mimics electric eel’s skin discharges


. Dual output 20W and 40W DC-DC converters for railway systems

. Bi-directional current sense amplifier with PWM rejection boosts motor efficiency

. TTI: MLCC shortages: considering your options

. NI-Key Considerations for Powertrain HIL Test

Top stories in June on the Embedded blog

By Nick Flaherty

Last month saw some significant 'long tail' interest in older stories on the blog, back to 2017 and even 2010.

From the more recent stories, the move to superconductivity at room temperature saw the most interest, although the need for high pressures is still a barrier to overcome. The move to 5nm chips is also on the way with the first certified low power design platform, while the emergence of narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) capability at the lower frequency of 450MHz will reduce power consumption further and extend the range between sensor nodes in the Internet of Things, particularly on farms. This is why Sony subsidiary Altair showed the technology operating on connected tractors. Microsoft buying ThreadX remains an interesting story, and we are keeping a close eye on how that will emerge in the market against Amazon FreeRTOS.   

Friday, June 28, 2019

Telit launches two modules for massive 5G narrowband IoT rollout

By Nick Flaherty

Telit has launched two modules designed for mass-scale LTE-M and NB-IoT deployments that feature hundreds of thousands or millions of devices. 

Based on the new Qualcomm 9205 LTE modem and featuring optional 2G fallback, the ME310G1 and ME910G1 modules also provide a future-proof foundation for IoT deployments that span legacy networks, 4G and 5G. 
The ME310G1 and ME910G1 are the first 3GPP Release 14 additions to the Telit portfolio and the first members of Telit’s new series based on the Qualcomm 9205 LTE IoT Modem, which was announced in late 2018. The highly compact chipset enables Telit to meet booming global demand for ultra-small modules for applications such as wearable medical devices, fitness trackers and industrial sensors.

The new modules are ideal for battery-powered applications via improved features such as Power Saving Mode (PSM) and extended Discontinuous Reception (eDRX), which periodically wakes up the device to transmit only the smallest amounts of data necessary before returning to sleep mode. Both modules also ensure reliable indoor connections, with a maximum coupling loss of up to +15dB/+20dB for superior in-building penetration compared to earlier LTE standards.

“With the new ME310G1 and ME910G1, Telit once again enables IoT developers, providers and their customers to take advantage of the latest and greatest technologies—in this case the new Qualcomm 9205 LTE IoT modem and 3GPP Release 14, supporting Cat M1 and NB2” said Manish Watwani, chief marketing and product officer, Telit. “The ME310G1 is extremely optimized in size, and both the ME310G1 and ME910G1 are highly optimized for affordability, power efficiency, performance, and future-proofing, making them the ideal foundation for mass-scale IoT deployments that need to remain in service for a decade or longer.”

“Qualcomm Technologies provides the cutting-edge connectivity and compute technologies that enable a massive volume and range of connected devices,” said Jeffery Torrance, vice president, business development, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “We are proud to work with Telit as they continue to offer exciting new products that drive the Internet of Things forward and lay the foundation for the connected 5G world.”

The multi-band ME310G1 and ME910G1 are available in versions with 2G fallback for use in areas where LTE-M/NB-IoT service is yet to be deployed. These versions also support GSM voice and will support VoLTE for applications that require the ability to make phone calls.

The ME910G1 is the latest member of Telit’s best-selling xE910 and family. The ME910G1 is also a drop-in replacement in existing devices based on the family’s modules for 2G, 3G and the various categories of LTE. With Telit’s design-once-use-anywhere philosophy, developers can cut costs and development time by simply designing for the xE910 LGA common form factor, giving them the freedom to deploy technologies best suited for the application’s environment.

The ME310G1 LTE-only variant is less than 200 mm2 and variant with 2G fallback is less than 300mm2 and they enable enterprises to deploy new small footprint designs across many application areas including asset tracking, health-care monitoring, smart metering, portable devices, industrial sensors, home automation, and others that benefit from low-power and low-data rate capabilities. The xE310 family’s flexible perimeter footprint includes pin-to-pin compatible 2G and 4G modules, enabling integrators to design a single PCB layout and deploy a combination of technologies.

ME310G1 and ME910G1 samples are now available. Mass production begins in late 2019 and Q1 2020, depending on the product version.
Related NB-IoT stories 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Doubling power density of lithium batteries and solid state cells ... Siemens sells of electric aircraft motor business

Power news this week by Nick Flaherty at eeNews Europe

. Siemens sells electric aircraft propulsion business to Rolls-Royce

. Pure electric cars to accelerate the demise of plug-in hybrids

. Schneider Electric launches its first US smart factory

. Carbon nanotubes breakthrough doubles energy density of batteries

. Imec doubles energy density of solid state battery


. 800V boost for bus converter module

. Encapsulated AC-DC power supply series for PCB mounting

. 650W modular AC-DC power supply shrinks in size


. NI-Key Considerations for Powertrain HIL Test

. Forward or Flyback? Which is Better?

. Rapid generation of LDO variants

Raspberry Pi 4 boosts performance Bluetooth 5 and 4K video

By Nick Flaherty

The Raspberry Pi 4 has gone on sale, offering a range of memory options.

The $35 board has a 1.5GHz quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A72 CPU from Broadcom, the BCM2711, providing three times the performance of the previous version, with 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of LPDDR4 SDRAM. There is full-throughput Gigabit Ethernet with dual-band 802.11ac wireless networking and Bluetooth 5.0 as well as two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports.
There is dual monitor support at resolutions up to 4K with VideoCore VI graphics, supporting OpenGL ES 3.x, 4Kp60 hardware decode of HEVC video and complete compatibility with earlier Raspberry Pi products.

The 1GB costs $35, with the 2GB at $45 and 4GB for $55. This is the first time that the raspberry Pi Foundation has offered different memory option.

The form factor has been updated with USB-C for the power connector that  supports an extra 500mA of current, ensuring  a full 1.2A for downstream USB devices, even under heavy CPU load.

To accommodate dual display output within the existing board footprint, the type-A (full-size) HDMI connector has been replaced with a pair of type-D (micro) HDMI connectors. The Gigabit Ethernet magjack has moved to the top right of the board, from the bottom right, greatly simplifying PCB routing. The 4-pin Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) connector remains in the same location, so Raspberry Pi 4 remains compatible with the PoE HAT.

The Ethernet controller on the main SoC is connected to an external Broadcom PHY over a dedicated RGMII link, providing full throughput. USB is provided via an external VLI controller, connected over a single PCI Express Gen 2 lane, and providing a total of 4Gbps of bandwidth, shared between the four ports.

All three connectors on the right-hand side of the board overhang the edge by an additional millimetre, with the aim of simplifying case design. In all other respects, the connector and mounting hole layout remains the same, ensuring compatibility with existing HATs and other accessories.

The board has a radically overhauled operating system, based on the forthcoming Debian 10 Buster release. This brings numerous behind-the-scenes technical improvements, along with an extensively modernised user interface, and updated applications including the Chromium 74 web browser. 

One notable step forward is that for Raspberry Pi 4 the legacy graphics driver stack used on previous models has been retired. Instead, the Mesa “V3D” driver developed by Eric Anholt at Broadcom over the last five years provides OpenGL-accelerated web browsing and desktop composition, and the ability to run 3D applications in a window under X. It also eliminates roughly half of the lines of closed-source code in the platform.

Connector and form-factor changes bring with them a requirement for new accessories. Kinneir Dufort and manufacturers T-Zero have developed an all-new two-part case, priced at $5.

Good, low-cost USB-C power supplies (and USB-C cables) are surprisingly hard to find, so Ktec has developed a suitable 5V/3A power supply; this is priced at $8, and is available in UK (type G), European (type C), North American (type A) and Australian (type I) plug formats.

Altair shows first NB-IoT at 450MHz using connected tractors

By Nick Flaherty

Altair Semiconductor has shown the first implementation of LTE CAT-M/NB-IoT running at 450MHz, giving lower power and longer range.
The ALT1250 chipset is powering the Asiatelco LM66 IoT module, which provides LTE connectivity for a range of connected devices, and has been developed to provide agricultural solutions for large-scale farming in Brazil.

Operating on the 450 MHz LTE spectrum and using Ericsson's LTE eNBs, Altair's cellular IoT chipset enables agricultural companies using smart sensors and connected tractors applications to optimize farming practices. The solution uses location tracking, driver behaviour monitoring, and fuel consumption optimization.
“Altair is looking to revolutionize cellular IoT connectivity across Brazil. The solution was field tested and demonstrated the potential of 450 MHz’s frequency reach in agriculture use cases. It will certainly enable an exciting range of transformative applications in rural areas”, said Paulo Bernardocki, Head of Solutions Radio, Ericsson LATAM South.

Altair's highly integrated dual-mode cellular IoT chipset, ALT1250, is the only available CAT-M and NB-IoT solution trialed to run on 450 MHz. The chipset supports Global LTE bands within a single hardware design and supports both satellite and cellular positioning tracking. The Altair-powered LM66 modules are capable of connecting and delivering data over the LTE450 network as well.

"There's a global trend resulting in a significant amount of 450 MHz spectrum being re-allocated for new use cases on LTE450 networks, as legacy 2G and 3G networks are being retired," said Igor Tovberg, Altair's Director of Product Marketing. "450 MHz is ideal for agricultural IoT applications, providing superior network coverage essential for the wide and often remote farming locations that exist in Brazil."

Altair is part of the Sony Group following its acquisition in early 2016.

Related NB-IoT stories: