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Smart on/off controllers improve reliability of battery-powered devices

March 25, 2010 // Paul Buckley

Smart on/off controllers improve reliability of battery-powered devices

STMicroelectronics has introduced new smart pushbutton 'on/off' controller ICs that are designed to improve the user experience for virtually any battery-powered portable device, including e-readers, tablets, media players, smartphones and digital cameras.  

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The new chips will enable next-generation mobile products to offer easy-to-use 'power-up', 'power-down' and 'unfreeze/reset' functions that will prevent damage to the end-user product. In addition, these single-chip turn-key solutions ease the design task for leading mobile and portable consumer manufacturers, enabling the replacement of 'tens' of discrete electronic components in product designs.

The new STM6600 and STM6601 smart pushbutton on/off controller chips offer protection for battery-operated devices in many ways. These include minimizing the risk of powering up without sufficient battery energy to complete the sequence, which can damage the system. To prevent this, the chip blocks power-up if the battery is excessively discharged. It can also prevent 'power-up' if it detects a fault in the power supply. The IC connects directly to the power button and another Smart Reset input can be connect to any other pushbutton in the system, and contains circuitry to prevent external interference such as electrostatic discharges (ESD) from causing unwanted 'power-up' or 'system-reset'.

As the latest members of ST's family of power-path management chips, the STM660x ICs also implement Smart-Reset capabilities to help users recover products that have crashed or frozen during normal operation. Smart Reset requires both pushbuttons to be held down for a minimum period, controlled by an external capacitor, before a reset occurs. The two-action reset eliminates the need to hide the reset button behind a hole in the outer casing to prevent accidental use, thereby lowering engineering costs and allowing the casing to be sealed if required.

The protection features integrated in the STM660x devices replaces as many as 30 or 40 discrete components or a CPLD (Complex Programmable Logic Device) with a separate voltage regulator, clock and a voltage detector to determine the battery condition. Alternatively a microcontroller with dedicated housekeeping features could be used, but this, too, requires an external crystal, a voltage detector and must also be programmed.

The STM660x's 2x3 mm footprint occupies less than half the pc-board space of any alternative approach, which unlocks valuable space savings for mobile products. Also important to portable product designers is the device's low active power consumption of 6 A and a zero-power shut-down mode consuming less than 1 A.

The STM6600 and STM6601 are in volume production now. Several configurations are available, allowing designers to optimize protection for their designs, priced from 0.65 US Dollars in quantities of 10,000.

Related links:

STM6600 and STM6601 smart pushbutton on/off controller chips


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