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The top 10 most popular analog and mixed signal news stories of 2010

December 22, 2010 // Paul Buckley

The top 10 most popular analog and mixed signal news stories of 2010

So it is that time of year when you want to put your feet up after digging your car out of the snowdrift. While you are waiting for your Xmas turkey or nut cutlet to defrost you can pass the time by taking a peek at EE Times Europe Analog's Top 10 most popular news stories of 2010.  The results are based on the news stories that were accessed by EE Times Europe Analog's readership since January 1, 2010.

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This year's most popular news items seem quite mixed bag. High performance ADCs seem to high on this year's pre-Xmas shopping list but haptic controllers, MEMS gyroscope devices and smart energy harvesting all seem to be popular keywords for use by the modern analog design engineers' search engines. A couple of quirky favorites for the inquisitive were stories about new transceivers that enable consumer brain control headsets to open door to wireless mind gaming and the potential of quantum film to replace the conventional CMOS image sensors in digital cameras.

The top ten news stories of 2010 are listed here in reverse order. Check out whether your favourite story is there.

10. 250 MSPS 16-bit ADC claims new level of signal processing performance

This story saw Analog Devices, Inc., claiming the industry's fastest 16-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC) with the unveiling of a 250 MSPS ADC that aims to provide a new level of signal processing performance for communications, test and measurement and defense electronics applications. The AD9467 features a high spurious-free dynamic range (SFDR) of up to 100 dBFs (90 dBFs up to 300 MHz) and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) performance of 76.4 dBFS.

The new converter is targeting applications such as radar systems, spectrum analyzers and multi-carrier, multi-mode receiver designs for wireless infrastructure equipment that are defined by high resolution and throughput.

9. RS unveils online Arduino resource centre

RS Components unveiled a comprehensive Arduino Resource Centre which follows on from the Arduino DevCamp hosted through, DesignSpark, the new online design gateway to resources and review. RS offers the Arduino Duemilanove board, support modules, components and resources across Europe, Asia and Africa. The RS Arduino Resource Centre contains everything engineers and students need to start designing straight away, including selector guides, customer reviews, videos and free Arduino software to download. Arduino MCU boards, Shield boards, workshop kits, books and other accessories are profiled in the Centre. There are also direct links to the Arduino wiki for support and inspiration and to RS' extensive range of sensors, motors and support components.

8. 15x10mm haptic control module gives keypad feel to flat panels

NXT plc launched a 15x10mm control module that, in combination with two 0.5 W moving coil transducers, added haptic touch to a flat panel whilst simultaneously turning the panel into a loudspeaker. The module is designed primarily for applications in white goods, security systems, home automation and industrial control. The haptic effect makes a touch panel feel like a mechanical keypad or keyboard.

7. Linear Technology and Energy Micro demonstrate smart energy harvesting solution

Linear Technology
and Energy Micro combined their expertise in energy harvesting power supplies and ultralow power 32-bit microcontrollers to produce a demonstration at Electronica 2010 that showcased the opportunities for smart energy harvesting applications.

Based on Energy Micro's low cost starter development kit, the demonstration relies on Linear Technology's LTC3588 piezoelectric energy harvesting power supply and Energy Micro's ARM Cortex-M3 enabled EFM32 Gecko microcontroller to create a wireless sensor node acquiring data from a 3-axis accelerometer and transmitting it over a Zigbee RF transceiver.

6. STMicroelectronics teams with Micropelt to demonstrate thermoharvesting power supply

Continuing the energy harvesting appeal STMicroelectronics teamed with Micropelt GmbH, a young German company specializing in novel thin film thermoelectric devices, to jointly develop an autonomous wireless sensor evaluation kit. The TE-Power NODE evaluation kit combines Micropelt's Thermogenerator and ST's EnFilm solid-state thin-film battery as energy storage for power backup and pulse current. Power management and charge monitoring circuitry connect to the included graphical user interface software via a 2.4 GHz wireless link.

5. AMD unveils two new x86 cores

AMD unveiled two new x86 cores Advanced Micro Devices made its first public presentations on Bulldozer and Bobcat which represent the first new x86 cores designed from a clean sheet of paper in ten years. The cores will form the underpinning of most of the products AMD will build over the next five to ten years to compete with archrival Intel in everything from data center servers to ultrathin netbooks.

4. Nordic 2.4-GHz transceivers enable consumer brain control headset to open door to wireless mind gaming

Pioneering wireless mind-control specialist, Emotiv, is employing Nordic Semiconductor's 2.4 GHz proprietary transceivers in the off-the-shelf EPOC Neuroheadset platform that Emotiv is now actively targeting at the mainstream consumer gaming industry. The Emotiv EPOC headset is essentially a wireless, real-time brain wave (EEG) acquisition device optimized for consumer use that uses 14 non-invasive sensors to measure unique brain wave signatures produced when a wearer simply 'thinks' of up to 13 gaming-applicable cognitive actions: left/right, push/pull, lift/drop, rotate in six dimensions, and vanish. (What this means, for instance, is that if the wearer thinks 'push' a gaming object will be propelled away from them, and if they think 'pull', it will be drawn towards them.)

3. Quantum film threatens to replace CMOS image chips

Just as photographic film was mostly replaced by silicon image chips, now quantum film threatens to replace the conventional CMOS image sensors in digital cameras. Made from materials similar to conventional film, a polymer with embedded particles, instead of silver grains like photographic film the embedded particles are quantum dots. Quantum films can image scenes with more pixel resolution, according to their inventors, InVisage Inc., offering four-times better sensitivity for ultra-high resolution sensors that are cheaper to manufacture.

2. First MEMS gyro packed into smarter iPhone 4

Probably on many people's Xmas shopping list is Apple Inc.'s iPhone 4 which claims the runner up sport with a news story that reported about the world's first smart phone to sport a MEMS gyroscope, confirming earlier speculation. Apple continues to set the pace for its competitors by adding a three-axis MEMS gyroscope to complement its pioneering use of a MEMS accelerometer, which has since been universally adopted by other smartphone vendors.

Which leaves us with 2010's Grand Winner of the Most Popular News story of the Year which focused on National Semiconductor Corp's release of the industry's fastest 12-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC).

National's 3.6 GSPS ADC12D1800 claimed to be 3.6 times faster than any other available 12-bit ADC.

The new ADC's dynamic performance of -147 dBm/Hz noise floor, 52 dB noise power ratio (NPR) and -61 dBFS intermodulation distortion (IMD) is designed to enable a new generation of software-defined radio (SDR) architectures and applications.

In this news analysis article EE Times Europe Analog's editor, Paul Buckley found out more about the industry's fastest 12-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC) by interviewing Paul McCormack who is the marketing manager for National's High-speed product group.

1. 12-bit ADC paves the way for new generation of software-defined radio solutions


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