Renesas Electronics, a premier supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions, today introduced Smart Analog, a technology innovation that stands to have a radical effect on the way engineers implement sensors in embedded designs.
Modern sensor devices are complex systems that require tuning of circuitry to convert the analog signals produced by the sensor itself into a signal appropriate for a microcontroller’s (MCU) analog-to-digital converter (ADC) subsystem. This iterative tuning process is time-consuming, adversely affecting time-to-market for most projects. The analog front end (AFE), an essential system building block to a sensor circuit, amplifies and/or filters sensor signals that are often weak, or its electrical configurations differ from the one used by the MCU. The AFE that performs this vital bridging function is often difficult to simulate and must be adjusted because of specific component behavior, board layout, and nearby noise sources.
In many cases, engineers must use a trial-and-error method to calibrate the right analog circuit design.
Renesas is leveraging their technology expertise in both microcontrollers and analog ICs to develop Smart Analog, an ingenious yet simple way for embedded designers to configure their analog circuits speeding time-to-market, while leveraging the MCU to automate sensor trimming and correct for long-term drift resulting in a more intelligent sensor.
Key Features of the Smart Analog:
1) Configurable amplifier circuits that are adaptable to hundreds of sensor applications
The Smart Analog technology implements a range of AFE topologies designed to be easily programmed to support countless types of sensors with a single device. The technology uses a set of configurable amplifier circuits which can be tailored using an intelligent and intuitive software GUI. This configurability enables the engineer to adjust for sensor, board, noise and other characteristics without board-level experimentation. As Smart Analog is field programmable, the circuit characteristics can be modified for sensor drift after equipment is installed, therefore reducing service and maintenance costs for system vendors. With Smart Analog technology, sensors such as accelerometers, flow, ultrasonic distance, gas/chemical, or even human body sensors can be easily tuned to meet the system requirements for a wide range of industrial, commercial and medical applications.
2) Low-power, Small Footprint Hardware Platform
Smart Analog technology replaces the discrete components that typically measure and regulate sensor data, into a single semiconductor package. Discrete component count can be reduced by as much as a factor of ten, allowing for a much smaller overall footprint. Additionally, the power-on/off feature of each block of Smart Analog subsystem yields significant savings in power consumption, in some cases as much as 20 percent.
3) Reduced Development Time and Cost
You no longer need to be an analog expert to design your AFE. Engineers will be able to get their development projects up and running quickly and easily with the powerful GUI-based sensor configuration software tool that enables “on the fly” configuration and simulation of the analog front-end, by allowing the designer to easily change gain values or do offset tuning. This greatly simplifies sensor calibration and debugging and can reduce the overall design lead time between 3 to 8 months significantly lowering development costs.
The Smart Analog technology expands Renesas’ portfolio of technology solutions to provide developers with a platform on which to innovate while focusing their core areas of expertise. For more information about the Smart Analog platform, please visit http://www.renesas.eu/products/promotion/smart_analog/index.jsp.
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About Renesas Electronics Europe
Renesas Electronics Europe with its Business Operations Centre located in Dusseldorf, Germany, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Renesas Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723), the world’s number one supplier of microcontrollers and a premier supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions including microcontrollers, SoC solutions, secure MCU applications and a broad-range of analog and power devices. Renesas Electronics’ European structure is comprised of three dedicated business groups serving the region’s key markets: automotive, communications & consumer and industrial. The business groups are supported by the Engineering Group, which itself includes the Engineering Design Centre; the European Quality Centre that provides technical support to local customers in Europe; and the European Technology Centre to design leading-edge products specifically for the European market. Further information about Renesas Electronics Europe can be found at: www.renesas.eu.
Company contact for reader and customer inquiries:
Renesas Electronics Europe GmbH, Arcadiastr. 10, 40472 Düsseldorf
Tel.: +49 211 65 03-1469