Power Electronics

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Fairchild Semiconductor, AOS Resolve Patent Dispute

Fairchild Semiconductor and Alpha & Omega Semiconductor (AOS) have signed a settlement and cross-license agreement, ending a patent dispute that began in 2007. The settlement encompasses actions that each party has filed in the United States as well as in Taiwan. The parties announced that AOS will make a one-time nonmaterial payment to Fairchild, but otherwise the terms of the settlement and cross-license agreement were not released. The parties will file requests for dismissal of all outstanding lawsuits in the appropriate courts.

Samsung, Immersion Enter Agreement for Touch Feedback in Consumer Products

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has signed a worldwide license with Immersion Corp. for Immersion's TouchSense technology for digital audio devices. This license agreement expands the relationship between the two companies. TouchSense technology can provide touch feedback to many kinds of products, including consumer electronics, office automation equipment, portable devices, machine controls and kiosks/consoles.

“Samsung is truly an innovator, the first company to license our touch feedback system for mobile phones and now the first for digital audio devices,” said Chuck Joseph, Immersion's senior vice president and general manager, Touch Interface Products. “Our TouchSense touch feedback injects a vitality into the electronic user experience — an intuitive interactivity and a heightened sense of engagement. Because touch is the most personal of the senses, it's more satisfying and easier to use a product that responds ‘with feeling.’”

Hitachi Awarded Order from Eaton for Commercial Vehicle Hybrid System

Hitachi Ltd. and Hitachi Vehicle Energy Ltd. have been awarded an order from U.S.-based Eaton Corp. to supply motors, inverters, Li-ion batteries and other components for Eaton's hybrid power systems to be delivered through 2011. Plans call for commercial vehicles using Eaton's hybrid system to be rolled out in markets in North America, Europe and Asia.

Owing to stricter environmental regulations and rising concern about fuel economy worldwide, Hitachi expects the global market for hybrid commercial vehicles and passenger car hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) to continue expanding from the 690,000-unit level recorded in 2007 to 1.5 million units in 2010. Eaton hybrid commercial vehicles deployed in fleet operations today are achieving between 30% and 60% savings in fuel costs, dependent on driving route and operating conditions, along with similar percentage decreases in nitrogen oxides and other harmful emissions.

Hitachi develops and manufactures within the Hitachi Group major HEV components, namely motors, inverters and batteries. This and the delivery of these key components as systems are Hitachi's strengths. In particular, Hitachi subsidiary Hitachi Vehicle Energy is the only battery manufacturer in the world supplying Li-ion batteries for mass-produced vehicles. High hopes are held for these batteries as a key technology for next-generation HEVs.

“We're pleased to have Hitachi as a supplier and collaborator in the introduction of hybrid electric power to the world's commercial vehicle fleets,” said Kevin Beaty, business unit manager for Eaton's hybrid power business.

Automakers are expected to develop their HEV businesses in earnest from 2010. Under its Environmental Vision 2025, a long-term plan for combating global warming, Hitachi will help to protect the global environment through its HEV-related operations.

MOST Cooperation Presents MOST50 Allowing Electrical Implementations

The MOST Cooperation, the organization through which the automotive multimedia network Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) is standardized, presented a MOST50 technology demonstration at the Society of Automotive Engineering's Convergence show in Detroit on Oct. 20-22. MOST50 is already on the road in several car models.

Compared to the first generation, MOST25, the bandwidth is doubled and the flexibility of sharing the bandwidth between synchronous (streaming) and asynchronous data has been increased through a dynamic boundary between both frame segments.

The most significant feature of MOST50 is that it uses an electrical physical layer instead of plastic optical fiber. The “MOST Specification of Electrical Physical Layer 1V1” is a key specification that the cooperation offers its partners and members. It enables data transmission over an unshielded twisted pair of copper wires while meeting stringent automotive electromagnetic compatibility requirements. The MOST50 technology has been in production at a major Japanese carmaker since 2007.

MOST is a multimedia networking technology optimized for use in cars and other applications. It enables the transport of high quality of service audio and video together with packet data and real-time control over a single transmission medium. MOST can use plastic optical fiber or electrical unshielded or shielded twisted-pair-wire physical layers that meet automotive environmental requirements. Today, MOST is used in more than 60 car models as the communication backbone for their information and entertainment equipment.

The MOST Cooperation is the organization through which MOST technology is standardized and refined so that it continues to stay abreast of the latest industry requirements. Today, it consists of 16 international carmakers and more than 75 key component suppliers. They have joined together to work with the MOST technology and to contribute to its innovation. The MOST Cooperation is prepared to embrace efforts to further develop and standardize the technology for other industries and to establish the corresponding work structures.

For more information, visit www.mostcooperation.com.

Murata's Gerstle Honored for Role in Development of Key Power Standard

On Sept. 22, IPC awarded Don Gerstle, Murata Power Solutions' vice president of design quality, a Distinguished Committee Service Award. The award was made in appreciation and recognition of contributions in the development of the IPC-9592 standard, “Requirements for Power Conversion Devices for the Computer and Telecommunications Industries.”

The IPC-9592 standard was officially issued on Sept. 17 and sets the requirements for design, qualification testing, conformance testing and manufacturing quality/reliability processes. IPC-9592 addresses the fact there is presently no consistent overall standard for power supplies and dc-dc converters, with individual companies typically having their own standards.

The new standard is expected to become the common requirement for tier 1 telecom, IT and computer applications, and will support the development of better-quality products where more problems are eliminated before the product reaches the consumer.

“I am flattered and pleased to receive this award,” said Gerstle. “The development and introduction of IPC-9592 is an important and hugely significant step for the power industry. It will help customers by providing them with a consistently higher-quality product that will ultimately reflect in the quality, reliability and perception of their own finished systems and equipment in the market.”

Japan Design Center Develops LCD TV Power Source

Fairchild Semiconductor's Global Power Resource (GPR) design center in Japan has developed a design for LCD TVs that achieves 90% efficiency. The new design reduces the traditional four layers of pc board to two, by using the highly integrated FAN5069 and n-channel MOSFET products. The FAN5069 combines a pulse-width-modulated (PWM) controller and a low-dropout (LDO) linear regulator controller in a single package to provide high efficiency over a wide range of load current.

Efficiency is further enhanced by using low-side MOSFETs with low on-resistance to sense current. The n-channel MOSFETs reduce switching losses and optimize conduction losses. Both products are highly integrated to increase system efficiency and reduce component count.

This center in Japan, like all of Fairchild's design centers, is staffed with highly qualified technical engineers strategically located close to specific customers. The Japan center provides design solutions for power applications such as games, digital display panels and white goods markets.

Fairchild's design centers, located in Germany, Korea, Taiwan, China, South America and the United States, are part of the company's GPR, offering system power design, online design tools, evaluation boards, tutorials, and joint research and development labs worldwide. To enhance and broaden support for its customers, Fairchild has integrated resources on its Web site with design, selection and educational tools for customers to access and optimize designs. The goal of the GPR is to solve manufacturers' design challenges, while helping them speed their product's time to market.

Solar Power Association Rewards Industry Achievements

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) announced the results of the 2008 Solar Business Achievement Awards. Winners were selected in five categories based on their efforts to expand solar energy as an essential part of the solution to the growing global energy crisis. Nominees for the awards included utility CEOs, electric utilities and solar companies from SEPA's 400-plus member companies across the United States and around the world.

“As the electric utility industry and its customers evaluate how best to respond to the challenges of climate change and energy independence, our award winners are forging the way,” said Julia Hamm, SEPA's executive director.

Among the winners of the 2008 Solar Business Achievement Awards were:

Utility CEO of the Year: Ralph Izzo, the chairman, CEO and president of Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG). Izzo believes climate change is the preeminent issue of our time, with the power to transform the electric utility industry. He contends that utilities must play a role in promoting energy conservation and solar power because of their relationship with customers and their historical role in providing universal access to services. As a direct result of Izzo's leadership, PSEG has launched a $105 million loan program to help its customers install solar energy systems.

Innovation in Solar Program Design: Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). SMUD's SolarShares program recognizes barriers to solar adoption among residential customers and effectively removes them, opening up previously untapped market segments. By offering subscriptions to portions of a large locally sited solar “farm,” customers no longer need to have a suitable site, own their home, afford the capital investment or take on the risk of investing in a new technology. For a low fixed monthly fee, SolarShares subscribers receive all the benefits of solar ownership without the hassles: “virtual” net metering from a guaranteed amount of local solar generation, no maintenance and portability within district territory.

Partnering for Success: NV Energy (formerly Nevada Power Co.), MMA Renewable Ventures, SunPower Corp. and Nellis Air Force Base. The Nellis Air Force Base 14-MW solar power system is currently the largest solar photovoltaic installation in North America, generating more than 30 million kWh of clean electricity annually. Combining technology from SunPower Corp. and financing by MMA Renewable Ventures with discounted purchase commitments by the U.S. Air Force and renewable energy credit purchases by NV Energy, the Nellis project demonstrates how a public-private partnership coupled with an innovative approach to third-party financing can make solar an affordable solution at even the largest scale.

For more information, visit www.solarelectricpower.org.

Consumer Electronics Remain Must-Have Gifts of Holiday Season, Study Says

Consumer electronics products continue to top the holiday gift wish lists of adults and teens, resulting in 3.5% projected growth in fourth-quarter 2008 industry shipments over 2007, according to research recently released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The “15th Annual CE Holiday Purchase Patterns Study” was unveiled at CEA's Industry Forum, a conference designed to inform and connect leaders in the consumer electronics industry.

CEA found that consumer electronics comprise four of the top 10 items on adults' holiday gift wish lists, with computers coming in second behind peace and happiness. Televisions, video-game systems and cell phones also made the top 10. Nearly 80% of adults expressed interest in receiving a consumer electronics product as a gift this holiday season, an increase of four points from last year. Meanwhile, 84% of teens want to receive a consumer electronics product this year, up 8% from 2007. The most popular consumer electronics products for teens this holiday are computers, video game consoles, portable MP3 players and cell phones.

According to the study, consumers plan on spending a total of $1437 this holiday season, on everything from gifts to food to decorations. That number is down nearly $200 from last year as consumers cite cost-of-living increases and economic concerns as reasons for cutting back. While consumers are planning to spend less this holiday season, they are actually preparing to spend more on consumer electronics. Twenty-eight percent of the total holiday budget is being allocated for consumer electronics purchases, an increase of 6% from last holiday.

The study also tracked the gifts consumers are planning on giving their friends and family this holiday. Video-game systems topped the list, followed by digital cameras, portable MP3 players and DVD players. Video games also topped the “wow factor” list as consumers feel they would make a great gift. High-definition TVs came in a close second.

As the crisis on Wall Street impacts spending this holiday season, both consumers and retailers will have to be more creative. Of those surveyed, two-thirds of consumers say they will use coupons and spend more time shopping around for bargains. Half also plan on using cash this holiday, instead of putting purchases on their credit card. However, four in 10 plan on using some form of credit.

“Consumers may have more trouble being approved for a credit card this holiday,” according to CEA economist Shawn DuBravac. “Four in 10 tech insiders believe significantly more consumers will be turned down for credit during the fourth quarter.”

The study found that retailers also should make the most out of their advertising dollars. Half of consumers said coupons and circulars in the Sunday paper are useful, while 45% said TV commercials are effective.

New 7-MW Solar Electric Power Plant Dedicated in Spain

Solar cell, panel and systems manufacturer SunPower and the Naturener Group have dedicated a 7-MW solar electric power plant in Casas de Don Pedro, Badajoz, Spain. Solargen, a corporate affiliate of Naturener Group, owns the plant.

SunPower has installed its proprietary SunPower Tracker solar-tracking system at the site, covering approximately 40 hectares or more than 98 acres. The SunPower Tracker follows the sun as it moves across the sky, increasing sunlight capture by up to 25% over conventional fixed-tilt systems.

“Naturener chose SunPower's innovative solar tracker technology as part of our turnkey solar solution,” said Mario Riello, European sales director of SunPower. “The SunPower Tracker solar power system is a proven and reliable solution for maximizing the highest energy delivery, while optimizing land use and reducing related costs.”

Rafael Sanchez-Castillo, CEO of Naturener Group, said, “This project extends our existing renewable portfolio of hydro and wind generation. We are pleased to work with SunPower and continue our expansion of renewable energy in the Spanish and North American markets.”

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