Power Electronics

Mobile Internet Devices Give Rise to New Power Management Chips

With their demands for high levels of functional integration and long battery life, the next generation of mobile internet devices (MIDs) is inspiring the development of power management ICs tailored to the applications. Companies such as Freescale Semiconductor, NEC Electronics, Dialog Semiconductor, and Texas Instruments are leveraging their expertise in mixed-signal IC design, semiconductor process technology, and manufacturing to create the new chips, which may also contain audio, interface, and other functions.

Chipmakers Collaborate

Earlier this week at the Consumer Electronics Show, Freescale announced it is partnering with Intel Corporation to develop a mixed-signal power management chip set based on Freescale SMARTMOS technology. This chipset will provide a high-performance audio and power management solution for Intel-based MIDs and is being designed to efficiently manage power, enabling smaller form factors and longer battery life.

“This collaboration combines the strengths of two semiconductor industry leaders to address complex power-management challenges for next-generation Mobile Internet Devices," said Arman Naghavi, vice president and general manager of Freescale's Analog, Mixed-Signal & Power Division. "Freescale’s process technology and IP provide an ideal complement to Intel's leadership and technology innovation in mobile processing.”

The audio and power management chip set is to be manufactured using Freescale's SMARTMOS technology, a high-voltage CMOS-based process that enables high integration of precision analog, power devices and logic. When paired with Intel's low-power processors and chipsets, the power management chip set is expected to provide an energy-efficient processing solution for a range of MIDs.

“Mobile Internet Devices are an exciting growth opportunity for the industry and will enable consumers to carry a full Internet experience in their pockets,” said Pankaj Kedia, director of global ecosystem Programs in the Ultra Mobility Group at Intel Corporation.

Initial samples of Freescale's power management ICs are expected to be available in the second half of 2008.

Expanding PMIC Availability

Also announced this week was NEC Electronics America’s plan to expand its product offering to include highly integrated power management ICs (PMICs) targeting the next wave of MIDs. The chips will allow for integration of compelling applications and services such as Internet and cellular network access, multimedia playback, navigation, gaming, social networking and other innovative Web 2.0 applications.

Although no specific parts are being announced at this time, the PMIC offerings announced by NEC Electronics America will be an extension of the existing product offerings from their parent company, NEC Electronics Corp, which is based in Japan. NEC Electronics’ PMIC solutions combine power management, logic, audio, user interface, connectivity and communications functions to maximize battery life, support high levels of integration and minimize board space.

Another IC vendor, Dialog Semiconductor, indicates that they are continually working on highly integrated mixed-signal devices that combine power management and audio functions for the latest generation mobile internet devices that provide multimedia, audio, video, and Internet. The fabless semiconductor company plans to showcase its latest chips at the Mobile World Congress, February 11 in Barcelona, Spain.

Others working in this area include Texas Instruments, which has a portfolio of PMICs that support the company’s OMAP processors as well as other application processors that find use in MIDs. The company notes that its PMIC development is ongoing and that it’s working with top manufacturers as they develop MIDs, ultra-mobile PCs and other portable applications that incorporate wireless capabilities.

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