STMicroelectronics Introduces Customizable Mixed-Signal Chip for Motion and Power Management
STMicroelectronics Inc. unveiled what it claims is the industry’s first IC with a complete set of configurable and customizable analog functions that represent what is said to represent a market-unique solution for printer, fax, and point-of-sale system applications. The new device, called the Structured Architecture of Bridges and Regulators (S.A.B.Re™), is claimed to combine low development costs and short time-to-market with maximum flexibility.
The S.A.B.Re complements ST’s SPEAr (Structured Processor Enhanced Architecture) family of customizable digital engines for printers, scanners and other embedded-control applications, extending the concept of easy configurability and customizability to the analog domain. Together, SPEAr and the S.A.B.Re are said to constitute the first complete customizable printer platform in the market.
ST’s S.A.B.Re device integrates a large number of features that can be configured and customized, including motor drivers, regulators, an analog-to-digital converter, operational amplifiers and voltage comparators. The flexibility is said to enable customers to easily and quickly adapt the S.A.B.Re device to the specific needs of a particular application. Certain architectural changes can be programmed via the serial interface and/or general purpose I/Os, while more complex functions can be customized with metal layers implementing specific macro functions. The metal customization does not modify any active part of the silicon, minimizing the risk of undesired parasitic effects, which are the biggest cause of problems in mixed-signal circuits.
The S.A.B.Re IC has been primarily developed for motion and power-supply parts in printer applications. Standing out from existing motor drivers and switching regulators, ST’s device functions as the "master" and manages the whole power section of the application with specific programmable PowerUp routines before the digital IC switches on. Due to its flexibility, ST’s S.A.B.Re can address any high-power, high-voltage analog and motor applications across the industrial segment.
The main components of ST’s S.A.B.Re IC are four configurable bridges that can also function as switching regulators or power charge; a variable-voltage buck switching regulator; a switching regulator controller; a linear regulator; a multi-channel configurable 9-bit A/D converter; two operational amplifiers; a bi-directional serial interface and several general-purpose I/Os. The S.A.B.Re’s very low power consumption and minimal power dissipation in power-off mode meet the requirements of energy-efficiency programs such as the Energy Star in the US.
Samples are available now, with volume production planned for Q4 2007. The S.A.B.Re IC is priced in the range of US$2.20-2.50, in quantities of several thousand units.