Freescale Sampling New PMICs For LED Market

September 07, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

Freescale Semiconductor announced that it is now sampling the first LED backlight product in its power management IC portfolio. The new 10-channel MC34844 white LED driver IC is designed for LED backlights in notebook computers, as well as in flat-panel monitors with screen sizes ranging from 10 inches to 27 inches.

"LED backlighting is a disruptive technology that will spur innovation and growth in the LCD market and enable more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly LCD displays," said Arman Naghavi, Vice President and General Manager of Freescale’s Analog, Mixed-Signal and Power Division. "As a leading analog supplier, Freescale is well-positioned to deliver advanced driver ICs for LED backlighting applications. The market for LED backlights offers untapped potential as growth opportunities expand from laptops and monitors to LCD TVs and automotive, consumer and industrial lighting applications."

Freescale plans to announce LED backlighting solutions for LCD TVs in Q1 2009. Also in 2009, the company expects to pursue the LED lighting market for automotive, commercial and residential applications, which is expected to eventually dwarf the LCD TV market.

Freescale’s MC34844 IC is described as the industry’s most compact LED backlight driver IC solution for large notebook and monitor applications. Capable of driving up to 160 LEDs in 10 parallel strings, the highly integrated device is said to provide greater LED control capabilities than any other single-chip solution currently available.

The company claims that the MC34844 provides an exceptional level of intelligence for LED backlighting. The pulse-width modulation (PWM) generator supports LED dimming, a feature that helps improve picture quality and enables a long screen life. The device also is said to be designed to deliver consistent performance over the lifetime of the LEDs by compensating for optical and temperature degradation.

Using the device’s I²C/SMBus interface, developers can program the LED current, PWM frequency and PWM duty cycle for the LEDs. Multiple devices can be synchronized for driving more LEDs. The MC34844 is engineered to remove the burden on the controller for PWM generation and to eliminate the need for PWM signals to travel through the printed circuit board, which can cause noise and electromagnetic compatibility performance issues.

Freescale is currently sampling the MC34844 LED driver IC for laptops and monitor applications. Broader market availability is planned for Q4 2008. The suggested resale price of the MC34844 in 10K quantities is $1.44 (USD).