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Renesas Electronics Announces the Development of Smart Analog – A Fully Configurable Analog Front-end Technology Enabling Smarter Sensors

Renesas DevCon, Orange County, , Calif., October 22, 2012 — Renesas Electronics America, 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.

“We live in an analog world so the market is inundated with countless types of sensor technologies. As a result, the engineer has to spend a great amount of time testing and tuning their analog circuits to interface to these sensors,” said Ritesh Tyagi, senior director, Microcontroller Products & Solutions Marketing at Renesas Electronics America. “Smart Analog technology was specifically developed to significantly simplify this step in the design process and be reused as a common platform for different sensor variants.”

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. A demonstration of the technology will be presented at this year’s Renesas Electronics DevCon 2012, in Orange County, CA. For more information about the Smart Analog platform, please visit www.am.renesas.com/SmartAnalog

About DevCon 2012

DevCon 2012 (October 22-25 in Orange County, California) is a four-day event encapsulating an environment of valuable technical information exchange, which will include personalized direct and interactive access to Renesas’ technology experts and partners from around the world. This year, DevCon will highlight technologies that are enabling a Smart Society. There will be hundreds of hours of lectures and hands-on labs on an array of technologies and application topics as well as discussion forums. To register and obtain the latest Renesas DevCon details and activities, visit Renesas Electronics DevCon 2012, follow @RenesasAmerica on Twitter or join the DevCon community on Facebook.

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All other registered trademarks or trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

About Renesas Electronics America Inc.

Renesas Electronics America Inc., headquartered in Santa Clara, California, 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, and a broad range of analog and power devices. In the Americas, Renesas Electronics America markets and sells industrial-type active-matrix LCD modules from NEC LCD Technologies, Ltd., a global leader in innovative display technologies. More information about the products offered by Renesas Electronics America can be found at http://am.renesas.com.

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