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Cover Story- Power Factor Correction Goes Digital

October 28, 2008 10:41 am | by Vinaya Skanda, Senior Applications Engineer, Microchip Technology. | Comments

Most power-conversion applications require a DC source, which uses a rectifier that draws non-sinusoidal line currents. As a result, line-current harmonics have become a significant problem and they lead to overheating of transformers and inductive equipment, degradation of system voltages and increased stress on components. In addition, stringent limits imposed on harmonic currents by international groups make the need to improve power quality even more important. Power-factor correction (PFC) can help solve these problems.

Should Energy Star exist?

October 28, 2008 7:20 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Comments

The recent Energy Star controversy must inevitably be discussed in a broader context. To sum up current events: on June 2nd, the EPA violated Energy Policy Act (EPACT) 2005 by releasing a “technical amendment” (version 4.2) to their Energy Star solid state lighting criteria without consulting “interested parties” (i.e. industry).

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Brainstorm: RoHS Regulation

October 24, 2008 9:59 am | by Edited by Jason Lomberg | Comments

Considering the military's exemption to RoHS regulation and its continued need for leaded parts, where do you think the reduced availability of leaded parts will make the greatest impact on the Mil/Aero market?

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Industry Focus: Touchscreens Press Deep Into Consumer Electronics

October 21, 2008 9:45 am | by Christopher Keuling, Associate Editor | Comments

Touchscreen technology has become more prominent in recent years, especially in the consumer and kiosk markets. PDAs, ATM machines, supermarket check-outs, and Apple’s iPhone are among the most well-known uses of touchscreen technology. Some touchscreen technologies have found a place in applications where the more commercially known technologies (resistive and capacitive) are inadequate. This month, we review the different types of touchscreen technologies available for the consumer electronics industry, along with their pros and cons, their applications, and a look into the future.

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Fear itself

October 21, 2008 9:16 am | by Alix Paultre, Editor-in-Chief | Comments

Everyone is worried about the global economy, and many are afraid that the U.S. electronic design and manufacturing industry is facing dire straights. To those who worry, I say that the primary American electronic markets are amongst the most economically stable places in this crisis, and have some of the most innovative and creative engineers in the world.

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Semiconductor Highlight: Integrated Drivers Optimize Stepper Motor Controller Design

October 21, 2008 8:55 am | Comments

Stepper motor system designers today require more than simple drivers. They demand increased value such as reduced BOM costs with higher performance, which is helping stepper motors gain popularity in many applications historically reserved for DC motors.

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Design Talk: The New Face of Test

October 16, 2008 11:18 am | Comments

Internet mobility is growing today and is the way of the future.  The challenge we are seeing with the current generation of Wireless Internet devices is revealed in the battle between Internet upload performance and battery life. End (cell phone) users’ expectations are rising to match the high upload speeds like those of the wired Internet -- without the burden of constantly recharging their batteries.

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Embedded Systems: Kits for Kids

October 15, 2008 6:17 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Comments

I'll begin this column with a recommendation: Start kits with a set of basic hand tools. When my son went to college, he had tools to hang pictures, connect TV sets and CD players, and tighten desks and shelves. As a result, he met most of the people on his co-ed floor. When our daughter went to college she got a tool kit, too. I suggest Phillips and flat-blade screwdrivers, pliers, diagonal cutters, wire strippers and a couple of adjustable wrenches. Later you could add a set of nut drivers, sockets wrenches and an inexpensive soldering iron.

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Cover Story: DDS ICs and IP Make Waves

October 15, 2008 5:40 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Comments

You can think of direct digital synthesis as a technique that lets a digital value control the frequency of a sine wave. At its simplest, a DDS circuit involves a binary counter, a ROM programmed with equally spaced sine values for one full wave, and a digital-to-analog converter to convert the stored sine values to voltages. The frequency of the counter's clock determines the sine-wave frequency, but that's an inflexible arrangement.

Brainstorm: Energy Star

October 7, 2008 11:45 am | by Edited by Jason Lomberg | Comments

What are your thoughts on the EPA’s Residential Light Fixture “Technical Amendment,” and their attempts to remove a “competitive disadvantage” for legacy technologies?

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Heads-up for HUD tech

September 26, 2008 6:01 am | by Christopher Keuling, Associate Editor | Comments

While researching for this month’s Industry Focus on Automotive Electronics, I encountered an issue pertaining to infotainment I never considered: government regulation. It arose as the I was asking questions about head-up display (HUD) technology. Industry trends are showing that caller ID, lights for speed, gas and warnings, radio station name...

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Industry Focus- Automotive Infotainment Drives Vehicle Trends

September 26, 2008 5:48 am | by Christopher Keuling, Associate Editor | Comments

When consumers shop for a new vehicle, they look at price and gas mileage as key factors in their purchasing decision. Technology, now more portable than ever, is also on the mind of the American consumer. Cell phones, GPS navigation devices, mp3 players, and other video applications are becoming both a necessity and a convenience for drivers.

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Semiconductor Highlight: Low-Cost Embedded NVM for Power Management Designs

September 26, 2008 5:23 am | by Yakov Roizin, Evgeny Pikhay, Amos Fenigstein, Avi Strum, Tower Semiconductor | Comments

In this paper we present two unique NVM solutions which can close two significant gaps in the embedded  memory  IC world. Today’s designers have a large choice of  embedded non-volatile memories (NVM) verified in different production technologies. These memories can be divided into three groups

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Embedded Systems: Safeguard Ethernet Interfaces from Cable Discharges

September 26, 2008 4:39 am | by Timothy Puls, Product Marketing Engineer and Hani Geske, Senior Applications Engineer, Semtech Corporation | Comments

Protecting Ethernet interfaces from cable discharges can create a challenge for engineers because good protection must meet two criteria. First, and most important, a protective device must effectively clamp a transient to a safe voltage. Second, the device must present an acceptable capacitive load on high-speed differential transmission lines. Good planning and careful selection of transient voltage-suppression devices can adequately protect Ethernet interfaces from electrostatic discharges (ESDs) and cable discharge events.

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Cover Story: High-End DMMs Simplify Measurements

September 25, 2008 12:25 pm | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Comments

 When engineers start to evaluate a precision digital multimeter (DMM) they first think about resolution and accuracy. "They may start with requirements for a high and low measurement limit and a tolerance," said Chuck Cimino, a marketing director at Keithley. "Then they figure out how many digits they need without going into a lot of the DMM's detailed specs."

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