Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD
It’s always a relief to get the first event of the year out of the way. As I mentioned last month, I had to travel to Embedded World in Nuremberg this past February. It was also my first event of last year, and in 2018, it took me three days to get home because of the weather. This year couldn’t have been more different — instead of heavy snowfalls, the weather was spring-like the whole duration.
The show itself was pretty similar to last year in its concentration on specific areas. Perhaps because of Germany’s reputation for car manufacturing and the show’s proximity to the homes of BMW and Audi, automotive electronics played a large part in the event. The main difference for me was that instead of seeing advances in powertrain technology, the focus was mainly on infotainment and automotive AI. That’s not to say that there weren’t any companies there pushing power solutions, Microchip used the exhibition to launch what the company claims is the industry’s first automotive-qualified USB 3.1 SmartHub with Type-C Support. A demo on the stand showed how the Smarthub combined 5 Gbps SuperSpeed data rates with fast USB charging. With a few design-ins already completed, expect faster data transfer and charging for your devices on the move pretty soon.
Another main focus of the show was industrial technology. That’s no surprise either as Industrial electronics are one of the main driving forces for electronics in the European market. Europe is a leader in the drive for energy efficiency and the EU parliament is enforcing stricter standards on electric motor energy use, moving from IE1 and IE2 standards to IE3 and IE4, in an attempt to save around 135 TWh of electricity by 2020. More intelligent control of motors can cut a lot of wastage, but these require highly flexible and tightly integrated power circuits. Infineon was one manufacturer at the exhibition trying to address this problem with a new range of products that efficiently integrates both the control and drive circuitry in a single device to apply power precisely where required.
Industrial power is also the area we will look at in the April issue of PSD. Our first Special Focus article looks at sensors. Sensors have always been popular input devices in electronics, but the dawn of Industry 4.0 and the IoT has turned them into the most critical elements of any system. Accurate measurement is key to any successful IoT implementation, whether it is biometric sensing for smart watches, or system performance for preventative maintenance. The right information is vital for powerful remote or edge devices to make the correct decisions.
In our second Special Focus piece this month, Mike Harvey, from On-Systems looks at the challenges of designing high power density systems for hi-rel applications. Mike tells us how understanding the complete system and where losses occur are key to eliminating those losses, and then guides us through the process of gaining a better systemic understanding.
European Editor, PSD