Active-Semi introduces power-application-controller platform for smart-energy consumer, industrial, and automotive electronics


Digital control of analog power system-chip platform sets new standard for cost, performance, reliability, and development time

Click image to enlarge: Extensive computational, control, communication, measurement, and power-management resources; and a space-efficient tile-based design method results in a flexible power-management architecture that cuts development costs by as much as 60%.

Active-Semi has introduced the PAC (power application controller) platform—the first in a family of pioneering μACs (micro application controllers). The PAC platform sets a new standard for ease of use, flexibility, and efficiency to enable the rapid worldwide conversion to energy-efficient home appliance, industrial control, LED lighting, computer power supply, automotive electronics, and renewable energy products. "We are very glad to see the level of integration in the PAC platform with the features highly optimized for power-control and -conversion product designs," said KH Lee, Manager and Chief Engineer, Energy Components for Home Appliance, LG Electronics. "PAC is a very unique system chip platform that allows us to implement various high energy efficiency products with reduced time to market." Market Opportunity While market fragmentation and the lack of system-level chip platforms optimized for power applications have slowed the adoption of high-energy-efficiency technologies, research firm Databeans expects the global microcontroller market will reach $26.7 billion by 2017 driven primarily by electronics in the consumer, industrial, and automotive segments that rely on microcontrollers to achieve and manage efficient, built-in energy-saving features. Heavily leveraging Active-Semi's deep know-how in analog power-management and -conversion technology, the PAC platform significantly extends the role of a conventional microcontroller and gives electronic-product companies and system-design houses the ability to easily and cost-effectively implement crucial power-control and -conversion technologies in high-demand products including:

  • Home appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, and induction-heat ovens and stoves
  • Air-conditioning systems
  • Motor controllers
  • Power tools
  • LED-lighting controllers
  • Solar micro-inverters
  • UPSs (uninterruptible power supplies)
  • General-purpose high-voltage system controllers
Patented Semiconductor Technology Unlike complex and costly bag-of-chips approaches to power-control and -conversion design, requiring extensive analog system-integration knowledge and long development time, the PAC platform simplifies the development process by integrating all analog and digital functions into a cost-effective system-chip platform and providing ample flexibility for a wide range of design options. The result is a scalable, application-optimized design that allows electronic-product developers to meet stringent smart energy-efficiency specifications and focus on creating value-added system features while reducing the overall bill of materials and boosting performance, functionality, and reliability. "Active-Semi is reinventing the microcontroller as we know it, beginning with the PAC platform which is truly a game changer for addressing the challenges and limitations of traditional controller chips, especially for power applications," said Larry Blackledge, CEO, Active-Semi and former vice president at Texas Instruments. "It leverages Active-Semi's extensive know-how in power electronics to provide a first-of-its-kind solution for controlling power usage in very high-demand, energy efficient products. By boosting overall system performance, cutting development time by up to 50% and lowering development costs by as much as 60% for some applications, the PAC platform gives industrial- and consumer-electronics design companies unprecedented time-to-market advantages." PAC platform features and benefits include
  • Industry-leading 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 processor with patented smart peripherals improves the cost-performance ratio while enabling the advanced control technologies with an energy-efficient MCU core.
  • Patented all-in-one power conversion IC lets system developers focus on the development of value-added features instead of power supply design.
  • Integrated high-voltage power drivers (up to 600-V operation) simplify system design, reduce cost, and shrink form factor.
  • Sophisticated yet easily configurable analog front-end supports current and voltage sensing, over-current protection, sensor-less control, and other critical signal-conditioning tasks.
  • Patented tile-based analog array method facilitates quick silicon modifications to support different applications, cutting new IC development time by at least 3 months.
Availability and Pricing A limited supply of PAC-platform samples along with hardware and software design kits are available now. Volume production will commence in early 2013 with volume unit pricing starting at under $1.00. Active-Semi