Nanoelectronics research center imec/Holst Centre and MegaChips, a fabless company focusing on the development of system LSIs and products that incorporate original algorithms and architecture, has announced that they have signed a strategic partnership for joint R&D on ultra-low power (ULP) short radio technology for smart homes and buildings.
Following the growth of mobile devices the rapidly upcoming Internet-of-Things (IoT), the market for connected devices will know an impressive growth in the coming years, with small, battery-operated sensors devices integrated everywhere—from homes and automobiles to human bodies—ultimately yielding up to hundreds of sensors per person, supporting, and even augmenting daily lives. As these wireless sensors become internet-connected and operate in heterogeneous networks, they enable percipient systems, that act on all available data from own sensors as well as from the cloud.
By 2020, models predict roughly 50 billion connected devices will be in use. These battery operated or energy-harvesting operated sensors will communicate with each other and with the internet via small short range radios that consume little amount of power—not only when active but also in the stand-by mode—and at affordable cost for mass production.
In professional applications such as smart factories, smart grid and smart buildings, ultra-low power wireless connectivity will enable maintenance free monitoring of infrastructure and resources. Today, this critical infrastructure is, in the best case, monitored on just a few locations and for only a few parameters, with expensive, cabled setups. The availability of reliable autonomous wireless sensor nodes opens up a huge potential for cost saving by avoiding down-time of machines in factories, or shortage of energy or other resources.
Together, researchers from imec/Holst Centre and MegaChips will develop an ultra-low power multi-standard sub-GHz radio solution (compatible with ZigBee 900MHz and IEEE802.15.4g) on CMOS technology, achieving a transmit power two times lower than current state-of-the-art (60mW) and a receive power five to 10 times lower (6mW). Ultimately, energy harvested solutions will enable fully-autonomous sensors. Even within this very modest power consumption, a programmable output transmitter up to 13dBm is provided. Together with the excellent -120dBm sensitivity, this performance enables a communication distance up to 2km in free space and guarantees reliable coverage in big industrial premises, in smart metering applications and in non-line-of-sight situations in smart buildings.
"We are pleased that MegaChips has joined our ULP radio R&D program to strengthen our research ecosystem," said Harmke de Groot, program director ULP Circuits and Devices at imec/Holst Centre. "Combining our partners' know-how with our expertise in radio design and technology enables new innovative products for IoT while significantly shortening the time-to-market for our industrial partners".
"This ultra-low power wireless chip project will become nucleus of our IoT strategy," said Akira Takata, President and CEO of MegaChips Corporation. "We are going to lead the IoT market by combining our development capabilities of intelligent Sensor Hub and MEMS technology with imec's most advanced RF technology."
MegaChips Corporation is the first fabless company in Japan established in 1990. It is the only Japanese company ranked in the top 25 of "World-Wide Fab-less LSI makers". It is focused on the development of cutting-edge system LSIs and systems products incorporating original algorithms and architecture in the areas of imaging, audio, and communications, and using the advances it achieves to offer outstanding products and solutions that meet the needs of its customers. For additional information, please visit: http://www.megachips.co.jp/english/index.html.
Imec performs world-leading research in nanoelectronics and photovoltaics. Imec leverages its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its global partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy. Imec delivers industry-relevant technology solutions. In a unique high-tech environment, its international top talent is committed to providing the building blocks for a better life in a sustainable society. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in the Netherlands, Taiwan, US, China, India and Japan. Its staff of over 2,080 people includes more than 670 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2013, imec's revenue (P&L) totaled 332 million euro. Further information on imec can be found at www.imec.be. Stay up to date about what's happening at imec with the monthly imec magazine, available for tablets and smartphones (as an app for iOS and Android), or via the website www.imec.be/imecmagazine
Imec is a registered trademark for the activities of IMEC International (a legal entity set up under Belgian law as a "stichting van openbaar nut"), imec Belgium (IMEC vzw supported by the Flemish Government), imec the Netherlands (Stichting IMEC Nederland, part of Holst Centre which is supported by the Dutch Government), imec Taiwan (IMEC Taiwan Co.)and imec China (IMEC Microelectronics (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.) and imec India (Imec India Private Limited).
About Holst Centre
Holst Centre is an independent open-innovation R&D centre that develops generic technologies for Wireless Autonomous Transducer Solutions and for Systems-in-Foil. A key feature of Holst Centre is its partnership model with industry and academia around shared roadmaps and programs. It is this kind of cross-fertilization that enables Holst Centre to tune its scientific strategy to industrial needs.
Holst Centre was set up in 2005 by imec (Flanders, Belgium) and TNO (The Netherlands) with support from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Government of Flanders. It is named after Gilles Holst, a Dutch pioneer in Research and Development and first director of Philips Research.
Located on High Tech Campus Eindhoven, Holst Centre benefits from the state-of-the-art on-site facilities. Holst Centre has over 180 employees from around 28 nationalities and a commitment from more than 45 industrial partners.
Visit us at www.holstcentre.com