PMIC Space Heats up With Design Wins, Acquisitions, and More
Offering compact packaging, BLE functions, and more, today’s power management integrated circuits (PMICs) are meeting the technology needs of a variety of system designs.
With robust power management functions, power management integrated circuits (PMICs) are widely used in a wide range of applications, including managing power in watches. What’s more, leading companies in the industry are still driving innovation in PMIC designs to widen PMIC usage in applications in IoT, medical wearables, and electric vehicles (EV).
In this article, we roundup some recent news in the PMIC market, including new devices, company acquisitions, and design wins.
PMIC Embeds BLE Discrete Components
Continuing to flesh out its PMIC portfolio, Nordic Semiconductor last month announced the addition of a new product, the nPM1300, to its offerings. This device aims to simplify embedded designs that incorporate (BLE) Bluetooth Low Energy by integrating components that can perform BLE functions such as hard reset, battery fuel gauge, system-level watchdog, power loss warning, and recovery from failed boot in a single chip.
The nPM1300 PMIC is available in WL-CSP or QFN packaging and is optimized for IoT. Image used courtesy of Nordic Semiconductor
Packaged in a compact size of 3.1 mm × 2.4 mm WL-CSP or 5 mm × 5 mm QFN, the chip is optimized for use in advanced IoT. According to the company, the product provides highly efficient power regulation for advanced wireless multiprotocol systems-on-chips (SoCs). It can be safely operated from an external power supply of 4.0 V to 5.5 V as well as from a battery voltage down to 2.4 V.
The device is configurable through an I2C-compatible two-wire interface (TWI). It can also perform USB detection functions. The chip comes with general-purpose I/O pins which perform control lines to time-critical control functions. Nordic says the product will be widely available in commercial markets by mid-2023.
Cartier Watch Design Win for PMIC
In other PMIC news, last month also saw E-peas Semiconductors announcing the completion of a project with Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Cartier. Leveraging E-peas’ energy-harvesting technology products, Cartier has incorporated the E-peas AEM00300 buck-boost ambient energy manager battery charger chip in its Tank Must Watch.
With the E-peas energy-harvesting chip, the Tank Must watch is expected to run for a period of 16 years without having to change the rechargeable cell. Image (modified) used courtesy of E-peas Semiconductors
According to E-peas, the AEM00300 extracts DC power from an ambient energy harvesting source to store energy in a storage element such as a battery. For instance, in Cartier's product, light rays that are incident on the Tank Must watch get absorbed by a high-efficiency photovoltaic element (source).
Then, the AEM00300 PMIC transfers the photovoltaic-generated electricity to the battery (storage element) in the watch. Being an energy-efficient ambient energy manager, poor indoor light at a low level is sufficient to get the watch running.
Packaged in a custom size of 2 mm × 2 mm, the PMIC chip can be operated from a wide range of input voltages of 140 mV to 4.5 V. What’s more, the AEM00300 has a cold start circuit that enables operation from as low as 275 mV and from an input power of 3 μW.
The AEM00300 functional diagram. Image used courtesy of E-peas Semiconductor
Energy-harvesting PMIC chips like the AEM00300 find useful applications in a wide range of areas such as wearable sensors, securities in smart buildings, remote control units, and so on.
Navitas to Acquire PMIC Vendor Halo Microelectronics
Another source of news activity in PMIC space is acquisitions. Last month Navitas Semiconductors announced its intention to acquire the remaining minority interest in its silicon control IC joint venture from Halo Microelectronics. Halo develops analog ICs and PMICs. The deal has a purchase price of $20 million in Navitas’ stock.
Navitas says the acquisition of Halo will help them integrate silicon controller capabilities with its GaN and SiC technologies. Shown here, All About Circuits Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child poses with Navitas’ GaN and SiC “mascots” at Electronica 2022 last November.
Navitas began its joint venture with Halo in 2021, where the companies teamed to develop application-specific silicon controllers that have robust applications in AC-DC power supply applications across mobile, consumer, home appliance and auxiliary power supplies in enterprise, renewables, EV and other related markets.
Before now, the combination of silicon controllers from Halo and the GaN ICs from Navitas in manufacturing processes have yielded 20 W to 500 W power applications that are suitable for next-gen power products.
Next-gen Power Supply Expertise
Halo specializes in analog ICs and PMICs, along with providing full product portfolios in AC-DC adapters, and battery charging. This acquisition is expected to enable Navitas to leverage Halo’s technologies and products in order to accelerate the production of next-gen power supply solutions for mobile phones, computers, wearables, IoT, and other Li-ion battery-powered devices.
According to Navitas, the transaction is expected to close in February. The company says that by combining silicon controllers with GaN and SiC, Navitas is uniquely positioned to influence customer architecture decisions to maximize the system benefits and Navitas’ value when using GaN or SiC in next-generation power electronics.