NEWS BRIEFS, March 2002


IEEE Approved Bluetooth-based Wireless PAN Standard


The IEEE has approved a Bluetooth-based standard for wireless personal-area networks (WPANs).  The IEEE 802.15.1 standard, which covers the media-access control and physical-layer for WPANs, is fully compatible with the latest Bluetooth v1.1 specification.  The IEEE licensed portions of the new standard from the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, and added a major clause on service access points.  The added rules essentially govern how 802.15.1-compliant devices should be designed, and cover some core signaling specifications.

IBM's new network processor to challenge Intel


Citing software code compatibility as a key attribute, IBM Microelectronics has rolled out a network processor to take on Intel Corp. in the 2Gbit/s (OC-12) market.  IBM say the PowerNP NP2G will extend its lead in the OC-48 market to include the lower-performing OC-12 category dominated by Intel's IXP1200 architecture.  The NP2G uses a run-to-completion architecture and achieves a speed of 1,596 MIPS, compared with 1,396 for the IXP1200, according to IBM.  The device not only outperforms the Intel processor but uses the same code as the higher-performing IBM NP4GS3 chip, offering customers an easier upgrade path than the Intel chips.

Clock Management Devices Offer More Than 40 I/O Combinations


IDT has introduced a family of high-performance, low-skew fan-out buffers in dual and single data-rate clock distributions. The TeraBuffer™ products offer more than 40 I/O combinations.  The devices are non-phase-locked loop (PLL) clock buffers and feature what are said to be the industry's leading output-to-output skew specs — 25 picoseconds — for accurate signal distribution.  In addition, these provide signal and voltage translation capabilities that include 1.8 V TTL.  These clock management devices offer multiple voltage and I/O signal translation capabilities and provide the signals required for high-end networking, telecom and wireless applications.  The TeraBuffer devices are targeted at telecom applications for next-generation optical network management system designs, network applications including Web applications and terabit routers, and wireless infrastructure designs such as 3G base stations.  IDT's TeraBuffer products are available in fanouts of 1:5 and 1:10.  They accept single-ended or differential 2.5 V TTL, 1.8 V TTL, HSTL, eHSTL and LVEPECL input signals, and 2.5 V LVTTL, 1.8 V LVTTL, HSTL, and eHSTL output signals in various combinations.  All devices run up to 250 MHz for high-performance operation and are available in industrial temperature ranges.

RF Module for Wireless, Analog and Digital Additions


Linx Technology has introduced a new RF module, the ES series, allowing wireless, analog or digital capabilities to be added quickly to any design.  Housed in an SMD package, the ES uses an FM/FSK-based synthesized architecture.  A 56Kbps maximum data rate and wide-range analog capability make the ES series suitable for both digital data and analog sources such as audio.  Other features include RSSI, PDN, audio reference voltage, LVL ADJ, low voltage detect and a microprocessor clock source.  ES-series transmitters and receivers will be made available in a wide range of frequencies.  The first model operates at 916.48 MHz, allowing for a variety of applications including data links, audio links, process and status control, home and industrial automation, security, remote control/command and monitoring.  The module requires no tuning or external components except for an antenna.

Quadband GSM/GPRS Transceiver


The newly introduced DuettoDC from Sony Semiconductor Europe supports the four GSM bands 850/900/1800/1900 and is GPRS/Edge compatible. Incorporating a direct conversion receiver and direct modulator on transmit, the transceiver is designed for lowest RF bill of materials and supports GPRS Class 12 and both Edge receive and transmit.  The high level of integration means key functions such as the RF VCO, all LNAs and VCTCXO blocks are on chip, whilst the high power output direct modulators eliminate the need for costly external power VCOs or PA predrivers.  It is also compatible with most major GSM Basebands through a flexible/programmable RF to Baseband interface.  The unit includes a fast hopping Sigma Delta PLL enabling GPRS class 12.  The low PLL spurious and phase noise result in improved receive blocking performance.  Traditional direct conversion problems of static and dynamic DC offsets are minimized through a combination of high IP2 RF mixers and a programmable/automated DC offset correction routine.  The latter stores the offsets digitally and corrects them through DACs for low drift.  This makes a GPRS handset less sensitive to unwanted blocking signals and enables it to maintain high data rate transfers using multiple timeslots.  The DuettoDC is fabricated in a leading edge 0.25µm SiGe Bicmos process and is packaged in a space saving 84-pin VFLGA measuring 7.0x7.0x1.1 mm.

Customised Ceramic Heat Sinks


Precision-manufactured heat sinks of aluminium nitride are proving far more thermally efficient than alumina (aluminium oxide) according to Morgan Advanced Ceramics.  Substrates as thin as 100microm can be produced to a tolerance of ±5µm and parallel to within 5µm, with thicker parts manufactured to even greater accuracy.  Grooves, channels and ridges as fine as 200µm can be machined into surfaces.  With a thermal conductivity of 180W/mK, aluminium nitride has over seven times the heat dissipation efficiency of alumina at 25W/m.K.

Atmel and Lineo Form Partnership to Develop Turnkey Voice-over-IP Products


Atmel Corporation and Lineo, Inc. announced the establishment of a partnership to develop and market turnkey products for Voice-over-IP (VoIP) applications.  These products will enable OEMs to rapidly develop end-user products such as IP phones based on the combination of Atmel's AT75C Smart Internet Appliance Processor (SIAP) hardware and the Lineo Embedix Linux operating system and application software modules.  Atmel contributes to this partnership its expertise in designing and manufacturing single-chip solutions for Internet Appliances.  Its AT75C family is based on an embedded ARM7TDMI microcontroller core with on-chip DSP, memory, Ethernet MAC and peripherals.  It combines high performance with low power consumption and attractive unit price.  Lineo will complement Atmel's hardware solution with a dedicated port of Embedix Plus RG for voice solutions, its Linux-based operating system, and ARM-based application software modules.

National Semiconductor and DiStream Form Partnership for Video-on-Demand Market

National Semiconductor and Digital Interactive Streams, Inc. (DiStream) have entered into a partnership to bring high-quality streaming video to the television over low bit-rate pipes.  DiStream's DiVET software has been ported to National's Geode SP1SC10 set-top box reference platform, providing an optimal solution for video-on-demand (VOD).  DiStream's DiVET software facilitates entertainment-on-demand services through their unique, patent-pending video-enhancement technology, which leverages the Geode processor to improve video quality.  The result enables VOD over "last mile" copper wiring to the home for DSL and cable modems.  The DiVET application suite also integrates and manages a service provider's network to deliver an integrated media services for the consumer, including VOD, audio-on-demand, Internet web access, e-mail and an electronic programming guide.

First Public Specification from “Wireless Village”


Back in April 2001, Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson founded an initiative to standardize the sphere of Instant Messaging and Presence Services (IMPS).  The "Wireless Village", as it became known, aims to ensure IMPS interoperability between different handsets, PC clients, servers, fixed Internet and mobile domains.  There are now 100 companies involved in the initiative, and its first public specification has been released.  The specification consists of three different protocols: client-to-server, server-to-server and command line protocol, which ensures the interoperability of legacy terminals.  The standard will enable device manufacturers, application developers, wireless operators, and portal operators to make Wireless Village compliant products.