Contract Manufacturing

Not so long ago, companies manufactured the products they designed. But times change and most electronics companies will outsource the manufacture of their products.

Economics pushed this manufacture towards the Far East for consumer products and to eastern Europe for industrial products. But the UK retains a vibrant contract manufacturing sector, which is supporting the ‘reshoring’ of manufacturing.

In this section, New Electronics brings visitors updates and opinions from the contract manufacturing market.

Intel’s Programmable Systems Group takes its first step towards an FPGA based system in package portfolio

Speaking in 2012, Danny Biran – then Altera’s senior VP for corporate strategy – said he saw a time when the company would be offering ‘standard products’ – devices featuring an FPGA, with different dice integrated in the package. “It’s also possible these devices may integrate customer specific circuits if the business case is good enough,” he noted.

The Brexit debate: should we get out or ‘remain, reform and revitalise’

Could the UK pulling out of the European Union pose as big a threat to the global economy as a ‘hard landing’ in China? That was the claim made recently by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) chief economist Catherine Mann. According to Mann, a vote to leave the EU will not only impact the UK, but would also have a significant impact on the global economy.

Power supply standby voltage and off-load power draw

The use of a Standby Voltage on computer power supplies became widespread when the ATX specification was published in 1995. It enables a computer to be put into a low power consumption mode without fully powering down the processor, allowing a quick response when activated again. This was achieved by using a remote on/off signal to turn off the outputs, but still supplying a small amount of power to the processor from an independent voltage. This ‘Standby Voltage’ is always present even if the main outputs are inhibited using the remote on/off.

Solar generation is powering up, but faces a range of materials issues

In 2015 the global installed capacity for photovoltaics hit 180GW and the European Photovoltaic Industry Association reckons more than 0.5TWwill be generated from solar cells by the start of the next decade. Government incentives intended to stave off climate change and falling costs have helped push up production, but one of the ironies of a technology meant to change the way we harness energy is the amount that it takes to produce each square centimetre of photon-harnessing panel.

The surprising differences between ARM MCU cores that appear to be identical

There are many reasons why the ARM Cortex-M series of processor cores has come to dominate the market for 32bit microcontrollers. Across the many varieties of Cortex-M cores, design engineers can choose from an array of performance, power consumption and communications capabilities, allowing them to find an ARM based MCU which will be suitable for almost any application. And, by standardising on the Cortex-M family, OEMs not only benefit from a common instruction set, but also from an ecosystem of libraries, tools and firmware with which thousands of embedded engineers are already familiar.

MRAM is finding ways around the memory chasm

When Freescale started work on magnetic random access memory (MRAM) two decades ago, it looked as though it could provide a fast, low power memory that does not need a constant flow of current to store data. With a bit cell that looked to be competitive with DRAM, but with better storage behaviour than flash, MRAM offered the potential to be the ultimate memory.

Could a 1mm thick solid state battery drive the development of the IoT?

Researchers have been searching for alternatives to the ubiquitous lithium-ion battery for some time. A number of reasons support the research, including the need for greater energy density, lower self discharge and longer life. A further driver for this work is safety; lithium-ion batteries can be dangerous if they get too hot or are not charged correctly.

Tracking WiFi signals to passively see through walls using NI USRP and LabVIEW

With dedication and a creative approach, University College London (UCL) research is helping to address the world's most urgent problems. Whether designing healthier cities or grappling with issues such as global health and climate change, the challenges of daily life inspire UCL students and academics. Based at UCL, our team of electrical engineering researchers is investigating passive radar technologies that can see through walls using WiFi radio waves.

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