Power electronics is a key element in the world of electronic design and engineering and electronic engineers need to have a thorough understanding of this area if they’re going to create successful products.

In this section, New Electronics keeps designers up to date with the latest developments in the power electronics market – everything from DC/DC converters to IGBTs to battery technology. In fact, New Electronics covers any power product that can go on a PCB.

Performance requirements drive changes in battery charging technology

There are few products on the market today which rely on disposable alkaline batteries for their power. Instead, designers are specifying lithium-ion batteries in various formats. But the general trend is for products to get smaller and for users to not only expect longer times between charges, but also a faster charging process. These demands are pushing battery charging product developers to adopt more innovative approaches.

4th gen Intel Core processors suit a range of embedded applications

Embedded computer applications demanding mid range to high end performance always face the same problem: they need more speed. But this demand is frequently coupled with strict requirements in terms of power efficiency to deliver a level of performance per Watt that fits the needs of space, weight and power constrained applications that characterise many embedded deployments. With the 4th generation Intel Core processors, a new micro architecture has been made available using the already proven 22nm TriGate transistor technology.

GaN reference designs set to play central role in power electronics applications

Gallium nitride (GaN) has been touted as 'the next big thing' in power electronics applications for some time now. In speed, temperature, efficiency and power handling, various implementations of the technology are set to take over as silicon power devices reach their limits, and the hottest topics at recent power exhibitions in the US and Europe have surrounded the introduction of GaN devices.

Industry trends conspire to make power analysis an important consideration for designers

As a rule, test and measurement companies need to be at the forefront of technology – their products need to be at least as capable as the equipment which they are being used to design. However, until recently, it seems that the traditional heavy hitters in T&M were happy to leave power analysis to the specialists in the field – notably Yokogawa, which claims to represent more than half of the market.

Should you think about using Android in your embedded product?

Android is a sophisticated, graphically based operating system (OS) for embedded products. It delivers a set of features that make it easy for manufacturers to deliver highly functional, professional looking devices to market quickly. In addition, Android devices can take advantage of a massive library of specially written third party applications (apps).

Small scale programmable logic devices offer numerous benefits

In the world of programmable logic, the phrase 'ultra low density' stands out starkly. The reason? Over the years, the trend has to been to create devices with ever more features on ever smaller manufacturing processes. While the devices themselves may not be getting smaller, their density has increased dramatically.

Analogue control remains popular

Until relatively recently, the idea of trusting system power supply control to software was viewed as potentially foolhardy. When a single bug in a line of software could result in thermal meltdown or a catastrophic voltage being dumped on the system, it is no wonder that the use of digital power controllers was largely ignored.

Automating oscilloscopes: how to save time and make better measurements

Oscilloscope measurement automation has become imperative for timely and accurate debug and validation. In many cases, the number and complexity of tests demanded by a technology standard or application prohibit any attempt at manual measurements. For example, the DisplayPort compliance tests require 312 different test conditions at eight waveform locations – 2496 unique measurements! An automated oscilloscope can complete these measurements in a few hours, where manual measurement will require multiple man days.

Energy harvesting: new perspectives and possibilities for powering systems

Electronic designers are now contemplating whether energy harvesting may be a viable power supply option for their applications. Continuing developments in this area are opening up opportunities for new applications and technical development are not only optimising the energy consumption of microcontrollers and wireless transmission techniques, but also the efficient transformation and storage of low quantities of the energy harvested.

Bench power supplies: the evolution of laboratory power

While digitally oriented switch mode technology is the norm in most areas of the power supply market, pure linear regulation still has its place – particularly for users requiring the lowest output noise, the best transient response and the most benign stability characteristics when driving complex loads. But linear units are larger and heavier for a given output power and generate more heat.

Power management in battery powered medical devices

A fundamental shift in the nature of healthcare delivery is seeing a host of therapeutic procedures, once found only in hospitals, migrating to the doctor's surgery and the home. The driver is the increased costs of treating a growing population and the need for greater efficiency.

Breeding success: Embedded World 2012 preview

This year's embedded world exhibition and conference takes place in Nuremberg from 28 February to 1 March. The tenth running of the event is set to be bigger and more international than ever, according to the organiser. Exhibition manager Alexander Mattausch noted that exhibitor numbers are 23% up on the same time in 2011, with appreciable growth in the number of international companies.

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