EP editors evaluated 100+ products across 10 electronic component categories

Electronic Products has announced the finalists for the 2018
Product of the Year Awards. These annual awards, now in its 43rd
year, recognizes outstanding products that represent any or all of the
following qualities: a significant advancement in a technology or its
application, an exceptionally innovative design, a substantial achievement in
price/performance, improvements in design performance, and a potential for new
product designs/opportunities. EP editors evaluated 100+ products across 10 electronic
component categories.

Here are the 25 finalists:

Analog/Mixed-Signal ICs
Silicon Labs: Si5391 Clock IC
Silicon Labs’
Si5391 clock IC

claims the industry’s lowest-jitter, any-frequency clock generator. It is the
only clock generator on the market that can provide all clock frequencies
needed in 200/400/600G designs from a single IC while delivering sub-100-fs RMS
phase jitter performance for 56G SerDes reference clocks. Featuring up to 12
differential outputs, the Si5391 clock is available in frequency-flexible A-/B-/C-/D-grade
options. A Precision Calibration P-grade option optimizes RMS phase jitter
performance with a 69-fs (typical) specification for the primary frequencies
needed in 56G SerDes designs. The Si5391 is a true sub-100-fs “clock-tree-on-a-chip”
solution designed to synthesize all output frequencies from the same IC while
meeting 56G PAM-4 reference clock jitter requirements with margin.

SiTime: Elite Platform Super-TCXO
SiTime’s
Elite Platform Super-TCXOs
are tight-stability (±0.1-ppm to ±2.5-ppm), 1- to 220-MHz precision
oscillators with exceptional dynamic performance and rich features. These
devices solve deep-rooted timing problems for telecom, networking, and
precision GNSS systems. They can be used to replace legacy quartz OCXOs in
emerging 5G and IEEE 1588 synchronization applications while reducing power and
size.

Interconnects
Amphenol ICC: OSFP Interconnect System
The OSFP
IO system
is an industry-standard 8-transmission lane-based connector,
cage, and cable (copper and optical) interconnect system that is designed to
address the industry’s needs for present-day aggregate per-port bandwidth needs
of 200G and 400G as well as the anticipated future per-port bandwidth needs of
800G. The system features a complete IO system that offers fully shielded
connector and cages in multiple configurations (ganged and stacked) that accept
both copper-based and optical-based interconnect components (cables, transceivers,
etc.) as well as passive and active copper cables and active optical cables
(AOC). Because the system design takes into account the necessary mechanical,
electrical, and thermal requirements, the use of the OSFP system enables the
user to allow for the plugging of short-length (cables) or short-range/long-range
optical transceivers without concern for proper system thermal management.

HARTING: iX Industrial Ethernet Connector
The RJ45 connector has been the standard Ethernet interface
in IP20 environments for many years. However, as the demand for smaller devices
and sensors increases, the RJ45’s size limits the potential for
miniaturization. HARTING said that this is why it developed the ix
Industrial Ethernet connector
, which is a smaller and more rugged connector than the
standard RJ45. It also offers Cat. 6A performance for 1-/10-Gbit/s Ethernet at
the control level. The ix Industrial offers a new standard in Ethernet
connectivity that is 70% smaller and more robust than the RJ45.

Digital ICs
MediaTek: P60/P70
MediaTek’s
Helio P60
system-on-chip (SoC)

is the first SoC platform to feature a multi-core AI processing unit (APU) and
MediaTek’s NeuroPilot AI technology. The SoC delivers up to a 70% CPU
performance boost over the Helio P23 and Helio P30 in addition to a 70% GPU
performance enhancement, powering the latest AI features while still being
energy-efficient. By offering the cutting-edge features that consumers desire
without a flagship price, the Helio P60 continues MediaTek’s legacy of making
great technology accessible to everyone. Editor’s note: MediaTek also recently launched the Helio P70 SoC with an enhanced
AI engine combined with CPU and GPU upgrades for more powerful AI
processing. Helio P70 also comes with upgraded imaging and camera
support, a gaming performance boost, and advanced connectivity features in an ultra-power-efficient chipset.

Microchip: SAMA5D2 System-on-Module (SoM)
There
is extensive design effort and complexity associated with creating an
industrial-grade MPU-based system running a Linux operating system, said
Microchip, and even experienced developers spend a lot of time on PCB layout to
guarantee signal integrity for the high-speed interfaces to DDR memory and
Ethernet PHY while complying with EMC standards. The

Electromechanical Devices
CUI: AMT21 and AMT23 Absolute Modular Encoders
CUI’s AMT21 and
AMT23
series are
rugged, high-accuracy absolute modular encoders outputting 12 bits or 14 bits
of absolute position information. The AMT21 series, featuring high-speed RS-485
communication, and the AMT23 series, designed with a synchronous serial
interface (SSI), are based on CUI’s proprietary capacitive sensing technology.
The capacitive platform offers a highly durable and accurate position feedback
solution that is resilient to dirt, dust, and an oil typically encountered in
motion applications. Housed in compact packages measuring as small as 1.53 ×
1.12 × 0.40 in. (39 × 28 × 10 mm) with a locking hub for easy installation, the
two series boast a low current draw of 8 mA at 5 V and accuracy of ±0.2
mechanical degrees, making them ideally suited for battery-powered industrial,
robotics, and automation applications.

Sensata:
NOVA 22 DR45 SSR
The Sensata
Technologies NOVA 22 DR45 solid-state relay
(SSR) is made for use in industrial
machinery, HVAC&R, and railway vehicles. This new DIN rail-mount SSR offers
high power density up to 60 A at 40°C in a compact, 45-mm package and is the
only solid-state relay capable of accepting output wires up to 3 AWG with a
true IP20 protection rating. The SSR is ready to use with an integrated heat
sink designed to provide the appropriate thermal resistance for the application
without the need for cumbersome calculations, simplifying the specification
process for the user. Cage clamp output connections provide a finger touch-safe
IP20 protection rating and allow for quick and easy installation of large wires
directly to the SSR without the need for lug terminals or other accessories.
Input connection options include standard screw or spring cage terminals for
flexible design into a variety of applications. Designed for superior thermal
performance, the DR45 solid-state relay features optional built-in overvoltage
protection, contactor configurations, and either AC or DC control. The new SSR
is available in a wide AC output voltage range of 48 to 600 VAC and holds C-UL-US,
VDE, CE, and RoHS approvals.

MPUs/MCUs
GreenWaves Technologies: GAP8 IoT Application Processor
The GAP8 IoT
application processor

by GreenWaves Technologies enables massive deployment of low-cost, battery-operated
intelligent devices that capture, analyze, classify, and act on fusion of rich
data sources such as images, sounds, or vibrations. GAP8 is uniquely optimized
to execute a large spectrum of image and audio algorithms including
convolution-neural-network inference with extreme energy efficiency. GAP8
allows industrial and consumer product manufacturers to integrate artificial
intelligence and advanced classification into new classes of battery-operated
wireless edge devices for IoT applications including image recognition,
counting people and objects, machine health monitoring, home security, speech
recognition, consumer robotics, and smart toys. By enabling autonomous
operation, GAP8 dramatically reduces deployment and operating costs of a wide
range of intelligent edge devices.

Microchip: SAML10/SAML11 Microcontrollers
The SAM L10/L11 MCU families for low
power and high security are
based on the Arm Cortex-M23 core, with the SAM L11 featuring Arm TrustZone for Armv8-M, a
programmable environment that provides hardware isolation between certified
libraries, IP, and application code. The SAM L11 features
robust security with chip-level tamper resistance, secure boot, and secure
key storage. When combined with TrustZone technology, this is designed to
protect customer applications from both remote and physical attacks.
Microchip has also partnered with Trustonic and Secure Thingz to simplify and enhance
security on the SAM L11. Both families offer the industry’s lowest
power consumption. When benchmarked for power consumption,
the SAM L10 received a ULPMark score of 405, which is
over 200% better performance than the nearest competitor certified by
EEMBC. They also include capacitive touch capability with best-in-class water
tolerance and noise immunity.

Renesas: RZ/A2M Microprocessor
The Renesas RZ/A2M
microprocessor
is
designed for embedded AI-based imaging in smart appliances, service robots, and
industrial machinery that require high-speed image processing. It features a
unique hybrid approach to image recognition or machine vision by combining
proprietary dynamically reconfigurable processor (DRP) technology for fast pre-processing
of image data closely coupled to an Arm Cortex-A9 CPU with large on-chip RAM
for AI inferencing. The RZ/A2M MPU features Renesas’ exclusive DRP technology
for real-time image processing at low power consumption to deliver 10× the
image processing performance of its predecessor, the RZ/A1, and it supports the
MIPI camera interface, which is widely used in mobile devices. The innovative
RZ/A2M architecture couples the DRP to an Arm Cortex-A9 CPU and features an
industry-leading 4 MB of on-chip RAM and MIPI camera interface support, as well
as two-channel Ethernet support for enhanced network functionality and an
on-chip hardware encryption accelerator enhanced secure functionality.

Optoelectronics
Lumileds: LUXEON 5050
Lumileds introduced an upgraded LUXEON
5050
that sets the standard for high lumens-per-watt (lm/W) for high
bay and street lighting applications. With newly released LM-80 reliability
data, the product also meets DLC Premium V4.1 requirements, enabling fixture
manufacturers’ access to high utility rebates and energy savings. LUXEON 5050
features the best performance of all multi-die emitters on the market, reaching
flux levels of 350 lm and 175 lm/W at 2-W LED drive conditions (4,000K, 70 CRI
at 85°C). But the advantage goes beyond superior flux, said Lumileds. The round
LES (4.6 mm) eases optic design. With the industry’s lowest thermal resistance
(2 K/W), the LUXEON 5050 further enhances performance by removing heat and
reducing heat sink requirements.

TT Electronics: OP207CL IR Emitter
TT Electronics has introduced a compact, infrared LED emitter
with the industry’s largest spot diameter of 7 mm for super-reliable optical
sensing and position encoder applications. With up to 10-mW total radiated
power at the maximum drive current of 100 mA, and 2.25° angle of half-intensity,
the OP207CL couples optical flux extremely
efficiently onto the receiving photo-sensor to ensure clearly detectable on/off
transitions. The integrated collimating lens creates a tight beam profile for
use with accuracy-dependent devices such as radial or linear encoders for
absolute or incremental measurement, as well as long-range light curtains, edge
detectors, scanners, and general optical sensing and switching. Having a
wide operating temperature range of –40°C to 105°C, the OP207CL can withstand
demanding environments in a wide range of applications including industrial
automation, safety systems, robotics, security detectors, or other equipment
requiring dependable position, proximity, or motion sensing.

Passive Components
Cornell
Dubilier: THA Series Thinpack Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors
Cornell Dubilier Electronics, Inc. (CDE) has announced a
significant new development in aluminum electrolytic technology. Its 85°C THA Series Thinpack capacitors are only 8.2 mm thick and 9 mm thick
for the 105°C THAS Series. This is comparable in height to V-chip
electrolytics, tantalums, and board-mounted axials but with much higher
bulk-storage capability. A single THA/THAS capacitor can replace an array of
SMT, axial or radial aluminum electrolytic, or solid tantalum capacitance
arrays. That substitution can allow engineers to design smaller products,with
simplified assembly and higher reliability. The THA/THAS Series design is radically new yet based
on CDE’s 20+ years of experience with MIL-grade flat electrolytics, said CDE.
Re-engineered to be thinner and more cost-effective, it is a good fit for many
of today’s high-performance electronics. Unlike traditional cylindrical
electrolytics, a THA/THAS capacitor has a sealed, laser-welded aluminum case to
eliminate the need for space-wasting end seal gaskets for up to a 60% space
reduction.

Littelfuse:
PolySwitch setP Series Temperature Indicator
PolySwitch
setP Series Temperature Indicator
protects USB Type-C and USB Power Delivery charging cables
from dangerous overheating faults. Unlike earlier temperature monitoring
solutions like placing a PPTC or mini breaker on the power (VBUS) line, the
power-independent setP is unique because it is designed to be located on the
communication channel, where it senses the temperature increase and then
leverages the inherent behaviors of the USB Type-C charging system to alert the
charging port to shut down the power flow. Because it is placed on the
communication channel rather than the power line, the setP does not contribute
to power loss. The
compact 0805 (mils) footprint of the setP Temperature Indicator makes it at
least 50% smaller than solutions that require placing a device on the power
line. Being much smaller allows it to fit more easily inside the connector. The
same setP device can be used to protect cables designed for any power level,
providing the same reliable protection at the lowest and highest possible
levels allowed within USB-C.

TDK:
CeraCharge Solid-State Rechargeable Battery (with ceramic)
TDK
Corp. developed the first solid-state rechargeable battery in SMD technology,
the CeraCharge,
which is based on a solid ceramic electrolyte. Depending on requirements, the
number of charge/discharge cycles range from several dozens to up to 1,000.
With its compact EIA 1812 package (4.5 × 3.2 × 1.1 mm),
it offers a capacity of 100 µAh at a rated voltage of 1.4 V. This
battery is also capable of delivering currents in the order of several mA for
short periods. Thanks to the SMD technology, placement of the battery is easy,
and it can be processed using reflow soldering techniques, which, in turn,
reduces the production cost of the end product. In contrast to most common
technologies, CeraCharge is a solid-state rechargeable battery with no liquid
electrolyte. The battery is based on a multilayer technology, similar to MLCCs.
This means that a relatively high energy density and smallest volume are
combined with the safety and high-volume manufacturing benefits of ceramic
multilayer components. In addition, the use of a solid ceramic element as an
electrolyte rules out the risk of fire, explosion, or leakage of liquid
electrolyte. To increase the capacity and the voltage, any number of individual
CeraCharge components can be connected in series and parallel. This opens up a
wide range of possible applications — particularly in devices intended for the IoT.
These include, for example, real-time clocks, Bluetooth beacons, wearables, or
systems for energy harvesting.

Power
Renesas: ISL81601 and ISL81401 Buck-Boost Controllers
Renesas Electronics Corp.
announced an innovative new family of bidirectional four-switch synchronous
buck-boost controllers. The ISL81601
and ISL81401
are the industry’s only true bidirectional controllers that
sense peak current at both ends and provide cycle-by-cycle current limit in
both directions while in buck or boost mode. The controllers generate
point-of-load (PoL) and voltage rail conversions with peak efficiency up to 99%.
The ISL81601 has a wide input range of 4.5 V to 60 V and produces a 0.8-V to 60-V
output to support most industrial batteries: 12 V, 24 V, 36 V, and 48 V. Also
available is the ISL81401, a 4.5-V to 40-V input and 0.8-V to 40-V output
version, and its unidirectional counterpart, the ISL81401A. The new controllers
are well-suited for DC power backup and battery-powered medical, industrial,
and telecommunication systems.

Texas Instruments: LMZM23600/1 DC/DC
Step-Down Converters
Texas Instruments
(TI) introduced two new 4-V to 36-V power modules that measure 3.0 × 3.8 mm and require only two external components
for operation. The 0.5-A LMZM23600 and 1-A LMZM23601 DC/DC step-down converters
achieve up to 92% efficiency, which minimizes energy loss, and feature tiny
MicroSiP packaging that shrinks board space by up to 58%. The converters expand
TI’s power module portfolio to address up to 1-A performance-driven,
space-constrained communication and industrial designs, including field
transmitters, ultrasound scanners, and network security cameras. In addition,
the 30-µA quiescent current increases light-load efficiency and extends battery
life in battery-powered applications.

Texas Instruments: Active Clamp Flyback
Chipset
Operating at up
to 1 MHz, Texas Instrument’s new active clamp flyback chipset combines the UCC28780
active clamp flyback controller
and the UCC24612
synchronous rectifier controller
to help cut the size of power supplies
in AC/DC adapters and USB Power Delivery chargers in half. Designed to work with both gallium-nitride (GaN)
and silicon (Si) FETs, the UCC28780’s advanced and adaptive features enable
the active clamp flyback topology to meet modern
efficiency standards. With multimode control that changes the operation based
on input and output conditions, pairing the UCC28780 with the UCC24612 can
achieve and maintain high efficiency at full and light loads. Multimode control
enables efficiency up to 95% at full loads and standby power of less than 40
mW, exceeding Code of Conduct (CoC) Tier 2 and U.S. Department of Energy
(DoE) Level VI efficiency standards.

RF/Microwave
Movandi: BeamX 28/39 5G RF Front-End System
Movandi’s new BeamX 28 and BeamX 39 solutions provide a fully
integrated RF front-end system in a modular, high-performance design to support
a broad range of 5G millimeter-wave applications, including base stations,
small cells, and mobile broadband access points. However, operating in the millimeter-wave
band presents several unique technical challenges versus traditional connectivity
and cellular systems, including a requirement for high performance in low-cost
bulk CMOS foundries; overcoming transmission losses caused by distance,
blockage, and non-line-of-sight conditions; and the fact that to achieve longer
range, beamforming antennas are often required, adding to system complexity,
said Movandi. The company has taken a completely new approach by developing an
entirely new foundation for 5G devices by using a system-level design approach
and has overcome many of the technical challenges of 5G millimeter-wave
networks.

Nordic Semiconductor: nRF52840 BLE SoC
Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52840 Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) system-on-chip
(SoC)
— the
high-end variant of Nordic’s nRF52 Series of high-performance Bluetooth
5-certified SoCs — is now available in production volume. The nRF52840
accompanies the mid-range nRF52832 and baseline nRF52810 SoCs in Nordic
Semiconductor nRF52 Series. With a wealth of features and peripherals, the SoC
offers the capabilities and flexibility to support a broad range of networked,
connected products for wearables, gaming, VR/AR, and home and industrial IoT
applications. The high-end nRF52840 SoC, based on Nordic’s proven nRF52 Series
architecture, is the first single-chip solution to bring all of the benefits of
Bluetooth 5 to the market. The key advantages of Bluetooth 5 compared with
previous implementations of the BLE specification include: 2×
on-air raw data bandwidth (2 Mbps); 4× range; 8× broadcasting ability with advertising
extensions that increase the advertising packet payload size to 251 bytes; and
an improved channel coexistence algorithm. In addition, the nRF52840 SoC is the only
multiprotocol device on the market to offer concurrent Bluetooth 5 and Thread
support.

ON Semiconductor: RSL10 Bluetooth 5 Radio SoC
ON
Semiconductor has extended its RSL10 family of Bluetooth 5-certified radio systems-on-chip (SoCs) with a ready-to-use 6 × 8 × 1.46-mm system-in-package (SiP) module. Supporting Bluetooth Low Energy wireless profiles, RSL10
devices can be easily designed into any “connected” application including
sports/fitness or mHealth wearables, smart locks, and appliances. The RSL10 SIP
features a built-in antenna, RSL10 radio, and all required passive components
in one complete, miniature solution. Certified with the Bluetooth Special
Interest Group (SIG), the RSL10 SIP significantly reduces time to market and
development costs by removing the need for any additional RF design
considerations. With the 2-Mbits/s speeds possible with Bluetooth 5 alongside
the industry’s lowest power consumption, the RSL10 family provides advanced
wireless functionality without compromising battery application life. RSL10
consumes just 62.5 nanowatts (nW) while in Deep Sleep mode and 7-mW peak
receive power. RSL10’s energy efficiency was recently validated by the EEMBC’s
ULPMark, where it became the first device in the benchmark’s history to break
1,000 ULP Marks and produced Core Profile scores more than twice as high as the previous industry
leader.

Sensors & Transducers
ams: AS7265x Multi-Spectral Sensor Solution
ams’ AS7265x
multispectral sensor family
is the first multi-chip set from ams to incorporate
nano-optical interference filters deposited directly on the CMOS silicon die
cost-effectively enough to open entirely new application opportunities. The
AS7265x is a cost-effective, 18-channel multi-spectral sensor solution that
opens the door to a wide range of new spectral sensing applications. The
AS7265x incorporates three chips to deliver an 18-channel sensing array
covering wavelengths from 410 nm to 940 nm. Each AS7265x device has two
integrated LED drivers with programmable current and can be timed for electronic
shutter applications. Operating as a three-chip set, the devices include
electronic shutter capabilities with three independent 100-mA LED drive
controls, which means that device designers can accurately control multiple
light sources to enhance the spectral sensing functions without added
componentry.

ams: CMV50000 CMOS Image Sensor
The CMV50000 is the industry’s first
global shutter CMOS image sensor to offer high resolution of 48 megapixels (MP),
more than twice the resolution of its previous generation. The CMV50000 is a
high-speed CMOS image sensor with 7,920 × 6,004 effective pixels
(47.5 MP) developed for machine-vision and video applications. The image array
consists of 4.6-μm pipelined 8T global shutter pixels, which allow exposure
during read-out, while performing true correlated double sampling (CDS)
operation. The image sensor has 22 12-bit sub-LVDS data outputs. The image
sensor also integrates a programmable analog gain amplifier and offset
regulation. Each output channel runs up to 830 Mbits/s maximum, which results
in 30-fps frame rate at full resolution in 12 bits. Higher frame rates can be
achieved in row-windowing mode or row-subsampling mode. Operating at a fast 30 fps
with 12-bit pixel depth at full resolution or a binned 4K mode, and at up to 60
fps with pixel subsampling to 4K resolution, the sensor is suitable for use in
high-speed machine-vision systems, as well as in TV broadcasting and video
cameras.

Bosch Sensortec: BMA400 Accelerometer
Bosch Sensortec
launched the BMA400,
an ultra-low-power acceleration sensor for wearables and IoT applications. The
BMA400 draws 10× less current than existing accelerometers while delivering
solid high performance. Its greatly reduced power demand significantly extends
battery lifetime, especially on coin-cell–powered devices. Usually,
accelerometers have to choose between low power and high performance. Due to
continuous measurement, the sensor’s high-quality measurement signal has
precisely defined cutoff frequencies, making it very resistant to vibrations.
This is particularly useful in IoT use cases such as smart home security
systems, wherein the BMA400 can distinguish between real alarm situations like
broken glass and false signals coming from random vibrations. Therefore, false
alarms triggered by vibrations coming from the outside environment, such as
construction works, are easily prevented.


 

The award winners
for each category will be announced in December and featured in EP’s January
2019 issue.

Although this year’s selection focuses on component-level
products, we’ve discovered that there were a number of significant complete
solution/platform launches such as development kits, reference designs, and
partnership solutions introduced over the past year that are outstanding and
should be acknowledged. We plan to add a category next year to award these
innovations. Here are some significant launches (not in any particular order)
that EP has covered in 2018:
RoboSense develops $200 LiDAR system for autonomous
vehicles
ACEINNA
launches IMU development kit for drones, robots, and AGVs
Partnership
delivers first active stereo camera 3D-sensing solution
Automotive
HD camera module reference design fits on single PCB
First
wrist-worn wearables platform rolls for ECG, heart rate, and temperature
monitoring
15-DOF
sensor kit promises low power, flexibility for IoT design

*Note: Many of the product descriptions were
provided by the component manufacturers.