Official Blog of Silicon Labs

    Publish
     
      • The Wearable Forum 2014, China

        Nari | 12/338/2014 | 11:46 AM

        随着苹果、谷歌、微软、亚马逊和Facebook等科技巨头纷纷进入可穿戴设备领域,使得这个新生市场获得了前所未有的活力。以健康运动和社交应用为突破口,可穿戴设备正以难以想象的速度拓展到各个领域。市场研究公司IDC根据数据做出预测:可穿戴设备在2013年呈现了巨大的进步与发展, 2014年的出货量将有望超过1900万部;并且,直到2018年,这个市场的年复合增长率都将达到78.4%。


        可穿戴设备具有便携化、智能化、可交互化、低功耗等特性,这些都得益于半导体技术的飞速进步。以智能处理器、传感器、电源管理、高性能有源/无源器件、无线通信芯片为核心,配合各种封装技术,半导体厂商们都在积极推出全功能解决方案,旨在推动强大的终端产品能更快的面世。

         

        时间 演讲主题 演讲嘉宾
        12:40-13:40 会议签到,领取资料  
        13:40-14:30 可穿戴设备的前沿技术与产业发展趋势 中国软件行业协会嵌入式系统分会副理事长-何小庆
        14:30-15:20 STM32打造可穿戴生态圈 ST意法半导体
        15:20-16:10 详解可穿戴产品的设计需求 Silicon Labs芯科实验室
        16:10-17:00 可穿戴在移动健康中的应用 光聚通讯
        17:00-17:10 抽奖 (奖品:智能手表 、智能手环、家庭工具箱、双肩背包)查看奖品图片

         

        Register here: http://www.epc.com.cn/meeting/2014/Wearable/index.html

      • Simplifying Timing in Your Data Center

        lethawicker | 12/338/2014 | 10:36 AM

        Skyrocketing network bandwidth demands – driven by consumer mobile devices and streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and others – are pushing Internet Infrastructure suppliers to develop equipment supporting dramatically higher data rates and system port densities. Your equipment must be flexible to carry a wide range of voice, data and video traffic to connect users to their content. 

         

        The increasing popularity of cloud computing is further accelerating the demand for high capacity 10/40/100G networks. Collectively, these trends significantly increase the need for high performance timing ICs capable of meeting the stringent frequency synthesis flexibility and jitter performance required by 10/40/100G networking equipment.

         

        Silicon Labs’ low-power High-Speed Current Steering Logic (HCSL) output buffer architecture has clear advantages over older technology constant current mode technology. Silicon Labs’ PCIe devices not only provide up to 66% power savings, but they also reduce required component count per output! It’s a win-win.

         

        pciebuffersinterior.jpg

         

        The benefits of low-power push-pull HCSL output drivers are threefold:

        1. More than 66% reduction in power consumption, which in turn presents operating cost reductions to end customers
        2. A reduction in external components needed (Four resistors per output clock), plus an IREF resistor
        3. Smaller PCB footprint. The combination of small form factor packaging and elimination of external resistors = smaller total PCB area needed

        Standardizing on Silicon Labs’ PCIe Gen 3 Buffers and OPNs keeps your data center future proof for all announced Xeon platforms and architectures. Find out more about our PCIe Buffers and Internet Infrastructure applications at our website.

      • Creating a LittleBits Proximity Sensor

        jasonrock21 | 12/338/2014 | 08:48 AM

        I discovered my passion for electrical circuits when I was a child. For fun I would disassemble toys and electronics extracting their parts for my diverse experiments with electricity. As I constructed these projects my untrained soldering skills was definitely a limitation. I was also unaware that solder material available was composed of a high percentage of lead metal which is quite toxic for children if not handled with care. 

         

        Thankfully today, with STEM education becoming a national focus children have a multitude of solder-less electrical project options at their disposal such as the LittleBits eco-system. Every LittleBits module magnetically snaps together without solder. If you can build with LEGOs, one can now easily construct a working LittleBits circuit. 

         

        blog-22.png

         

        Since 2014, Silicon Labs has been increasing their focus on sponsoring STEM education in order to foster the next generation of technical innovation. This endeavor got me thinking about how to incorporate a Silicon Labs device into LittleBits. For this project I chose a Si1102 proximity sensor as its concept is pretty simple to understand: If an object is detected, assert a signal. Using the Si1102 will allow us to build a proximity alarm circuit.

         

        Step 1: Getting the Materials

         

        blog-1.png

         

        For this project most are found within LittleBits kits, however a few items had to be individually bought:

        Step 2: Evaluating the Proximity Sensor
        The Si1102 is very a simple device to setup. With the Si1102EK demo board, it is just a matter of powering it up and testing it. After flipping the power switch to on, wave your hand over the Si1102 and the blue LED in the upper corner of the board is activated.

         

        blog-3.png

         

        To activate the LED the Si1102 proximity sensor has a PRX pin that asserts low to sink electrical current across the LED. This is the signal we want to bring into the LittleBits module. Along the bottom of the board is a single row header of every signal that connects to the Si1102’s 8-pin device. For the LittleBits module we will need VDD (power), GND (signal ground) and PRX (presence detected by pulling the output low). The Si1102 can operate with a power supply voltage from 2.0 to 5.25 V, which is great because LittleBits modules carry +5V across their circuit chain.

         

        Step 3: Hacking the LittleBits Proximity Sensor Module
        To make use of the LittleBits 5V as the power supply for the Si1102EK, I removed the CR2032 coin-cell battery located in the rear of the demo board.

         

        blog-4.png

         

        Next, to incorporate the Si1102EK demo board into the LittleBits eco-system I have connected three wires to these signals and then connected them to the LittleBits proto module’s VDD and GND into the VDD (H1 pin 3) and GND (H1 pin 1) of the Si1102EK demo board. The Si1102EK’s PRX (H1 pin 4) is wired into the signal input of the proto module and depopulated the middle jumper the LittleBits proto module. Since PRX is an active low signal, I added a LittleBits inverter module to correct the signal polarity to make it friendlier to the LittleBits output modules which operate based on active-high input signaling. Also note it is important to leave the demo board’s switch to ON as this switch was to preserve the life of the coin-cell battery. In this setup, the only way for the module to receive power is if it is part of a LittleBits circuit connected to a power module.


        Step 4: Building a proximity alarm circuit
        Now that you have the proximity module created, it can be used in an alarm circuit. To complete this circuit, besides the power module I chose the bright LED and buzzer output modules as whenever a nearby object is detected, one wants visible and audible noise to draw attention. Waving your hand over the Si1102 proximity sensor device, now not only is the original LED activated, but now the downstream output modules within the LittleBits circuit are also activated as well.

         

        blog-5.png

         

        Step 5: Final test
        Once this is setup, the final test will be to get an excited LittleBits volunteer to try out the new module.

         

        blog-6.png

         

        Watch the video: Creating a LittleBits Proximity Sensor 

         

      • How an Engineer With No Embedded Experience Designed an Electronic Sword and Succeeded on Kickstarter

        Nari | 12/336/2014 | 07:26 AM

        Sabertron Systems, an Austin-based start-up company, exceeded its Kickstarter fundraising goal twice, from $50,000 to $100,000 and from $100,000 to $200,000. The revolutionary product that helped Sabertron Systems reach its milestone through the Kickstarter campaign is Sabertron. These innovative electronic foam swords enable players to keep score while dueling. This fun, cool gaming product uses Silicon Labs’ EFM32 microcontroller (MCU), and we interviewed Sabertron co-founder David Lynch to learn why his team chose Silicon Labs’ MCU as the energy-friendly brain inside their electronic sword.

         

        Q: What is Sabertron? How does it work?

         

        Sabertron is a foam sword that keeps score electronically while opponents safely engage in a sword fight. Sabertron employs a wireless link and an accelerometer to detect strikes to the body of your opponent as a hit, and detect strikes sword-to-sword as a block. There are currently five game modes available and users can control them via an integrated thin-film transistor (TFT) touchscreen menu and connect it to their iPhone/Android/Windows devices to keep track of game records.

         

        Our mission is to bring a video game experience to the real world and make it as much fun and interactive as a video game. Video games in the 1980’s brought everyone indoors…We are going to get you back outside!

         

        Watch the video ‘This "toy" just did $233,000 on Kickstarter’

         

         

        Q: What challenges did you have when developing Sabertron?

         

        The biggest challenge was making the transition from my background in PC programming to the embedded world. With embedded systems, all parts are manually connected to the processor, and there is no standard display. As I had no experience with an embedded processor, I was looking for something easy to work with, where I can find everything in one place without downloading multiple tools.

         

        Finding the right embedded processor for the job was a tough challenge as well. I used an Arduino 8-bit processor--a really popular choice among hobbyists--in the early prototyping phase. But I needed the full power of a real IDE and faster processing speed. The Arduino IDE debugging capability was virtually nonexistent and the processing power was lacking compared to an ARM processor. I needed the capabilities that a 32-bit MCU provides in order to add more features to the product. For example, Arduino had a single SPI bus but I needed two busses for better performance. In the end, I switched to a 32-bit ARM processor to handle everything that I need, simultaneously.  

         

        Q: How did Silicon Labs’ MCU help you solve your design challenges?

         

        When I decided to look into ARM-based microcontrollers, I evaluated different development kits and software platforms to find the best and easiest one for us. When I evaluated Simplicity Studio, I thought that the name was just right. The Simplicity Studio development tool was much easier to use compared to other tools, and it had everything in one place including energy debugger and code examples. It just helped get me up and running quickly. Without that, I would have struggled for many months to come up to speed on the embedded development process.

         

        The EFM32 Tiny Gecko is pretty much perfect for my project. I has lots of useful hardware blocks for USART, UART, DAC, and comparators. The debugger included in Silicon Labs’ IDE is the only way I want to work on something.

         

        assembled_pcb_proto5.jpg

         

        I appreciate all energy modes in the EFM32 MCU. The five energy modes are clearly defined and VERY easy to implement. With the EM2 deep sleep mode, the MCU is technically still on, but it can stay in a very low power state without waking up the CPU. I can basically tell the MCU to go deep sleep and wake up when necessary or just check status occasionally. This allows me to keep the processor powered on an ultra-low power mode, to do a lot of fun little things like waking up the Sabertron sword briefly and making a little sound or glowing the blade to remind users to get out and play!

         

        Q: How do Silicon Labs’ products ultimately benefit Sabertron users?

         

        With Simplicity Studio, we can speed our time to market by reducing development time. It also means that we can provide various features to create a more engaging product and ensure longer battery life through the 32-bit low-power MCU. 

         

        Want to try out the Sabertron sword yourself? The first edition of Sabertron will be launched in Q1 2015 and you can pre-order three types of Sabertron (Apprentice, Master, GrandMaster) now on www.sabertron.com.