There's been a flurry of news about smartphone manufacturers slowing down older models in order to prevent phones with older batteries from shutting down unexpectedly. Even though the intent was good, there still has been customer backlash. Customers didn't have access to detailed battery information, for one thing. These incidents illustrate how important it is to give consumers access to reliable battery information.
The lithium-ion batteries commonly inside today's mobile devices can degrade over time. One simple way to manage an aged battery is to integrate a fuel gauge IC into your design. Fuel gauge ICs can provide accurate state-of-charge (SOC) information as well as these types of parameters:
Available and reported remaining capacity: available capacity can change whenever the load or temperature changes, so the reported remaining capacity metric can be used to communicate the actual capacity that's left
Age and age forecast: the age parameter typically presents the percentage ratio of the present full capacity compared to the original design capacity, while the age forecast estimates how many cycles a user can get from the battery during its lifetime
Time-to-empty: this measurement can assess whether the battery can support the expected runtime for a hypothetical session, helping to prevent unexpected crashes
Battery resistance: this metric provides the calculated value of the average internal resistance of the battery
Timer: this capability allows the fuel gauge IC to track the battery's age in terms of absolute time stemming from the moment that the IC was first connected to the cell
You rely on secure microcontrollers to protect your designs from reverse engineering, tampering, and side-channel attacks. So you may be wondering: Are they safe from Meltdown and Spectre? Maxim's DeepCover secure microcontrollers are unaffected by these major chip vulnerabilities. Also safe are the company's USIP PRO secure microcontrollers based on MIPS processors and the MAXQ family of RISC microcontrollers. The common aspect that has protected these ICs is that they are not based on processor platforms that utilize speculative execution.
Speculative execution helps speed up performance of computer systems. However, attackers have found a way to see what happens inside the speculative window and, thus, manipulate the system. So, operating system developers and chipmakers are issuing patches and updates. Meltdown impacts only Intel processors. Spectre, on the other hand, affects Intel as well as AMD and Arm processors. Fortunately, the Arm processors on which the DeepCover secure microcontrollers are based are not impacted by the chip flaws.
If you're ready for a mental break with some good mental stimulation, check out the EE-Sim Power Designer Challenge. This crossword puzzle tests your knowledge of things like transistor types, AC loop analysis results, resistor colors, and more. Complete as much of the puzzle as you can for a chance to win a Garmin fenix 5 watch. Get all of the details and access to the crossword puzzle, and see how quickly you can fill in the boxes.
The crossword challenge celebrates the launch of the revamped EE-Sim DC-DC Converter tool. While providing the accurate power supply circuit simulation results you need, the tool is easier to use, offers rich functionality, and can save you hours in design time. Have fun with the crossword and check out the revamped tool!
If you're designing small, battery-powered devices, you're probably trying different techniques to extend the battery life of your product. Have you considered the quiescent current, the circuit's quiet state? While typically nominal, quiescent current of a power supply can be the biggest contributor to a system's standby power consumption. For today's wearable, mobile, and IoT designs, current flow in the nanoamperes is most desirable. To learn more about how you can lower quiescent current in your designs, read this white paper, "Why Low Quiescent Current Matters for Longer Battery Life."
Behind an accurate battery state-of-charge for your device is, of course, a good fuel gauge. Traditionally, designing accurate fuel gauges has required costly, time-consuming battery characterization. Now, fuel gauge ICs are available that do not require the battery characterization step. This both simplifies and speeds up the process for accurate fuel gauging. Read the white paper, "Accurate Technology for Easy, Secure Fuel Gauging You Can Trust" to learn more.
Need to design smaller, simpler, and cooler power supplies? We have just the video series for you. Maxim has teamed up with Bob Mammano, the father of the first switch-mode power supply, on a three-part online Power System Design Seminar. While Mammano covers theoretical aspects, our tech experts will walk you through practical design implementations, including example designs.
Deepen your expertise in:
Designing with 24V+ non-isolated DC-DC buck regulators
Designing with 24+ isolated DC-DC power supplies
Protecting your power system design
Since the online seminar is broken up into multiple modules, you can watch them all, or choose the segments that you're most interested in, and view them at your convenience. Check out the Power System Design Seminar today.
Jean Anne Booth's mother was not about to wear an emergency alert device. "She thinks they're ugly, they are limited outside the home unless they are tethered to a smartphone (which she doesn't have), and she finds those big help buttons socially stigmatizing," Booth said. This revelation led Booth to found UnaliWear and create the Kanega smartwatch. Voice-controlled, water-proof, and self-contained, the Kanega watch provides medication reminders, emergency assistance, directions, fall detection, and guide-me-home assistance. For the watch to be a success, the company needed very accurate fuel gauges to assess battery state-of-charge, and all of the components had to be very small and meet stringent power management requirements.
UnaliWear addressed its design challenges with Maxim ICs, including fuel gauges, amplifiers, voltage regulators, step-up converters, and many other components. Read the UnaliWear testimonial to learn more about how the company used these ICs to create a solution that enables independence with dignity.
HD Medical has created an electronic stethoscope that augments sound with visual displays of heart waveforms. The audio quality is up to 30x better than that of traditional stethoscopes, too. For Arvind Thiagarajan, the company's founder and CEO, this invention is all about helping doctors conduct more accurate initial patient screenings, detect heart conditions like murmurs earlier, and reduce the costs of unnecessary tests. To develop the ViScope stethoscopes, HD Medical needed high-performance, very low-power, and small-footprint ICs. The company found its answers in Maxim's microcontrollers, battery charge management ICs, DC-DC converters, and battery monitors. Read about how Thiagarajan's personal journey with the medical world inspired his interest in developing technologies that assist doctors, and find out how he addressed design challenges with Maxim ICs by reading the HD Medical testimonial.
When there's a need to protect sensitive loads and preserve long-term reliability of equipment, you're likely to see the use of isolated power supplies. Isolation protects against ground loops, which could produce nasty parasitic currents that could disrupt the output voltage regulation and also introduce galvanic corrosion of conducting traces. You certainly don't want to have to deal with these types of effects! To produce an isolated output, a classic architecture to use is the flyback converter. However, the flyback converter isn't the most efficient or affordable solution. By contrast, its iso-buck counterpart can substantially lower your bill of materials (BOM) costs, while delivering the power efficiency you need. Read Reno Rossetti's analysis, "Why Iso-Buck Converters are Better than Flyback Converters," for all of the hows and whys.
Security was a key theme at this year's IoT DevCon in Santa Clara. "In order to achieve the benefits of a connected world, you have to create trust in that connected world," noted Bill Diotte, CEO of Mocana, which protects more than 100 million IoT devices with its comprehensive security platform. Diotte highlighted that developers have a mission to build secure products and discussed ways to do this. in another talk at the conference, Jennifer Gilburg of Intel explained how zero-touch IoT device onboarding offers a much more secure methodology than its manual counterpart. For the full report of these talks, read "Are You Doing Enough to Build Trust in Our Connected World?"