• Wearable devices: Transforming from Consumer-Grade to Professional Medical Use

    11/25/2021 at 04:00 0 comments

    According to data released by market research firm IDC, the global wearable device market shipped 114.2 million units in the second quarter of 2021. At the same time, IDC predicts that global shipments of wearable devices will grow from 450 million in 2020 to nearly 800m in 2025.

    Among them, smartwatches and earwear devices / smart headphones account for nearly 80% of the total shipments of wearable devices. With the increasing enrichment of its application functions, in addition to realizing the basic functions such as payment, call / Wechat Synchronize, health monitoring has gradually become a new development direction of smartwatch and smart headphones.

    wearabl devices

    Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Become new Vents

    The core of wearable devices is miniaturization and integration, which is an important reason why smartwatches with multiple functions and strong life attributes can be popularized rapidly. Second, compared with more professional and accurate portable medical devices, the appearance of smartwatches is undoubtedly more suitable for daily long-term wear.

    At present, blood pressure monitoring has not yet formed a large-scale and daily application on smartwatches/bracelets or other wearable terminals. The portable blood pressure monitoring devices on the market are mainly divided into four categories according to technology devices that only use mobile phone cameras, pure optical sensors, optical and other sensor fusion devices, and indirect data devices. These methods do not measure blood pressure directly but measure blood pressure changes, and then measure the pressure waves generated by blood pressure in the artery through algorithm and data analysis, and there is no way to get the absolute value of blood pressure like cuff measurement.

    Whether data can be obtained non-invasively through wearable devices is the key. For example, such as blood sugar and blood lipids, current sensors are difficult to detect in non-invasive cases, which means that wearability cannot be achieved. Manufacturers such as Apple and Huawei are expected to embed non-invasive physiological signal detection in the next generation of wearable devices to monitor blood pressure and blood sugar, which are critical to the risk of cardiovascular disease.

    Challenges Remain in Wearable Medical Devices

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  • Upgrade of Domain Controller in Self-Driving Car Industry

    11/24/2021 at 05:41 0 comments

    Benefiting from the development of intelligent vehicles and the trend of automotive electronic and electrical architecture from distributed to centralized, the domain controller market is growing rapidly. 

    It is predicted that in 2025, shipments of autopilot domain controllers will exceed 4 million sets, and shipments of smart cockpit domain controllers will exceed 5 million sets, with a compound growth rate of more than 50%. 

    As the "brain" of intelligent cars in the future, the function of the domain controller is realized by the cooperation of the main control chip, system software (operating system, middleware), and application algorithm. 

    From the current practice of automobile companies, the high-performance hardware represented by the main control chip will be the first to get on the car, while the operating system and application software will be continuously updated with the continuous iteration of the algorithm model, gradually releasing the utilization of embedded hardware, to realize the software definition of the car. 

    Because of this, the field of domain controller master chip has become a popular track, and many manufacturers have laid it out one after another. 

    self-driving technology

    Domain Controller Chips Emerge Endlessly

    At present, a large number of players have gathered in the field of domain controller master chips, especially in the field of autopilot domain controllers, including overseas manufacturers such as Nvidia, Qualcomm, NXP, Mobileye, TI, as well as domestic manufacturers such as Huawei, Horizon, Black Sesame, Core engine Technology and so on. 

    Among the many manufacturers, the layout of Nvidia is earlier. In 2019, Nvidia released intelligent driving SoC Orin and Orin-based computing platform Drive AGX Orin. Then, after two years of evolution and polishing, the company launched OrinX SoC. NXP has also accumulated strength in the field of domain controller chips earlier. As early as 2017, it was reported that more than half of TOP15 companies have adopted the NXP S32 platform (a fully scalable automotive computing architecture) in their upcoming models. In 2020, NXP launched the S32G domain controller chip. 

    TI launched a series of TDA4 chips. It is reported that the TDA4 chip supports deep learning and real-time image processing, 5-20W power consumption and performance efficiency can perform high-performance ADAS operations without active cooling, targeted integrated SoC with a general software platform can reduce system complexity and development costs, and a single chip supports access to 4-6 3 million-pixel cameras to improve vehicle perception and look processing capabilities. 

    Heterogeneous Multi-Core, High Integration, Low Power Consumption

    First of all, the main control chip of the domain controller is moving towards heterogeneous multi-core SoC. Domestic and foreign chip manufacturers are scrambling to launch SoC chips with more powerful computing power, and the computing power has risen from dozens of TOPS to hundreds of TOPS or even thousands of TOPS. 

    The core of the ECU era is the MCU chip. In the era of the domain controller, the intelligence degree of automobiles increases greatly, and the complexity of operation increases exponentially. In the process of intelligent function development, high-performance hardware is often embedded in advance, and the function is updated through algorithm software, which requires the main control chip of the domain controller to have a stronger core and more powerful computing power. 

    Different from the MCU chip based on CPU, the SoC chip integrates many modules such as CPU, AI chip (GPU/FPGA/ASIC), deep learning acceleration unit (NPU), and so on. The computing power of the SoC chips mainly comes from AI chips. 

    Among them, GPU, which is mainly based on image computing, has significantly more computing units than CPU, which helps SoC chips to gain stronger computing advantages than...

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  • What is an Electrolytic Capacitor

    11/20/2021 at 04:25 0 comments

    Basics

    - How Electrolytic Capacitors are Made

    structure of an electrolytic capacitor

    The figure above is the internal structure diagram of a commonly used electrolytic capacitor. Most electrolytic capacitors (also known as e-caps) are polarized capacitors that are mainly formed of two thin layers of metal foil and paper spacer filled with electrolyte. A dielectric oxide layer acts as a dielectric medium - electrical insulation amid anode and cathode foil.

    - Electrolytic Capacitors Symbol

    symbol of electrolytic capacitors

    The most common symbol for an electrolytic capacitor (polarized capacitor). The left diagram is by IEC standard (Europe) while the right one is by ANSI standard (the US).

    - Why Choose Electrolytic Capacitors

    An electrolytic capacitor can adapt to higher frequency circuits than a usual ceramic capacitor can do because of its high capacitance values. Besides, they do a better job than super-capacitors in handling ripple current. And they are built to low volume which saves lots of space on a board, saving direct cost.

    Types & Applications

    The electrolytic capacitor is a big family and has developed for nearly a century as a classic passive electronic component. Among the wide spectrum of e-cap, there are 3 kinds of them widely used in industry practice. They vary from each other in size, capacitance, and applications.

    3 main types of electrolytic capacitors

    Aluminum, Tantalum and Niobium Electrolytic Capacitor

    - Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitor

    This kind of electrolytic capacitor has passed the longest period of design and manufacture, from the “Wet” type to the “Dry” type. They are named from the aluminum can which rolls up the anode and cathode and can be divided into the solid type and the non-solid type.

    Nowadays, aluminum capacitors are largely used in camera flashes, automotive airbags, power-factor correction, etc. 

    - Tantalum Electrolytic Capacitor

    Tantalum capacitors are much more long-price than aluminum electrolytic capacitors. They produce low leakage with a high capacity and are often used with ceramic or film capacitors in power supply decoupling targets. Tantalum electrolytic capacitors feature a self-healing mechanism that functions to reduce MnO2 electrolytes into insulating Mn2O3. In addition, they behave superiorly stable in harsh environments (especially high-temperature ambient). 

    - Niobium Electrolytic Capacitor

    The niobium capacitor is relatively a young competitor in the market for the tantalum capacitor. They have a thicker dielectric layer and a lower breakdown voltage than tantalum capacitors. Besides the self-healing mechanism as tantalum capacitors inherent, niobium capacitors have one more feature: self-arresting mechanism. The mechanism operates to protect the chip from short circuits fault on account of local breakdown. What's more, they excel in resisting vibrations and shocks.

    Niobium electrolytic capacitors favor their use in consumer, industrial, automotive, aircraft fields, and so on.

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