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Lattice pushes low-power PLDs into handhelds

Posted: 22 Jan 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:lattice semiconductor? pld? programmable logic device? 4000z? ispmach 4032z?

Lattice Semiconductor Corp. has come up with a zero-power programmable logic architecture that consumes less than 40?A in standby. Lattice believes the architecture will open up applications for programmable logic in cellphones, PDAs, wireless meter readers, and other handheld battery-powered devices.

Lattice will also announce this week a programmable analog device - what Lattice calls a PLD for analog - that supports power supply control applications. The company is seeking to make its mark in both programmable logic and programmable analog, Lattice president Steve Laub said.

The zero-power complex PLDs in the 4000Z line use low-leakage, electrically erasable CMOS technology.

Devices in the family range from 32 to 128 macrocells and operate from 1.8V to 3.3V supply rails, although they are 5V-tolerant.

The smallest device (the 32-macrocell ispMach 4032Z) consumes 20?A at 1.8V, roughly 20 percent of the figure for competitive devices, according to product-marketing director Steve Stark.

Though not as fast as other CPLDs, the Mach 4000Z family still provides a 3.5ns pin-to-pin delay and a 265MHz clock frequency.

Lattice said its low-power devices will give it access to a roughly $7 billion market for semiconductors in battery-powered portables. In 2001, the semiconductor content of analog camcorders was $372 million, according to Gartner Dataquest.

Digital camcorders consumed $1.18 billion, digital still cameras consumed $2.47 billion, Internet audio players consumed $172 million, Mini-Disc players absorbed $249 million and other audio/video appliances consumed $2.49 billion.

To challengers that suggest price-sensitive consumer appliances will never be good customers for programmable logic, Stark posits that plenty of handhelds, like those offering new 3G services, stand to benefit from the field configurability of a programmable logic device.

The low power consumption of the Mach 4000Z, however, may encourage engineers to imagine new applications for CPLD where few existed before. CPLDs could easily provide reconfigurable decoder logic for microprocessors, for example, or I/O conversion for data with variable formats, Stark said.

Imaginative applications have always been the buzz word for programmable analog devices, but Lattice's product line has traditionally targeted certain types of analog applications: signal conditioning (the ispPAC10 and ispPAC30), filtering (the ispPAC10 and ispPAC80/81) and monitoring and control (the ispPAC20).

The PowerPAC family of programmable analog devices being introduced this week is specifically geared to power supply monitoring and control. Here too, Lattice believes it is looking at a multibillion-dollar market.

- Stephan Ohr

EE Times

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