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NXP customizes green ICs toward sustainability

Posted: 09 Jul 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:power management IC? LCD TV? electronics devices?

The semiconductor industry can play a key role in improving power efficiencies, reducing global energy consumption and environmental sustainability. This can be done by how it manufactures devices, disposes of end-of-life equipment and, most importantly, how it designs components and equipment.

That much was clear at a recent event hosted by NXP BV to commemorate the shipping of the company's 400 millionth so-called GreenChip, a power management IC that targets power supplies used in PCs and consumer electronics gear.

Rene Penning de Vries, senior VP and chief technology officer, NXP, noted: "We have developed and are producing the third-generation of these devices, and over the past decade, have made a dramatic contribution toward environmental sustainability."

He said the first parts were shipped in 1997 and designed to offer improved standby power for CRT TVs and monitors, with a second generation, from 2001, focused on increasing the user time and power efficiency of, e.g. notebooks and PCs, STBs and LCD TVs.

"The third-generation GreenChip products are bringing even better performance on standby power efficiency, with emphasis on desktops, notebook adapters and LCD TVs, and we are designing the fourth-generation range," he added. He stressed that if the third-generation parts were installed in all PCs around the world, three standard, 1GW power stations could be decommissioned.

These parts, he noted, are the only ones for PC power supplies certified by Electric Power Research Institute for the 85Plus standard, which targets increasing the overall power efficiency of a power supply up to 90 percent, and thus potentially reducing energy losses for a desktop PC supply by up to 50 percent.

Severity of the impact
"A barrage of statistics about energy production and the impact of global warming indicated how crucial all this work is, and what impact it could have, especially as semiconductors are becoming ever more pervasive," said de Vries.

For instance, he cited, of the annual 124,000TWh of global energy consumption, electricity accounts for 14 percent, with 4 percent of that used in homes, of which 0.6 percent, or 700TWh is attributed to powering consumer electronics devices.

An interesting breakdown by NXP suggested under 40 percent of that is taken up by TVs, about 20 percent to power PCs and monitors, with STBs coming in at 15 percent of the total, with a subset of audio, VCR and DVD representing a near 10-percent share.

Energy-saving apps
NXP demonstrated how its chips enable energy savings in applications such as LCD TV 2D color-dimming backlighting; smart lighting and solid-state lighting; telematics and tire pressure monitoring, as well as energy metering.

"Of these areas where the IC industry can make a difference, it is in the actual use and application of our silicon where we can make the biggest impact," said de Vries.

He added that NXP believes the power needed to produce 1?cm of fully implemented integrated circuit has, over the past six years, been reduced by 60 percent, through increased wafer dimensions, innovative chip fabrication techniques and extra investments in fab infrastructure.

Two application areas highlighted by NXP were the impact its devices created in making solid-state lighting and LCD backlighting using its 2D horizontal and vertical dimming technology.

The latter offers, on average, a 50-percent to 60-percent reduction in energy use compared to a conventional TV, at comparable perceived brightness, according to Jacques Le Berre, marketing and business development director, NXP.

He said NXP expects 10 percent to 15 percent of 42-inch LCD TVs and above to use such backlight dimming techniques in the future, because of the combination of power efficiencies possible, picture quality improvements, cost and the possibility of offering thinner LCD sets. "The payback is that we are one of the few chip groups that have a full system offering in this area, including the energy-saving components, the media processor and the algorithms necessary for 2D backlight driving using on-chip hardware pixel-based accelerators," added Le Berre.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe

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