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Maxim undergoes a makeover

Posted: 04 Oct 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:analog chip? audio amplifier? MEMS oscillator?

On an acquisition spree

Besides expanding its foundry strategy, Maxim has been on an acquisition spree. ''We�re not done�� with the acquisition strategy, the Maxim CEO said. ''From an outsider, (the acquisitions appear) to be random. They are actually pieces in a puzzle.��

In 2008, Maxim acquired Mobilygen Inc., a developer of H.264 video compression chips. In 2009, Maxim acquired Innova Card, a fabless company specializing in the development of secure solutions for terminals. Also in 2009, Maxim acquired Zilog Inc.'s secure transaction product line.

Last year, Maxim sold some RFID intellectual-property (IP) to Intelleflex Corp. In return, Maxim received an equity position in Intelleflex, a developer of RFID products. Maxim recently acquired Teridian Semiconductor Corp. for $315 million. The acquisition positions Maxim in the smart meter chip market. And Maxim recently acquired Phyworks Ltd. for approximately $72.5 million in cash.

Not to be outdone, Maxim continues to expand its own organic lines. During the presentation, the company tipped a dizzying array of products and technologies.

On the energy front, Maxim talked about the following parts or systems:

Maxim will unveil its fourth-generation platform for smart meters in November.

It has devised battery management devices for electric vehicles, including a newer part called the MAX17830. The 12-channel device includes an analog-front-end with a driver for external cell balancing. (Maxim recently rolled out the MAX11068, a high-voltage, 12-cell, battery-monitoring IC for hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles. This solution employs a proprietary SMBus-laddered communication bus that allows multiple MAX11068s to be daisy chained together without expensive isolators.)

It is readying a new power line communications (PLC) device. The product, dubbed G3-Lite, is a new version of its G3 line of PLC devices. Maxim's PLC solutions provide secure, robust data networks using existing power lines. G3-Lite is an OFDM-based narrowband PLC device. The device includes two chips, including a baseband and an analog front-end. It is said to handle 100-kbps in the 10-490kHz band.

On the consumer front, Maxim tipped the following devices:

It is readying a new Class D audio amp, dubbed the MAX13300/1/2. It provides the efficiency at one-third the power. The 4-channel device makes use of spread spectrum technology for lower EMI. ''The automotive guys have been looking for Class D�� with low EMI, Parvarandeh said in an interview.

Calling a game changer, Maxim is rolling out a MEMS-based real-time clock. The DS3231S integrates crystal and oscillator/compensation circuits. It reduces crystal oscillator variation to less than ?3.5PPM (110 sec/year) over -40? to +85�C. ''The significance of MEMS is its robustness and compatibility with semiconductor processes,�� Parvarandeh said.

Maxim talked about the recently-introduced MAX11836, a TacTouch haptic actuator controller for touch-enabled devices. The MAX11836 adds drive/sense circuitry for connecting up to four external force-sense resistors (FSRs) to measure touch pressure.

On the industrial front, Maxim talked about the MAX2070, a new ADC for ultrasound systems. Recently it rolled out the MAX19527, an ultra-low-power, 12-bit, 50Msps ADC optimized for portable ultrasound systems. Integrating 8-channels on a single chip, this ADC operates from a single 1.8V supply and consumes only 55mW per channel.

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