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IDT takes on wireless power market with dual-mode solution

Posted: 10 Oct 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Integrated Device Technology? wireless charging? Wireless Power Consortium? transmitter IC? receiver IC?

During his keynote speech at the Analog Semiconductor Leaders' Forum, Jeffery McCreary, Integrated Device Technology's interim CEO, revealed that his company is eyeing the wireless charging market.

McCreary stated that wireless charging technology will allow users to "cut the last cord" restraining mobile, automotive and wearable devices, and give them "true mobility". "I can't imagine high-end phones coming out in the future without wireless power-charging capabilities."

While the lack of a single standard in wireless charging schemes is likely to slow the market's technology adoption, there are two reasons for IDT's unwavering commitment to an opportunity that still contains a high uncertainty quotient.

First, IDT is armed with the industry's first dual-mode wireless power receiver IC compatible with both the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) and Power Matters Alliance (PMA) standards. The company announced the product in April, this year. Second, cellular operators are already choosing sides in supporting different wireless charging schemes. AT&T and Sprint, for example, are going for PMA, while Verizon now prefers WPC. Such decisions force choices among handset OEMs who want to supply multiple operators. "Most OEMs now want a dual-mode solution," said McCreary, "which can be put on the same, single board."

Interim CEO

IDT's interim CEO speaks at the Analog Semiconductor Leaders' Forum in Seoul.

IDT's dual-mode solution can automatically switch between WPC and PMA protocols and negotiate the power exchange without user supervision, explained Arman Naghavi, vice president and division general manager in charge of IDT's analogue and power division.

To be clear, IDT's wireless charging chipstransmitter IC and receiver ICare not designed into any current handsets or accessories on the market, which support either WPC or PMA. But with the company's dual-mode receiver chip a fait accompli, IDT believes that it can change the game.

Three-way race
Going after a wireless charging market that's still in the making, McCreary admitted, is "not for the faint heart."

The wireless charging technology world is split among three incompatible standards and divided into two camps. On one end of the spectrum, there are the WPC and PMA standards, both of which use magnetic induction technology. On the other end is the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) group based on magnetic resonance technology.

Qualcomm recently made headlines and confused the industry a little more when it announced its membership in WPC, a rival organisation to the Intel/Qualcomm-founded A4WP, to encourage the broad adoption of resonant and loosely coupled wireless charging. IDT's McCreary interpreted this move as Qualcomm not giving up magnetic resonance technology, but positioning itself to influence the WPC standard so that there will be better continuity to the A4WP standard in the future.

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