EPDT's Products of the Year 2023

31 December 2023

2023 has been enriched by an array of exciting electronics innovations - and here are our highlights. These cover digital ICs, communication chips, interconnects, board level hardware, power devices, electro-mechanical components and test equipment. The key criteria on which this selection was made are - disruption of existing markets, opening up new market opportunities, having a positive impact on society.

Product: Power/Signal Circular Bayonet Connector
Manufacturer: Binder
Uses: Industrial automation equipment and process control systems.
Description: Enabling power supply and signal linking of devices using just a single cable, the PBC15 connectors can streamline engineers’ implementations - saving valuable space and keeping down overall costs. Featuring 630V/16A ratings, these compact components are optimised for high power density system designs. Based on the DIN EN IEC 61076-2-116 specification, they have a M15 compatible thread  arrangement. Quick locking mechanisms ensure mating integrity, while a rugged construction maintains long-term operation even when deployed in challenging environments. IP67 rated, these circular connectors are protected against the threat of liquid ingress. Shielded variants are available for deployment in settings where electromagnetic interference is likely to be present. Simplicity of use makes these connectors highly suited to fast wiring situations. 

Product: WaveMaster 8000HD High-Resolution Oscilloscope
Manufacturer: Teledyne LeCroy
Uses: High-speed serial bus validation and analysis.
Description: To attend to the increasing speeds being witnessed within modern serial interfaces, alongside the more widespread use of multi-level signalling, dynamic link equalisation and suchlike, Teledyne LeCroy’s released its latest addition to the universally popular WaveMaster series back in the late summer. With a built-in PC featuring Intel i7 processor technology, the WaveMaster 8000HD presents engineers with a 4-channel, 12-bit resolution oscilloscope capable of exceptional signal characterisation. Supporting 320GS/s sampling rates, the 64GT/s speeds of PCIe 6.0 and the 80Gbps expectations defined by USB4 v2.0 can be handled. A capacious 8Gpts memory resource has been incorporated for storing acquired data (so that extensive debug observation can be conducted). Models are available with 65GHz bandwidths. Elevated resolution levels can be achieved without compromising on bandwidth performance. 

Product: Epoch High Precision MEMS-Based OCXOs
Manufacturer: SiTime
Uses: Data centre and 5G communication infrastructure. 
Description: Featuring proprietary MEMS technology, SiTime’s Epoch OCXOs address the timing issues that can prove problematic in high-performance electronic design implementations. These devices exhibit ultra-stable clocking capabilities that exceed what conventional crystal oscillators can attain. Covering frequencies from 10MHz to 220MHz, the programmable units deliver up to 6 decimal places of operational accuracy.

Product: AEC-Q101 Qualified XPQR3004PB & XPQ1R004PB 40V-Rated N-Channel MOSFETs
Manufacturer: Toshiba
Uses: Automobile power systems, DC/DC converters, motor drivers, etc. 
Description: Toshiba’s XPQR3004PB and XPQ1R004PB devices went into mass production at the start of this year. These automotive-compliant 40V N-channel MOSFETs are supplied in the company’s L-TOGL gull wing package type and are based on its latest generation high-efficiency U-MOS IX-H trench process. They dispense with the need for an internal post structure. Instead, a multi-pin structure is employed, which results in the package resistance being lowered by a figure of approximately 30%. They exhibit accentuated heat dissipation properties - particularly on the XPQR3004PB. This is thanks to it featuring a thick copper frame that dramatically lowers the channel-to-case thermal impedance (taking it down to only 0.2°C/W at 25°C). The XPQR3004PB has a typical on-resistance of 0.23mOhm (at VGS of 10V). Its leakage current is maintained below 10µA (at 40V VDS). The drain current rating is 400A (which is 1.6x greater than that of its predecessor). 

Product: 4th Generation XLamp XP-G 
Manufacturer: Cree LED
Uses: Solid-state lighting installations. 
Description: Attaining heightened intensity, Cree LED’s 4th generation XLamp XP-G light emitters make use of the latest innovations in high-power LED technology. They are available in correlated colour temperatures spanning from 1800K to 6500K and colour rendering index (CRI) values of 70, 80 and 90. 125° viewing angles are supported. A maximum drive current of 3000mA can be handled and a 60,000 hour working lifespan can be expected. Optimisation of the optical profile maximises on-axis light output and raises intensity by up to 69% compared to rival devices.

Product: UNO R4 32-bit Development Resource
Manufacturer: Arduino
Uses: Smart home and industrial automation systems.
Description: Arduino finally took territory beyond the makers’ domain when the organisation announced its UNO R4 solutions. Boasting 32-bit Arm Cortex-M4 core RA4M1 microcontrollers with floating point capabilities, these boards pack far more processing punch than their predecessors. 2 versions are available, with the UNO R4 Minima being complemented by the wireless-enabled UNO R4 WiFi (integrating an Espressif ESP32-S3 module). Despite the functional and performance improvements, these units retain the standard form factor, so it’s straightforward to attach legacy shields. 

Product: THS ToF-Based Touchless Hidden Switch 
Manufacturer: Schurter
Uses: Advanced user interface installations (including medical and industrial). 
Description: The THS switch series from Schurter employs state-of-the-art optical time-of-flight (ToF) sensing technology. This allows these devices to be concealed behind any surface material without unsightly mounting holes being required. A small, barely visible opening in the user interface is all that’s needed for ToF sensor actuation. This translates into a non-contact solution that is completely hygienic (with the spread of pathogens being prevented) and also not prone to mechanical wear-and-tear. It won’t be affected by wind or rain either (thus supporting outdoor deployment). As there are no moving parts involved, a 100 million switching cycle lifespan can be benefited from. Using the design-in kit, settings such as distance, time and illumination may be configured for specific application requirements. 

Product: XPC 1.5 PCB Connectors with Unique Attachment Mechanism
Manufacturer: Phoenix Contact
Uses: Energy monitoring, motor starters, signal conditioners, etc.
Description: Phoenix Contact’s XPC 1.5 PCB connectors offer direct plug-in connection with the company’s proprietary Push-X technology. Thanks to this innovation, rapid, tool-free connection of various conductor types and cross-sections is made possible. Emulating a mousetrap mechanism, an XPC 1.5 conductor is enclosed by simply inserting it into the connector. Clamping contacts provide a long-term reliable and fully flexible connection for the conductors, with or without ferrules. When the conductor is inserted into the clamping space, it strikes the release element which then, requiring minimal force, releases the contact spring. The pretensioned contact spring then permanently clamps the conductor with a defined force.

Product: MIC69303RT High-Current Space-Grade COTS LDO
Manufacturer: Microchip
Uses: Low-Earth orbit satellites and other forms of space hardware.
Description: Designed specifically for space deployment, Microchip’s MIC69303RT is a radiation-tolerant 3A-rated LDO voltage regulator. This COTS power management device can be run off a single supply between 1.65V and 5.5V. It will provide precise dropout figures of 500mV under the most challenging of ambient conditions. It has 78MeV.cm2/mg single event latch-up immunity and can withstand a 50Krad total ionising dose. An operating temperature range spanning from -55°C to +125°C is covered. Thermal shutdown and current limit protection mechanisms are incorporated. Plastic and hermetic ceramic packaging options may be specified. 

Product: MiniONE Multi-Axis Force-Torque Sensing Device
Manufacturer: Bota Systems
Uses: High precision robotic systems.
Description: Bota Systems’ MiniONE is highly-compact 6-axis force-torque sensor targeted at micro-robotic implementations with haptic feedback. Supporting 2000Hz sampling rates, it delivers an ultra-low-noise signal, with high sensitivity and industry-leading drift characteristics. Only minimal space is taken up (with a 30mm diameter and a 22.2mm depth), while weight is kept to just 30g. The device can be applied to high precision tasks like micro-assembly and micro-polishing. It is also well suited to fingertip sensing configurations in the hands/grippers of humanoid robots. An IP67 rating safeguards against liquid/dust ingress, while a built-in temperature sensor mitigates thermal drift effects. Various different industrial interface protocols are supported.

Product: Quasi-CMOS Processor
Manufacturer: NeoLogic
Uses: Edge computing and IoT implementations. 
Description: Through use of its unique 16nm Quasi-CMOS process technology, NeoLogic 
has been able to develop a ground-breaking data processing platform with industry-leading computational capacity/W/mm2 characteristics. The company circumvents the limitations of conventional CMOS by ramping the inputs via altering the topology to bring down the number of transistors needed. The standard cell architecture employed is based on a single-stage high fan-in arrangement. The result is a solution that marries heightened performance with low power budget, an appealing unit cost and only minimal footprint. It draws 50% less power consumption than the most advanced equivalent CMOS cells and takes up 40% less area. It is thus very effective in edge-based installations needing to address heavy processing workloads (such as video streaming, AI inferencing, etc.). This solution was announced in mid-September, with the company successfully completing tape-out in October. 

Product: nRF54 Series Wireless SoCs
Manufacturer: Nordic Semiconductor
Uses: IoT/IIoT, digital healthcare, home automation, extended reality (XR) equipment, gaming controllers, etc.
Description: Heralding its 4th generation of multiprotocol SoCs, Nordic released the initial nRF54 series products in April, then followed this up with a subsequent introduction in the summertime. Optimised for low power budget use cases, these Bluetooth LE devices are being fabricated on 22nm processes from GlobalFoundries and TSMC. They comprise 128MHz Arm Cortex-M33 processor cores, alongside RISC-V based coprocessor technology.

Product: RISC-V Analogue IP Subsystem
Manufacturer: Agile Analog
Uses: SoC development. 
Description: To facilitate IoT development, Agile Analog brought out a complete analogue IP subsystem for RISC-V applications earlier this year. It covers all the constituent analogue elements required by battery-powered IoT nodes - including power management, sleep management, data conversion, etc. This unique, process agnostic, customisable and digitally wrapped subsystem will be invaluable in assisting engineers with their system-on-chip (SoC) development work, as it pairs with a RISC-V core to form a comprehensive platform.

Product: Automotive-Grade 16nm FinFET Embedded MRAM Memory 
Manufacturer: NXP 
Uses: Software-defined vehicles (SDVs).a game-changing embedded MRAM solution.
Description: For integration into its high-performance S32 automotive-grade zonal processors, May saw NXP announce a game-changing embedded MRAM solution. This relies on TSMC’s 16nm FinFET semiconductor process. It will enable updating of 20MBytes of code in 3s - in order to shorten downtime during software updates. That’s far quicker than what flash memories can muster (normally taking 60s to carry this out). A 20 year data retention even at 150°C is claimed. 

Product: ADRV904x-RD Open RAN RU Reference Design Platform
Manufacturer: Analog Devices
Uses: MNO radio access networking infrastructure and enterprise/industrial private networks.
Description: Working alongside key collaboration partners, so that 3rd party hardware/software interoperability is assured, Analog Devices introduced a radio unit (RU) reference design for Open RAN implementations in late February. This platform will be pivotal in encouraging more widespread adoption of an Open RAN approach to communications network deployment. It is based on the company’s 5th generation 8T8R RadioVerse RF SoC, which has a sophisticated digital front end that includes field proven digital pre-distortion, crest factor reduction and channel digital up/down conversion capabilities. The power signal chain is tuned for signal-to-noise ratio enhancement, thereby boosting RU performance benchmarks. A 7.2x functional split IP stack is hosted on the high-end Intel Agilex 7 F-series FPGA. Support for all sub 6GHz frequency bands is covered (400MHz, 600MHz, etc). 

Product: CSS Colour Sensor Device 
Manufacturer: SICK
Uses: Electronic component manufacturing. 
Description: SICK’s CSS colour sensing device delivers industry-leading colour resolution, along with the capacity to determine even slight shade variations. It can provide precise data on object colour (even at distances of 500mm), distinguishing between subtle differences in surface structures and textures. The ingenious distance regulation capability automatically responds to the changing sensing distances that are inherent with production lines (thereby allowing for differing orientations of products on conveyors).

Product: AEM13920 Dual-Source Energy Harvesting PMIC 
Manufacturer: e-peas 
Uses: IoT/IIoT deployments, plus smart homes and wearables. 
Description: e-peas’ AEM13920 power management IC (PMIC) can cope with the inputs from 2 independent harvested energy sources via a single dedicated device. Consequently, battery-free equipment may be powered by a combination of photovoltaic, RF, kinetic and thermal gradient based energy inputs - rather than just being dependent on one, or requiring additional circuitry to manage another (thereby taking up excessive board space). This trailblazing PMIC has >90% source-to-storage and storage-to-load conversion efficiencies. A 275mV cold-start figure means tiny amounts of harvested energy can be utilised.

Product: PSC1065K 650V SiC Schottky Diodes 
Manufacturer: Nexperia
Uses: Battery-charging infrastructure, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) implementations, etc. 
Description: Nexperia’s PSC1065K SiC Schottky diodes can tackle challenging high-voltage and high-current applications. These industrialgrade devices are capable of 10A, 650V operation. They achieve impressive QC x VF figure-of-merit (FoM) values and deliver superior switching 
performance. Their strong resilience to surge currents eliminates the need for additional protection circuitry. They are supplied in through-hole TO220-2 packages, though other packaging formats can be offered (surface-mount DPAK R2P and D2PAK R2P, plus through-hole TO-247-2, etc.). 

Product: K3932-N mITX Series High-Performance Graphically-Focused Motherboards
Manufacturer: Kontron
Uses: Next generation gaming/gambling systems. 
Description: Kontron’s K3932-N mITX series motherboards feature Intel Core i3 and N-series processing technology, with latest UHD Gen12 graphics capabilities incorporated. Leveraging built-in cFAST connectors (for CompactFlash memory cards) and ccTalk functionality (for secure financial transactions), these items of hardware are highly applicable for the casino/gaming market (in slot machine units, as well as digital card playing and roulette systems). Up to 3 DisplayPort V1.4a I/Os, alongside an embedded DisplayPort V1.4b and a dual-channel 24-bit 
LVDS interface are incorporated. The upshot is that 3 independent 4K resolution displays may be supported. 

Product: NINA-B5 Automotive-Grade Wireless Modules
Manufacturer: u-blox
Uses: IIoT, industrial automation, vehicle battery management, keyless entry, point-of-sales (PoS) equipment, healthcare instrumentation, etc. 
Description: Supporting Bluetooth LE 5.3 transmission, as well as being applicable in Thread, Zigbee or Matter communication contexts, the u-blox NINA-B5 series is comprised of compact stand-alone wireless modules capable of delivering 10dBm output power figures. These modules each have one of NXP’s KW45 or K32W148 32-bit wireless microcontrollers embedded (featuring Arm Cortex-M33 processing and supporting 96MHz operation). As well as industrial-targeted models, automotive-grade versions can also be supplied. Inclusion of EdgeLock technology enables secure boot, over-the-air updates and hardware cryptography. 

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