ever-increasing worldwide demand for electronic and electrical devices, together with the increasing global awareness that the use of fossil fuels to generate electrical power must be reduced as much and as quickly as possible, means that there is now a major focus on making end-use equipment significantly more power efficient. This focus has driven the development of this new technology from ST.
ST has already verified the feasibility of this new semiconductor technology by producing, in cooperation with a world-leading medical equipment supplier, a demonstrator chip for ultrasound scanners that can handle over one hundred channels, to address the next generation of scanners that will require thousands of channels. The best technology available today on the market does not allow this level of integration, with current chips typically handling only eight channels.
The development of the technology is one of the results of an advanced European R&D project. In Europe, the EU has stimulated much research and development work in this field through the ENIAC (European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council) initiative. Within the ENIAC framework, ST and 17 other European partners have formed the SmartPM (Smart Power Management in Home and Health) consortium to answer this growing need for energy efficiency. The SmartPM consortium includes companies and academic institutions from nine countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden. The SmartPM partners are working together to develop innovative semiconductor technologies, circuit designs and system architectures.
“Semiconductor technologies that can drastically reduce electrical energy consumption in consumer and industrial appliances have existed in the labs for many years and their potential contribution to the reduction of worldwide power consumption is significant,” said Claudio Diazzi, Group Vice-President, Technology R&D, STMicroelectronics. “However, the cost of these technologies has previously been too high to make them commercially viable. We believe that this new smart power technology will make a significant difference.”