SoCs - System-on-a-Chip

A Brief History of The System-On-A-Chip

Have you ever wondered where the idea of the system-on-a-chip (SoC) came from? Gadgets nowadays are getting more advanced and most of them are based on SoCs. Basically, these components can be a bit hard to define.



Where SoCs Are Commonly Used


You will usually find SoCs in your smartphone, smart TV, tablet, and voice assistant. This includes your computer where you can see it in the hard drive, graphics cards, and network cards. The main processor chip, in many cases, an SoC with a number of CPU cores, particularly with ultra-mobile laptops. You will also find an integrated graphics processing unit in such components.


Other cheap single board computers are also available, including the Beagle Bone and the Raspberry Pi, most are based around a system-on-a-chip. You can only see them in devices that need SoCs.



Its Brief History


You may not have much information regarding the history of SoCs because most of the early developments were done in the development and research laboratories of private companies. Thus, the information has not become public because of intellectual property laws.


Companies developing the technology at that time called system-on-a-chip were at the cutting edge of the telecommunications industry. Moreover, these companies have been developing silicon for other companies and not for sale to design engineers.


Thus, the chips they have produced were using obscure codenames and part numbers not listed in catalogs that should be readily available for the public.



The SoCs in the 1970s


A system-on-a-chip technology was intended to provide miniaturization. It dates back to the early 1970s in the new era of the digital watch when the first LED wristwatch was announced. It took 44 logic ICs to be reduced into one chip. Some of the LED driving circuitry in that wristwatch was actually too large so that was not actually a complete system.



Development of the First SoCs in the 1980s to the 1990s


It was in the 1980s when the revolution of personal computing took off that caused the major developments in system-on-a-chip technology. In 1991, this technology continued to flourish with the release of the AMD286ZX/LX family of SoCs.


Then, the boom in the cellular phone industry has made it possible for the development of SoCs in the 1990s. At the same time, many smaller chips begin to do different peripheral functions, including audio, battery charging, keyboard, and LCD displays, among others.


In the late 1990s, ARM Holdings began to license its fabless processor designs to other manufacturers. The future of ARM and the mobile telecoms market is greatly accredited to the evolution of its reduced-instruction-set (RISC) CPU.


It was very powerful and consumes less power than its competitors. It has become ideal for the use of embedded systems as can be seen in the disk drive SoC.


  • The early 2000s featured cheaper and smaller mobile phones
  • In 2001, it was the release of the iPod that was based on the twin-core ARM SoC
  • The mid-2000s was the expansion of the market in Asia
  • The first iPhone was launched in 2007 that featured an SoC containing an ARM core and GPU


Today, the mobile phone industry has been pushing the limits of the system-on-a-chip. In fact, the SoCs gained several ARM cores, GPU cores, and RAM, as well as multimedia processing features.


Linear MicroSystems, Inc. is proud to offer its services worldwide as well as the surrounding areas and cities around our Headquarters in Irvine, CA: Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Anaheim, Orange County, Fullerton, and Los Angeles.

integrated circuit

How Do Integrated Circuits Work

The invention of the integrated circuit (IC) was in 1958, compressing more power into lesser space. A very effective alternative to the buzzing vacuum tubes thousands of times less powerful than the modern laptop and 100 times smaller than the ENIAC in the 1940s.



What Is An Integrated Circuit?


Integrated circuits are a combination of diodes, microprocessors, and transistors in a minimized form on a wafer made of silicon. Each of these components has a specific function. These can perform calculations and multiple tasks when combined with each other.


  • Diodes – These are electronic devices working to control the flow of current in the circuit. Diodes also control the direction of the current in which they only allow the current to flow in certain paths.
  • Transistors – These components are used to store voltages or circuit stabilizer. They can be utilized to amplify the given signal and used as switches working in digital circuits. They can allow a certain amount of voltage into the circuit with the use of a gate to open at a particular voltage.
  • Microprocessors – These components are the most important part of the integrated circuit. This is intended to provide memory to the system. Likewise, it gives memory to perform calculations and follow a certain protocol or logic. This tells the microprocessor to process the data and electricity within the system. So it becomes the operating system of an integrated circuit, allowing the components to interact with one another.


Integrated circuits are found in almost every electrical appliance nowadays, from television to wristwatch and from PCs to juice makers. The applications are limitless for ICs in which anything can be designed and built with discrete electronic components and put into an integrated circuit.


Some examples of ICs are audio amplifiers, logic devices, memory devices, radiofrequency decoders and encoders, and video processors. But computing is among the major applications for ICs. So instead of thousands of transistors in computers in olden times, today’s PCs have only a handful of ICs.



Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC)


One of the uses of ICs is called the ASIC chip, which is made to serve a particular purpose, instead of a general-purpose chip. One of the applications of an ASIC is the one that runs in a digital voice recorder.



Structured ASIC Design


ASIC chips are fabricated using metal oxide semiconductor technology or as MOS integrated circuit chips. A new trend in the semiconductor industry is the structured ASIC chip design or the platform ASIC design.



Full-Custom ASIC


Another ASIC design used in the industry is the full-custom ASIC chip design that defines all the photolithographic layers of the device. These are used for both ASIC design and standard product design.


The benefits of a full-custom design include reduction of area, improvement of performance, and integration of analog components. However, this will cause increased manufacturing and design time, more complexity in the computer-aided design, and higher skill requirement for the design team.



Gate Array and Semi-Custom Design


Another manufacturing method where diffused layers are predefined and electronic wafers are held in stock before the metallization stage in the fabrication process. The diffused layers consist of transistors and other active devices.


Linear MicroSystems, Inc. is proud to offer its services worldwide as well as the surrounding areas and cities around our Headquarters in Irvine, CA: Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Anaheim, Orange County, Fullerton, and Los Angeles.

analog design - analog asic

Myths To Dispel About Custom Analog ASIC Design

Designing electronic products such as analog ASIC or custom silicon can be designed according to customer specifications. But there are myths to dispel in accordance with analog design or digital ASIC design. Here are several myths that can be busted with some of the recent changes in the semiconductor industry.



ASICs Are Expensive To Produce


To maximize the utilization of foundries and return on investment, steps are now taken by manufacturers to attract customers. Thus, lowering the cost of engineering.


Moreover, the increase in the availability of capacity on the basis of mature process nodes is keeping such costs low. This means that it is more cost-efficient to create custom silicon.



Making Custom Chips Requires Very High Volumes


This is not true because switching to a custom analog design for ASICs can remove the redundancy and will consolidate its functionality. Thus, it generates a significant bill of material savings to easily reach well over 50%. In this case, ASICs can make good business and engineering sense even at low or medium volumes.



It Is Expensive To Design Custom Silicon


There are experienced design houses with existing silicon-proven IP libraries. Therefore, it can leverage and keep costs low. So design houses can deliver a turnkey experience that often is more affordable than expected.



It Is Time-Consuming To Create Custom Silicon


Good design houses can now leverage existing silicon-proven IP libraries. In this sense, it can greatly reduce design time. Therefore, it will have a better design process flow to speed up time-to-market.



It Requires Hard Work To Engage In Analog/Mixed-Signal


Those who develop the mixed-signal or analog design for ASICs are adept at identifying and addressing the implications of layout between analog and digital circuitry. So it requires system-level understanding and experience to determine which design practices would work best.



You Are At Risk To Go Out Of Business When Working With A Custom Supplier


It is not true that you get into supply problems when you are working with major foundries or established design houses. In fact, the risk of supply only happens when using off-the-shelf components from different suppliers.



It Is Prohibitively Expensive To License IP


This is the exact opposite because costs in licensing IP can be minimized. This is made possible because design houses can leverage their own libraries of IP developed in-house, as well as greater buying power. This makes it available to customers at very competitive prices.



Design Houses Only Help With Hardware


Actually, design houses also work with customers to support software development for the complete system, aside from just developing hardware.



Your Design Partner Dictates What Customers Must Use To Implement


Customers are not restricted to a particular manufacturing partner because they can choose who to work with. This is due to the fact that design houses often want to select the best partners.



 Custom Silicon Only Benefits Very Specific Niche Requirements


There are lots of benefits with custom silicon, including improved efficiencies to space savings, IP security, and BOM cost reductions.



 Customers Are kept In The Dark Because Design Happens In A Black Box


Good design houses will work at every step of the way side-by-side with the customer in order to achieve the desired system. The entire process is actually open and transparent, rather than a black-box approach.


Linear MicroSystems, Inc. is proud to offer its services worldwide as well as the surrounding areas and cities around our Headquarters in Irvine, CA: Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Anaheim, Orange County, Fullerton, and Los Angeles.

single board computers and system-on-a-chip

System-On-A-Chip And Single Board Computer: Advantages And Disadvantages

A system-on-a-chip incorporates plenty of system components into a single silicon chip. On the other hand, single board computers are an entire computer built on a single circuit board. It also has a memory, microprocessor, and input-output features needed for a functional computer.


Generally, it comprises of a range of peripherals, memory, and an application processor. This is a small chip with all the required circuits and electronic components in a given system, such as a smartphone or PC, on a single integrated circuit.


Advantages Of System-on-a-Chip (SoC)


SoC is basically small and it has some useful features and functions. This makes it more advantageous to consider.


The design of the SoC is built for flexibility, which is quite tough to beat. Its suppleness can be derived from its chip size, form factor, and power.


Video codes from application-specific SoCs can be cost-efficient. This is particularly true with software in terms of effort and time.

High Volume

For high capacity products, SoCs are countless, since it makes it so easy to defend the resources and engineering cost.


Disadvantages Of SoC 


  1. Time-Consuming
  2. Resource Limitations
  3. Lower Volume



Advantages Of Single Board Computer (SBC)


Easy To Use

When it comes to single-board computers, you can rest assured that they are easy to use.

Verified Hardware

When designing SoC, it is quite expensive to consider pursuing it. In the case of SBC though, you are guaranteed that such a risk can be avoided.


The ability to apply modifications to your board only means that you are just giving for what you need.

Single Source

The bill of materials for a simple SoC can still be worth hundreds of dollars. However, considering SBC deems it informal for logistics.

Time To Market

The design of single board computers is essentially faster compared with that of the SoC.



Disadvantages Of SBC



When it comes to products of high capacity category, it makes it more logical to do your individual design and validate engineering costs.


Doing a system-on-a-chip is more valuable to deliberate as opposed to a system board computer, particularly when you want a lot of customizations.


It will be very worthwhile to spend some time and determination for developing a deep understanding of the invention, when you are planning to use the same SoC for several products, as opposed to SBC.



Differences Between SoC And SBC


System-on-a-chip and Single Board Computers are quite different from each other because the former can be a significant component of the latter. Basically, SoC comprises of different functional units on a single silicon chip. On the other hand, SBC is a complete personal computer on a single printed circuit board, CPU, RAM, and non-volatile memory.


Furthermore, SoC is widely used across the embedded industry because of the features, such as the computational quality, low power consumption, and small form factor. SBCs are standard products that can be utilized to advance the results for different industries.


Linear MicroSystems, Inc. is proud to offer its services worldwide as well as the surrounding areas and cities around our Headquarters in Irvine, CA: Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Anaheim, Orange County, Fullerton, and Los Angeles.

ASIC - optical control asic

State-Of-The-Art Products That Use Optical Control ASIC

One of the advantages of using application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) designs is its low power consumption. Industrial applications of ASICs are now used to achieve that and several other benefits. In the design of an optical control ASIC, for instance, the manufacturer aims to achieve low power, low-cost optical chips for applications that require image sensing capabilities, motion control, and color, light and distance measurement.




Low Power Image Sensor Chips


The industry has created a mechanism to develop image sensor chips and ICs for different applications in order to provide low power consumption, fast image updates, and high sensitivity. Each application utilizes minimal image resolution combined with smart software algorithms.


The single-chip optical systems are integrated within a range of industrial environments, which includes data communication, detection of motion and luminance, Internet of Things, and object tracking.


Engineers are able to integrate and customize optical control ASIC design based on the requirements of the customers. The optimal setup can be determined using on-chip or off-chip components.


Such would include the analog amplifiers, digital control communication, and sensor size. This is aimed to minimize the price, power consumption, and size.




Color and Light Measurements


The use of optical control ASIC also benefits many applications such as the capability to measure color or light. This can be done with the combination of optical filters on a chip diode and standard CMOS technology. This is beneficial for industrial and process control applications.


Other applications include early corrosion detection in gas pipes and steel constructions, eyewear protection, food bacteria, and humidity detection. The welding helmet is an example of efficient technology in preventing eye injuries caused by dangerous radiation from the welding process.




Optical Touchscreens and Industrial Applications


Most touchscreens might be based on capacitance sensing technology. But the use of optical control ASIC technology surpasses common expectations. This is because it enables light-based touchscreens more resistant to external mechanical impact.


  • 3rd dimension touchscreens
  • Underwater utility
  • Cost-efficient solution


Cutting edge optical technology is also used to provide first-rate touch experience for customers. This has been made possible with the use of advanced optomechanics and signal processing.


This sets new standards in touchscreen technology because you can get unique clarity in the screen. Moreover, it provides more resistance to external impact compared to traditional touchscreens.


The combination of a microprocessor and an optical sensor with the use of ASIC technology will enable the calculation of the coordinates of the finger when touching the screen. In other sensor applications where light disappears when moving, the photodiode Opto-ASIC principles are used. This can be seen in precision machinery and rotation control/detection in robotics.




Distance Measurement with Time of Flight Technology


Optical chip ASICs provide accurate measurement of distance on the basis of the time required for emitted photons to be reflected and measured on receiving diodes. The photodiodes become sensitive to specific wavelengths with the use of different optical filters.


The manufacture of optical filters will depend on the requirements of the customers. Most often, in order to obtain maximum measurement accuracy, 2-phase or 4-phase measurements are enabled for this application.




Linear MicroSystems, Inc. is proud to offer its services worldwide as well as the surrounding areas and cities around our Headquarters in Irvine, CA: Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Anaheim, Orange County, Fullerton, and Los Angeles.

mixed-signal ASIC design

Combining Analog and Digital ICs for Mixed Signal ASIC Design

Over the years, the most innovative companies around the world have tapped the potential of applied specific integrated circuit (ASIC) solutions. In fact, the industry has capitalized on mixed-signal ASIC design and products as it understands the needs of the customers.



Perhaps you have already encountered the term mixed-signal ASIC design. Well, that is because it can be found everywhere nowadays, particularly in smart mobile devices. This is an integrated circuit containing both analog and digital circuits on a single semiconductor die.



At the same time, it processes both analog and digital signals. For instance, one example of a mixed-signal circuit is the analog-to-digital converter. This type of system or circuit is an example of a cost-effective solution to build any modern consumer electronic applications.




Chip Design


The design and manufacture of mixed-signal ASIC design are more difficult in comparison with analog-only or digital-only integrated circuits. One of the notable differences is that it is more efficient because it shares a common power supply with its analog and digital components. However, it would be an essential goal in chip design as its components have different power needs and consumption characteristics.




Lowest Risk Path


In terms of cost reduction, ASICs and highly integrated system-on-chip solutions are advantageous and can increase the performance providing the lowest risk path to success. This is because it uses an extensive library of proven circuit IP so that it can speed up projects.




Optical Chips


The industry has developed image sensor chips and ICs for different sensor applications. This will provide high sensitivity, fast image updates, and low power consumption. This smart single-chip optical system has been integrated across various industrial environments, which includes data communication via RF links, IoT, motion and luminance detection, and object tracking.



This employs minimal image resolution required for each application. At the same time, it works together with smart software algorithms to integrate image sensing capabilities into optical sensor solutions with or without battery.




Advantages of Combining Analog and Digital ICs


Mixed-signal ASIC design provides engineers the potential to reduce the complexity of multiple integrated circuit designs into one IC. This concept has already become commercially viable and widely available. Here are some of the benefits of using mixed-signal ASIC:


  • Reduction in cost
  • Reliability improvement
  • Protection of intellectual property
  • Low power consumption
  • Miniaturization
  • Improvement in performance



Analog and mixed-signal ASIC design are found in products used by consumers all over the world in different segments of the market, such as the following:


  • Instrumentation
  • Industrial sensors to flight control
  • Cosmetics to healthcare
  • Credit card scanners to mobile devices



A mixed-signal ASIC design combines the competencies of the analog and digital circuit designs. Dozens of ASIC chips are now used in cars to provide the mechanism for basic functions such as airbag deployment, climate control, and entertainment systems.



Many establishments also take advantage of ASIC chips in the delivery of basic services, particularly in manufacturing and medical facilities.




Linear MicroSystems, Inc. is proud to offer its services worldwide as well as the surrounding areas and cities around our Headquarters in Irvine, CA: Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Anaheim, Orange County, Fullerton, and Los Angeles.

soc mobile phone

How a Typical System on a Chip Works

When you buy a mobile device, the multi-core capabilities, processing power, and speed often matter the most. But as you generally focus on the processor, there are more complex things happening. In fact, there is a system-on-a-chip (SoC) within these devices offering more complex functionalities.




What Is SoC?


The fact that mobile devices are basically smaller computers, they have the same components as do desktops and laptops. Therefore, they are able to do amazing things just as your computers normally do.


However, these tiny computers are not able to provide the same capacity as your desktop or laptop for different components needed. Such would include the graphics card, processor, and RAM.




Components of A SoC


There are a number of components you can find inside an SoC chip that you may need to know in order to understand how they work. Here are the general details so that you may be able to get an idea of what goes on inside a system-on-a-chip.


  • Central Processing Unit (CPU) – This component makes everything possible when you use your smartphone. CPUs can be single- or multiple-core processor, which is mostly based on ARM technology.


  • Memory – A computer has the memory required to perform different tasks, which is also what you can find in an SoC in your smartphone or tablet. An SoC basically has different memory architectures inside to fulfill its tasks efficiently.


  • Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) – Another important part you can find on the SoC is the GPU. It is responsible for handling complex 3D games on your mobile devices. There are many GPU architectures available in the market just as you might expect.


  • Northbridge – A component that is capable of handling communications between a CPU and other components of the SoC is called a Northbridge or Southbridge.


  • Southbridge – Another component capable of handling various input/output functions is the second chipset called the Southbridge. This component is found inside the SoC in some cases.


  • Cellular Radios – There are certain modems that you can find in a system-on-a-chip needed by mobile operators. This is the case for the Snapdragon S4 from Qualcomm, which has an embedded LTE modem on board. This will be responsible for the 4G LTE connectivity.


  • Other Radios – You may also find other types of connectivity that SoCs use, including Bluetooth, GPS/GLONASS, or Wi-Fi.




Different Types Of SoC


There are different types of SoC chips used by various manufacturers of mobile devices. They are not entirely similar, so here are a few of the most popular system-on-a-chip found in your mobile devices.


  • NVIDIA Tegra 3
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4
  • Samsung Exynos 4 Quad
  • Intel Medfield
  • Texas Instruments OMAP 4
  • ST-Ericsson NovaThor



Apple also has its own system-on-a-chip which is the popular line of AX chips, namely the A9X, A10X, and A12X. These chips have been many of the iOS devices of Apple starting with the iPad. Its flagship Apple SoC is the A10X, but its newest model iPad Pro utilizes the A12X SoC chipset.




Linear MicroSystems, Inc. is proud to offer its services worldwide as well as the surrounding areas and cities around our Headquarters in Irvine, CA: Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Anaheim, Orange County, Fullerton, and Los Angeles.

ASIC chips

A Few of the Ways ASIC Chips are integrated into Newer Technologies

Technologies of today are indeed getting more advanced thanks to the integration of application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). In the world where processes are done in a repeated function, it is important to use dependable systems like ASICs designed for a very specific purpose.



Here are some ways in which ASIC chips are used in newer technology these days:


Tensor Processing Units (TPU) of Google

A type of ASIC designed to run key deep learning algorithms, which is part of the TensorFlow machine learning framework. Originally, Google used CPUs and GPUs for training machine learning models. A new generation of TPUs has then been developed to both train and run the models. TensorFlow, as an open-source machine learning library developed by Google, not only runs best on TPUs but also on both CPUs and GPUs.




Many cryptocurrencies to discover blocks by running hashing algorithms and these discoveries may increase in difficulty over time with more blocks being found. As a result, the difficulty will lead to an arms race of computing power resulting in the ASICs overtaking CPUs and GPUs.


For instance, Bitcoin was first mined on CPUs and GPUs. However, the first Bitcoin ASICs were created in 2013, which was intended to run the SHA-256 hashing algorithm for more efficient and faster processing compared to general-purpose chips. As a result, CPUs and GPUs have become obsolete for this function.


The market has become very popular that even Samsung, the world leader in chip manufacturing, is supplying ASIC chips for mining cryptocurrency. Some companies, like Bitmain, are now turning their experience in ASIC into artificial intelligence, competing with the likes of Google and AWS.



IoT ‘edge’ Devices

Circuits embedded into smart devices have become the driving force of the digital revolution. In fact, custom-built ASICs are used by IoT devices themselves to reduce the physical space on the chip and they function under low energy demands.


IoT kits connect cloud platforms such as AWS IoT Core, Google Cloud, or TensorFlow which may also run ASICs. Basically, IoT devices are able to utilize ASIC chip technologies to gather data with the use of sensors, push the said data into algorithm models running on cloud-based ASICs, and send alerts from the model back to the end-user.




It is important to view enterprise IT holistically as a multi-cloud environment. Normally, enterprise IT powers all things from social media to sports events to ATMs. In other words, digital businesses in today’s world would rely on a combination of private or public cloud and on-premises hardware.



Nowadays, ASIC chip technologies are powering digital transformation and beginning to play a pivotal role in data centers. The problem is the integration of ASICs with conventional CPUs and GPUs within the multi-cloud environment. Moreover, IT leaders today should be concerned about the costs through the lifecycle of software development and production deployment.


Therefore, risks are to be taken by IT leaders of today due to technological obsolescence, which could be the burden of those companies disrupting the digital economy. Perhaps developing custom ASIC chips could be a possible option for digital leaders taking an edge at the forefront of their markets.




Linear MicroSystems, Inc. is proud to offer its services worldwide as well as the surrounding areas and cities around our Headquarters in Irvine, CA: Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Anaheim, Orange County, Fullerton, and Los Angeles.

sensor asics applications

Basic Information about a Sensor ASIC and Its Applications

ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) designs are built by manufacturers based on specific customer specifications. Many technologies can be used in order to produce ASICs, which was once thought to consist only of digital circuits.



These are almost entirely designed by logic synthesis programs, such as a physical layout, which is completed by automated place and route programs. However, there are no analog circuits included in this design.



There are many types of ASICs applications, which include sensor ASIC. Here are a few basic examples of ASIC applications:



  • Automotive ASICs
    • Digital pulse width modulator
    • Electric odometers
    • LCD display drivers
    • VF display drivers


  • Industrial ASICs
    • Custom 8-bit microcontroller
    • Digital trim potentiometer
    • Micropower 555 timer
    • Thermal controller
    • Pulse counter and elapse time meters


  • Medical ASICs
    • Advanced hearing instruments
    • Biometric sensors
    • Programmable hearing aids


  • Security ASICs
    • Key lock tags
    • Passive infrared motion detector
    • RFID tag
    • Spread spectrum controller


  • Sensor ASICs
    • Accelerometer piezo sensor
    • Engine monitoring sensors
    • Magneto-resistive sensor for control




What Are Sensor ASICs For?


Here are some of the custom ASIC applications that involve sensors.



  • Sensor Interface and Bar Display Driver


This particular ASIC chipset will convert analog inputs into one of 10 programmable ranges. Then it displays the result on a 10-segment bar display. The input range is technically 0-2.55V and is set by either an external or internal reference voltage. The voltage level for every range contains a resolution of 8 bits and stored in an electrically erasable programmable read-only memory or EEPROM.



Basic features include:

    • Absolute or Ratiometric sensors
    • Data backed up in EEPROM
    • Internal 5-volt regulator
    • 7-decade season, 5-decade trip counters
    • 7-digit LCD driver
    • 20-bit binary Prescaler
    • Record miles or hours
    • Temperature range from -40 degrees Celsius to +85 degrees Celsius


  • Engine Monitor and Warning Light Controller


This device will monitor up to 4 engine parameters, such as pressure, temperature, or voltage. If the parameter is out of range, it activates the corresponding warning light. At this point, the inputs on the sensor could be absolute or ratiometric. The inputs are also digitally filtered and might include hysteresis to avoid flickering. This is particularly intended for automotive instrument clusters.



Basic features include:

    • 4-sensor channels
    • Absolute or ratiometric
    • External R and C
    • Internal 10-volt regulator
    • Internal oscillator for clock generation
    • Optional hysteresis
    • Programmable digital filters
    • Temperature ranges from -40 degrees Celsius to +85 degrees Celsius


  • Digital Pulse Width Modulator


This type of chipset modulates an input clock for a variable frequency and duty-cycle output signal. There are three 8-bit registers accessible via a 3-wire interface. They will be able to control configuration, frequency, and pulse width.



Basic features include:

    • 8-Lead green PDIP package
    • 8-MHz clock input frequency
    • 3-wire serial bus input
    • 2.5 to 6.0-volt supply range
    • Direct replacement for Intersil CPD68HC68W1
    • Programmable frequency and duty cycle output
    • Temperature ranges from -40 degrees Celsius to +85 degrees Celsius


For more information on Sensor ASICs, contact Linear MicroSystems today for a proposal on your next project.




Linear MicroSystems, Inc. is proud to offer its services worldwide as well as the surrounding areas and cities around our Headquarters in Irvine, CA: Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Anaheim, Orange County, Fullerton, and Los Angeles.

time-of-flight asic chipset

Popular Applications for Time-Of-Flight ASIC Chipsets

There are many applications that can be made with time-of-flight circuitry, particularly in the areas of light detection and ranging (LIDAR) and 3D imaging. These include driving and detecting sensors, which involve very fast and high-speed processes, as well as wideband circuit design techniques.



Basic Features


  • Transmitter has:
    • High-speed gate driver, while operating with an external transistor
    • Uses a pre-heat function for faster pulse shapes
    • Power monitor function
    • SPI interface


  • Receiver has:
    • Very low noise wideband trans-impedance amplifier or TIA
    • Fast response pulse detector with LVDS outputs


  • Separate transmitter and receiver functions that come in quad-flat no-leads (QFN) packages of 24 pins, 3mm x 3mm


  • Both ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits) are designed in a 180nm SiGe process



Applications for Time-of-Flight Chipset Based On LIDAR


  • Consumer – interactive displays in AI systems


  • Logistics – parcel loading


  • Retail – queue management and customer behavioral tracking


  • Robotics – object detection and avoidance


  • Security – perimeter fencing and intrusion detection


  • Transportation – collision avoidance and autonomous driving



The development of a time-of-flight ASIC chipset was intended for a customer with new products in the LIDAR and 3D imaging application spaces. The function of this chipset is to split the transmitter and receiver ASICs, which will allow flexibility where multiple receivers are utilized for every transmitter.



However, the split function has the added benefit of keeping huge, fast transmit signals away from the very sensitive receiver circuits. Customers then can use off-the-shelf discrete components and ICs to build a breadboard of the transceiver function.



As a result, customers can develop initial target specifications of the transceiver from the input-output standpoint. This is the advantage of modifying the specific circuit architectures to best use a fully-integrated approach.




How well do Time-of-Flight Chipset ASICs Work


Based on an initial investigation, the chip was checked if it could meet the overall requirements. The chipset used as a 180nm SiGe BiCMOS process, which offered a good compromise between the cost and performance for both wafers and masks. The detailed design was finally made after the chipset specifications were determined.




Significance of Time of Flight ASIC Chipsets


  • Used in ToF cameras, a range imaging system used to resolve distance on the basis of a known speed of light. This allows the measurement of time of fight traveled by a light signal between the subject and the camera.


  • Used in long-range cameras that cover from a range of a few centimeters up to several kilometers with lower spatial resolution in comparison to 2D cameras.



  • A ToF camera has an image sensor that measures the time it would take for light to travel from the unit of illumination, the optics gathering the light and projecting it into the image sensor, the illumination unit, the driver electronics, and the interface or computation.


  • Range-gated imagers have also been developed for ToF cameras. These have a built-in shutter that activates an open-close function when light pulses are sent out.



For more information on Time-of-Flight ASIC chipsets, contact Linear MicroSystems today for a proposal on your next project.




Linear MicroSystems, Inc. is proud to offer its services worldwide as well as the surrounding areas and cities around our Headquarters in Irvine, CA: Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Anaheim, Orange County, Fullerton, and Los Angeles.