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There is a growing trend in today’s electronics industry for OEMs to seek to minimize the time their engineering teams spend selecting components and creating discrete designs. They want these teams to quickly implement solutions that free up internal resources to concentrate on the core competencies that engender competitive advantage and product differentiation.
To address this trend, semiconductor manufacturers are evolving their offerings in a number of ways, including the development of more integrated and ‘smarter’ ICs. Such ICs allow often complex design challenges to be solved with a single device where, previously, a number of parts might have been needed. Take, for example, the intelligent power devices (IPDs) that integrate PFC, three-phase inverter output, pre-drive and protection functionality to significantly simplify the implementation of motor control applications.
However, this is only the starting point. What semiconductor manufacturers need to do is give their customers – wherever they may be in the world – access to ecosystems that comprise a varied combination of products, tools, reference designs, engineering support and third-party hardware and software. In this way, they can play a pivotal role in helping those customers drive down the time from initial concept to end product.
Thanks, in part, to its recent acquisition of Fairchild Semiconductor, ON Semiconductor can offer a number of the key ecosystem elements that will speed and support end-to-end solutions. Beyond a much-expanded range of products and technologies the company offers unprecedented levels of support for customers and partners in key application areas such as industrial, automotive and wireless devices.
Design tools and reference designs play a key role in any ecosystem and ON Semiconductor invests heavily in this area. One example of this investment can be seen in the recent introduction of a modular IoT development kit (IDK) that provides engineers with all of the hardware and software building blocks needed to speed the evaluation, design and implementation of medical, home and industrial IoT applications. These tools are backed up by engineering support and application specialists, many of whom are based at dedicated design support and solutions engineering centers around the world.
A further example comes in the area of low and mid-voltage synchronous buck converters where choosing the right powertrain components can be a daunting and time consuming task. Recognising this, ON Semiconductor’s Synchronous Buck Powertrain design tool offers complete powertrain design and analysis, including power MOSFETs, output inductor, output capacitor, and optional snubber, to allow designers to get to an optimized solution in much less time.
Of course, it is important to recognize that no one company can do absolutely everything and that relationships with third parties form an important part of any ecosystem. In the case of the IDK mentioned above, for instance, the kit’s comprehensive software development framework (encompassing operating system, drivers, APIs for hardware shields, a GUI, key applications and services and sample code for testing applications) is complemented through simplified cloud connectivity and services provided via the third-party Sigfox and Carriots IoT platforms.
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