SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Call it national touchscreen chip week.
Atmel, Cypress, IDT and others this week made announcements in the hot arena. Most of the attention in touchscreen chips involve the handset--namely Apple Inc.'s iPhone--but there is plenty of action and money in the less-glamorous automotive and industrial applications.
''The handset is for show, but industrial is for dough,'' said Steve Sanghi, president and CEO of Microchip Technology Inc., in a recent interview. Microchip, one of many players in the touchscreen chip arena, is focusing on the industrial markets. In that segment, Microchip has seen ''record sales,'' Sanghi said.
“Touch screen penetration has been rapidly increasing in mobile phone, PMP/MP3, portable navigation, and other applications. Over the next several years, touch screens will undergo strong growth in large-size applications such as all-in-one PCs, mini-note/slate PCs, and education/training,” said Jennifer Colegrove, an analyst with DisplaySearch, in a report.
DisplaySearch is reporting that total touch screen shipments increased 29 percent in 2009 to 606 million units. Projected capacitive touch has been popularized by Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch since 2007, and with the iPad adopting it in 2010. DisplaySearch forecasts that projected capacitive will pass resistive touch technology to become the leading touch technology in 2010, measured by revenues.
Clearly, the iPhone grabbed the headlines in touch technology. But for touchscreen chip makers, there is a huge opportunity in both the handset and industrial markets, said Neil Rice, technical marketing manager for the Microcontroller Business Unit at Atmel Corp. ''We are targeting both markets,'' Rice said in a recent interview.
Atmel, a supplier of microcontroller and touch solutions, this week announced its maXTouch technology can enable advanced capacitive touch functionality for large format touchscreens.
The company's technology has been adopted in smartphones. Atmel’s maXTouch solutions now support large touchscreens up to 15 inches for emerging products, including touch-enabled tablets, smartbooks, mobile Internet devices (MIDs), netbooks, PC notebooks, and a range of industrial applications.
Another rival, Integrated Device Technology Inc. (IDT), announced the newest members of the IDT PureTouch family of capacitive touch devices. Targeting low-channel consumer, white goods and portable devices, the PureTouch technology can be implemented through button, slider and scroll options.
The LDS6200 family is capable of detecting up to eight simultaneous touches and includes built-in proximity sensing, which allows activation of features such as backlighting and wake up prior to the actual touch contact.
In continuous scan mode, the LDS6200 consumes only 100uW, which is 20 percent lower than the current product family. With wide voltage range support (1.8V to 5.5V DC), no external voltage converter is required for non-portable applications.
The new devices are currently sampling and are available at $0.70 for 10,000 units and are available in a variety of package options, including 16-pin and 20-pin TQFN and SSOP packages.
Another player, Cypress Semiconductor Corp., this week announced automotive qualification of its TrueTouch touchscreen and LIN capable CapSense touch-sensing controllers. The devices, based on Cypress’s PSoC programmable system-on-chip architecture, meet AEC-Q100 standards.
The TrueTouch controllers mark the industry’s first automotive-qualified capacitive touchscreen solution, according to Cypress. The CY8C2x345 CapSense controllers pair analog resources with automotive industry standard LIN communication support, making the devices the ideal system controllers to interface with analog and capacitive touch-sensor inputs, and to control backlight LEDs and haptic actuators while communicating over the LIN bus.
Cypress also announced that Grace Semiconductor in Shanghai, China has been qualified to fabricate automotive-grade CY8C2x345 CapSense controllers that adhere to the AEC-Q100 standard, ISO/TS 16949 quality management standard and Cypress’s Zero Defect manufacturing system.
Separately, Cypress also introduced 32- and 64-Mbit fast asynchronous SRAMs. They target applications such as storage servers, switches and routers, testing equipment, high-end security systems and military systems.
The CY7C1071DV33 32-Mbit 3V and CY7C1081DV33 64-Mbit 3V fast asynchronous SRAMs offer both 16-bit and 8-bit I/O configuration. The new 32-Mbit and 64-Mbit SRAMs offer very fast access times of 12 ns.