Active-Semi's PAC platform has leveraged experience in analog power management and conversion technology along with its patented tile-based analog array methodology.
The power conversion device, most notably designed into Apple’s iPad, iPhone and iPod car chargers, comes with built-in high voltage field-effect transistor and offers a complete high efficiency solution featuring accurate current limit, low standby power and fast dynamic response.
Designed in the PAC platform are Active-Semi’s integrated high voltage power drivers, patented all-in-one power conversion solution, and easily configurable front-end.
Another key element in the PAC platform is the company’s patented tile technology.
Wang said the complex design process required for designing a conversion IC. “For analog/mixed signal ICs, one needs to rely on EDA tools, creating a unique layout for every design. Naturally, once the design is done, you can’t reuse the unique layout for another application.”
To allow quick silicon spins, Active-Semi came up with a Lego-like system that includes pre-defined registers, bus structures, drivers, signal conditioning and other building blocks. The chip is sandwiched between “a system tile” and “a power tile,” which allows “a Tetris-like tight fit,” for the power application controller, explained XuCheng Wang.
Active-Semi's Power Application Controller (PAC) Platform
The tile technology was originally developed by Active-Semi’s CTO Huynh, a part of the company’s extensive IP portfolio. “When I saw this tile technology, I got quite excited,” said XuCheng Wang. When he joined the company, XuCheng Wang studied the IP portfolio and realized this could quickly turn into the company’s new product.
Active-Semi kicked off the PAC project in June, 2011. True to the nimble and aggressive sense of speed typical of the Chinese fabless industry, the company was able to test samples in the first quarter of 2012.
At a time when big corporations like TI are mired in acquisitions and focused on tactical shifts in their business, innovation sits on the back burner. XuCheng Wang remembers struggling at TI to get resources and kick off projects that eventually ended up in R&D limbo.
Active-Semi, which owns 89 U.S. patents and has 25 pending. “At a time when innovations are slowing at large U.S. companies, it’s time for small startups to [start] re-inventing technology and destroying the old model,” he said.
The company is offering a limited supply of PAC platform samples now along with hardware and software design kits. The company will start volume production in early 2013 with volume unit pricing ranging from 80 cents to $2.80.