Ever increasing energy costs and the global debate about environmental pollution is making society more conscious about the need for adapting its energy consumption behavior accordingly. One obvious way is to use fewer energy guzzling gadgets wherever possible. In addition, government regulations around the world are enforcing energy saving measures through the step by step banning of inefficient light sources, such as incandescent lamps, compelling the industry to invest in developing alternative energy efficient light sources.
The lighting market trend today is defined by LED technology which offers significant advantages over traditional light sources. LEDs are known for their low power consumption and long life cycle. Technological advances in the past decade have continually improved the luminous efficacy (Lumen/Watt) of LEDs and their productions costs are getting lower. These technical features, catalyzed by economic, ecologic, and political constraints for the industry, are boosting the spread of LEDs in the lighting industry at a rapid rate.
For Renesas Electronics, the lighting segment is one of the key markets with an increasing focus worldwide. Renesas offers a wide range of dedicated, advanced semiconductor components for lighting applications. The spectrum ranges from its latest RL78/I1A MCU ASSP family through to discrete LED driver ICs like the R2A20134 and the R2A20135, and include a wide variety of MOSFETs and optocouplers supplemented by lighting specialized communication solutions. These products cover all aspects of the design of LED lighting, replacing incandescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes not only in commercial indoor and outdoor event lighting but also for architectural, street, and domestic lighting applications.
This article outlines briefly RL78/I1A MCU ASSP features specifically for lighting applications, its development tools, and the technology outlook. The discrete LED driver ICs R2A20134, R2A20135, and other components are not discussed further here.
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David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.