Tuesday, May 29, 2012

For Tech Start-Ups, New York Has Increasing Allure

When Doug Imbruce wanted to start an interactive video company in 2009, he had no luck finding investors in New York. So he moved to Silicon Valley — where venture capitalists were receptive to his pitch — and founded Qwiki.
But in February, he decided that being so far away from the nation’s big media companies was stifling his start-up’s growth. So he moved back to New York, bringing the company with him. Qwiki, with 15 employees, now operates out of a SoHo loft space.
“We went to Silicon Valley because they understood how big we wanted to get,” Mr. Imbruce said, “and we moved back to fulfill that promise.”
The recent burgeoning of New York’s Internet industry has forced some entrepreneurs — who, just a few years ago, might have felt they had little choice but to head west to pursue their dreams — to make a difficult choice. New York is now enough of an attractive alternative that a few West Coast-born start-ups are even packing up and moving east.
Much of this change has to do with the way that the technology industry has shifted toward creating consumer products and applications, rather than building the basic framework of computing and the Internet. Many new start-ups benefit from proximity to the media, advertising and fashion industries, New York’s strengths. And as the city’s industry grows, entrepreneurs say, it is offsetting some of the traditional disadvantages of being outside Silicon Valley.
There is little talk of New York overtaking the Bay Area as the hub of the country’s technology industry. And the concept of New York as a real rival to Silicon Valley can make some Californian eyes start rolling.
“You can definitely build great companies elsewhere, but I have not seen anyplace in the world that builds true global franchises — technology-based franchises — like this place does,” said John O’Farrell, a partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, based in Menlo Park, Calif. Though the firm has invested in several New York-based start-ups, Mr. Farrell said, it sets the bar higher for them, largely because it believes they are less likely to succeed.
A lack of venture capital financing outside of Silicon Valley has traditionally been a prohibitive barrier for start-up founders who might have wanted to put down roots elsewhere. But that is changing. Almost 500 start-ups in New York received venture financing from 2007 to 2011, according to a recent report from the Center for an Urban Future, a New York-based public policy organization. The number of venture capital deals in the city has risen 32 percent since 2007, while the figures for other areas, including the Valley, have dropped. And several major venture capital firms have recently opened offices in New York.
When Mr. Imbruce sought investment for Qwiki in New York in 2009, his pitch fell flat. He did eventually find a California-based investor who offered to back the company, but only if Mr. Imbruce moved west and immersed himself in the Silicon Valley scene. He agreed, and soon found investors to be much more receptive, to the tune of $10.5 million in financing.
What eventually drew Mr. Imbruce back to New York was the gravitational pull of the major media companies. Soon after arriving in New York, Qwiki began meeting regularly with ABC to discuss how the network could use Qwiki’s tools. Last week, the two companies announced a partnership.
Such collaborations are New York’s biggest draw. The biggest drawback is hiring. Silicon Valley has the deepest pool of qualified engineers in the country, because of Stanford and the major technology companies that are based there. On the East Coast, many talented engineers gravitate to finance, which offers salaries that start-ups cannot compete with.
Aaron Harris moved his company, TutorSpree, from Silicon Valley to New York last year. He said he was so concerned about finding engineers that he held open the possibility of moving back to Mountain View, Calif., where he had participated in the prestigious incubator program at Y Combinator. But Mr. Harris found that he did not have to rely on hiring New York-based engineers. Instead, he found them elsewhere and convinced them to move.
The woes of the financial industry have also benefited New York’s tech start-ups, which have been able to poach some engineering talent. But Mr. Harris, who worked for a hedge fund before starting TutorSpree, is skeptical that this will continue once the tech industry goes through its next downturn.
“We’re seeing résumés from people in finance all the time, and that’s awesome,” he said. “We’ll see how long that lasts.”

Thursday, May 3, 2012

TI and ADI at PCIM

At the PCIM power electronics and intelligent motion exhibition which opens in Nuremberg, Germany next week (May 8-10) Texas Instruments will be showing a 2.5A stepper motor controller.

Called DRV8818, its has 150mΩ output low-side output devices and 220mΩ on the high-side, which TI claims cuts power waste compared with some alternatives.

The chip is actually a higher-powered version of the existing 1.9-A DRV8811, with which it is pin-compatible.

To reduce audible noise and improve system stability, decay modes and timing parameters are adjustable.

Full, half, quarter and eighth micro stepping is built in, as are multiple fault protections.

The DRV8818EVM evaluation module should also be there, which includes a pre-programmed MSP430 microcontroller, that supports user-controlled acceleration, deceleration and motion profiles.
Diodes, which absorbed Oldham-based Zetex a few years ago, will have a reduced-height power mosfet to talk about.

“We have launched a line of n and p-channel mosfets in DFN2020-6 packages with an off-board height of only 0.4mm, and a footprint of 4mm2,” said the firm.

The DMP2039UFDE4 is a -25V rated p-channel with 3kV protection against electrostatic discharge.

Typical RDS(on) in the -12V DMP1022UFDE is 13mΩ at 4.5V Vgs.

Other mosfets in the series are provided in a 0.5mm high DFN2020E package.

Aimed at load switching and dc-dc converters, the 20V n-channel DMN2013UFDE offers 2kV ESD protection, and then there is the 60V DMN6040UFDE “one of the first high-voltage mosfets to be introduced in the DFN2020 package, and suits industrial and HVAC controls”, said Diodes.
Advanced Power Electronics is touting the first in its family of dc-dc converter output devices with two mosfets in a single 5x6mm package.

Within AP6922GMT-HF-3 is a 30V control mosfet with a maximum on-resistance of 8.5mΩ and continuous drain current rating of 15A (25°C), plus a 30V synchronous rectifier mosfet with a 25.7A drain (25°C) and 3.8mΩ maximum on-resistance.

The same firm has an interesting IGBT especially for camera flashes.

N-channel AP28G40GEO is rated at 400V and a huge 150A, despite being squeezed into TSSOP-8 package.
Renesas will have devices covering voltage range from 20 to 1,500V, including a p-mosfet three-phase bridge for dc motor drives in a LFPAK.

This package replaces internal bond wires with gold bumps to cut package resistance improve heat flow.

It will also be talking about HVSON8, miniHVSON8 and WPAK packages, which use aluminium ribbon and copper clip connections to improve performance. “HSON8 is the latest development combining the performance of a standard TO-252 package with outlines of SOP8”, claimed the firm.

Along with a 600V super junction p-mosfet for PSUs including power factor correction, Renesas will be showing a portfolio of IGBT to support power solutions such as inverters for solar, welding, industrial motor, pumps, UPS, PSU, home appliances and induction heating.

Its ‘thin wafer’ IGBTs cover 600-1,350V and 5-50A (100°C) in DPak, D2Pak, TO220, TO247, and TO-3P.
To partner IGBTs, the firm is highlighting opto-couplers at PCIM.

For higher temperature, Renesas has the PS9307 series which comes in a 6pin SDIP and will work up to 125°C, 600mA out, and 50kV/µs common mode minimum. 

At the high-speed industrial end will be two 10Mbit/s opto-couplers (PS9123 and PS9324) that feature 110°C and 3.3V operation.

For cramped boards, PS9123 has a totem pole output from a 5pin SOP, then PS9324 is open-collector and in a 6pin SDIP for 5kVrms isolation and 8mm creepage
Lastly there will be an extra-long package for a minimum creepage distance of 14mm from Renesas.

The first isolators in the ‘Long-SDIP’ will be a 2.5A output IGBT drive, and a 10Mbps high speed. 
Toshiba is also revealing super-junction silicon mosfets.

This time the products are aimed at AC adaptors and lighting ballasts.

And Toshiba will be unveiling a series of single-chip inverter intelligent power devices “that minimise component count and improve efficiency in inverter drives for brushless DC motors,” claimed the firm.

Plus it will have an expanded range of low-voltage mosfets.
Although it will not say what yet, ON Semiconductor is known to be introducing new power modules and discrete IGBTs at PCIM, for applications such as home appliances, automotive, industrial, lighting, and portable consumer.

For electric vehicles, International Rectifier will be describing its COOLiR silicon process and COOLiR2 packaging technology.

“It helps to reduce the size, weight and system cost of electric power train components”, is all the firm will say so far.
Current transducer firm LEM will have its ITZ ultra-precision series at PCIM.

Working from 600A to 24kA, the sensors are intended for AC, DC and pulsed currents.

“Achieving extreme accuracy at very high current levels is a challenging problem in measurement technology,” said LEM. “We used closed-loop flux-gate technology to address the problem. This provides initial offset error of under 2ppm, linearity in the range of 1-10ppm, and extremely low thermal drift of 0.1-0.6 ppm/K.”

Consisting of a transducer head (0-55°C) plus signal-conditioning 19in. rack (10-40°C), the units are mains powered.

Current or voltage output is available, plus other outputs indicating the transducer state: operational/not operational; current extremely low; current extremely high; or transducer overloaded. Built-in LEDs mirror the output states.

600 and 2,000A models are available as programmable units with either current or voltage outputs (40 to 620A in steps of 20A, or 125 to 2,000A in 125A steps.

Bandwidth, according to model, is 2-500kHz (+/-3 dB) and overload for the largest model is 30kA for 100ms. Transducer apertures range from 25 to 150mm diameter.

On top of this, LEM is presenting a new series of open-loop asic-based transducers “specifically designed to meet the technology advances in drives and inverters which require better performance in areas such as thermal drifts, response time, power supply and noise”.
Vicor will be showing-off its 850W 80A quarter brick intermediate bus converter with 98% peak efficiency.

Part of the IBC050 product line, it is intended to be a drop-in upgrade for industry standard 5:1 fixed ratio converters.

Called IB050Q096T80N1-00, it operates from a 36 to 60V input voltage range and offers 2.25kV isolation.

Full rating is available from 55 to 60V (50°C 400LFM airflow), dropping to 550W at 36V.
Size is 58x37x10.5mm.

Inside, the firm’s ‘sine amplitude converter’ topology operating at 1MHz “cuts transient response time by a factor of 10 and eliminates the need for bulk capacitors across the intermediate bus,” claims the firm.

Vicor’s engineering director Maurizio Salato will present a paper on power factor correction at the conference that runs alongside the exhibition at PCIM.
Also amongst the many papers will be one by Analog Devices’ application engineer Dr Bernhard Strzalkowski describing an adaptive dead time control method for forward converters.
Live demonstrations are everywhere at PCIM, and ADI’s stand is no exception.
Its demos will include industrial communication modules working with isolated transceivers and its Blackfin ADSP-BF506F DSP to coordinate multiple motor drives using wired communications such as EtherCAT and Ethernet/IP, and CAN and Profibus fieldbus protocols.
Featuring touch screen control of a robotic arm through an isolated Controller Area Network (CAN) that simplifies operation and improves accuracy. The robot arm controller board contains the ADM3053 signal and power isolated CAN transceiver and is used with the ADuC7128 microcontroller to receive CAN messages from the Blackfin ADSP-BF548-ezkit.

Demonstration of a complete ac motor drive development platform that simplifies the deployment of customised control algorithms, along with standard function such as Field Oriented Control using high level graphical interface tools.

It shows the integration of ADI processor code development tools and Boston Engineering ac motor control development hardware with MATLAB and Simulink algorithm development and code generation products from MathWorks. The ac motor signal chain elements include input PFC control, gate drive signal isolation, current, and voltage and position feedback and a Blackfin motor control IC.