Advanced Linear Devices Inc., a design innovation leader in analog semiconductors, announced the next generation in its EPAD™ architecture, the core technology in the company’s precision CMOS devices. EPAD technology, having been developed in the past 10 years and deployed in millions of devices, has evolved to the next level allowing for more precise and lower power circuit applications. The new technology allows for on-chip and off-chip programming techniques to set fundamental device parameters previously unheard of in the entire industry by precisely setting the threshold voltages of on-chip MOSFET devices. This will enable an entire new family of low voltage nano-power MOSFET products as well as other circuits that ALD will be announcing the second half of the year. EPAD is an acronym for Electrically Programmable Analog Device, a patented and trademarked technology that allows for electrical trimming a variety of CMOS analog integrated circuit elements at the die or packaged level. Once trimmed, the device voltage and current characteristics are stored indefinitely in the chip even when the power to the chip is removed. Programming or trimming is achieved through a series of software controlled voltage bursts to a floating gate structure.

The control of a threshold voltage is a critical characteristic facilitating a new class of nano-power circuits. By defining a threshold voltage, a corresponding key circuit parameter can be precisely controlled. This is achieved by active on-chip setting and trimming of certain circuit voltages inside an IC chip. At reduced transistor bias current levels it is now possible to operate in the sub-threshold voltage region of an on-chip MOSFET device using precise voltage and current levels as defined parameters. This capability enables certain circuit elements to operate in the nano-ampere current levels with nano-ampere or even sub-nano-ampere current mirrors with targeted I-V (current versus voltage) bias points.

This new architecture enables a new class of nano-power circuits that offer previously unattainable voltage and current level controls by precisely controlling the threshold voltage of a number of individual MOSFET devices.

"ALD’s new EPAD Technology adhere to industry-standard CMOS technology and was able to simultaneously reduce power consumption, improve on precision and lower circuit function cost," said Bob Chao, CEO and president of ALD. "The precision trimming technology provides us with the ability to dramatically improve device features and performance to give designers the ability to create and improve their designs at a more economical cost point."

Additional integration will enable more functions on the same chip thereby allowing circuit designers to build higher performance circuits, using less power and at a lower cost. This is a huge benefit for handheld wireless devices, energy harvesting, precision instruments and many security applications.

New ALD product families utilizing this new EPAD architecture are planned for release starting in Q4 of 2010.