Amber Semi plans AC direct drive chip for microcontrollers
Amber Semiconductor is developing a chip to drive microcontrollers and LED dimmers directly from an AC source.
The AC Direct Lighting Control Engine is currently a configurable lighting control engine that Amber is developing as a silicon chip following technology evaluations by several electrical product and semiconductor partners.
“We have one engine that controls all the different LEDs, different energies, different regions different applications,” Thar Casey, CEO of Amber Semi tells eeNews Power. “We have discussions right now on contracts and now we are going to build one to seed the market for elegant, wireless LED technologies. We are building the FPGA for the dimmer as demo – then silicon.”
AmberSemi aims to provide a silicon chipset-based universal lighting control architecture for a wide range of standard and smart dimmer switches on the market today with a single device.
But the engine could also be used to provide the power for a microcontroller direct from AC by using a system in package (SIP) approach,
“We have it to the next level and are taking derivatives of the technology with different applications,” said Casey.
Dimming and lighting
“The industry is struggling with having so many SKUs for different dimmers for lightbulbs, different power requirement or even industrial vs commercial. That brings inconsistencies in products. So we went out there to the product manufacturers to look at what the problems are and they were leaning to dimmers,” he said.
“We have three wire and two wire versions The two wire is the majority in the world as even the UK and US only start introducing the third wire in 2000.”
The AC Direct Lighting Control Engine combines the Amber Programmable AC Switch Controller, the AC Direct DC Enabler (which enables DC extraction from AC mains) and AC Direct Sensing (for continuous awareness of the state of electricity).
The integration of these three elements in a silicon chipset solution will deliver a more universally compatible and flexible solution for lighting and dimming, supporting incandescent, halogen, CFL, LED, ELV and MLV loads.
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“This can provide AC direct to microcontrollers and wireless chips at the die level in a SIP,” he said. “The MOSFETs can be outside or integrated into our silicon – we have the options to do both. We have the FPGA but I can’t demonstrate it in a SIP unless I have silicon – so I want to work with the companies that are looking for cutting edge technologies and looking to differentiate themselves and bringing Silicon valley technologies into the world.
“We are entering into three way agreements with semiconductor and product manufacturing companies,” he said. “We will have it ready by the end of next year, Q1 tapeout, meeting with the fab, to accelerate the first few wafers then it’s a perhaps Q1 2024.”
“This announcement of our plans to deliver a silicon chip-based lighting control engine is a significant milestone for our business, as it exemplifies AmberSemi’s expansion beyond the discovery of innovations (R&D) to the start of our productization – silicon development based on our partners’ requirements and integration into their end products,” he said.
“The advantages AmberSemi’s patented breakthroughs in power architecture afford the lighting industry – is nothing short of the modernization of this pervasive space to silicon chip power architecture. From universal bulb compatibility to configurability and smaller form factors for easier install and expanded features gives an upgrade to lighting product architecture that will be felt globally.”
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