Monthly Archives: September 2013

NXP Supports Thunderbolt Technology

Thunderbolt is a revolutionary I/O technology that supports high-resolution displays and high-performance data devices through a single, compact port. It sets new standards for speed, flexibility, and simplicity. At a throughput of up to 10 Gbps, Thunderbolt’s transfer speed is 20 times faster than USB2.0, and 2 times faster than USB3.0. Based on DisplayPort technology, it also supports DP, DVI, HDMI, and VGA displays through the use of existing adapters.

NXP offers two high-speed multiplexing switches supporting Thunderbolt I/O technology, the CBTL05023, and CBTL05024.

The CBTL05023 is a multiplexer/demultiplexer switch device for DisplayPort v1.2 signals and the control signals of a 10 Gbps channel. This device also provides an output control signal and DC-biasing pull-down resistors to facilitate the external 10 Gbps channel.

NXP’s 2nd generation switch CBTL05024 is a highly integrated multiplexer delivering advanced characters that enhance signal integrity and power efficiency.

Both the CBTL05023 and CBTL05024 support Intel’s Cactus Ridge and Redwood Ridge platforms. For higher integration and a more simplified solution, the CBTL05024 solution provides lower BOM costs and with minimized PCB real estate.

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NXP Interface Solutions for Solar PV Panels and Inverters

The typical setup for generating solar energy involves a series of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels connected to a solar inverter. The PV solar panels generate a DC output and send it to the inverter. The inverter then converts the DC input into an AC output that can be fed to a utility company’s electrical grid or used by a local, off-grid electrical network.  Each PV panel is typically equipped with a microcontroller, plus communication ICs that make it possible for the panel to interact with the inverter. Figure 1 gives a high-level block diagram.




Figure 1. High-level block diagram for solar PV panel


The inverter (Figure 2) is often a more complex system. Like the PV panels, it includes a microcontroller and communication ICs, but it may also include such features as an energy meter, for tracking energy use, and more complex wired and wireless connectivity, such as Ethernet or Wi-Fi, for more sophisticated interactions with the electricity grid or home network.




Figure 2. High-level block diagram for solar inverter/charger


NXP has solutions for every block shown in Figures 1 and 2. In this article, we focus on the interface products that support communications between the PV panel and the inverter, and support operation of the power meter.


Communications ICs for PV Panel and Inverter


UARTs & Protocol Bridges

Microcontrollers are usually equipped with some kind of serial interface for connecting to various peripherals. Sometimes there are enough built-in interfaces to finish the design, but sometimes the design needs more peripherals than the microcontroller can support, or the specific type of interface required isn’t there. That’s where bridges come in. NXP’s bridge ICs let you expand the microcontroller’s serial interfaces, so you can connect to more peripherals in your design. Here are two examples that might be useful in a PV panel or inverter:

  • SC16IS75x/76x I2C/SPI-to-UART bridge: connects to the microcontroller’s I2C/SPI interface on one side, and offers connections to UART, IrDA, and GPIO on the other.
  • SC18IS600 SPI-to-I2C bridge: connects to the microcontroller’s I2C/SPI master on one side, and offers connections to multiple I2C slaves and/or up to five GPIO on the other.


NXP also offers a wide range of single- and multi-channel UARTs. These devices can be used to transmit and receive data between the microcontroller and the communication channel, and can offload the microcontroller by checking for and managing communication errors.


Proprietary RF/IF System

Panels can be mounted some distance away from the inverter, so having wireless connectivity on board can make it easier to communicate with the inverter. NXP offers a full range of proprietary RF/IF systems, including those shown in the table. Here are two in particular:


Here are some other proprietary RF/IF systems to consider:


LV FM IF Systems SA604A, SA614A
Narrow and Wide Band FM RF/IF Receivers SA605DK, SA615DK
Narrow Band  FM RF/IF Receivers SA606DK, SA616DK, SA676DK, SA58640DK, SA607DK, SA608DK
Wide Band FM RF/IF Receivers SA636DK, SA58641DK, SA639DH
SPDT Switches SA630D, SA58643DP
LNAs and Mixers with VCO SA602A, SA612A, SA601DK, SA620DK
Integrated Wireless Transceiver SA58646BD


Power Line Modem

The TDA5051A  is a low-cost ASK modem for data transmission over the power-line network. It can be used on any two-wire network for exchanging information by means of ASK carrier current technique (DC or AC network), and requires very few external components. It’s a robust solution that includes zero cross detection and a redundancy protocol, and it’s supported by NXP software. Because the TDA5051A uses a digital structure for transmission and reception, it provides an efficient solution for modulation and demodulation of low baud-rate signals. A standard quartz crystal is used to set the operating frequency: in transmission mode, the crystal defines the carrier frequency, and in reception mode it defines the detection frequency.


Power Metering ICs for Inverter



NXP offers a wide selection of small, highly accurate RTCs. In particular, our low-power RTCs (PCF8563, PCF2123, PCF8523) provide time-keeping functions and help manage standby power applications. They provide electronic tuning for temperature compensation, accuracy tuning, and aging adjustment. They also offer the industry’s lowest power consumption, with an operating current of less than 100 nA.


LCD Monitor

Our segment, character, and graphic (dot matrix) LCD drivers make it easy to add a display to the power meter. We support a wide range of formats, from 4 x 32 segments to multi-line and multi-character displays and larger displays that support full graphics.


The PCF8536 is a universal LCD driver for low multiplex rates that includes a 6-channel PWM generator. It drives signals for any multiplexed LCD containing up to eight backplanes, up to 44 segments, and up to 320 elements. The PCA8536  is an automotive-qualified version, ready to withstand harsh environments and high temperatures.


The PCF2113x is a low-power CMOS controller for dot-matrix LCD displays. It drives two lines of 12 characters or one line of 24 characters with up a 5×8 dot format. The PCF2119x drives two lines of 16 characters or one line of 32 characters with a 5×8 dot format (the “x” in the product names characterizes the built-in character set).



NXP’s portfolio provides lots of options for designers who are developing solar PV panels and inverters. This article covers just a few of the blocks in a system design. For more ideas about improving the performance of solar-energy applications, explore the rest of our website ( or contact your local NXP representative.


Let us hear from you

Are you designing a solar-energy system of your own? If so, we’d like to hear about it. Leave a comment to share an experience, pass along a design trick, or ask a question.



Robust Capacitive Touch Switches Survive Harsh Environments – 9/3/13

NXP introduces self-calibrating touch and proximity switches with very low power consumption under 10 μA

Eindhoven, Netherlands and Zurich, Switzerland, September 3, 2013 – NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) today announced a complete family of self-calibrating capacitive touch and proximity switches designed for harsh environments. The PCF8883 and PCF8885, along with the automotive-gradePCA8885 and PCA8886, enable robust sensing despite dust, moisture, grease and other types of contamination building up on the touch area, and offer high immunity to sudden temperature changes and to electromagnetic interference. Using digital signal processing to detect changes in capacitance on a remote sensing plate, NXP’s capacitive touch switches eliminate the need for a microcontroller and firmware for post-processing. With very low power consumption – typically 3 μA per channel – NXP’s capacitive touch and proximity switches can also run continuously, with no complicated power-down and wake-up schemes required.

The sampling frequency and response times are easily adjustable, allowing designers to configure the PCF8883, PCF8885, PCA8885 and PCA8886 for a wide range of industrial and automotive applications. The single-channel PCF8883 and dual-channel PCA8886 can be used as touch switches, or as proximity sensors which wake up and reactivate the system from power-down mode. The multi-channel PCF8885 can be used as a slider, as a rotary wheel and for dedicated touch keys. A brief video demonstration is available here:

NXP’s highly robust capacitive touch and proximity switches are ideal for applications using touch screen control panels, including:

  • Home appliances such as washing machines, ovens and vacuum cleaners
  • Building control systems for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting
  • Industrial equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs)
  • Medical devices such as blood pressure monitors
  • Automotive applications such as climate control units, car entertainment systems, car access systems, and mirror and sun-roof control units

“Thanks to smartphones, consumers have come to expect the convenience of touch screens to control a whole host of other devices. With our self-calibrating capacitive touch and proximity switches, NXP is making it straightforward for leading appliance makers, automotive suppliers and other equipment manufacturers to bring touch controls and LCD displays together – with minimal overhead. Through extensive testing, we’ve also been able to demonstrate the robustness of our solution, even in extreme environmental conditions,” said Grahame Cooney, general manager of high-speed interfaces and clock, watches and graphic drivers, NXP Semiconductors. “With world-class LCD drivers, LED controllers, real-time clocks, GPIOs and capacitive touch sensors, NXP offers a comprehensive portfolio of very low power interface solutions that also deliver accuracy, clarity, robustness and reliability over time.”

Key Features

  • Dynamic touch and proximity switch
  • Proprietary digital signal processing method
  • Adjustable response time
  • Continuous over-life self-calibration
  • Sensing plate can be placed on a remote location – e.g. 50 cm away
  • Lrge temperature operating range (Tamb = -40ºC to 85ºC)

Features specific to PCF8883 and PCA8886

  • Adjustable sensitivity; optimized for touch switch or proximity detector
  • Wide dynamic input capacitance range: up to 60 pF
  • Static capacitance range up to 300 pF
  • Wide voltage operating range (VDD = 3 V to 9 V)
  • Ideal for battery powered applications (IDD = 3 μA, typical)

Features specific to PCF8885 and PCA8885

  • Dynamic touch and proximity sensor with 8 sensor channels
  • Support for matrix arrangement of sensors; 28-button single chip
  • Cascading of two ICs possible for 64 buttons
  • Adjustable sensitivity; ability to cope with up to 6 mm of acrylic glass
  • Direct and latching switch modes
  • I2C Fast-mode Plus (Fm+) interface with interrupt signaling over I2C-bus
  • Two I2C-bus addresses
  • Large voltage operating range (VDD = 2.5 V to 5.5 V)
  • Low-power battery operation possible (IDD ~ 10 uA); sleep mode (IDD < 100 nA)


About NXP Semiconductors

NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) creates solutions that enable secure connections for a smarter world. Building on its expertise in High Performance Mixed Signal electronics, NXP is driving innovation in the automotive, identification and mobile industries, and in application areas including wireless infrastructure, lighting, healthcare, industrial, consumer tech and computing. NXP has operations in more than 25 countries, and posted revenue of $4.36 billion in 2012. Find out more