Avnet Memec launches energy-harvesting evaluation platform

Evaluation Platform developed with Maxim Integrated Products and Energy Micro

Avnet Memec is launching a new energy-harvesting evaluation platform at Embedded World 2012. Based on the 32-bit Cortex-M3 EFM32 Gecko microcontroller from Energy Micro and the MAX17710 energy-harvesting charger and protector from Maxim Integrated Products (Maxim), the platform allows developers to easily access the most efficient semiconductor and energy-harvesting solutions on the market. The self-powered platform is suitable for applications such as home and building automation, smart metering, industrial automation, health and fitness electronics, and emerging applications, specifically in the domain of wireless sensor networks.

Steve Haynes, President at Avnet Memec explained “Avnet Memec specializes in providing leading-edge technology to a large customer base in Europe. The new energy-harvesting platform is just another example of how we can help reduce the entry barrier of such ground-breaking technologies,” he added “We aim to be the leading distributor in the energy harvesting market, which is estimated to be more than 4 billion USD within the next decade. We are offering the best product lines in this domain with the two true leaders in energy friendly innovation: Maxim and Energy Micro.”

The energy-harvesting evaluation platform consists of two major components. The MAX17710 evaluation kit (MAX17710EVKIT) contains all the components necessary to evaluate the performance of Maxim’s energy-harvesting charger and protector. This kit plugs directly into the EFM32 Tiny Gecko Starter Kit from Energy Micro, and powers the energy friendly EFM32TG840F32 Gecko microcontroller.

The MAX17710 is the industry’s first IC to integrate all of the power-management functions for ambient energy harvesting, as well as for charging and protecting the THINERGY® Micro-Energy Cell (MEC) from Infinite Power Solutions (IPS) which is embedded on the EVKIT. Operating at an ultra-low current level, the MAX17710 accepts energy from a variety of poorly regulated energy harvesting sources with output levels ranging from 1µW to 100mW. A boost regulator circuit charges the energy-storing cell from a source as low as 0.75V (typ). An internal regulator protects the cell from overcharging.  Output voltages supplied to the target applications are regulated using an efficient adjustable low-dropout (LDO) linear regulator with selectable voltages of 3.3V, 2.3V, or 1.8V. The output regulator operates in a selectable high-power or low-power mode to minimize drain of the MEC. Internal voltage protection prevents the MEC from over discharging.

“Maxim strongly believes that energy-harvesting solutions are enabling autonomous, perpetually powered solutions,” said Kuo-Chang Chan, Field Applications Director at Maxim. ”Working with the specialized distributor Avnet Memec and Energy Micro, a leader in ultra-low-power microcontrollers, will greatly accelerate the adoption of energy harvesting technologies.”

The EFM32 Tiny Gecko microcontrollers are part of the 160-device-strong EFM32 microcontroller family, ranging from 4KB to 1024KB of Flash memory and with packages from 24 to 120 pins. All products integrate the “Gecko technology,” which ensures very low active power consumption down to 150µA/MHz, a highly efficient ARM Cortex-M3 processor at 1.25DMIPS/MHz, an extremely short wake-up time of only 2µs, and a 900nA current consumption in deep sleep mode while the real-time counter, memory retention, brownout detection, and power-on-reset are enabled.

“Avnet Memec’s energy-harvesting evaluation platform will significantly reduce the development time while applying energy harvesting,” said Jürgen Hoika, Vice President Sales EMEA at Energy Micro. “Avnet Memec’s specialized approach helps the customer get premium technical support while using this platform. And a component like Maxim’s MAX17710 is a key enabling product, due to its very low quiescent current.”

EFM32 Gecko microcontrollers offer autonomous and ultra-low power peripherals. This includes a 12-bit ADC that consumes a maximum of 350µA, and a peripheral flex system, which provides autonomous interaction of peripheral events and actions in deep sleep mode without the CPU being active. The Tiny Gecko also offers the Low Energy Sense interface (LESENSE), which allows users to monitor sensors with a consumption of about 1µA.

For energy-conscious designers, the evaluation platform includes the Advanced Energy Monitoring system, enabling unique on-board energy and supply-voltage profiling without additional tools. A built-in SEGGER J-Link debugger makes it easy to perform debugging and target programming of the free LESENSE demos, which include a light sensor, inductive and capacitive touch sensors, and an 8×20 segment LCD. The free Simplicity Studio software makes all required documentation, the software and code library, and demos easy to access for those who use the energy-harvesting platform.

The energy-harvesting evaluation platform will be launched at Embedded World. A live demo will be shown at Avnet Memec’s booth, no. 122 in hall 4A. For more information please contact your local Avnet Memec office or Felix Reinwald (