Advances in semiconductors are enabling innovation in medical devices. Microchip’s new medical group will explore these possibilities.
A supplier of microcontrollers and analog semiconductors has formed a business unit that focuses specifically on the needs of medical device manufacturers. Microchip Technology Inc. (Chandler, AZ; www.microchip.com/medical) offers a portfolio of 8- and 16-bit microcontrollers, 16-bit digital signal controllers, analog and interface semiconductors, its own brand of security products, and nonvolatile-memory semiconductors.
“With the creation of the Medical Products Group, we are bringing Microchip’s unique advantage to a market that is large and growing,” says Dan Termer, vice president of the company’s vertical markets group. He says that advances in semiconductors are enabling unprecedented innovation in medical devices.
The medical group will support the company’s existing medical customers, of which there are quite a few, according to Steve Kennelly, Microchip’s medical products group manager. It will also seek out new clients by addressing industry-specific needs, such as home medical electronics, implanted and portable devices, and data security.
One of the products that Microchip offers that is especially useful to medical device manufacturers is its nanoWatt technology found within its microcontroller semiconductors. According to Kennelly, this enabling technology uses a variety of techniques to enable system designers to control power consumption. For example, in an implantable device, lower power consumption allows the product to last longer, generate less heat, reduce the size of the battery, and ultimately, cost less.
Another system that the company is targeting for medical applications is its KEELOQ algorithm. This is an encryption technology that can authenticate consumables and provide data confidentiality. One of its uses is in blood analysis machines to verify that the correct reagents are being used.
The new medical group also offers design support on its Web site. Its Medical Design Center is divided into four main medical design categories: data acquisition, user interface, processing, and connectivity. Each section contains application notes, design guides, reference manuals, user guides, tips, and detailed product and development-tool information to help engineers in designing medical applications.