Freescale releases digital-output pressure sensor

A Freescale Semiconductor product story
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Edited by the Electronicstalk editorial team Jun 4, 2009

Freescale Semiconductor has introduced a digital-output pressure sensor to simplify system design and enable increased memory storage density for the hard-disk drives (HDDs) used in laptops and PCs.

Based on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology, the MPL115A digital sensor provides high-accuracy barometric and altimetry functions in a compact package for a variety of cost-sensitive consumer and industrial applications.

Freescale's MPL115A digital pressure sensor can communicate on inter-integrated circuit (I2C) and serial peripheral interface (SPI) buses, providing a direct connection to the embedded system microcontroller (MCU) for communication simplicity and flexibility.

This architecture differs from the majority of pressure sensors, which communicate using analogue signals and require an MCU with an on-chip analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) or a separate ADC component within the system.

Digital pressure sensors, such as Freescale's MPL115A, provide additional flexibility and cost savings by eliminating the need for an ADC.

The MPL115A sensor's low-profile 3mm x 5mm x 1.2mm LGA package enables increased integration and makes the device suitable for portable applications where board space savings are important.

Battery- and solar-powered applications benefit from the device's low current consumption at 1mA in sleep mode and 5mA in active mode.

The digital sensor is suitable for HDD systems where pressure measurement is used to optimise the pick-up head ride height, which helps to maximise the storage capacity of the disk.

The MPL115A system includes a pressure sensor and a conditioning IC housed within a low-profile package.

The conditioning IC contains a temperature sensor with an ADC, a read-only memory (ROM) for coefficient storage and an IC/SPI slave interface.

The company claims that the MPL115A sensor offers improved performance and is engineered to deliver up to 100 times less energy consumption than competing products.

To conserve power, the device has special operational modes that are intended to allow designers to manage power consumption, based on the needs of their applications, by switching between these modes.

For instance, the energy-saving standby mode acts as the default and active mode occurs only during measurement, before returning to standby mode.

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