Monday, May 29, 2006

"CHIPS: Single-chip microphone on the road to digital"

Akustica Inc. announced last week that Fujitsu's LifeBook Q2010--a notebook aimed at no-holds-barred "road warriors" like traveling executives--will include two AKU2000 single- chip microphones located on the display's bezel. This design win indicates that high-end laptop computers are switching from analog to digital microphones, according to Akustica (Pittsburgh). At the same time, the company introduced a chip, the AKU2001, that permits multiple microphones to share a single interface wire. Codec maker SigmaTel Inc. (Austin, Texas) simultaneously announced support for the AKU2001 microphones. The compatible codec will permit designers to multiplex multiple microphones on a single interface wire without using any other supporting circuitry. Market research firm Yole Development (Lyon, France) puts the silicon microphone market last year at nearly 100 million units and predicts it will grow to 800 million units by 2010. Most of those, today, are analog MEMS microphones made for analog cell phones by Knowles Electronics LLC (Itasca, Ill.) and Sonion MEMS A/S (Roskilde, Denmark). In contrast, Akustica's silicon microphone has the analog-to-digital converter on the same chip, greatly simplifying integration into notebook PCs and other digital devices, such as PDAs, Bluetooth headsets and the increasing number of ports for voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP).