News & Analysis

Alps Alpine commences external sales of ICs

27th February 2024
Paige West

Alps Alpine has initiated the external sale of ICs, previously exclusive for internal application in its own products, now available under the Alps Alpine brand.

The inaugural release features the HSLCMB series ICs, boasting an integrated capacitance measurement circuit and a 32-bit CPU, offering enhanced capacitive sensing capabilities with superior sensitivity and noise immunity compared to previous offerings. This series is being marketed both domestically and internationally, suitable for various applications such as touchless controls, automotive touch panels, and liquid level detection.

Historically, the semiconductor division of Alps Alpine began its journey in 2005 with the creation of the IC Design Department. Over nearly two decades, the company has developed a broad spectrum of sensor ICs targeting the automotive and consumer electronics sectors. These include technologies for magnetic, geomagnetic, humidity, barometric, millimetre-wave, and capacitive sensing. Alps Alpine's ICs are renowned for their expertise in low-noise analog front ends, advanced mixed-signal IP-based signal processing algorithms, compact design, and functional safety features.

Previously, the company's strategy focused on producing stand-alone ICs solely for in-house needs, while offering modules combining sensor electrodes and ICs to its customers. However, responding to customer demand for stand-alone sensor ICs, Alps Alpine has now begun offering the HSLCMB series capacitive sensor ICs externally. These ICs are characterised by:

Enhanced sensitivity: They achieve a higher signal-to-noise ratio than previous models, enabling the detection of distant objects with smaller sensor electrodes.

Robust noise immunity: Designed to perform reliably in environments with high interference from surrounding devices, these ICs maintain a superior signal-to-noise ratio, meeting automotive standards even in the electronically noisy environment of a vehicle cabin.

Absolute self-capacitance sensing: The ICs are adept at managing guard electrodes to shield against the parasitic capacitance of sensor electrodes, ensuring accurate sensing of the intended target's capacitance.

Product information

  • The HSLCMB series IC incorporates a capacitance measurement circuit and 32-bit CPU
  • Operating voltage range: 4.75-5.5V
  • Operating current: 14.5mA typ.
  • Package: QFN 48pin (6mm x 6mm, t=0.9mm)
  • Interface: SPI, EUART
  • CPU: 32bit RISC CPU (SYNOPSYS ARC EM4TM 21MHz max.)
  • Number of sensor electrodes: 16 ports
  • Reliability: AEC-Q100 grade2 (-40~105℃)
  • Functional safety: ASIL-B compatible

Example applications

Touchless operation

Alps Alpine’s sensor ICs that enable new input methods, such as proximity sensing and spatial gesture operation, can fulfil the needs of ‘contact-less operation’ in medical practice areas, public institutions, and manufacturing sites.

Automotive touch panel

Taking advantage of its high noise robustness and sensitivity, the HSLCMB series IC enables a user interface with touchless inputs in the vehicle cabin that is full of noise sources such as radio waves and motors.

Liquid level sensor

The achieved high sensitivity and noise robustness enable contactless measurement from outside a plastic tank. This requires no mechanical parts inside the tank, contributing to enhanced flexibility in the tank‘s shape.

Capability of Alps Alpine’s semiconductor development and upcoming plans

In semiconductor development, Alps Alpine, as a fabless manufacturer outsourcing manufacturing only, has an integrated development system from product planning to system design, analog design, digital design, testing, startup of mass production, mass production support, and prompt quality issue support.

Alps Alpine will further expand the product lineup, focusing on custom design activities in addition to sales expansion of existing semiconductor products (standard products), to realize the technological evolution of customers and Alps Alpine and improve the competitiveness of the products.

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