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New BiCMOS Amplifier Process from National Semiconductor Dramatically Improves Precision and Power Efficiency

Proprietary Process Drives Design Innovation For Medical, Industrial and Automotive Applications

Sep 26, 2005

September 26, 2005 – A proprietary BiCMOS analog process technology from National Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE:NSM) dramatically improves the performance of the company’s next-generation precision and low-power, low-voltage operational amplifiers. This process sets new amplifier industry standards for lower power consumption and noise levels in portable handheld devices and medical, industrial and automotive applications.

National developed the VIP50 vertically integrated PNP (VIP) process technology specifically for operational amplifier applications that span a supply voltage range from 0.9V to 12V. The first six products manufactured on the VIP50 process offer better power efficiency, lower noise levels and increased precision than National’s previous-generation integrated circuits and competitive products. These improvements allow design engineers to develop higher-performance fuel-injection and transmission systems, as well as medical instrumentation and diagnostic tools. For example, the 12-MHz, unity-gain bandwidth LMV651 amplifier provides 90 percent power savings over major competitive offerings in SOT and SC70 packages. 

“Through decreased power consumption, size and more accurate performance, National’s innovative process technology enables a new generation of amplifier products that allow our customers to create better precision and portable products," said Suneil Parulekar, senior vice president of National’s Signal-Path Division. “National has established a track record of building amplifiers that incorporate the benefits of these new processes. We offer more than 50 products in our high-speed VIP10 portfolio and will continue that tradition with the VIP50 products.”
National introduced six products in a related announcement today. They are two precision operational amplifiers, the LMP7711 and the LMP7701; one low-noise amplifier, the LMV791; one low-power, high-bandwidth operational amplifier, the LMV651; and two sub-1 uA ICs, the LPV511 operational amplifier and the LPV7215 comparator.  More information on these products is available at http://www.national.com/appinfo/amps/vip50.html.

Key Technical Advantages of the VIP50 Process
The VIP50 process technology is a silicon-on-insulator (SOI) BiCMOS process with trimmable, highly accurate thin-film resistors which offers a number of advantages over more conventional bipolar or complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) processes.

All the VIP50 transistor elements are implemented on an SOI wafer with trench isolation, minimizing parasitic capacitances and greatly improving bandwidth-to-power ratios. The advanced isolation process allows transistors to condition signal voltages beyond the supply rails. SOI also eliminates the effects of leakage currents that limit performance at the extremely high temperatures used in a number of industrial and automotive applications.

Through the incorporation of high-speed vertical NPN and PNP transistors, the bipolar and CMOS analog-specific transistors of the VIP50 process reduce noise levels necessary for precision analog signal conditioning and power consumption. The addition of vertical PNPs enables the implementation of well-balanced amplifier output stages with a superior bandwidth-to-power ratio.

The VIP50 bipolar transistors are complemented by analog-grade, 0.5 micron, minimum gate-length, MOS transistors that are optimized for matching accuracy, as well as low 1/f noise characteristics. Both features are critical in applications where MOS transistors are an integral part of the signal path. The MOS module also enables the integration of considerable amounts of mixed-signal or digital electronics.

The VIP50 process’ highly stable, low-temperature coefficient thin-film resistors have matching accuracy, surpassing the precision specifications of many commercially available resistor pairs. The performance levels of circuits designed with products based on VIP50 technology can be further enhanced by using wafer-level trim.

National’s Unique Portfolio of Operational Amplifiers
National offers a complete portfolio of operational amplifiers ranging from high-speed and low-power to low-voltage and precision.  National also leads the industry with its revolutionary Silicon Dust™ and micro SMD packaging technologies. In addition, National's patented VIP10 process technology enables it to create the industry's broadest suite of high-performance operational amplifiers available today.  For more information on National’s amplifier products, visit amplifiers.national.com.

Note to editors: To view high-resolution downloadable photos of these products, visit National's photo gallery.

About National Semiconductor
National Semiconductor, the industry's premier analog company, creates high-value analog devices and subsystems.  National's leading-edge products include power management circuits, display drivers, audio and operational amplifiers, communication interface products and data conversion solutions. National's key analog markets include wireless handsets, displays and a variety of broad electronics markets, including medical, automotive, industrial, and test and measurement applications. Headquartered in Santa Clara, California, National reported sales of $1.91 billion for fiscal 2005, which ended May 29, 2005.  Additional company and product information is available at www.national.com.