Marvell launches LED driver IC that works with legacy, digital controls

April 8, 2014
Marvell offers an LED driver that is compatible with digital controls and wireless networks that also operates with phase-cut dimmers for legacy compatibility.

Marvell has announced the 88EM8189 LED driver IC that works with legacy phase-cut dimmer controls, and that includes a digital interface to allow developers to add network support to solid-state lighting (SSL) products. Indeed, the new driver can be combined with other Marvell ICs to directly support ZigBee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or other networks in new LED-based lighting developments including smart retrofit lamps.

In fact, Marvell expressly mentioned replacement lamps as a key target market for the new driver IC. A number of wireless-enabled lamps have come to market in the past year, and Marvell asserts that its Smart Lighting Platform can reduce the bill of materials (BOM) in such product developments. The company originally announced the Smart Lighting Platform at the Consumer Electronics show in January 2012.

"Consumers increasingly are realizing the benefits of using Smart LED bulbs inside their homes," said Philip Poulidis, vice president and general manager of Marvell's Internet of Things Business Unit. "As part of Marvell's end-to-end Smart Lighting Platform, Marvell's new LED driver controller helps users make the transition from wall-dimmer-controlled LED lights to smart bulbs connected to the Internet, and controllable by smartphones and tablets."

The new driver IC includes an I2C digital serial interface that is a standard means of connecting digital ICs in the electronics industry to add peripheral support in a product development. In the case of the LED driver IC, a development team could add Marvell's 88MZ100 ZigBee microcontroller (MCU) or 88MC200 Wi-Fi MCU to a lamp design via the serial link. All of the ICs, along with a ZigBee-to-Wi-Fi-gateway IC are part of the Smart Lighting Platform.

The new 88EM8189 driver IC includes a separate AC-DC converter on chip to drive an MCU or other peripheral circuitry in additional to integrating the driver functionality -- an important feature in minimizing the system BOM. Still, the driver IC enables lamp designs to meet the strict Energy Star requirements for 500-mW standby power when the lamp is powered off.

A lamp that utilizes the new driver IC can take dimming and on-off commands via one of the aforementioned digital interfaces. The driver delivers dimming over a range of 1-100%.

But a smart lamp based on the new IC can still respond to a legacy phase-cut dimmer on the power circuit. Marvell used the same AC-DC driver design that is in the 88EM8187 IC designed specifically for use with phase-cut dimmers. "The innovation in our 88EM8189 chip delivers a greater user experience -- automated wireless light control through the Internet and backward compatibility with existing dimmers -- at a significantly lower price point," said Poulidis.

Marvell also supplies the Smart Lighting Platform in forms for dedicated modular drivers intended for use in luminaires. For example, the company announced the first customer for its 88EM8801 LED driver and 88MZ100 wireless MCU at Lightfair last year.

Marvell also offers a reference design for the new 88EM8189 LED driver IC. And as you can see in the nearby photo, the design is in a form factor that would allow it to fit in the neck of a retrofit lamp.