IC manufacturers launch LED lamp driver ICs at SIL

Feb. 27, 2013
Ikon Semiconductor and Texas Instruments introduced new SSL driver ICs designed specifically for retrofit lamp applications at the Strategies in Light conference.

Although socket saturation will come in LED-based retrofit lamps as we covered in a recent feature article, that fact hasn't stopped lamp or enabling-technology manufacturers from targeting the space and Strategies in Light (SIL) saw several companies launch new driver ICs. Ikon Semiconductor emerged from stealth mode at SIL and announced a lamp-targeted driver IC while Texas Instruments added to its solid-state lighting (SSL) driver IC portfolio.

Ikon driver IC in a tiny 8-pin package

Ikon Semiconductor

Ikon is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland and has opened a US presence in Mountain View, CA in the greater Silicon Valley area. The venture-funded startup is solely focused on the lamp market and using a digitally controlled power-supply architecture.

At SIL, Ikon announced its first product the IKS2053 and a reference design in the form of a driver packaged on a small evaluation board. The company said the IC implements a single-stage driver including power factor correction that results in a lower bill of materials cost relative to competitive driver ICs.

Ikon is touting its digital core as the differentiating factor in its design. The company wouldn’t discuss specifics of the architecture, although when pressed did say that the IC does not use a programmable digital-signal processing (DSP) engine with which some of the company founders have deep experience. Instead, the IC uses some form of a configurable architecture most likely based on digital state machines.

Digital competition

Despite Ikon's claims of a unique approach, there are other driver ICs already on the market that use a largely digital approach. For example, Marvell does use a programmable DSP in some of its products and Cirrus Logic uses digital state machines in its products.

Still, Ikon claims that its design will give the company flexibility in detecting and working compatibly with legacy dimmers. The company said that it can quickly spin the configurable core to change feature sets going forward. And the new IC allows the lamp designer to use resistors to program a tradeoff between power factor and ripple current.

The company also said that its IC does not require opto-couplers or electrolytic capacitors in the support circuitry. The elimination of those products both reduces the cost of the driver electronics and eliminates potential points of failure.

Alas, Ikon is chronologically challenged entering the market for retrofit lamp driver ICs at this late point in time. The company said it will ship the initial driver IC in the 4th quarter of 2013 in volume. Near socket saturation could be just three years in the future at that point. Ikon said, however, that despite its initial focus on the lamp market that its configurable digital platform could be quickly modified for other SSL applications.

TI introduces two driver ICs

Driver IC stalwart Texas Instruments (TI), meanwhile, announced two new driver ICs at SIL adding to what is arguable the largest portfolio in the segment. The TPS92075 targets applications in AC-line-powered E14, GU10, A19 and PAR 20/30/38 lamps. The TPS92560 targets MR16 and AR111 lamps powered by low-voltage AC and DC supplies./p>
TI's mains and low-voltage driver ICs

The TPS92075 can be used with 110V or 220V power mains. The IC can support buck or step-down topologies, or buck-boost topologies. Drivers using the IC can achieve power factor of 0.9 or better.

The TPS92560 relies on a hysteretic-input current-control topology that allows it to work with electronic transformers without the use of complex loop feed-back circuitry. Moreover, the driver topology and small 6- or 8-pin package offered by TI are amenable to the space constraints of the MR16 application. Both of the new TI ICs are already in volume production.