Those who follow baseball closely know there is a lot more to the game than is apparent to the casual fan, but on the flip side, the game is relatively easy for the casual fan to grasp. There is pitching, catching, batting, running, and scoring. Each team has the same number of players on the field, in the same positions, and if we know who played, who won, and who moved up or down in the standings, we’re okay until the playoffs, if not the Word Series, when we need to pay more attention.
Baseball’s simplicity and sophistication came to mind this week when I saw that Maxim Integrated Products introduced a new battery management system IC, the MAX11068. Since hybrid and electric vehicles are cutting edge, and batteries and battery management are critical to HEV evolution, I thought it would be interesting to look at the MAX11068 in light of similar products introduced in the past year. Doing so made me keenly aware that baseball and automotive semiconductor devices are not the same.
Neither are semiconductor devices the same – or are they? It’s hard to tell.
Maxim describes its MAX11068 as a high-voltage, 12-cell, battery-monitoring IC for hybrid and electric vehicles. It has a proprietary communication bus that allows multiple MAX11068s to be daisy-chained together without expensive isolators, thus reducing battery-management system cost by up to 80% while simplifying battery pack design and precisely balancing cells for maximum energy delivery.
Compare that to the LTC6802 from Linear Technology Corp. It’s a highly integrated, multi-cell battery monitoring IC capable of measuring up to 12 individual battery cells. A proprietary design allows multiple LTC6802s to be stacked in series without optocouplers or isolators, for precision voltage monitoring of every cell in long strings of series-connected batteries.
And last fall Atmel said its ATA6870 includes all functionalities required to control a high cell-count Li-Ion battery, including six precise 12-bit A/D converters for voltage monitoring, cell balancing, and cell temperature measuring. It also has a stackable integrated power supply for a microcontroller or hot plug-in capability.
In baseball, two teams can battle it out on the field. In battery management system design, chips slug it out behind closed doors.