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Atmel and u-blox Unveil Their Latest GPS Technology


Atmel Corporation, a global leader in the development and fabrication of advanced semiconductor solutions, and u-blox AG, a leading maker of innovative GPS technology, announced today the availability of their latest GPS technology and product generation, ANTARIS 4, which sets new standards in GPS performance, system architecture and functionality. ANTARIS 4’s advances ideally suit battery-operated products such as PDAs, mobile phones and other portable devices, as well as automotive GPS applications.

The ANTARIS 4 architecture combines ultra low power consumption with an outstanding sensitivity performance of up to -158 dBm tracking sensitivity. Enabled by Atmel’s advanced 0.18 microm CMOS technology for the ATR0621 baseband and RF-proven BiCMOS technology for the RF-frontend IC ATR0601, power consumption levels of 62 mW during 1 Hz update rate in Continuous Tracking Mode are achieved. This means a power consumption reduction of 40% compared to the previous chipset generation. The power consumption can be further reduced with the FixNow(TM) power saving mode. ANTARIS 4 also requires fewer external components, allowing for more space- and cost-efficient designs and modules. Like its predecessor, the 16-channel ANTARIS 4 engine will feature u-blox SuperSense(TM)-enabled indoor GPS, Assisted-GPS (A-GPS) and full support of WAAS and EGNOS satellites.

In addition to the serial ports, the ANTARIS 4 baseband ATR0621 provides a USB port, making data retrieval and sharing much simpler. It eliminates the need for an expensive USB or RS-232 converter making ANTARIS 4 products suitable for plug-and-play devices on any PC environment. Emulating a standard COM port to the operating system, these products integrate seamlessly into any available navigation software. This makes them ideally suited for GPS applications such as smart antennas, solely powered and operated via a USB interface. ANTARIS 4 technology also supports serial EEPROM, which is a cost- and space-efficient alternative to Flash EPROMs for storing custom configuration settings.

As an optional extension to the ANTARIS 4 chipset, the ATR0610, a fully integrated low-noise amplifier manufactured using Atmel’s innovative Silicon-Germanium (SiGe) process, is available to cope with challenging reception environments and enable cost-sensitive antenna designs. For the advanced 16-channel GPS baseband, the ATR0621, a pin-compatible replacement of the ATR0620, can be used. The complete GPS firmware is integrated into the ROM, and no external Flash is required for stand-alone applications. Flash memory can be used for advanced features like dead reckoning software.

“With the new ANTARIS 4 GPS chipset, Atmel again offers an industry-leading GPS solution in terms of performance, completeness and price. Thanks to the combination of different key technologies (SiGe, BiCMOS and deep-submicron CMOS processes), optimized software and system expertise, Atmel has achieved a unique market position and provides with ANTARIS 4 an outstanding and complete wireless solution from the antenna to the user interface,” says Uwe Barthelmes, Atmel’s Marketing Director for Communication Products.

The u-blox LEA-4P is the first ANTARIS 4 module available. Measuring in at just 17 x 22 mm, roughly the size of a postage stamp, the LEA-4P has the same functionality as the TIM-LP, and additionally features a USB port and a FLASH memory, all packed into a module 40% smaller than its predecessor. With this new generation, module customers will thus benefit from significantly lower power consumption, advanced power management features, excellent navigation performance, high sensitivity and outstanding performance-to-cost ratio. Additionally, minimized system integration efforts, brought about by fewer components, ensure fast time to market.

“With the ANTARIS 4 generation, the path to revolutionary GPS applications is now open. u-blox is proud to offer its customers this breakthrough in GPS functionality and system architecture. Due to the numerous benefits it brings to customers, ANTARIS 4 products are set to become the chief companions for OEMs who wish to give their products a competitive edge,” announced Thomas Seiler, u-blox CEO.

ANTARIS 4 sample chipsets (ATR0610 in 1.6 x 2.0 mm PLLP6 package, ATR0601 in 4 x 4 mm QFN24 package, and ATR0621 in 100-pin 9 x 9 mm BGA package), as well as sample LEA-4P modules, are available now.

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