Feeds

Boffins tout world's first single-chip digital microphone

Akustica develops MEMS-on-standard-CMOS process

Build a business case: developing custom apps

US start-up Akustica today launched what it claims is the world's first micro-mechanical digital microphone chip that can be manufactured using standard chip-making processes. Pitching the part primarily at PCs, the company said the new part is sufficiently inexpensive to make microphone arrays in notebook screens and desktop monitors commonplace.

akustica aku2000 digital microphone chip

Most of the microphones integrated into PCs, mobile phones, PDAs, Bluetooth headsets and the like are made using the traditional analogue coil-and-magnet technique or capacitors. Digital-output versions - so-called microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) - made using the same lithography processes used to design CPUs, GPUs and memory but with microscopic moving parts, are becoming more common. However, since they're made using customised fabrication processes, they're expensive.

But not so for Akustica's AKU2000 chip, company co-founder and CTO Ken Gabriel said. It's made using a standard CMOS process, allowing the company to leverage almost any fab or foundry in the world. Gabriel also contrasted the product with other MEMS microphone products which contain two chips wired together. The second chip contains signal processing circuitry of a kind built into Akustica's single-chip microphone, he said. And the 4 x 4mm one-chip product is easier to integrate into, say, a notebook screen's bevel.

Two or more AKU2000s brought together have, thanks to their single-chip approach and standard fabrication, more closely matched audio characteristics, Gabriel said, making them more suitable for array set-ups than existing products.

Why an array of microphones? Multiple inputs can be used to help cancel or at least significantly reduce background noise and improve the quality of the source. Intel has been touting microphone arrays for notebooks since it began developing its HD Audio specification. With the growth of interest in VoIP, both chip makers believe adding multiple microphones will be key to improving the quality of VoIP calls, especially those made on the move.

Akustica also has its eye on mobile phone and Bluetooth headset applications, both of which can benefit from the noise-reduction capabilities of multiple, cheap microphones, company marketing chief Davin Yuknis said.

The AKU2000 is sampling now and is priced at $3.87 per unit in 1000-piece quantities. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
One step closer to ROBOT BUTLERS: Dyson flashes vid of VACUUM SUCKER bot
Latest cleaner available for world+dog in September
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.