Unitrode set to expand COTS offerings for space

MERRIMACK, N.H. - Leaders of Unitrode Corp., a manufacturer of analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits in Merrimack, N.H., plan to expand their business in space-qualified components by offering space-level, or "Class-S," commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts.

By John Keller

MERRIMACK, N.H. - Leaders of Unitrode Corp., a manufacturer of analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits in Merrimack, N.H., plan to expand their business in space-qualified components by offering space-level, or "Class-S," commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts.

Unitrode officials, who specialize in power-management and motor-control interface ICs, are working to offer pulse-width modulators - better known as PWMs - and field-effect-transistor drives as standard Class-S off-the-shelf products, says Judy Petersen, Unitrode`s product marketing manager for hi-rel products.

Unitrode posted 1997 revenues of $177 million - about $12 million of which was military and aerospace work, Petersen says.

Not only do Unitrode leaders expect their revenues from military and aerospace component sales to increase by 10 percent annually, but they also plan to grow their COTS Class-S revenues at an annual 10-percent rate, Petersen says.

The military Class-S designation, which for years designated electronic components for space applications - usually indicating some level of radiation hardness - is becoming archaic in the new COTS era.

Officials of the Defense Electronics Supply Center Columbus (DSCC) in Columbus, Ohio - the keepers of military electronics specifications - are changing their space-level qualifications.

Today the accepted government specifications for space-level components are MIL-PRF-38535 and MIL-PRF-38534 Class Q, and Class V. MIL-PRF-38535 and 39534 designate the DSCC Qualified Manufacturing List - better known as QML - which strives to certify manufacturing lines rather than individual parts.

Unitrode officials expect to receive the DSCC Class V certification as early as this fall, and expect to offer Class-V products before the end of the year, Petersen says.

The company now has the DSCC MIL-PRF-38535 Class-Q certification, and offers about 100 DSCC standard microcircuit drawings - also known as SMDs.

One of Unitrode`s newest products is the UCC3926 current sensor IC, which can measure currents of as much as plus-or-minus 20 amps.

This device, which company officials say is getting substantial interest from military- and industrial-grade systems designers, is guaranteed in the military temperature range of -50 to 125 degrees Celsius. Today it is only available in plastic and surface-mount packages.

Included in Unitrode`s line of power supply controllers are linear and switching regulators, off-line PWM controllers, housekeeping and supervisory circuits, power MOSFET drivers, high-power factor-correction products, hot-swap power managers. Unitrode also offers battery chargers, controllers, protection circuits, and power converters.

For more information, contact Unitrode by phone at 603-424-2410, by fax at 603-424-3460, by post at 7 Continental Blvd., Merrimack, N.H. 03054, or on the World Wide Web at http://www. unitrode.com.

More in Power