Geo-Magnetic Modules from STMicroelectronics Extend Battery Life and Boost Accuracy in Mobile Compassing Applications

STMicroelectronics LSM303DLM

Current consumption down by 50%, magnetic sensing resolution up by 30% in ST’s newest digital-compass device

STMicroelectronics, a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications and the leading supplier of MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) for consumer and portable applications 1, has introduced a new generation of geo-magnetic 2 modules. The ultra-low-power device addresses advanced navigation and location-based services in portable consumer applications by integrating high-resolution three-axis sensing of linear and magnetic motion in a 5 × 5 × 1mm package. iSuppli, a leading market research firm, forecasts rapidly rising global demand for digital compasses; it expects the market to grow at a CAGR of 12%, from $1.1 billion in 2010 up to $1.9 billion in 2015.

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The integration of high-performance motion and magnetic sensing enables enhanced electronic compassing in mobile phones and other personal electronic devices, including direction finding, map/display orientation, location-based services and pedestrian dead reckoning. This latest addition to ST’s MEMS portfolio, the LSM303DLM geo-magnetic module has been designed and produced using the same micromachining technology process that ST has already successfully applied to more than one billion motion sensors sold in the market.

ST’s module couples high-precision sensing with smart embedded features, including 6D orientation detection; two programmable interrupt signals that enable immediate notification of motion detection, free fall, and other conditions; and wake-up/power-down functionality.

ST’s newest geo-magnetic module addresses energy efficiency on both the chip and the system level and its operating power consumption of 360uA represents a 50% reduction over devices currently in production.

The LSM303DLM module provides extremely accurate output across full-scale ranges of ±2g/±4g/±8g (linear acceleration) and from ±1.3 up to ±8Gauss 3 (magnetic field). The device boasts state-of-the-art stability over time and temperature and a 30% increase in magnetic sensing resolution over its predecessor, the LSM303DLH.The module is pin-to-pin and software-compatible with the previous-generation device, so customers can easily ‘hot swap’ and protect their investment in application development.

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