Intelligent Multi-sensor Systems

USeP sensor platform: High-tech IoT systems for SMEs

The universal sensor platform (USeP) lays the foundation for smaller systems providers to be able to bear the development and manufacturing costs for highly integrated systems in Internet of Things (IoT) environments. This enables small and medium-sized enterprises to utilize various modular and configurable platform elements in a building-block fashion in order to implement their specific ideas and visions in a way that suits them.

The basis of the universal sensor platform is the GLOBALFOUNDRIES 22FDX® technology, which was developed in Dresden. Built according to the silicon-on-insulator principle (fully depleted SOI), the highly integrated chip design permits the manufacture of particularly energy-efficient and cost-effective chips. As such, USeP is very suitable for IoT systems with high demand for local signal and computing power combined with low power consumption (edge computing). So that companies can use the universal sensor platform for as long as possible, the designers have made sure that the results can be transferred to the next generations of semiconductor technology.

The platform was developed by a consortium of four Saxony-based Fraunhofer Institutes, comprising Fraunhofer IPMS, Fraunhofer ENAS, Fraunhofer IZM/ASSID and Fraunhofer IIS/EAS, with the last in the role of project lead. It was supported by Fraunhofer IIS, Fraunhofer IZM, Fraunhofer AISEC and the semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries Dresden. In cooperation with technology partners, the start-up Sensry will be responsible for translating the platform into products and for its further development, so that they can offer customized sensor and communication solutions.

Key elements of USeP

The USeP sensor platform combines state-of-the-art configuration and packaging technologies with cutting-edge semiconductor design methods and facilitates the integration of various sensors. To achieve this, the project partners have employed a central control and processing unit with numerous wireless and wired communication interfaces, which permits, among other things, the utilization of a broad range of commonly used sensors and actuators. In addition to its system architecture with integrated building blocks that can be used as required, the platform also offers solutions for hardware and IT security.

Central control and processing unit (USoC)

Based on forward-looking RISC-V open-source processor technology and state-of-the-art semiconductor technology, the system core fulfills the highest technical requirements and is suitable for measurement data acquisition in numerous fields of application. With system-on-a-chip (SoC) technology, it becomes possible to capture and rapidly pre-process and evaluate sensor data directly in the system (edge computing) and to respond directly to detected events.

Broad choice of sensors

The sensor technology integrated into the standard model already covers the acquisition of the majority of possible measurement parameters. This includes bi- and triaxial acceleration, humidity, temperature, air pressure, gas (VOC), location and vibration. Meanwhile, the USeP sensor level allows customer-specific adaptation of the required sensor technology. Further sensors can be added at the board level if required.

Integrated hardware and IT security

For the defined security concept, Fraunhofer developed its own hardware components and implemented them on the 22FDX® technology. This includes high-performance cryptographic and further security-relevant functions at block level. They guarantee the security of the captured data and the resilience of the entire platform.

Pre-qualified packaging solutions

To obtain a system design that is as high-performance as possible and can be customized to the greatest possible extent, innovative new integration technologies are used in the sensor platform for the package wiring of the SoC and the package. To this end, a capping technology was specially developed on the basis of thermo-compression molding, which enables reliable and pre-manufactured packaging. By means of a flexible wiring technique, providers can additionally implement individual sensor configurations.

Customizable board

At the customizable board level, in addition to the energy supply for the system, there are also numerous interfaces for the integration of customized sensors, such as for the measurement of noise, deformation or image data. On top of this, there are many communication interfaces, such as Ethernet, WLAN, Bluetooth, CAN-FD, HyperRAM and connections for actuators.

Modular design permits the development of individual sensor nodes

USeP's modular design for individual sensor nodes
USeP's modular design for individual sensor nodes

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Packaging at EAS

Traditional chip designs are coming ever closer to their technological and economic limits.  That's why new concepts for system integration are in demand. Our solutions make it possible:

  • Higher system performance combined with low energy consumption
  • Maximum system miniaturization
  • cost savings compared with comparable ASIC implementations
  • Reduced risk in the introduction of new packaging solutions

Information on the research project USeP

For mid-sized providers of electronic solutions, the »Internet of Things« is associated with nearly insurmountable hurdles. The project partners are looking to change this situation and develop a »modular technology« that should offer a simple way to make use of advanced electronic technologies.

EFRE in saxony

Participating in the “USeP” project were the Saxony-based Fraunhofer Institutes for Photonic Microsystems IPMS and for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS as well as the All Silicon System Integration Center Dresden ASSID of Fraunhofer IZM and the Division for Engineering of Adaptive Systems EAS of Fraunhofer IIS, with the last in the role of project lead. The partners were supported by Fraunhofer IIS in Erlangen, Fraunhofer IZM in Berlin and Fraunhofer AISEC.

The project on the developmente of the universal sensor platform was funded by the European Union and the Free State of Saxony as part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).