Analog Devices, Inc., a global leader in high-performance semiconductors for signal processing applications, today announced that its industry leading iMEMS (integrated micro electrical mechanical system) accelerometer technology - used world-wide in automotive airbag systems - will be used in multiple platforms of IBM's ThinkPad mobile computers featuring the new IBM Active Protection System, the first automatic hard drive protection technology of its kind. An ADI accelerometer on the ThinkPad motherboard detects shocks or free fall conditions, suggestive of an imminent impact, and within a fraction of a second signals the drive's read/write heads to temporarily park, helping prevent contact with the disk drive until the system is stabilized.
"IBM's system is an intriguing use for MEMS motion sensors," said Marlene Bourne, MEMS analyst with In-Stat/MDR. "This may possibly open up laptop sales by bringing peace of mind to those who would prefer to get a lap top but don't because it's in the home and could get knocked around."
Information loss due to disk drive damage can significantly impact productivity and smaller, lighter, and more mobile computing systems are increasingly at risk. IBM's patent-pending hard drive protection technology protects user's data by applying concepts used in automobiles to deploy airbags upon impact. Unlike an air bag application where the accelerometers detect g forces to deploy air bags already involved in auto crashes, IBM uses accelerometers to detect tiny g forces as the notebook starts to fall so the system can take action on the way down. ADI's reliable iMEMS accelerometers met or exceeded many of the requirements for this type of application: cost, ruggedness and sensitivity to small levels of acceleration.
Bill Giudice, vice president and general manager, Micromachined Products Division, Analog Devices, Inc. commented, "Since ADI pioneered the integration of high-performance signal processing and MEMS, we have been impressed by the thousands of innovative applications for our inertial MEMS sensor technology. As more of these ideas are commercialized, our position as the world's only high-volume producer of these integrated devices strengthens the appeal of our products to a wide range of automotive, consumer product and industrial customers."