Mixed-signal ASIC with pay-back period of one year
Technologies used

 Mixed Signal ASIC

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    331 Medical and surgical equipment
GeTeMed GmbH (Gesellschaft für Technische Medizin mbH) was founded in 1984, is situated in Teltow (South of Berlin) and manufactures, markets and sells medical equipment in two main areas: baby monitoring and ECG analysis. The baby monitoring systems monitor both the heart rate and respiration of infants to combat the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). These monitors are intended for both home and clinical use. The ECG analysis systems include Holter monitoring (24h ECG analysis), rest and stress ECG analysis.

GeTeMed took part in the FUSE programme to develop an ASIC for use in its main baby monitoring product VitaGuard®. This system uses three electrodes to detect and analysis the respiration and ECG signals. When an apnea occurs or when the heart rate falls below or exceeds preset limits, an alarm is generated to warn the childminders. The system also stores the incoming ECG and respiration signals prior, during and after the alarm episodes, so as to give the handling physician the possibility to determine the cause of the alarms and make appropriate decisions. The main objectives for developing an ASIC for this system were to reduce size and manufacturing costs, increase reliability by reducing the number of components and inhibit the system from being easily copied. As the present system contains a large number of discrete digital and analogue SMT components, the aim was to integrate as many of these components as possible and bring the whole system onto one small PCB.

To achieve this aim, the FUSE project was started in September 1997. It was decided to design a mixed signal ASIC, as this was the only feasible means of reducing the number of both analogue and digital components. CMOS technology was selected so as to keep the power consumption of the final product within reasonable levels. The project cost 100kECU, took nineteen months to complete and finished at the end of March 1999. It was clear from the start that such an enormous task could not be carried out by GeTeMed alone, as GeTeMed had little previous experience in ASIC design and none of the complex and expensive software tools needed to successfully complete such a task. It was therefore decided to carry out the project with an ASIC design center. The choice fell to MAZ-Brandenburg for a number of reasons – they had vast experience, all the necessary tools, good contacts to silicon foundries and were ideally located not far from GeTeMed. The analogue section of the final ASIC accounts for approx. 25% of the chip area. The digital components make up the rest of the chip area as follows: digital filter 50%, SRAM 15% and the remaining glue logic 10%.

The FUSE project has benefited GeTeMed to a great extent in that it has given an insight and understanding of the mechanisms behind ASIC designs, the costs involved and the benefits to be reaped by participating in such undertakings. The final cost analysis and return of investment cannot be calculated at the moment since the end product incorporating the ASIC has not gone on the market yet. From experience, the task of designing the new system (both hardware and software) along with the extensive verification and validation procedures necessary to comply with the Medical Device Directive regulations take about one year in total. Bearing in mind the projected savings per unit, however, the investment should be recuperated by selling 400 units within a period of six to twelve months. The project thus has a pay-back period of one year. With an overall lifetime of at least five years a return on investment of over 500% can be expected. The main lesson learned was that such a project can only be successful by working with reliable and experienced partners.
GeTeMed GmbH
Oderstr. 59
14513 Teltow

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Mixed Signal ASIC technology provided GeTeMed GmbH with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.

Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
Homepage: http://www.fuse-network.com
Richard-Wagner-Strasse 1
D-38106 Braunschweig