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Updated: May 27th, 2009 10:17 AM CDT

National Semiconductor Celebrates 50 Years of Industry Leadership

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Over time, the analog industry has grown to $37.5 billion in worldwide revenue, driven by some of the industry's most profitable companies. Many of these companies can trace their histories back to products, packaging technology and processes -- as well as people -- from National Semiconductor.

The Space Race

Growth in the early days of the industry was driven by the Cold War and the Space Race. Robust integrated circuits allowed lightweight payloads to exit the atmosphere and survive in harsh environments. National's highly reliable products were used in 32 NASA programs, including the Venus probe and the Mars Rover, which is still roving the surface and sending back photos today.

The Era of the Personal Computer (PC)

The PC era drove the next significant growth phase for the industry. In addition to being the first company to develop a full 32-bit microprocessor, National led the industry in the development of mixed-signal interface and communication devices, such as the first 10 Megabit-per-second (Mb/s) Ethernet chips, which were to become the industry's de facto standard. National also pioneered Low-Voltage Differential Signaling (LVDS), now a worldwide standard interface used in notebook PCs, LCD displays and a wide variety of multi-media applications.

Mobile Devices

The next growth phase for the semiconductor industry was the rapid adoption of cellular phones and other mobile devices. National led the industry with the development of ultra-small packages (SOT23-5, micro SMD and LLP(R)) used in mobile power, audio, amplifier and interface products. The first true-color mobile displays were enabled by National's breakthrough white-LED drivers. As users demanded rich audio, National developed Boomer(R) audio amplifiers providing high-quality sound at low power. National enabled breakthrough products with full-sized, touchscreen displays through its development of the Mobile Pixel Link (MPL) interface and display driver technology. National's power technology extended the battery life of mobile devices, and National continues to be the market leader in innovative mobile power solutions.

The Energy Era

Today, non-mobile electronic systems face similar issues with heat dissipation, space constraints and the rising cost of energy. For example, data centers housing thousands of servers grapple with the cost of powering and cooling these energy-hungry systems. While previous generations of systems focused on performance at all costs, the industry is now focused on balancing performance with power consumption. In 2003, National led the way with the development of PowerWise(R) Adaptive Voltage Scaling (AVS), a technology for intelligently reducing the power consumption of digital systems by up to two-thirds. National continues to lead the industry with the development of its PowerWise(R) products and subsystems. Turning to the creation of renewable energy and leveraging its strength in analog power management, National has developed SolarMagic(TM) power optimizers. This new category of product dramatically improves the energy output of solar arrays by intelligently distributing power electronics within solar installations.


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