Philips Rolls Out New Master Selector Device for I2C Bus

12/8/2003 - Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE:PHG, AEX: PHI) announced a new 2-to-1 I2C master selector optimized for selecting one of two I2C master devices that connect to a shared resource in products ranging from MP3 players to servers in computing, communication and networking applications. The PCA9541 allows two separate I2C masters to have access to the same slave device without having to communicate with each other, thereby simplifying design complexity and cost by using a single device to replace the multiple chips previously used for this application.

“The new Philips Semiconductors PCA9541 reduced component count by a factor of three and component cost by a factor of four in our redundant, multiple master I2C application that we previously implemented using discrete components,” said Andy Paullin, design engineer, Sun Microsystems Enterprise Server Products group, Burlington, MA. “This new I2C master selector will help to make our next generation UltraSPARC server much more reliable.”

For the server market, having multiple masters or redundant I2C buses fulfills the server’s need for high reliability in the event one master fails or its controller card is removed for maintenance. The PCA9541 also allows two non-multiple capable masters to share a common resource such as a card maintenance history EEPROM or can be used as a gatekeeper multiplexer. The gatekeeper multiplexer prevents address conflicts when additional identically addressed devices are connected into larger architectures since only one slave device is allowed to speak with the master at any given time.

“I2C /SMBus has become the de facto standard serial bus for maintenance, control and configuration in most electronic platforms ranging from computing applications to networking and communications,” said Pierre-Yves Lesaicherre, general manager, Interface Products Business Line, Philips Semiconductors. “With this new PCA9541 device, Philips continues its history of innovation, enabling electronics manufacturers to more simply provide redundant buses for high reliability applications or applications where multiple masters need to communicate with shared slave resources.”

To simplify designs for high reliability equipment, the PCA9541 features a hardware pin reset function that returns the master selector to the default state, enabling continued communication with upstream slave devices without having to cycle power through critical equipment. Additionally, the PCA9541 includes the ability to function as a voltage level translator between 1.8V, 2.5V, 3.3V and 5.0V on different buses.

Three versions of the PCA9541 are offered. The PCA9541/01 can be used for server applications and requires no set up to start communicating with the downstream I2C slave devices on Bus 0. The PCA9541/02 version is suitable for hot swap in telecom applications where there is potential traffic on the I2C bus; it does not connect Bus 0 until the bus is idle. The PCA9541/03 is for general-purpose applications and defaults to off with neither Bus 0 or Bus 1 connected at start up.

The PCA9541 is available in the HVQFN package and the 20-pin SO and TSSOP packages.

About Royal Philips Electronics
Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands is one of the world's biggest electronics companies and Europe's largest, with sales of EUR 31.8 billion in 2002. It is a global leader in color television sets, lighting, electric shavers, medical diagnostic imaging and patient monitoring, and one-chip TV products. Its 166,500 employees in more than 60 countries are active in the areas of lighting, consumer electronics, domestic appliances, components, semiconductors, and medical systems. Philips is quoted on the NYSE (symbol: PHG), London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and other stock exchanges. News from Philips is located at

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