Launch of AK8963C, a new 3-axis electronic compass for portable appliances
– One-chip system with Si monolithic Hall elements
enabling world’s smallest-class package –

July 23, 2012
Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corp.

Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM) has launched its latest 3-axis electronic compass for portable appliances, the AK8963C. Volume shipments are under way. Electronic compasses measure geomagnetism to determine azimuth. This is used for electronic map applications such as pedestrian navigation systems to rotate the map to match the direction the users are facing. Since its launch of the world’s first 3-axis electronic compass for portable appliances, the AK8970, in 2003, AKM has continued to develop its leading-edge technology for successive product improvements.

In addition to their superior hardware performance, AKM’s electronic compasses feature highly functional software for automatic calibration. This groundbreaking software enables the compass to automatically adjust for calculation errors that are introduced by other magnetic parts within the portable device. AKM also provides device manufacturers with a rich array of technical support and service, including evaluation systems, to help make the most of the combined hardware and software solution.

These many advantages have been widely recognized throughout the industry, and AKM’s electronic compasses are widely adopted in mobile phones, smartphones, and tablet devices, gaining a dominant market share worldwide.

Distinguishing features of the AK8963C are as follows:

1) World’s thinnest and smallest class size

The package size of the AK8963C is reduced to approximately 53% of AKM’s previous equivalent product, the AK8975B/C.

2) One-chip electronic compass architecture

The AK8963C consists of AKM’s exceptional one-chip electronic compass architecture with a 3-axis magnetic sensor comprising Si monolithic Hall elements and a magnetic concentrator. This provides inherently superior performance than a traditional multi-chip module configuration in which even slight orthogonal errors during module assembly have a critical effect. With the Si monolithic architecture, the three Hall elements are manufactured directly on a single silicon substrate. Together with the magnetic concentrator, this enables mapping of geomagnetism data in three dimensional vectors for analysis. The simpler processing and assembly of this architecture not only eliminates orthogonal imprecision but also enables efficient mass production using conventional semiconductor manufacturing equipment to maintain stable supply even as demand grows rapidly.

3) Wide measurement range

The AK8963C features the widest measurement range of any electronic compass in the world, extending the range of the AK8975B/C by a factor of four. This wider measurement range makes the compass less sensitive to magnetic interference from other parts within the portable device, providing greater freedom in device design by enabling more flexibility in the placement of the compass on the printed circuit board.

Basic specifications of the AK8963C

Packaging:   14-pin WL-CSP package, 1.6 mm × 1.6 mm × 0.5 mm
Measurement range:   ±4900 µT
Resolution:   0.15 µT/LSB or 0.6 µT/LSB (selectable)
Average electric current during measurement:   280 µA at measuring frequency of 8 Hz
Interface:   Two-wire I2C or four-wire SPI (selectable)


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