Microchip's latest dsPIC33 and PIC24 chips (Fig. 1) share a common 60 MIPS core with the dsPIC33 providing additional signal processing instructions. They contain up to 512 Kbytes of progam flash plus an additional 24 Kbytes of auxilary data flash. Programming the latter does not slow down the processor. The chips also have up to 52 Kbytes of RAM.
The chips have USB 2.0 On-The-Go (OTG) support along with an array of peripheral interfaces including CAN 2.0, I2C, UARTS and SPI ports. There is also a parallel master port (PMP). The audio side handles I2S and AC97 codec support. The analog side has 3 comparators and 32-channel 12-bit ADC.
The ADC can be used for motor control. The PWMs can handle a pair of 3-phase motors. There are two quadrature encoder interfaces (QEI) as well.
The dsPIC33EP512MU810 Dual Motor Control Plug-In Module (PIM) incorporates a single processor but has a cable allowing it to plug into two Microchip dsPICDEM motor control development boards. Each board handles a single 3-phase BLDC, PMSM, ACIM or 2-phase stepper motors. This makes it significantly easier to develop dual motor applications.
The dsPI33 and PIC24 chips are supported by Microchip's MPLAB including the latest Netbeans-based MPLAB X (see NetBeans Powers New PIC IDE). A number of development kits are available including the dsPIC33E USB Starter Kit (Fig. 2) and five PIMs for platforms like Microchip's Explorer 16. The dsPIC33E and PIC24E are available in 64-pin QFN and TQFP packages, 100- and 144-pin TQFP, 121-pin BGA, and 144-pin LQFP packages. Pricing starts at $4.98.