Luminary Micro has aimed its guns at the low-cost embedded microcontroller market, but it's using a 32-bit firearm to tackle jobs normally handled by its 8- or 16-bit cousins. Two of the biggest problems that 32-bit MCUs have to overcome are cost and power. The LM3S10x hits both with pricing that starts at $1 and power requirements that match its cousins.
The basis for the LM3S10x is ARM's Cortex-M3, which is designed for lowpower operations. It runs the 16-bit Thumb-2 ARM instruction set. Also, it provides a consistent interrupt and I/O handling system that's optimized for real-time applications. A memory protection unit provides a more controlled execution environment without the complexity or overhead of a full memory-management unit.
The peripheral complement is what you would expect on an 8- or 16-bit MCU used in motor control and other applications. There's an analog comparator, dual timers with pulse-width modulation (PWM) and compare support, a UART, a synchronous serial interface (SSI), and an I2C master/ slave interface.
The memory size and speed target lowend applications. The 8 kbytes of flash suit control applications. The 2 kbytes of SRAM is on the generous side but indicative of the preference for 32-bit data. A range of power-management options, power-on reset, and brownout support match the target environment as well. Debugging is via JTAG. The JTAG pins can be used for I/O when they aren't used for debugging.
The LM3S101 and LM3S102 come in a 28-pin small-outline IC package. Future chips will be available in other packages. The development kit costs $775.