Auto Electronics

TI 32-bit Piccolo MCUs offer real-time control for cost-sensitive applications

Texas Instruments ( this week introduced a new series of 32-bit C2000 microcontrollers optimized for processor-intensive real-time control applications. Previous C2000 offerings addressed applications for which performance was more important than price, according to TMS320C2000 marketing manager Keith Ogboenyiya, but the new TMS320F2802x/F2803x Piccolo MCUs, in packages as small as 38 pins, are priced at less than $2 in volume.

“The combination of 32-bit performance, enhanced peripherals and small package sizes allows designers to add real-time control and system management to applications that could not afford it previously, using just one microcontroller,” Ogboenyiya said. He added that Piccolo microcontrollers are 100 percent code-compatible with earlier-generation C2000 devices.

The new devices can replace multiple electronic components to lower overall system cost while enabling advanced power electronics management. Target applications include hybrid automotive battery control, power steering, and radar-based safety systems such as blind-spot detection and collision avoidance, especially in emerging markets.

The first Piccolo microcontrollers, the F2802x series, will be available for sampling in December and will include 40-60MHz variations; up to 128K bytes of flash memory; 12-bit analog to digital converter; patented, enhanced pulse width modulators (ePWM), and peripherals such as communications protocols, on-chip oscillators, analog comparators, and general purpose I/Os.

Ogboenyiya said the ePWM support the industry's highest resolution, with frequency modulation down to 150 picoseconds to enable more control over harmonics and reduce sample-to-output delay – a critical factor to avoid missing the falling edges of signals. He added that at 4.6 MSPS, the Piccolo devices’ on-chip A/D is up to four times faster than converters in competing products.

Two on-chip oscillators operating at 10MHz each with ±1% accuracy eliminate the need for external oscillators. Ogboenyiya said that in comparison, some other microcontrollers integrate ring oscillators with a drift as high as 50%, which makes them unsuitable for reliable communication interface clocking. He said the Piccolo oscillators offer triple redundancy with on-chip self-test features to help designers achieve system-level safety certifications. “The simple power architecture eliminates the need for external power ICs and uses a single 3.3V supply with internal regulator down to 1.9V while providing brown-out protection and power-on reset,” he noted.

Future Piccolo device introductions in 2009 will offer higher performance and memory sizes, LIN and CAN communications peripherals, and a programmable, floating-point control law accelerator (CLA) designed to offload complex high speed control algorithms from the main TMS320C28x CPU. Ogboenyiya said the CLA frees the CPU to handle I/O and feedback loop metrics, resulting in up to a 5x performance increase for common closed-loop applications.

TI plans introduce an F2802x/F2803x-based controlCARD (removable target board) in December for $49. The controlCARD will be compatible with all C2000 experimenter's and application-specific developer’s kits. Each kit includes a 32 K code-limited version of TI’s Code Composer Studio IDE, Gerber and hardware files and free application software.

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