Microcontroller Innovations Take Centre Stage At Embedded World

Microcontroller Innovations Take Centre Stage At Embedded World

With record-breaking totals of 730 exhibitors and 18,350 trade visitors, last month’s Embedded World in Nuremberg, Germany, showed that the electronics industry is bouncing back from the global recession. Industry giants and scrappy startups alike were on hand to announce their latest breakthroughs. And among the exhibits, microcontrollers (MCUs) led the way in innovations.


According to Toshiba Electronics Europe (TEE), its TMPM380FY ARM Cortex-M3 (Fig. 1) is the first MCU to feature a single 5-V supply. It also is the first in a series of 5-V Cortex-M3 devices that TEE says will reduce the component count and simplify the development of embedded designs for industrial and white goods applications.

The MCU’s integrated functionality includes the ability to drive motors and control IGBTs, high-accuracy analogue-to-digital conversion, and an oscillation frequency detector (OFD). The OFD facilitates the hardware monitoring of the CPU clock to simplify compliance with the IEC60730 (Class B) home appliance safety standard.

The TMPM380FY features 256 kbytes of on-chip flash memory and 16 kbytes of on-chip RAM. A three-channel, 16-bit multi-purpose timer (MPT) combines three-phase pulse-width modulation (PWM) control with an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) trigger and a protection circuit. The timer can be used to deliver an externally triggered 16-bit programmable pulse generator (PPG) output for insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) control.

Additional on-board functionality includes power-on-reset (PoR) and voltage detection (VLTD), an 18-channel high-accuracy 12-bit ADC, a two-channel encoder input circuit, a watchdog timer (WDT), and a real-time clock (RTC). The encoder circuit offers a three-phase sensor input and supports rotation direction and absolute position detection.

In terms of serial connectivity, the TMPM380FY offers significant design flexibility. A general-purpose serial interface is configurable for either synchronous mode or up to five UARTs, while the built-in two-channel serial bus interface offers I2C or synchronous mode operation. A two-channel synchronous serial bus interface supports serial peripheral interface (SPI) flame, serial synchronous interface (SSI) flame, and Microwire flame formats.

Toshiba can supply the new MCU in a 100-pin quad flat package (QFP) or 100-pin low-profile quad flat package (LQFP). The device has an operating voltage range of 4.5 to 5.5 V and a maximum operating frequency of 40 MHz. A variety of standby modes helps to ensure minimum power consumption when the ARM core is not active.


Also at the show, Infineon launched its two latest XC800 MCUs. The company says that its XC82x and XC83x series cut system cost and provide improved energy efficiency for a variety of industrial applications. The MCUs combine the market standard 8-bit 8051 CPU with peripherals such as a capacitive touch-sense and LED matrix controller, EEPROM emulation, 10-bit ADC, capture compare unit (CCU6) with hardware link to the ADC, window watchdog timer, power-down modes, and various communication interfaces, such as UART, high-speed SPI, and I2C.

The XC82x series integrates a multiply-division-unit (MDU), whereas the XC83x provides a 16-bit vector computer and a ROM library for field-oriented control functions and high-current pads (30 to 50 mA). To implement efficient system designs using 8-bit MCUs, both series provide features for the generation of high-resolution PWM signals, fast ADC measurements, autonomous peripherals, and comparators for control loop and protection.

Specifically, the MCUs provide a capture/compare unit (CCU6) clocked at 48 MHz and a fast 16-MHz ADC with a sample time of only 125 ns and a conversion time of about 820 ns. The direct hardware link between the ADC and CCU6 in the design ensures fast and reliable control loops. In addition, the integrated ADC limit checker realizes a digital comparator with 8-bit resolution.

“In addition to motor control, intelligent powerful MCUs can help to significantly improve the efficiency of lighting, air conditioning, and induction cooking, with the potential for energy savings of 40% or more,” said Juergen Hoika (Fig. 2), marketing director of MCUs at Infineon Technologies.

Infineon offers a host of application kits and tools to support the critical time-to-market requirements faced in new system designs. With inDrive800, Infineon provides 8-bit solutions for drives and automation applications to support faster development cycles. Engineers do not need to start from scratch but can base their design on Infineon’s application kits, which are available in various power classes and functionality schemes. A free integrated development environment (IDE) and tool chain supports easy selection and configuration of the right MCU and reuse of application-specific source code.


Mass production has started on the RX610 group of MCUs (Fig. 3) from Renesas. These devices feature up to 2 Mbytes of flash embedded. The first RX610 MCU group is based on the new RX CPU, which the company says will become the mainstay of its business in the global embedded systems markets.

With 1.65-MIPS/MHz processing performance, the new products incorporate up to 2 Mbytes of on-chip flash and provide legacy, enhanced, and new peripheral functions with 0.5-mA/MHz product power for a range of applications. The RX CPU’s complex instruction set computer (CISC) architecture integrates and extends the capabilities of Renesas’ existing 16- and 32-bit MCU products while providing compatibility that protects customer designs that use existing Renesas MCUs.

“With this first RX610 group, we are starting a new era in the embedded MCU field for Renesas. The RX600 provides an outstanding performance level of 165 DMIPS and flexible memory lineup of up 2 Mbytes,” explained Bernd Westhoff, product marketing manager, Renesas Europe. “During this year, we will expand the RX600 series with further products in the connectivity and motor control fields, making the RX platform the most versatile MCU product lineup on the market.”

The eight devices in the RX610 group provide embedded memory starting from 768-kbyte flash with 128-kbyte RAM and are scalable up to 2-Mbyte flash with 128-kbyte RAM. The embedded flash memory is based on the Renesas metal-oxide nitride-oxide silicon (MONOS) technology that can be accessed at 100 MHz without wait state insertion. This enables maximum performance levels at any CPU frequency up to 100 MHz, without any limitation from flash technology.

The RX610 group also provides independent 32-kbyte data flash memory with a background operation (BGO) function that enables data to be written at the same time a program is executing. The new chips, which come in 144-pin LQFP and 176-pin ball-grid array (BGA) packages, integrate an extensive range of built-in legacy, enhanced, and new peripheral functions like floating point unit (FPU) for system design flexibility.

Also, the RX610 MCUs achieve low-power consumption operation with 0.5 mA/MHz at full active mode. The devices feature a JTAG debugger interface as well, enabling customers to connect a Renesas E1 or E20 on-chip debugger or permit access to similar JTAG third-party systems.

To help customers shorten the development cycles of new embedded systems, Renesas, third-party suppliers, as the company’s alliance partner network support the RX with a variety of hardware and software tools.


And, Atmel presented several new and existing device and software products that enable designers to easily implement capacitive touch functionality for buttons, sliders, and wheels for applications in the consumer, industrial, and white goods markets at the show.

The company has used its proprietary AVR capacitive touch MCU technology as a foundation for these products. Atmel’s ATtiny 10/20/40 devices with optimized touch sensing support are based on Atmel’s AVR MCU. The RISC controller architecture of the ATtiny 10/20/40 includes enough memory to support a range of application requirements.

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