Direct memory access (DMA) support is almost nonexistent in low-end microcontrollers (MCUs). So the inclusion of three DMA channels, coupled with the addition of two high-performance, 12-bit digital-to-analog converters (DACs), makes Texas Instruments' MSP430F16x a significant introduction.
The DMA channels, which offload peripheral support from the 16-bit RISC processor, can operate with most of the on-chip peripherals, including the DACs. The combination can be used to create complex waveforms. DMA can also be used with the serial channels that support I2C.
The MSP430 line of 16-bit RISC processors has a register-based architecture with 11 general-purpose registers and a memory-based stack. The registers help minimize memory access while making it easy and efficient to program using C. Over half of the MSP430 development is done in C. On-chip JTAG support lowers development tool cost.
Flash memory updates are password protected to prevent accidental overwrites. Flash programming is rated at 100 kcycles.
The MSP430F16x chips cost $7.95 with 60 kbytes of flash and 2 kbytes of RAM. Non-DMA versions are priced as low as $0.49.
Texas Instruments Inc., www.ti.com; (800) 336-5236.