The mailbag is getting a little full. So, let's open it up and take a quick look at a some of the more interesting items in there.
First is Silicon Laboratories' C8051-F350. This 5- by 5-mm chip packs a single-cycle 8051 with a 50-MHz punch, coupled with an eight-channel, 24-bit precision analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and 1-ksample/s rate. It sports an on-board temperature sensor, a pair of 8-bit digital-to-analog converters (DACs), four timers, a UART, a serial peripheral interface (SPI), an SMBus, 17 digital pins, 768 bytes of SRAM, and 8 kbytes of flash memory. Its 24.5-MHz on-chip oscillator provides a true single-chip solution. Pricing starts at $4.38. The development kit costs $129.
Another 8-bit entry is Zilog's Z8Encore! XP series. Its $39 development kit has a full-feature toolset with the ZDS II integrated development environment (IDE) and C compiler. The board's Z8Fo42A only cranks out 10 MIPS, but it's designed for very low-power battery operation. It has an eight-channel, 10-bit sigma-delta ADC, a comparator, a temperature sensor, a transimpedence amplifier, a UART, and an on-chip oscillator. Also, it has 4 kbytes of flash, 1 kbyte of SRAM, and 128 bytes of nonvolatile data memory.
Moving up a notch, we have Philips Electronics' latest LPC2000 offerings. These ARM7-based 32-bit microcontrollers target the automotive and process control arenas with extensive control-area network (CAN) support.
The LPC2194 packs four CAN interfaces into a 64-pin chip along with a pair of SPIs, a pair of UARTs, and a 10-bit ADC. It can handle sophisticated applications with 256 kbytes of flash memory and 1 kbyte of SRAM. The LPC2194 comes in a 64-pin LQFP package. The LPC2294, which supports external memory, comes in a 144-pin package. Versions are available with fewer on-chip peripherals. Pricing for flash versions starts at $5.50, while flashless versions cost less than $3.
These well-armed CAN microcontrollers can share on-chip memory among multiple controllers, suiting them for CAN gateways. CAN hardware support reduces overhead and improves throughput. Additional performance is attained using interleaved banks of 128-bit flash memory, eliminating the need for caching. Still, their cache-based solution has a hit rate over 95%.
At the other extreme is Altium's Nexar board-on-chip design system for FPGAs. This FPGA agnostic development tool works with the new $995 Nano-Board LiveDesign, which accepts plug-in modules containing an FPGA. The NanoBoard incorporates a range of interfaces like an LCD and keyboard for testing an FGPA-based board-level design. Nexar also is designed to work with Protel, Altium's board-level design tool.
Nexar employs a schematic-based design interface. It uses high-level IP, including royalty-free processor cores, instead of relying on VHDL designs. Nexar includes integrated embedded development software for an all-in-one solution. Nexar and Protel cost $7995. For a limited time, they come with a free NanoBoard.Silicon Laboratories Inc.www.silabs.comZilog Inc.www.zilog.comPhilips Electronicswww.semiconductors.philips.comAltium Limitedwww.altium.com