April 2005 Embedded News Digest

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Dear Reader,
welcome to the April 2005 edition of MicroController Pros Corporation's Embedded News Digest, your source for microcontroller and embedded system news.

This month's issue:

ARM: Free Web Design Tools

Crossware Releases Version 3 of C Compiler for Coldfire Chips
Microchip: 10 New PIC18F Microcontrollers
Microchip Introduces 28-pin Stand-Alone Ethernet Controller

Renesas Releases SH-MobileJ3 Application Processor for Mid-Range Mobile Phone

TI Introduces Signal-Chain-on-Chip MCU
ZiLOG Introduces 8KB Flash Option for Z8 Encore! XP Family

ARM: Free Web Design Tools

ARM announced its new DesignStart™ program, which will provide chip developers with access to the ARM7TDMI® processor core for the TSMC, UMC, SMIC and Chartered Semiconductor process technologies. This program allows free access to a web version of the Artisan® Design Environment for the ARM7TDMI processor. It will enable design teams to gain instant access to ARM IP without the need to acquire costly design software or licenses up-front, thus allowing them to rapidly design and validate their system-on-chip (SoC) designs.

The web-based design kits enable engineers to complete the design process all the way through chip-level verification. Once the design is finished and ready for fabrication, a single-use design license can be purchased to receive a full set of deliverables and thus enable tape out and manufacture at any of the supported foundries.

Crossware Releases Version 3 of C Compiler for Coldfire Chips

Crossware has released version 3 of its C Compiler for Freescale's ColdFire microprocessors and microcontrollers. The new compiler, available as part of Crossware's ColdFire Development Suite, will simplify development and increase the speed of compiled programs.

The new compiler is able to carry out a flow analysis of a program and use this analysis to perform optimizations that are not otherwise possible. Also, additional calling conventions (ways in which the function call and function return are coded) have been added and these can be used to further increase the speed of the compiled program. In addition, function parameters can be passed in registers and function in-lining can be used to completely eliminate the function call altogether.

Crossware has also developed a range of facilities to test the compiler and the libraries that come with it. A special version of Crossware's Embedded Development Studio is capable of automatically generating, compiling and executing complex expressions. The code produced is self-checking and execution will halt if a result is incorrect. Similarly, self-checking code can be automatically generated to test library functions, and randomly generated input data ensures that the library  functions operate correctly with a wide range of inputs.

The new compiler is available as part of Crossware's ColdFire Development Suite and includes a C compiler assembler, linker, simulator and debugger all integrated into an easy-to-use development environment. A USB BDM (background debug mode) interface is also available to complete the set of development tools.

Microchip: 10 New PIC18F Microcontrollers

Microchip Technology has announced the first 10 members of the new high-pincount, high-density PIC18F87J10 Flash microcontroller family, which double the performance in low-voltage applications by delivering up to 10 MIPS at 3V. The new MCUs operate at 40 MHz and come in 64- and 80-pin packages.

The PIC18F87J10 8-bit microcontroller family provides linear access (no pages) to as much as 128 Kbytes of onboard Flash memory, and includes up to 4 Kbytes of data RAM, while offering complete code and tool compatibility with all PIC18F microcontrollers. In addition, the new PIC18F87J10 microcontrollers include nanoWatt Technology for optimal power management and prolonged battery life.

Key features of the PIC18F87J10 family include: 32 to 128 Kbytes of Flash program memory;  Up to 4 Kbytes of data RAM; Two Enhanced Universal Synchronous/Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter modules for RS232, RS485 and LIN serial interfaces;  Two Master Synchronous Serial Port modules, each supporting Master I2C or SPI interfaces;  Five Timers/Counters (3 x 16-bit, 2 x 8-bit);  15-channel, 10-bit Analog-to-Digital Converter with auto-acquisition timing;  Two Analog Comparators;  Three Enhanced Capture/Compare/PWM modules with support for MOSFET (H-bridge) motor drives;  Two standard Capture/Compare/PWM modules;  Extended Watchdog Timer with prescalar options;  Brownout Reset;  8-bit/16-bit mode External Memory Access (up to 2 Mbytes);  Enhanced Instruction Set for improved C Compiler efficiency

All 10 PIC18F87J10 family microcontrollers are available now for limited sampling, and volume production is expected in June.

Microchip Introduces 28-pin Stand-Alone Ethernet Controller

Microchip Technology has introduced the world's smallest Ethernet controller, designed to allow creation of network-enabled embedded applications with minimal board space requirements.

The IEEE 802.3-compliant 10 Mbps ENC28J60 features a standard SPI interface, a programmable 8-Kbyte Dual-Port SRAM Buffer, and special filters. These include Microchip's programmable pattern-matching filter, and can automatically evaluate, accept or reject Magic Packet, Unicast, Multicast or Broadcast packet types, minimizing the host microcontroller’s processing requirements.

Limited sampling for the ENC28J60 Ethernet controller is available now, and volume production is expected in May. Options include 28-pin SPDIP, SOIC, SSOP and QFN packages.

Renesas Releases SH-MobileJ3 Application Processor for Mid-Range Mobile Phone

Renesas Tannounced the SH-MobileJ3 (product name: SH7326) featuring 4-megapixel camera support and on-chip image processing hardware accelerators as a new model in the SH-Mobile*1 Series of mobile phone application processors, for use in mid-range mobile phone system models.

The SH-MobileJ3 is the successor of the current SH-MobileJ2 for mid-range mobile phone models, and offers enhancements of major image processing functions.

The number of camera interfaces has been increased to two, upgraded to high-definition 4-megapixel camera compatibility. For example a mobile phone incorporating a camera and TV tuner that previously required the addition of external circuitry can be implemented using an SH-MobileJ3 without the need for such circuitry, enabling system costs to be reduced.

A MPEG-4 full hardware accelerator is included for moving image processing, for still image processing, the SH-MobileJ3 features the inclusion of a JPEG hardware accelerator.

The SH-MobileJ3 incorporates an LCD controller supporting TFT color liquid crystal panels, a video output unit capable of outputting moving images shot with a camera to a TV set, a Version 1.2a compliant IrDA interface, a USB2.0 Function (Full Speed compliant) module, a keyboard interface, and a memory card interface.

The capacity of flash memory connectable to a NAND/AND flash memory interface has been substantially increased from the maximum 512 Mbits of the previous product to 4 Gbits.

The package used is a 281-pin CSP (9 mm x 11 mm x 1.4 mm, 0.5 mm pin pitch), an SiP with on-chip 128-Mbit SDRAM that requires a smaller mounting area. Price in 10000 unit quantities is 3500 Yen.

STI Introduces Signal-Chain-on-Chip MCU

TI has announced the introduction of the MSP430F42x0 generation of microcontrollers, a low-cost, signal-chain-on-a-chip (SCoC) MCU solution for high precision sensing and measurement applications. The MSP430F42x0 MCU features an ultra-low-power core and a complete chain of integrated peripherals such as a 16-bit sigma delta analog to digital converter (ADC), up to 32KB of flash memory and a liquid crystal display (LCD) driver with an internal charge pump.

The integrated 16-bit ADC has five differential input channels, up to 8,000 samples per second and a typical signal-to-noise and distortion ratio of 84 dB. This, combined with the 12-bit DAC's 1 microsecond settling time, lets designers leverage closed loop control to achieve the high levels of measurement and accuracy. The 16-bit ADC has a programmable gain amplifier, 1.2 voltage reference and an input buffer to eliminate the need for external signal conditioning for most applications. All of the peripherals have an option to minimize power consumption. The integration of up to 32KB of flash memory and LCD driver that maintains contrast control down to an input voltage of 2.2V reduces board space and build of materials by removing the need for an EEPROM and external LCD charge pump.

MSP430F42x0 MCUs are designed to work in the harsh environments typically found in industrial and medical applications. When a crystal fails due to moisture or a foreign substance during active or any low-power mode, the MSP430F42x0 is able to acknowledge the failure, re-start the on-chip clock system oscillator and generate a non-maskable interrupt to service the condition.

The MSP430F4270 MCU's 2.5 minimum voltage for flash in-system programming & erasing and 16-bit ADC extends the life of alkaline-battery-powered systems by 50 percent. The zero-power brown-out reset function is designed to reset the MSP430 during a low-voltage condition below specification preventing unpredictable behavior on the device.

MSP430F42x0 MCUs are specified for operation from 1.8 V to 3.6 V and are fully software-compatible with all existing MSP430 devices. The MSP430F4270 MCU will feature 32 KB of flash memory, with the F4260 and F4250 MCUs featuring 24 KB and 16 KB of flash memory, respectively. All three devices include 256 Bytes RAM, and 32 I/O channels. Samples of MSP430F42x0 MCUs are available today with volume production in May 2005. Pricing will start from $2.95 in 10,000-piece quantities (suggested resale pricing).

ZiLOG Introduces 8KB Flash Option for Z8 Encore! XP Family

ZiLOG has rolled out F08xA, an 8KB Flash memory addition to its Z8 Encore! XP microcontroller line. This addition extends the Flash memory range of the Z8 Encore! XP family to include 1, 2, 4 and 8KB varieties. The Z8 Encore! XP F08xA Series is based on the eZ8 CPU and supports 8KB of Flash program memory and 1KB registered RAM. The devices feature up to eight single-ended/differential channels of 10-bit A/D conversion and a trans-impedance amplifier for current measurement. An on-chip temperature sensor allows die temperature measurement over a range of -40 degrees to +105 degrees C. These devices also include two enhanced 16-bit timer blocks featuring PWMs and Capture and Compare, and up to 18 vectored interrupts with programmable priorities provide increased application flexibility.

The new series also features an on-chip internal precision oscillator (5MHz/32KHz) as a trimmable clock source that requires no external components. A new single-pin debugger and programming interface simplifies code development and allows for easy in-circuit programming, and a full-duplex UART provides serial communications and IrDA encoding and decoding capability.

Available now, the Z8 Encore! XP F08xA Series sells for $1.63 for a 28-pin SOIC with an A/D Converter, and $1.50 for a 20-pin SOIC without an A/D Converter, each in quantities of 1,000. Development kits for each will be available through ZiLOG's distribution channels.

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