August 2005 Embedded News Digest

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

This month's issue:

Freescale Begins Production of Industry-First FlexRay Device
Goal Semiconductor MCUs Supported by Range of Industry Standard Programmers

Goal Semiconductor Acquired by Ramtron International Corporation
NEC Electronics Announces 78K0/Lx2 Family of 8-Bit MCUs for Consumer Applications
Renesas Technology Releases SH7261 SuperH Microcontrollers for Digital Audio Products

TI Launches First of 50 New Ultra-Low-Power MSP430 MCUs

Freescale Begins Production of Industry-First FlexRay Device

Freescale Semiconductor's MFR4200 FlexRay controller is now available in production quantities. It is the first automotive-qualified FlexRay device.

The MFR4200 delivers 10 times more throughput than current CAN solutions, and provides the fault tolerance and time-deterministic performance required for x-by-wire applications.

X-by-wire automotive subsystems (including braking, steering, suspension/reaction control and throttle control) are expected to gradually replace most hydraulic lines and mechanical cables with wire-based networks, sensors and motors. The MFR4200 is designed to serve the needs of this market by providing a high level of communication bandwidth and deterministic, fault-tolerant data transmission.

This MFR4200 device is ideal for chassis control, body electronics and powertrain applications, and offers seamless integration with a wide range of microcontrollers. In addition, FlexRay complements the major in-vehicle networking standards (CAN, LIN and MOST) by adding a high-speed protocol for the most demanding systems.

The MFR4200 features a bit rate up to a maximum of 10 Mbit/sec on each of two channels, providing a redundancy for fault tolerance. Each of its 59 message buffers can carry 32 bytes of data and be configured as receive, transmit (single or double), or part of the receive FIFO. It comes in a 64-pin LQFP.

Goal Semiconductor MCUs Supported by Range of Industry Standard Programmers

Goal Semiconductor has announced that its industry standard microcontrollers are now supported by a variety of third party programmers.

All of Goal's VERSA Microcontroller families of low-cost, drop-in replacement parts can be programmed using universal programmers from Advantech Equipment, Elnec, HI-LO System Research, ICE Technology, LEAP Electronic and Xeltek.

Available in 44-pin PLCC, 44-pin QFP and 40-pin DIP packages, Goal's RoHS-compliant VERSA MCU families include the VRS1xxx series with 64/128K Flash memory, 1K RAM and In-System/In-Application Programming capabilities; the VRS5xx series with 4/8/16/32/64K Flash and 128/256/1K/4K bytes RAM; the VRS700 with 64K Flash and 4K RAM; and the VRS900 mixed-signal MCU with 8K Flash, 256 bytes RAM, 4-channel, 8-bit ADC and 14 segment LCD driver.

Among the programmers which support Goal MCUs are the Xeltek SuperPro-Z, SuperPro-LX, SuperPro 280U, SuperPro 580U, SuperPro 3000U, SuperPro 8000, and SuperPro 9000U.

Goal Semiconductor Acquired by Ramtron International Corporation

Goal Semiconductor has been acquired by Ramtron International Corporation> Ramtron is a maker of nonvolatile ferroelectric random access memories (FRAM).  The Ramtron-Goal union plans to develop a new generation of innovative, highly-integrated data acquisition and signal processing microcontrollers with nonvolatile FRAM technology.

NEC Electronics Announces 78K0/Lx2 Family of 8-Bit MCUs for Consumer Applications

NEC Electronics Corp. has announced the latest addition to their line of 8-bit microcontroller products, the 78K0/Lx2 family of MCUs. The 78K0/Lx2 family features 36 product configurations with many memory, peripheral and packaging options.

Each 78K0/Lx2 microcontroller features an integrated LCD driver/controller for powering displays with up to 160 segments. The MCUs have from 16 to 128 kBytes of Flash memory and up to 7 kBytes of RAM. An in-application self-programming capability enables programs to be easily rewritten. With power consumption of 2.5 mA (compared to 7.6 mA in previous mask ROM products) operating at 5V and 10 MHz, the 78K0/Lx2 MCUs still provide a fast wake-up time — typically only five microseconds from standby to full-speed operation. The 78K0/Lx2 MCUs also have a variety of peripherals designed to provide safe operation, including power-on-clear circuitry and low-voltage indicators. Operating voltages range from 1.8V to 5.5V.

All of the Lx2 series employ NEC Electronics' advanced 0.15-micron process technology and SuperFlash technology licensed from Silicon Storage Technology, Inc. (SST).

Samples of 78K0/Lx2 MCUs will be available in September, with mass production scheduled to begin in January 2006. Pricing depends on packaging, memory and peripheral configuration. For example, the 78K0/LG2 MCU with 128 KB of flash memory is priced at $6 in 1,000-unit quantities. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

Renesas Technology Releases SH7261 SuperH Microcontrollers for Digital Audio Products

Renesas Technology Corp. has announced four SH7261 high-performance microcontroller models, incorporating the 32-bit RISC microcontroller SuperH Family's new SH2A-FPU CPU core, designed for use in car audio, home audio, and similar digital audio products. Sample shipments will begin in September 2005 in Japan.

These new devices are high-performance microcontrollers incorporating peripheral functions suitable for car audio and home audio systems, including a CD-ROM decoder, CAN controller, and serial sound interface.

The new SH2A-FPU CPU core features the addition of an FPU to the real-time control capabilities of the SH-2A CPU core. Two versions are available, with a maximum operating frequency of 80 MHz and 120 MHz respectively. Operation at 120 MHz provides high processing performance by integer operation capability of 288 MIPS (Dhrystone 1.1) and floating-point operation performance of 240 MFLOPS. Processing previously performed by two devices — a system control processing controller and a digital audio processing DSP or the like — can thus be handled by a single SH7261 microcontroller, enabling the number of component parts to be reduced and lower system costs to be achieved.

The SH7261 microcontrollers have an on-chip CD-ROM controller implementing CD player playback functions, enabling CD-ROM support functions to be configured with inexpensive external components.

Data communication functions are provided by a 2-channel in-vehicle LAN CAN controller in the SH72611 and an IEBus controller in the SH72612, offering a choice of models appropriate to car audio, industrial, or other applications. The comprehensive set of on-chip peripheral functions also includes serial communication functions such as a serial sound interface (SSI) for digital audio data input/output, a serial communication interface with a 16-stage FIFO, and an I2C bus interface, as well as a multifunction timer unit (MTU2), 10-bit A/D converter, and 8-bit D/A converter useful for various kinds of industrial applications.

The instruction set is upward-compatible with those of the SH-2A and earlier SH-2 CPU cores, enabling existing programs to be used while improving ROM code efficiency by approximately 75% compared with the SH-2, an improvement that makes it possible to reduce program size by approximately 25%.

These high signal processing capabilities enable MP3, WMA, AAC, and other audio data compression/expansion processing to be executed at a lower frequency and by a smaller program. In addition, system control and digital audio processing previously performed by separate devices can be handled by a single SH7261 chip, enabling fewer component parts to be used. This makes it possible to implement a low-power-consumption system at low cost.

An external data bus expandable up to 32 bits allows direct connection to flash ROM, SDRAM, SRAM, and so forth, without the use of external parts.

On-chip debugging functions are provided, enabling real-time debugging to be carried out at the maximum operating frequency.

These new microcontrollers come in 176-pin LQFP. Sample shipments begin this month in Japan. Dependent on model, the sample prices range from ₯1650 to ₯1800.

TI Launches First of 50 New Ultra-Low-Power MSP430 MCUs

Texas Instruments Incorporated has begun a massive expansion of the MSP430 ultra-low power microcontroller platform with plans to add over 50 new devices in the next 18 months. The first devices introduce TI's smallest, lowest power MCUs ever — the MSP430F20xx MCU series — which offers a tiny 14-pin, 4x4 mm footprint and 16 MIPS of 16-bit performance with pricing starting at $0.49 (for 100,000-unit quantities) for the MSP430F2001 MCU.

New MSP430F20xx MCUs are TI's first devices based on the recently announced F2xx architecture that operates with a cool active current of 200 micro-amps per MIPS. A flexible clock system allows operation up to 16 MHz with no external components using an improved digitally controlled oscillator (DCO) that is fully programmable and stable over temperature and voltage. The ability to switch from standby to a fully synchronized 16 MIPS active mode in less than one micro-second allows interrupt event-driven programming that extends time in power-saving modes and allows the use of smaller, lower cost batteries. The 14-pin footprint combined with a sub-1micro-amp standby current provides benefits in space-constrained applications such as fire and motion detectors for which OEMs may choose to reduce cost and liability with factory-installed, sealed batteries that last over ten years.

All F20xx devices offer in-system programmable flash for greater design flexibility, field upgrades and elimination of external EEPROMs. 128 bytes of RAM, when combined with a full featured CPU, allows full development in C. To further reduce system cost, all 10 GPIO pins include programmable pull-up/pull-down resistors eliminating external components. A zero-power brown-out reset function and an enhanced watchdog timer enhance reliability. All the failsafe features of F2xx devices are available during all modes of operation with no power penalty.

The MSP430F20x2 and MSP430F20x3 MCUs include a universal serial interface (USI) that can be configured for either I2C or SPI master or slave communication. To accelerate F20xx MCU design-in, designers can begin development with TI's existing MSP430 USB or Parallel Port JTAG pods that support the new Spy Bi-Wire interface and provide designers with world-class emulation from day one.

Following the MSP430F20xx MCU series, TI will introduce in Q4 2005 the first in a family of enhanced MSP43FG46xx processors with an extended 1MB memory model, allowing access to 16 times more memory compared to the 64kB available today. Extended instructions designed for the large memory allow optimal high-level code density with full backward compatibility, making it possible to develop very sophisticated real-time applications completely in modular C libraries.

The first enhanced device from the MSP430FG46xx generation — the FG4619 MCU — will incorporate 120kB of embedded flash memory and a complete signal chain on chip (SCoC), making it ideal for applications like portable medical devices that require the high integration and large memory options of a single chip solution. Later in 2006, TI's MCU expansion will continue with new families of devices with increased MIPS, 5V and 125°C capabilities, USB 2.0, low voltage operation and wireless connectivity.

MSP430F20x3 MCUs have begun sampling to high-volume customers, with full production scheduled Q4 2005. MSP430F20x1 and MSP430F20x2 MCUs will sample Q4 2005 with production early 2006.

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