December 2005 Embedded News Digest
 

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

  • New product additions at the MicroControllerShop:

    Microchip:

    New PIC starter kits for Ethernet, RFID , Robotics, Serial Bus, and USB. Include full featured C-compiler, In-Circuit-Debugger/Programmer and development board.
    Mach-X Programmer/Debugger, double functions as a PIC out-of-circuit programmer with ZIF socket and in-circuit debugger.

    Test & Measurement:

    PC-based digital oscilloscopes, USB port, from 60MHz up to 150MHz bandwidth, starting at $549.00

    Accessories:

    USB-to-RS232 Adapter, connect RS232 peripherals & boards to your PC's USB port.

    Universal Wall Mount Power Supply - works with almost any development board, anywhere in the world:  100-240V, exchangeable wall plugs (US, Euro, UK, Australia), switchable regulated output voltage 3.0V-12VDC , exchangeable power tips, switchable polarity. Only US$11.00


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This month's issue:

Atmel Announces Three New 14-pin AVR Microcontrollers with 10-bit ADC
Atmel Introduces Two New 8-bit AVR CAN Microcontrollers
Freescale Introduces Integrated and Stand-Alone FlexRay 2.1 Controllers
Freescale Demonstrates New Transistor Architecture
Infineon Launches New 32-bit Microcontroller Family
Renesas Technology Releases SH7147F 32-Bit RISC Microcontroller
Hitachi and Renesas Develop Low-Power MOS Phase-Change Memory Cells
STMicroelectronics Releases Software Library for STR7 ARM7TDMI Microcontrollers


Atmel Announces Three New 14-pin AVR Microcontrollers with 10-bit ADC

Atmel Corporation has announced three new members of the AVR Flash Microcontroller family, targeting battery chargers, sensor end-points and low-end motor control applications.

Three new 14-pin tinyAVR products are added to the wide AVR family of Flash Microcontrollers. All three devices are pin compatible, differing only in the size of Flash, EEPROM and SRAM memory. ATtiny24 has 2 KBytes of Self-Programmable Flash memory, whereas ATtiny44 and ATtiny84 have 4 KB and 8 KB, respectively. Each new device delivers 20 MIPS throughput when running at 20 MHz.

ATtiny24/44/84 excel in battery-powered equipment due to the inherent low power consumption and three individually selectable low-power sleep modes. The application software can adjust the system clock frequency to achieve top performance when needed, and then slow down the clock during idle times. Additional power saving is achieved by using the AVR Power Stop System allowing the user to turn off timers, USI, and/or ADC when not in use. As a result, the ATtiny24/44/84 consume less than 100 nA in Power Down mode.

The new devices have internal EEPROM, pull-up resistors and an 8 MHz, high-precision calibrated RC Oscillator, leaving 12 general I/O pins available for application use. The I/O pins can work alternatively as ADC inputs or PWM outputs depending on the application requirements.

Interfaces to ATtiny24/44/84 are made easy by using the Universal Serial Interface (USI), which can be configured to work as an SPI, UART or TWI. Sensor applications benefit from the internal temperature sensor that accurately monitors chip temperature, allowing reliable system parameter calibration.

A wide range of high-performance microcontroller peripheral functions are readily integrated. The devices include one 8-bit timer and one 16-bit timer, which can control two 8-bit and two 16-bit PWM outputs, respectively. A total of twelve 10-bit differential A/D converter input channels with programmable gain, and a fast analog comparator, allows a wide selection of peripherals to be connected when used in sensor and control applications.

ATtiny24 samples are available now in lead-free SOIC and PDIP 14-pin packages and in lead-free QFN 20-pad package. ATtiny44 samples will be available in Q1 2006, and ATtiny84 samples in Q2 2006. Volume production of ATtiny24 and ATtiny44 will commence in Q1 2006, and for ATtiny84 in Q2 2006. Volume prices for 10,000 units are $0.70, $0.85 and $1.10 for ATtiny24, ATtiny44 and ATtiny84 respectively.


Atmel Introduces Two New 8-bit AVR CAN Microcontrollers

Atmel Corporation has introduced the AT90CAN32 and the AT90CAN64, 8-bit AVR Flash microcontrollers with extended CAN capabilities. These new devices combine 16 MIPS processing speed with a rich feature set and an In-Application Programming (IAP) capability.

Pin-to-pin compatible with Atmel's 128-Kbyte AVR CAN microcontroller (AT90CAN128), the AT90CAN32/64 devices integrate a V2.0A/V2.0B CAN controller, 32/64 KBytes Flash program memory, 2/4 KBytes RAM, and 1/2 KByte on-chip EEPROM. With a 16 MIPS AVR RISC engine, the AT90CAN32/64 devices offer a performance equivalent to a 16-bit microcontroller at the price of a standard 8-bit device for Industrial Control applications.

The on-chip CAN controller can handle 15 independent message objects, programmable on the fly, and dynamically assign them to the transmission or reception buffers in case of multiple CAN frames. Extensive masking, filtering and buffering of CAN frames reduces the host processor load. A large portion of the AT90CAN32/64 processing speed and memory remains available for the application while a complete higher layer protocol stack (CANopen, DeviceNet or J1939) runs on the chip. An interrupt accelerator engine informs the CPU of critical messages without running a software scan routine, minimizing the overhead impact on real-time event applications.

A highly flexible In-Application-Programming (IAP) capability, via CAN, UART or SPI, allows remote programming and field upgrades. Atmel's IAP permits simple reprogramming of any CAN node through the CAN bus, without disturbing the CAN bus exchanges, or interrupting the running system.

Atmel offers a library of IAP routines as well as running Bootloader examples to customers wanting to build their own Bootloaders, thereby reducing overall development time and thus time-to-market.

AT90CAN32/64 peripherals include 16-bit timers with enhanced PWM capabilities, a powerful 10-bit/8-channel A/D converter and several serial interfaces. A wide operating voltage range (2.7V-5.5V) plus five low-power management modes optimize the application power consumption.

AT90CAN32/64 samples are available now in TQFP and QFN 64-pin packages for industrial temperature range. AT90CAN32 production volumes are becoming available now, and in March 2006 for the AT90CAN64. Pricing for 10,000 units is $4.50 per unit for the AT90CAN32, and will be $5 for the AT90CAN64.


Freescale Introduces Integrated and Stand-Alone FlexRay 2.1 Controllers

The 40MHz MC9S12XFR microcontroller with 128 KBytes Flash is Freescale's first microcontroller to integrate a FlexRay module with the 16-bit HCS12X core. It is being released along with the MFR4300 stand-alone FlexRay node controller.

The MC9S12XFR also features 32 message buffers capable of storing 256 bytes each, while the stand-alone MFR4300 features 128 message buffers.

The FlexRay protocol provides higher data rates and fault tolerance required for advanced control systems combining multiple sensors, actuators and electronic control units. The 9S12XFR and MFR4300 devices are ideal for chassis control, body electronics and powertrain applications where increased functionality and on-board diagnostics are required. The FlexRay devices complement major in-vehicle networking standards (CAN, LIN and MOST) by adding a high-speed protocol for the most demanding systems.

Sample quantities of the MC9S12XFR are available in 80-pin QFP as well as 64- and 112-pin LQFP. Samples of the stand-alone MFR4300 FlexRay node controller are available in 64-pin LQFP.


Freescale Demonstrates New Transistor Architecture

Freescale Semiconductor has demonstrated a breakthrough transistor that overcomes many of the design and manufacturing challenges associated with vertical multi-gate devices.

The invention, called the Inverted T Channel-Field Effect Transistor (ITFET) device, features the industry's first-ever combination of vertical and planar thin body structures within a single transistor. The technology could hasten delivery of a new breed of dramatically smaller, higher-performing semiconductors that require less power.

Traditional CMOS devices deploy transistors onto the surface of the silicon in a horizontal fashion. In recent years new device architectures have emerged, featuring vertical transistors that utilize multiple sides of the silicon. Vertical transistors are appealing in part because they reduce leakage and provide higher drive current as a result of having more than one gate to control the device. Multiple gates pack more computing power into less space and reduce power consumption.

However, vertical transistors present fundamental design and manufacturing challenges related to mechanical stability, sub-lithographic feature sizes and patterning over tall topographies.

By combining the stability and manufacturability of planar devices with the low leakage and other benefits of vertical devices, Freescale's ITFET bridges the debate on planar versus vertical CMOS devices and offers key advantages of both technologies in a single device.

ITFET offers better manufacturability than FinFET transistors and other vertical devices. It also provides significant advantages over planar thin body devices and other vertical multi-gate designs, including lower current leakage, easier transistor width proportioning, lower parasitic capacitance and increased on-current.

The vertical and planar regions of the ITFET couple to provide enhanced current capability from an increased channel width without increasing chip area. The unique architecture of the ITFET incorporates silicon in the planar regions below the vertical channels, thereby improving manufacturability by reducing undercut below the vertical channels, reducing parasitic resistance and enhancing the mechanical stability of the vertical channels.

Freescale plans to incorporate ITFET technology in a range of high-end devices beginning at the 45nm node and beyond.


Infineon Launches New 32-bit Microcontroller Family

Infineon has announced sample availability of the first two members in the new TC116x series of 32-bit microcontrollers based on its TriCore architecture. In addition to a high-performance 66 MHz CPU, the new TC1161 and TC1162 microcontrollers integrate 1 MByte of embedded Flash memory and a comprehensive set of peripherals in a low-cost package.

These new devices integrate microcontroller, DSP and PWM ASIC. Besides the lower system level costs, the TC116x microcontrollers also contribute to reduced board space, system size and firmware complexity by offering a unified software environment. The microcontrollers have on-chip debugging support for fast development and verification.

The TC1161 and TC1162 are optimized for embedded applications where real-time control, DSP performance and specific peripheral functions are needed. Typical applications are motor drives and industrial control. The peripheral set includes a flexible timer unit (GPTA) for PWM generation, fast multi-channel ADCs, MultiCAN module (TC1162 only), Asynchronous and Synchronous Serial Interfaces (ASC/SSC) and a Micro Link Interface (MLI) for utilizing a second controller. The flexible GPTA concept enables scalable motor control solutions and an autonomous full coherent high-speed PWM generation with 0 to 100 percent duty cycle to achieve highly efficient drive operations.

The new TC1161 and TC1162 operate at a 1.5V core supply voltage (3.3V I/O) and are available in a low-cost PG-LQFP-176 package for the industrial temperature range from -40 to +85C. The unit price (MSRP) for 10,000 units is 9.35 for the TC1161 and 9.90 for the TC1662.

Infineon plans to expand the TC116x product family by introducing four further products in the first half of 2006. The additional members will offer extended memory capacity, higher CPU clock and new peripherals.


Renesas Technology Releases SH7147F 32-Bit RISC Microcontroller

Renesas Technology Corp. has announced the SH7147F 32-bit RISC microcontroller featuring a 64 MHz maximum operating frequency and 256-Kbyte on-chip flash memory, specialized for in-vehicle inverter control.

The SH7147F is the second-phase product following the SH7047F SuperH Family RISC microcontroller, and offers functional and performance improvements over the SH7047F while using the same 100-pin package. A high-performance SH-2 CPU core and peripheral functions specialized for in-vehicle inverter control make the SH7147F ideal for automobile power-steering applications and for handling inverter control, communication control and integrated control required for use in hybrid electric vehicles.

The SH7147F incorporates an SH-2 32-bit CPU core, and its maximum operating frequency of 64 MHz achieves an approximately 1.3-fold improvement in processing performance compared with the 50 MHz operation of the current SH7047F. The 256 KByte on-chip Flash memory provides single-cycle (15.6 ns) access at 64 MHz operation, contributing to faster program processing.

Various functional and performance improvements provide even higher in-vehicle inverter control precision than the SH7047F. A combination of the MMT (Motor Management Timer) and MTU of the current product is provided as inverter control timers, with the MTU comprising two modules (MTU2 and MTU2S). The MTU2 and MTU2S have operating speeds of 32 MHz and 64 MHz respectively, with newly added features including an A/D conversion start request delayed function and interrupt request thinning-out function, for greater ease of use. In addition, the specifications feature software compatibility with the current product, enabling programs written for the current product to be used.

The A/D converter resolution has been raised from 10 to 12 bits, and the number of channels allowing simultaneous sampling and simultaneous conversion has been increased from two to six. In addition, conversion time has been shortened by approximately 30% and an approximately 2-fold improvement in absolute precision has been achieved.

The SH7147F includes an interface channel compatible with the CAN in-vehicle LAN specification, a 4-wire SSU channel allowing selection of master mode or slave mode and synchronous serial communication with a device that uses different clock polarity and a different clock phase, and three SCI channels capable of both asynchronous and synchronous serial communication. These comprehensive communication functions enable easy connection to other electronic units, ICs, and so forth.

Sample shipments will begin in March 2006 in Japan priced at 3000. The package is the 100-pin LQFP (14 mm x 14 mm, 0.5 mm pin pitch) with an ambient temperature range of 40C to 125C.


Hitachi and Renesas Develop Low-Power MOS Phase-Change Memory Cells

Hitachi, Ltd., and Renesas Technology Corp. have announced the successful prototyping of low-power phase-change memory cells. The nonvolatile semiconductor storage elements can be programmed at a power supply voltage of 1.5V and a low current of 100A about 50 percent less power consumption per cell than previous technology reported by Hitachi and Renesas. Moreover, the new phase-change cells compare favorably with existing nonvolatile memory in terms of high-speed writing and reading capabilities, high programming endurance, small size, and high-level integration. Thus, they provide a promising solution for on-chip program and data storage in next-generation microcontrollers for embedded applications such as information devices, home electric appliances, and in-vehicle equipment and control systems.

The prototype cells were fabricated in a 130nm CMOS process. Their structure uses MOS transistors and a phase-change film that enters an amorphous state (high resistance) or crystalline state (low resistance) in response to heat. They are programmed to one state or the other via a tungsten bottom-electrode contact (BEC) with a diameter of 180nm. In a read operation, the stored digital information is determined from a difference in the amount of current flowing in the film.

To obtain the breakthrough power-consumption results, the Hitachi and Renesas researchers developed an original phase-change film with low-current, low-voltage programming capability. They produced the film by controlled oxygen doping of a germanium-antimony-tellurium (GeSbTe) material. The oxygen doping enables the resistance of the phase-change film to be constrained to an optimal level and suppresses the flow of excessively large currents during programming. Also, the cell implementation allows the gate widths of the MOS transistors forming the cells to be decreased and the drive output MOS transistors to be reduced, making it possible to shrink the size of the memory cells and drive circuitry.


STMicroelectronics Releases Software Library for STR7 ARM7TDMI Microcontrollers

STMicroelectronics has announced the final release of the comprehensive STR7 Software Library supporting its 32-bit microcontrollers based on the ARM7TDMI core: the STR71x series and the recently announced STR73x series. The C language library - which can be downloaded free from the ST website at www.st.com/mcu - includes drivers for every embedded STR7 peripheral, and startup files for major third-party toolchains.

The STR7 library simplifies system design, enabling a faster time to market by allowing users to focus on their applications rather than on the internal architecture of the MCU. Developers making use of it benefit from a fast start and rapid progress, whatever the configuration of their MCU. Written throughout in standard C, it provides optimized code that follows standardized procedures and naming conventions to simplify debugging and aid future code maintenance.

The software library can be used with any toolchain or C compiler that supports the ARM7 architecture. Specific support is included for the ARM, Raisonance and IAR toolchains in the form of dedicated startup files. Additional information is provided to facilitate use with toolsets that are not specifically supported; the choice of development toolchain remains with the user. Extensive training material and documentation are available to guide developers in using the library efficiently.

One standard library is available for each STR7 family, plus a separate USB-IF (USB Implementers Forum) certified library that supports STR7 devices with embedded USB 2.0 Full-Speed. The standard library includes drivers for each peripheral, including the general-purpose functions such as Timers, A/D Converters and I/O, as well as for more complex peripherals such as CAN.


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