February 2006 Embedded News Digest
 

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Dear Reader,
welcome to the February 2006 edition of MicroController Pros Corporation's Embedded News Digest, your source for microcontroller and embedded system news.
 

This month's issue:

Atmel Unveils 32-bit AVR MCU/DSP Core
Atmel Adds USB and OTG to its Range of AVR Flash MCUs
Fujitsu Announces 32-bit MB91460 Series Microcontrollers
Infineon Introduces New 8-, 16- and 32-bit MCUs
NEC Announces 16-bit 78K0R Series Microcontrollers
NEC Announces New 8- and 32-bit Motor Control Devices

Renesas Develops Massively Parallel Processor Based on Matrix Architecture
Sharp and Actimagine Collaborate to Boost SoC Video Capabilities
Sharp Improves Temperature Range for BlueStreak ARM9-based SoCs

Silicon Laboratories Introduces C8051F34x USB Microcontrollers
Silicon Laboratories Introduces Smallest Single-Chip Ethernet Controller
STMicroelectronics Announces 8-pin ST7FLITEUS Family
TI Announces Four New 32-bit TMS320C2000 Digital Signal Controllers


Atmel Unveils 32-bit AVR MCU/DSP Core

Atmel Corporation has announced its AVR32 -- a new 32-bit embedded CPU architecture with DSP extensions that is expected to extend the battery life of portable, hand-held multimedia products such as portable video players, MP3 players and mobile phones.

Early benchmarks of the AVR32, conducted by the electronics industry benchmarking organization, EEMBC, gauge the core's performance per clock cycle at three times that of other processors. This faster throughput means that applications can be executed with fewer clocks, reducing power consumption and increasing the battery life of the end-product. Code size benchmarks also indicate exceptional results with up to 50% reduction compared to other processors.

For example, running at just 100 MHz, the AVR32 core can do all the processing required to decode quarter-VGA MPEG4 movies - the same format used with various hand-held video players including the iPod - while other processors are required to operate as fast as 266 MHz.

By increasing the AVR32's clock frequency to 400 MHz or more, the exceptional computational capability of the architecture can be used to handle more tasks and remove additional processors or hardware accelerators, thus reducing cost while improving system integration and reliability.

Atmel plans to announce a family of AVR32-based processors in the Spring of 2006. The AVR32 core is also available for implementation in custom ICs.


Atmel Adds USB and OTG to its Range of AVR Flash MCUs

Atmel has announced four new AVR Flash MCUs with USB controller. The AT90USB microcontrollers are designed to address the varied requirements of embedded applications needing USB connectivity in host and function modes.

The AT90USB1286 and AT90USB646 have an USB interface for applications communicating with a USB host. The AT90USB1287 and AT90USB647 comply with the USB On-The-Go (OTG) standard for use as Dual Role Devices (DRD) in applications operating as either host or function device. The USB host capability is key to embedded devices needing to communicate without PC intervention.

The AT90USB1286 and AT90USB1287 have 128 KBytes of In-System Programmable (ISP) Flash, 8 KBytes of RAM and 4 KBytes of EEPROM. The AT90USB646 and AT90USB647 are identical but with half the memory size. All devices have an on-chip bootloader that allows ISP through the USB bus providing unrivalled flexibility from development phase to field update.

A new USB controller has been developed to support all USB modes and OTG. It can be configured to operate in low speed at 1.5 Mbit/s or full speed at 12 Mbit/s. Up to one control and six data endpoints/pipes can be configured simultaneously with a maximum packet size of 64 bytes. The maximum packet size can be extended to a maximum of 256 bytes, for time critical isochronous transfers with the first data endpoint/pipe. Near-maximum USB bandwidth can be achieved with double buffering, without any real-time constraints when the AVR MCU runs at 8 MHz.

On-chip PLL with an external crystal of 2 MHz to 16 MHz provides a 48 MHz clock for USB operation. The new AVR microcontrollers can operate at 8 MHz with a supply voltage of 3V for battery-powered applications. In this case, a typical power consumption of less than 20 mA is measured with the USB host in action. The devices can also be USB powered at 5V and operate up to 16 MHz.

All devices include a hardware multiplier, one USART, one SPI, one TWI, two 8-bit and two 16-bit timers with PWM and RTC, 8-channel 10-bit ADC with differential inputs, a programmable gain amplifier and 48 programmable I/Os.

An extensive software library is offered to support the most-relevant USB classes for the embedded market: Mass Storage Device (MSD), Human Interface Device (HID), Device Firmware Upgrade (DFU), Communication Device Class (CDC), Audio Class, etc.

AT90USB1286 is available now in a QFN64 package at $5.80 for 10,000 units. AT90USB1287 is sampling in QFN64 and TQFP64 packages at $6.20 in quantities of 10,000. AT90USB647 and AT90USB646 will be available later in 2006 at $4.60 and $4.20, respectively, for 10,000 units.


Fujitsu Announces 32-bit MB91460 Series Microcontrollers

Fujitsu Microelectronics Europe has announced the first Flash device of its new MB91460 series, specifically designed for next-generation automotive applications. The MB91F467D is a 0.18m successor to the MB91F362G dashboard microcontroller (MCU), offering higher speed, more memory and additional features.

The MB91F467D includes 1088 kB  Flash memory that features protected read-out, 64 kB of embedded RAM, and the external bus interface (32-bit data; 26-bit addresses) can be used to connect external memory, e.g. SDRAM, burst-mode Flash or a Fujitsu GDC for cluster graphics control.

Each of the three CAN interfaces has its own set of 32 message buffers; four of the 5 LIN-UARTs are equipped with 16 Byte Rx and Tx FIFOs to speed up communication. Three I2C modules complete the set of serial communication interfaces.

Compared to the MB91F362G, the variety of timers also has been enhanced. The MB91F467D implements 8 free-running timers as a time-base for 8 ICU and 4 OCU modules, 8 Reload timers, 3 Up/Down Counters and an RTC (Real-Time Clock) module, which can operate on the 4MHz main crystal, or on the 32kHz sub-clock.

In addition to the 6 channels of stepping motor controller interfaces to control dashboard instruments, the set of pulse-generating modules contains 12 channels of 16-bit PPG, a sound generator and a PFM module. The on-chip PLL will create an internal operating frequency of up to 96MHz; Fujitsu's clock modulator is implemented to improve EMC behavior.

The MB91F467DA version also features the following analog functions: 24 channels of a 10-bit ADC and 1 alarm comparator input. Other improvements are a choice of I/O drive strengths, 2mA, 5mA or SMC drivers of 30mA. Various input levels are also included, such as automotive, CMOS Hysteresis and TTL. All inputs come with internal pull-up resistors, which allow unused pins to be left open. The MB91F467DA comes in a 208-pin lead-free (pure Sn pin plating) QFP package.

The microcontrollers function over the operating temperature range of -40 to +105C and operate from a supply voltage range of 3V to 5.5V.


Infineon Introduces New 8-, 16- and 32-bit MCUs

Infineon Technologies has announced the availability of new Flash MCUs, including 8-bit, advanced 16-bit and high-end 32-bit TriCore family of devices, optimized for use in demanding industrial applications.

The new XC886 and XC888 MCUs enhance the XC800 family of 8-bit microcontrollers by providing advanced networking capabilities, based on integration of both a full CAN controller and LIN support on a single chip. The on-chip CAN module offloads the CPU handling most of the networking functions.

The extensions to the Infineon XC164 family include four new XC164SM microcontrollers and four new XC164LM microcontrollers. The cost-efficient XC164 series, which is operating code compatible with the earlier C166 family, enables an easy upgrade to the well-known C166 family (op-code compatible). The flexible and intelligent PWM unit simplifies motor control tasks. Other main features are a 14-channel ADC, an on-chip TwinCAN module and extended serial interfaces. With its high DSP-level performance offering of 25 ns instruction time, the new microcontroller series is ideal for high-end drives (e.g., for field-oriented control algorithms), automotive body, comfort or safety applications. The XC164SM products offer ADC and PWM; the XC164LM products do not. The respective four derivatives differ in memory size and operating frequency.

With the introduction of the TC1166 and TC1165, Infineon further extends its portfolio of 32-bit MCUs designed for use in industrial applications. The new family members offer a performance increase of 66 percent compared to Infineon's TC1161/1162 microcontrollers. They operate at 80 MHz and in the full industrial temperature range of -40C to +85C. On-chip embedded Flash memory was enlarged from 1 MB to 1.5 MB, allowing designers to use real-time operating systems together with complex application code.

The rich peripheral set of the TC1166 and the TC1165 includes a flexible timer unit (GPTA) for PWM generation, fast multi-channel ADCs, MultiCAN module (TC1166 only), Asynchronous and Synchronous Serial Interfaces (ASC/SSC) and a Micro Link Interface (MLI) for interfacing to a second controller. The flexible GPTA concept enables scalable motor control solutions and an autonomous full coherent high-speed PWM generation to achieve highly efficient drive operations.

Samples of the XC886/888 are available now, and production start is planned for Q4 2006. The new 8-bit microcontrollers are shipped in green TQFP-48 and TQFP-64 packages. First devices of the XC164SM and XC164LM are in production now and available in low-cost green TPFQ-64 packages. Samples of the TC1165 and TC1166 devices in green LQFP-176 packages are available now, with volume production scheduled for Q4 2006.


NEC Announces 16-bit 78K0R Series Microcontrollers

NEC Electronics America has announced a new line of 16-bit Flash MCUs, the 78K0R series, offering low power consumption of 1.8 milliwatts per MIPS and six times the power/performance ratio of the 8-bit 78K0 MCUs.

The new series consists of 30 devices in packages with pins ranging from 64 to 100, and Flash memory configurations ranging from 64 to 256 KBytes.

A three-stage pipeline enables high-speed processing, and supports performance up to 13 MIPS, while voltage-control circuits and other CPU features help suppress power consumption to levels approximately half those of comparable 16-bit MCUs.

The series also features power-on reset functions, voltage-detection circuits, on-chip oscillators, calendar timers, and low electromagnetic interference. The 16-bit 78K0R instruction set includes the 8-bit 78K0 instruction set, enabling the upward compatibility of 78K0 devices with most 78K0R products. With a smooth migration path, customers can re-use existing resources to improve development efficiency even more.

Samples of the 16-bit series are expected to be available starting in April 2006 with volume production scheduled to begin in October 2006. Pricing for the 100-pin 78K0R/KG3 MCU with 256 KB of memory is $5 in 1000-lot orders. Combined volume production for the 30 devices in the series is expected to reach one million units per month in fiscal year 2007.


NEC Announces New 8- and 32-bit Motor Control Devices

NEC Electronics America has announced an extension of its 8- and 32-bit Flash MCU lineup with four new devices optimized for motor control applications. Featuring both 120-degree (trapezoidal) and 180-degree (sinusoidal) control methods, the new 32-bit V850ES/IE2 series and 8-bit uPD78F0711 and uPD78F0712 MCUs are designed to reduce vibration and noise in household appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators and washing machines that employ inverter controllers.

Based on the high-performance V850ES CPU, the 32-bit V850ES/IE2 devices have Flash memory capacities of 64 and 128 KBytes and deliver precise motor control functions that help to limit vibration and noise, reduce power consumption, lower electricity costs for consumers and minimize environmental impact.

The 8-bit uPD78F0711 and uPD78F0712 Flash MCUs are based on NEC Electronics' 78K0 CPU core, and offer Flash memory capacities of 8 and 16 KBytes as well as packages with half the pins of the company's previous-generation 8-bit uPD78F0714 MCU.

All of the new 8- and 32-bit MCUs operate at speeds up to 20 MHz at 4.0 to 5.5 V and incorporate a variety of safety features necessary for motor control applications, including a power-on-clear (POC) reset circuit, low-voltage indicator, watchdog timer, clock monitor and external hardware trigger for controlled system shutdown and recovery in the event of a power failure. The devices also include hardware that has been optimized for inverter control, such as multi-function timers, high-speed A/D converters and overcurrent protection circuits.

In addition to the standard 120-degree control method, the devices offer 180-degree control, which has been gaining popularity in recent years because of its greater precision and reduced torque ripple. Separation of system control functions and optimization of MCU design specifically for motor control applications enhances the performance of these devices and contributes to the development of household appliances that consume less power and help lower utility bills.

The V850ES/IE2 devices are packaged in a 64-pin LQFP. The uPD78F0711 and uPD78F0712 are packaged in a 30-pin SSOP and 32-pin SDIP, respectively. Samples of the V850ES/IE2, uPD78F0711 and uPD78F0712 are available now. Volume pricing will start at $2 for the uPD78F0711 and uPD78F0712 and $4 for the V850ES/IE2 devices. Pricing varies according to device specifications. Volume production for the MCUs is scheduled to begin in June 2006 and reach a combined total of approximately 800,000 units per month by fiscal year 2007.


Renesas Develops Massively Parallel Processor Based on Matrix Architecture

Renesas Technology Corp. has announced the development of a massively parallel processor based on a matrix architecture suitable for image and audio multimedia data processing.

This innovatively configured processor is a massively parallel programmable device featuring tight coupling of 2,048 processing elements and 1Mbit SRAM, and has been confirmed to achieve 40 GOPS (giga operations per second) performance at a 200 MHz clock frequency.

The image and audio multimedia data processing capability is essential for digital home appliances and other electronics, and involves a combination of complex operations such as fast Fourier transform, convolution, and sum of absolute difference operations. Up to now, processing of these operations has generally used hard-wired logic circuits or a Digital Signal Processor. However, recent dramatic advances in multimedia applications such as the rapid increase in pixel counts in image applications have increased demands for major improvements in multimedia data processing performance. At the same time, there is a growing demand for such processing to be implemented by means of programmable devices in order to simplify support for various multimedia data standards.

One way of improving processing performance is to increase the operating frequency through the use of finer semiconductor processes. However, it will be difficult to continue to gain major improvements in performance while maintaining lower power consumption, or to achieve the required levels of performance with conventional DSP and similar architectures. Meanwhile, a coarse-grained MIMD (multiple instruction multiple data) processor has been announced as an architecture that increases processing performance, but this also has issues with reducing power consumption.

To solve these issues, Renesas Technology has developed a matrix type processor based on a different memory technology from that of a DSP or MIMD type processor.

This new processor is a fine-grained SIMD (single instruction multiple data) type massively parallel programmable device, featuring the following structural characteristics: 2,048 two-bit processing elements with 512-bit SRAM assigned as data registers, for a total of 1 Mbit SRAM together with tight coupling between processing elements.

The key to the increased performance of this processor lies in how efficiently the individual processing elements are operated. Also, the layout and connection of the processing elements and data registers are important factors in achieving reductions in area and power consumption.

A prototype processor using the new technology was implemented in 90 nm CMOS with a core area of 3.1 mm, and achieved processing performance of 40 GOPS at a 200 MHz clock frequency and 250 mW power dissipation. These metrics show approximately 70 and 13 times better energy efficiency in terms of unit area ratio and unit power ratio, respectively, compared to a conventional in-house DSP.


Sharp and Actimagine Collaborate to Boost SoC Video Capabilities

Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas is collaborating with software developer Actimagine to increase video performance for its ARM7- and ARM9-based portfolio of BlueStreak microcontrollers. By incorporating an proprietary codec developed by Actimagine, Sharp's SoC devices realize a fourfold increase in video decompression rates without any additional power consumption.

These improvements open new possibilities for media-rich electronic devices by achieving higher video performance without switching to a higher performance processor or increasing overall power consumption. These enhanced SoCs are ideal for portable media devices, including those with Vector Graphics content.

Actimagine's software codec features a powerful new decompression method designed for general-purpose microcontrollers. A side-by-side comparison of Actimagine's codec with an MPEG4 codec allowed Sharp's family of SoCs to render four times more pixels at the same frame rate and quality. Sharp's ARM7-based MCUs can now support vector graphics at 30 fps and video at 24 fps on a QVGA screen at 77 MHz; its ARM9-based MCUs can run vector graphics at 30 fps and video at 24 fps on a VGA screen at 266 MHz -- all with excellent audio quality.

Designers can take advantage of these new enhanced SoCs in two key ways. They can achieve target frame rates and resolution using lower-cost and less-complex SoCs. Consequently, they dont have to design in a new processor to add video functionality to a product. Products using ARM7 cores are now video capable. This better performance is attained without additional power, giving a longer battery life to portable devices.

Conversely, design engineers can lower hardware requirements to achieve the same resolution. By decreasing the operating frequency of the controller, customers can reduce both Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and cost by using a less complex SoC. This scenario extends the lifespan of an SoC to meet next-generation performance demands.

This technology is also advantageous for proprietary content owners. The media device must have this codec in order to decompress and play the video. The Actimagine video encoder generates the Actimagine video format, called VX. This software encoder converts any video format such as MPEG4, AVI, and WMV into Actimagine VX format. The VX encoder is available as stand-alone PC software, as a server version for on-the-fly video conversion and mass conversion, and as a software library for integration in other video productions. The Actimagine video format offers an additional layer of protection against piracy.

Questions is how much consumers would be willing to deal with yet another video format that requires time consuming recoding of video material before it becomes usable with the VC codec.
 


Sharp Improves Temperature Range for BlueStreak ARM9-based SoCs

Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas announced the upgraded operating range for its BlueStreak ARM9-based 32-bit System-on-Chip devices. The 245 MHz LH7A400 and 266 MHz LH7A404 are now fully qualified from -40 to +85C.


Silicon Laboratories Introduces C8051F34x USB Microcontrollers

Silicon Laboratories has expanded its line of USB microcontroller products with the introduction of the C8051F34x product family.

The C8051F34x family includes a high-speed pipelined 8051-compatible MCU core operating up to 48 MIPS, a 10-bit ADC, up to 64 kB of on-board Flash memory and 5376 bytes of RAM, which includes 1 kB of USB FIFO. The on-chip USB engine includes a control endpoint and six flexible endpoint pipes allowing support of multiple USB device types. An enhanced feature set includes SPI, SMBus, external memory interface (EMIF), counters, PWM generators and comparators.

The C8051F34x family is available in a 32-pin LQFP and a 48-pin TQFP. Pricing begins at $3.42 in quantities of 10,000. Full production is scheduled for Q1 2006.


Silicon Laboratories Introduces Smallest Single-Chip Ethernet Controller

Silicon Laboratories has announced the CP220x, the industry's smallest and highest-performance single-chip Ethernet controller addressing today's most widely deployed LAN technology. Reducing the amount of board space required by up to 90 percent and minimizing the overall system cost and complexity, the CP220x enables designers to add embedded Ethernet connectivity easily.

Available in a small 5 x 5 mm package, the CP220x includes an integrated IEEE 802.3-compliant 10Base-T Ethernet MAC and PHY and 8 kB of on-board Flash memory that is factory preprogrammed with a unique 48-bit MAC address to eliminate the serialization step from the product manufacturing process of most embedded systems. The on-board Flash can be used to store user constants and web server content, or as general-purpose non-volatile memory.

By implementing a high-performance parallel external memory interface with an operating speed of up to 30 Mbps, the CP220x allows the companion MCU to execute stack or other code much more efficiently since less time is spent in communication. The new device is capable of operating from 40 to +85 degrees while consuming only 70 mA, or as little as one-third the current of competing devices. The CP220x also supports auto-negotiation, which often is the only mechanism available to the user to inform the network of the controller's complete Ethernet capabilities. Without this mechanism or user control of the switch, the relevant network segment will default to its lowest common capability resulting in a lower-bandwidth communication solution.

The CP220x is available in a 5 x 5 mm 28-pin QFN package or a 48-pin TQFP. Pricing for the CP220x family begins at $3.32 in quantities of 10,000. Samples are available now with production quantities available beginning in Q2 2006.


STMicroelectronics Announces 8-pin ST7FLITEUS Family

STMicroelectronics has announced a new series of 8-bit microcontrollers in tiny 8-pin packages.

The new MCUs are available in 8-pin SO, DIP, and DFN packages. The DFN version is the smallest 8-pin MCU in the market thanks to the 0.9 mm thickness package with a surface area of only 15.75mm. The new micros integrate key system peripherals like an enhanced 12-bit auto-reload timer with PWM output, 8-bit Lite timer with input capture capability, very fast 10-bit ADC with up to 5 channels, and an internal RC oscillator. The devices have 1Kbyte program memory and are qualified over the -40 to +125 degrees C extended temperature range.

Motor control applications in particular can benefit from the auto-reload timer, which operates over the 250Hz to 4MHz frequency range, generating a PWM signal with output compare function.

The 8-bit Lite timer includes prescaler, watchdog, real-time base and input capture. A trimmable 8MHz RC oscillator offers multiple prescaler ratios, and an additional 32kHz low power Auto Wake-Up oscillator operates alongside the five power-saving modes: Halt, Auto Wake-Up from Halt, Active Halt, Wait and Slow. The five working modes provide very high flexibility in minimizing the overall power consumption in power-critical applications.

The 8-pin ST7FLITEUS SO, DIP and DFN samples and tools are available now; volume production will start in Q2 2006. Pricing for 10,000 units starts at US$0.45.


TI Announces Four New 32-bit TMS320C2000 Digital Signal Controllers

Texas Instruments has announced four new members of the TMS320C2000 platform optimized for motor control, digital power conversion and intelligent sensor control. The new controllers include the TMS320F2809 and TMS320F2802 Flash-based controllers and custom ROM-based TMS320C2801 and TMS320C2802. All four new devices are 100 percent hardware and software compatible with existing TMS320F280x controllers, and they increase the portfolio to seven pin-compatible devices allowing engineers to easily switch controllers for optimized features and cost across a family of products.

The C2000 platform's ROM-based C280x and Flash-based F280x devices feature a patent-pending PWM with 150 picosecond (ps) resolution, 64 times more precise than competing processors. TI's full TMS320C28x portfolio now includes 15 high-performance, 32-bit controllers that combine the real-time performance of TI's DSPs with the peripheral integration, C-language efficiency and ease of use of a microcontroller.

Both TMS320C28x and TMS320F28x devices offer high resolution PWM technology that provides 16 bits of accuracy in a 100 KHz control loop and 12 bits at 1.5 MHz. In digital power applications, higher resolution PWM results in a faster transient response with a smaller ripple amplitude. The unique accuracy of the high resolution PWM eliminates 'limit cycle' issues, which means power supply designers are now able to use digital control in high-switching frequency supplies like those found in wireless base stations, network servers, and even digital televisions. As a result, developers benefit from cleaner power output, higher power density, smaller magnetics and more compact, cooler supplies than are possible using analog technology.

All C280x and F280x based devices feature a 32-bit wide data path  and mixed 16-/32-bit instruction set for improved code density. These devices  provide control system capabilities from signal input through the on-chip ADC, quadrature encoder pulse (QEP), and timer captures and compares through signal output with up to 16 independent PWM channels. The 12.5 MS/s, 12-bit ADC found on the F2809 controller boasts an effective number of bits of 10.9 and is valid across the full -40 to 125 C temperature range. Key communication interfaces include multiple CAN, I2C, UART and SPI ports.

The new TMS320F2809 offers 256KB of on-chip Flash, double the size of the pin-compatible F2808. It also increases the number of PWM channels with 150ps resolution from four to six. The F2809 will be available for sampling in the third quarter of 2006 and be qualified for full production in the first quarter of 2007.

The TMS320F2802, C2801, and C2802 are currently available for full production from TI and authorized distributors. All devices are AEC Q100 qualified. Both 100-pin LQFP and 100-ball BGA packaging is available.


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