March 2006 Embedded News Digest

Embedded News Digest
Contact Us

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

This month's issue:

Atmel Introduces picoPower AVR Microcontrollers

Atmel Announces First AVR32 Core Based Micro
Freescale Announces Ultra-low-end RS08 Core
Fujitsu Introduces New 8-Bit MCUs for Digital AV, Household Appliances
Luminary Micro First to Market with ARM Cortex-M3 Processors
Microchip Adds New Full-Speed USB 2.0 PIC MCUs
Silicon Labs Introduces Small Form Factor C8051F41x Family

Atmel Introduces picoPower AVR Microcontrollers

Atmel Corporation has announced the first two AVR microcontrollers to incorporate a power-saving technology that provides multi-year battery-life in lighting control, security, keyless entry, ZigBee and other applications that spend most of their time in sleep mode. Atmel's creative marketing was at it again and calls it  "picoPower technology".  In the real world, power consumption is actually reduced to nanoWatts at best, namely to as little as 100nA*1.8V=180nW in power-down mode and 650 nA*1.8V=1.17µW  with the 32 kHz clock running - but hey, what is a factor of 1000....1000 000 among friends.

The two "picoPower" devices now available are the ATmega169P with a 4x25-segment LCD controller, and the ATmega165P general-purpose microcontroller. Both microcontrollers have 16 KBytes of Flash memory, 512 Bytes EEPROM and 1 KBytes SRAM. They feature a 10-bit ADC, USART, SPI, Two-Wire-Interface and operate from 1.8 to 5.5 volts with up to 16 MIPS throughput. Fourteen additional 8-bit picoPower AVR microcontrollers will be added within the next 12 months. The picoPower microcontrollers consume down to 340 µA in active mode, 150 µA in idle mode at 1 MHz, 650 nA in power-save mode and 100 nA in power-down mode. They will be pin-, performance- and code-compatible with existing AVR microcontrollers.

Atmel's picoPower technology utilizes a variety of techniques that eliminate unnecessary power consumption in power-down modes. These include an ultra-low-power 32 kHz crystal oscillator, automatic disabling and re-enabling of brown-out detection (BOD) circuitry during sleep modes, a power reduction register (PRR) that completely powers down individual peripherals, and digital input disable registers that turn off the digital inputs to specific pins.

Atmel has also implemented dynamically configurable clock gating techniques that freeze the clock in parts of the circuit when they are not required. Upon reactivation, the module restarts in the same state as before. Clock-gating can also be used to reduce noise and improve the ADC performance in situations that require higher resolution measurements.

The ATmega165P and the ATmega169P are available now in production quantities in 64-pin TQFP and 64-pin QFN packages. ATmega165P is priced at $2.15 and ATmega169P with LCD controller is priced at $2.25 for 10,000 units.

Atmel Announces First AVR32 Core Based Micro

Atmel announced the AP7000 family of 32-bit digital signal controllers, the first family based on the company's new AVR32 core announced in February.

The AP7000 integrates, on a single chip, virtually all the functionality required for multimedia systems deployed in mobile phones, digital cameras, PDAs, automotive infotainment, set-top boxes and home entertainment systems as well as network switches/routers and printers. It includes a vectored multiplier co-processor, 32 KB on-chip SRAM, 16 KB instruction and 16 KB data caches, memory management unit, DMA for high-speed peripherals and peripheral DMA controller that allows data to be transferred between peripherals and memories without wasting processor cycles. Peripherals include a 16-bit stereo audio DAC, 2048x2048 pixel TFT/STN LCD controllers, 480 Mbps USB 2.0 with on chip transceivers (PHY) and, two 10/100 Ethernet MACs. Serial interfaces include RS232, USART, I2S, AC97, TWI/I2C, SPI, PS/2 and several synchronous serial modules (SSC) supporting most serial communication protocols.

Streaming a 320x240 MPEG movie over the AP7000's on-chip Ethernet MAC at 100 Mbit/s and decoding it at 30 frames per second requires a CPU clock of only 120 MHz and system bus clock of only 60 MHz. The processor can also simultaneously run a full Linux® operating system and drive a QVGA TFT LCD with these clock frequencies. Total power consumption for this application is only 250 mW.

The first device of the AP7000 family, the AT32AP7000, is available now in a 256-ball CABGA package and is priced at $16.60 in quantities of 10,000.

Freescale Announces Ultra-low-end RS08 Core

Freescale Semiconductor is introducing an ultra-low-end 8-bit microcontroller core to meet demand for smaller, more cost-effective solutions. Ideal for traditional electro-mechanical designs that require additional functionality, the core is designed to allow increased integration while staying at a low price point.

Freescale's RS08 ultra-low-end core is a simplified version of its HCS08 architecture. The core is 30 percent smaller and features a condensed instruction set, allowing compact and efficient coding of most embedded applications in small-pin-count devices with less than 16K of Flash memory. These changes offer engineers a simpler, faster way to get microcontroller-based applications to market.

Freescale is developing a new version of the CodeWarrior Development Studio to support the RS08 core. It is designed to accelerate application development with a built-in project wizard that helps create working projects in as few as seven clicks.

The RS08 core will introduce a tiny and short addressing mode, which allows for more efficient access and manipulation of the most commonly used variables and registers. Additionally, Freescale has added a shadow program counter to the core for more efficient subroutine calls. The RS08 will use the same bus structure as the HCS08, which will enable the use of the same peripheral and memory modules. In addition, both architectures will be supported by compatible debug interface hardware.

Freescale plans to announce a family of RS08-based processors in the spring of 2006. Preliminary pricing is targeting the sub 50-cent (USD) suggested resale range.

Fujitsu Introduces New 8-Bit MCUs for Digital AV, Household Appliances

Fujitsu Microelectronics America, Inc., has introduced a pair of new 8-bit MCUs for digital audio-video applications, portable radios, and household appliances.

The MB95F146 is a 32-pin microcontroller suitable for small embedded applications like managing the power supply and remote controller of digital A/V equipment and systems. The MB95F156H comes in 48-pin and 52-pin packages, with an LCD controller, making it an ideal design choice for portable equipment, remote control, air-conditioning systems and other applications. The MCUs expand the Fujitsu Flexible Microcontroller series, the F2MC-8FX family, which was introduced in March 2004.

Each of the new MCUs includes 32 KBytes Flash ROM and 1 KByte of RAM, along with one-channel UART, eight channels of 10-bit A/D, up to eight external interrupts, a PPG (Programmable Pulse Generator) timer, and watchdog timers. The MB95F146 also incorporates 24 I/O ports, and runs on supply voltages ranging from 1.8V to 3.6V. The MB95F156H includes up to 39 I/O ports along with an LCD controller, and operates on voltages between 2.5V and 5.5V. Both MCUs perform count operations at intervals up to one minute, providing the lowest possible power consumption in target applications. Both versions deliver execution times of 100ns/10 MHz.

The MB95F146 is available now in 32-pin LQFP, with prices starting at $1.76 each in 10,000-piece quantities. The MB95F156H comes in 48-pin and 52-pin LQFP. Prices start at $2.54 each in 10,000-piece units. Fujitsu provides a complete evaluation board and a full set of development tools that can be used with any member of the F2MC-8FX microcontroller family, including these two new versions.

Luminary Micro First to Market with ARM Cortex-M3 Processors

Luminary Micro has announced the availability of the first members of its Stellaris family of 32-bit microcontrollers, with an entry-level price of $1.00. The Stellaris family is the world's first silicon implementation of the ARM Cortex-M3 processor, and marks the first time that ARM has enabled a start-up company to be a lead licensing partner for one of its microprocessors. The first two members of the Stellaris family -- the LM3S101 and LM3S102 -– are available now.

For the first time ever, designers of embedded microcontroller systems can utilize 32-bit performance for the same price as their current 8- and 16-bit microcontroller designs. The Stellaris customer buys a fully functional development kit with ready-to-go software and tools designed to get users running in 10 minutes or less. In addition to a Stellaris microcontroller, these kits include Luminary Micro's development kit motherboard and daughterboard; peripheral driver library; documentation, schematics, and example programs; and all cables and jumpers. The motherboard in the development kit supports the entire Stellaris family of microcontrollers, including future members. The boards in the Stellaris development kit have passed the certification and are CE marked, indicating the development kit's conformance to the mandatory European safety requirements.

The development kit also includes full evaluation versions of popular software and hardware development tools from ARM, with the RealView Microcontroller Development Kit, which incorporates Keil µVision development environment, IAR Systems and CodeSourcery (GNU).

Luminary Micro's Stellaris family brings two important firsts to the global MCU market. First, the Cortex-M3 processor was developed specifically with the cost-sensitivities of the MCU market in mind. It delivers lower costs in silicon, system and development, and the Stellaris implementation delivers high-value performance -– 20 MHz, 32-bit performance in areas and at a cost previously thought to be limited to 8- and 16-bit MCUs. Second, further cost savings are realized by avoiding upgrades: by entering the ARM architecture with the Stellaris product family, designers can increase complexity of their projects without having to upgrade architectures or change tools.

Both the LM3S101 and LM3S102 feature 8 KBytes single-cycle Flash and 2 KBytes single-cycle SRAM; General-Purpose Timers (1 PWM output in LM3S101, 2 PWM in LM3S102); Watchdog Timer; Synchronous Serial Interface; fully programmable 16C550-type UART; Analog Comparators (2 in LM3S101, 1 in LM3S102); up to 18 TTL-compatible 3.3V GPIOs; low-power modes on the processor and for peripherals; and Brown-out Reset detector. Each comes in an RoHS-compliant 28-pin SOIC package, and is available for commercial and industrial operating temperature ranges.

Microchip Adds New Full-Speed USB 2.0 PIC MCUs

Microchip Technology Inc. has announced new Flash PIC microcontrollers with certified Full-Speed USB 2.0 connectivity and 48 MHz operation, for 12 Mbps data-transfer rates. In combination with a wide variety of on-chip peripherals and nanoWatt Technology power management, these features provide a complete embedded-control solution for designers working with USB in industrial, medical and many other embedded applications.

The two new USB PIC microcontrollers feature 16 KBytes of self-programmable Enhanced Flash memory, which allows field upgrades for end applications via the USB port. Microchip's advanced PMOS Electrically Erasable Cell (PEEC) Flash technology provides endurance of up to 100,000 erase/write cycles and data retention of more than 40 years. In addition, their Full-Speed USB 2.0 interface includes an on-board transceiver for direct data transfers to external peripherals with minimum CPU overhead.

An area of major concern for most new USB-application designers is the quantity and quality of available firmware support. Microchip has an extensive set of libraries for the most common application classes, including the Human Interface Device (HID), Communication Device Class (CDC) and custom drivers. Recognizing the need for migration from legacy applications, Microchip has published application note number AN956, Migrating Applications to USB from RS-232 UART with Minimal Impact on PC Software, at

The two new USB PIC microcontrollers are available now for general sampling and volume production starting at $2.99 each for the PIC18F2450 (28-pin SOIC, SDIP or QFN) and $3.59 each for the PIC18F4450 (40-pin DIP; 44-pin TQFP or QFN), in 10,000 unit quantities.

Silicon Labs Introduces Small Form Factor C8051F41x Family

Silicon Laboratories Inc. has announced the expansion of its lineup of small form factor, mixed-signal MCUs with the introduction of the C8051F41x family. The new MCUs integrate up to 32 kB Flash memory and high-performance analog peripherals -- including a SmaRTClock with failsafe recovery features -- into a compact 5 x 5 mm package. The C8051F41x also offers versatile voltage supply from 2 to 5.25V with an on-chip programmable voltage regulator and up to 5V-tolerant independent I/O voltage control. The small size of the C8051F41x makes it ideal for portable equipment, instrumentation and measurement devices, consumer medical products and industrial meters.

The C8051F41x features Silicon Laboratories high-speed, pipelined 50 MIPS 8051 core, 16 to 32 kB Flash memory, 2048 Bytes RAM and versatile voltage range operation. The C8051F41x integrates on-chip peripherals such as a 12-bit 200 ksps A/D converter, two 12-bit D/A converters, temperature sensor, programmable voltage reference and comparators. The on-chip voltage regulator may be used to supply power to external ICs in the system, making it ideal for legacy systems with high-voltage supplies as well as new battery-powered systems that require low-voltage operation. The C8051F41x integrates a two-percent accurate precision internal oscillator that eliminates the need for an external crystal or resonator.

On-board serial communication peripherals include UART, SMBus and SPI bus serial ports. The C8051F41x also includes a SmaRTClock, an embedded real-time clock that enables the MCU to detect power supply failures and switch to a battery backup that will allow continued operation of the backup RAM down to 1V. The SmaRTClock can keep time accurately and reliably and detect a clock failure, even when the MCU is sleeping, and alert the CPU so that recovery is possible.

A low-cost evaluation kit (C8051F411EK) is available from Silicon Laboratories for evaluation of their SmaRTClock, versatile voltage supply and software development tools. A reference design kit (VOICE-RECORD-RD) is also available for evaluation of the device's high-performance analog and CPU throughput capability.

The C8051F41x products include on-chip debug circuitry facilitating non-intrusive, full-speed, in-circuit debugging before and after installation without requiring an emulator. Like all Silicon Laboratories MCU products, the C8051F41x products are also supported with a complete, professional development kit (C8051F410DK) that includes everything required to begin the system design: IDE, target board, cables and power supply.

About MicroController Pros Corporation

MicroController Pros Corporation (µCPros) is an authorized distributor for many microcontroller tool vendors, which enables us to offer you a large selection of Microcontroller Development Tools for almost any major microcontroller architecture.

The MicroControllerShop ( puts convenient and secure online shopping, feature- and price-comparison on your computer's desktop. Microcontroller Development Tools featured at the MicroControllerShop include: Emulators, EPROM programmers, FLASH programmers, microcontroller C- compilers, assemblers, emulator accessories, pin adapters, pin converters, microcontroller starter kits and embedded evaluation boards for various microcontroller architectures and manufacturers.

copyright 2006 by
MicroController Pros Corporation
visit our web


[Home] [Search] [MicroControllerShop] [Publications] [Embedded News Digest] [Resources] [Contents] [Contact Us]

Email us with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2002-2008 MicroController Pros Corporation
Last modified: 12/16/08