January 2007 Embedded News Digest

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Welcome to the January 2007 edition of MicroController Pros Corporation's Embedded News Digest, your source for microcontroller and embedded system news.

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This month's issue:

ARM Extends DesignStart Program to Include ARM926EJ Processor
Fujitsu Announces 32-bit Automotive MCU with 1MB Embedded Flash
Fujitsu Launches Next-gen MCU with Embedded FlexRay Interface
Renesas Introduces H8SX/1622, 1638, and 1648 32-bit CISC MCU Groups
ST Releases Free SDK for Complete USB Firmware Development
TI Offers Sampling of New DaVinci TMS320DM6441 SoC with ARM9 Core

ARM Extends DesignStart Program to Include ARM926EJ Processor

ARM has extended its DesignStart Program to include the popular ARM926EJ processor alongside the ARM7TDMI processor.

The ARM DesignStart program was established to provide designers with the ability to evaluate ARM processors for use in their designs. The program enables fabless companies, from start-ups through to small- and medium-size organizations, to do the majority of their design activities, including SoC integration and verification, software development and chip layout, prior to obtaining a full ARM Processor Foundry Program License.

The Jazelle technology-enabled ARM926EJ processor features 16k instruction and data caches, tightly coupled memory (TCM) interfaces and memory management unit (MMU).

Fujitsu Announces 32-bit Automotive MCU with 1MB Embedded Flash

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

The MB91F467D is the second device in the MB91460 series now available for sampling. It follows the MB91461, a ROMless device for infotainment. Fujitsu will continue to release additional variations of MB91460 MCUs with different peripherals, which will offer designers devices for a wide range of applications.

The MB91F467D includes 1088kB of Fujitsu's embedded Flash technology that features protected read-out. On-chip pre-fetch and flexible cache ensure best possible performance from this memory, which is connected to both the I-bus and F-bus. The MB91F467D offers 64kB 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 Fujitsu Graphic Display Controller (GDC) for cluster graphics control application.

Each of the 3 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 has also 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 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; again 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 +105 degrees C and operate from a supply voltage range of 3V to 5.5V.

The MB91F467D will be supported by the Accemic MDE. Two starter kits are also available, one of which includes a MB91F467D and Fujitsu's FlexRay Communication Controller IC MB88121.

Design support and full turnkey application development are offered by Fujitsu's Microcontroller Applications Engineering team and Design centers.

Fujitsu Launches Next-gen MCU with Embedded FlexRay Interface

Fujitsu Microelectronics Europe announced the availability of a new 32-bit microcontroller, the company's first to feature an embedded FlexRay interface. Aimed at automotive OEM, tier-one and third-party companies delivering tools and software for automotive applications or test equipment, the MB91F465XA enables implementation of the FlexRay protocol in a single-chip solution without the need for companion devices.

The MB91F465XA is the latest addition to Fujitsu's growing family of FlexRay MCUs. Based on the E-Ray core licensed from Robert Bosch GmbH, the MB91F465XA uses VHDL code certified by TUV Nord. The device supports 2-channel and FIFO operations, and with more than 8kBytes of message buffer memory, up to 128 different identifiers can be supported.

Interfaces, in addition to the two-channel FlexRay bus interface, comprise one I2C, two CAN and three LIN-USART interfaces enabling communication with all automotive bus systems. Packaged in a compact, RoHS-compliant 100-pin LQFP, this device is ideally suited to automotive applications such as driver-assistance systems.

The FR (Fujitsu RISC) MCU, series MB91F465XA is a member of the MB91460 series which follows Fujitsu's MCU family concept that allows design engineers to re-use their software across different family members and applications. MB91F465XA operates from a single supply ranging from 3.0 to 5.5V. Internal frequencies of up to 100MHz are generated via the on-chip PLL using external 4MHz quartz crystals as the clock input. The 544kB of Flash memory with read-out protection and 32kB of RAM make the MB91F465XA well-suited for AUTOSAR requirements. Other features include: hardware watchdog, 17-channel 10-bit ADC, reload timer, stopwatch function, and an RTC module that can operate on external 4MHz or 32kHz quartz crystals.

Engineering samples will be available in February 2007 and will be accompanied by a full set of development tools such as starter kits, and hardware and software debugger.

Renesas Introduces H8SX/1622, 1638, and 1648 32-bit CISC MCU Groups

Renesas Technology Corp. announced an enhancement of the lineup of H8SX Family 32-bit CISC microcontrollers with the addition of the H8SX/1622 Group, H8SX/1638 Group, and H8SX/1648 Group, comprising a total of eight models featuring a 50 MHz maximum operating frequency, 50 MIPS performance, and comprehensive on-chip peripheral functions. Sample shipments will begin in May 2007 in Japan.

There are also plans to expand the lineup to a total of 20 models with the addition of 5.0V products, on-chip USB products, etc., by the end of 2007.

The H8SX/1638 Group and H8SX/1648 Group incorporate up to 1 megabyte of Flash memory capable of single-cycle access at the 50 MHz maximum operating frequency. A deep software standby mode has been provided as a first for the H8SX Family, enabling standby power consumption to be further reduced. Five Flash memory capacities -- 256, 384, 512, and 768 kbytes, and 1 Mbyte -- are available, and the lineup includes 120-pin and 144-pin standard package products. Three on-chip 10-bit A/D converter units are included, each operating independently, enabling up to 12 channels to be supported. Conversion time has been cut to approximately 1/4 that of previous Renesas products, making possible high-speed conversion and processing of signals from a variety of sensors.

The H8SX/1622 Group comprises models with 256-kbyte on-chip Flash memory that have the features of the H8SX/1638 Group and H8SX/1648 Group, and also include a 6-channel 16-bit delta-sigma type A/D converter capable of high-precision conversion of information from various kinds of sensors, including gyro-sensors and optical, positional, acceleration, and sound sensors. These are the first products in the H8SX Family to incorporate a delta-sigma type A/D converter. The conversion speed is up to twice as fast as in Renesas' current H8/300L Series models incorporating a delta-sigma type A/D converter, and resolution has been improved from 14 to 16 bits, providing both high speed and high precision.

The package lineup comprises a 120-pin LQFP for the H8SX/1638 Group, a 144-pin LQFP for the H8SX/1648 Group, and a 144-pin LQFP and 145-pin LGA for the H8SX/1622 Group, all featuring a lead-free specification. The small size of the LGA enables smaller boards and mounting areas to be used, making it particularly suitable for portable devices and similar compact applications.

ST Releases Free SDK for Complete USB Firmware Development

STMicroelectronics announced a USB Software Developer Kit for the STR7 and STR9 microcontroller families intended to simplify the implementation of embedded software to handle the relatively complex USB interface standard. USB is now very widely used in embedded systems, due to both its flexibility and simplicity for the user and also the availability of high-performance MCUs with integrated USB modules.

Both of ST's 32-bit ARM-based STR7 and STR9 MCU families include many variants with USB ports, alongside a broad range of other standard interfaces. The new USB Developer Kit, which will be available to users as a free download from ST's website, supports STR71x and STR91x devices with USB, as well as the recently-announced STR75x family. It allows easy software development for all the USB transfer types, and includes an implementation of DFU (Device Firmware Update) to provide the capability to update system firmware through the USB interface. The kit also includes a "Virtual COM" demo (CDC class) to emulate the classic RS232 interface on USB, for users that want to benefit from the ubiquity of USB, but retain legacy software.

The software kit includes a library of drivers, plus demonstrations of each transfer type, to help users develop their own USB routines on STR7 and STR9 MCUs. An HID (Human Interface Device) mouse/joystick driver demonstrates fast-response Interrupt transfers; high-speed Bulk transfers are illustrated with a mass storage application; and guaranteed speed isochronous transfers are supported with a voice/speaker/microphone demonstration.

USB interfaces are now almost as popular as UARTs in embedded applications, but their application development is more difficult due to greater complexity. Firmware is usually divided into three layers: a USB Function layer, implementing device functionality; the Logical Device layer, handling standard USB requests and low-speed data transfers, plus device enumeration and power management; and the Bus Interface layer that provides the interface between the USB Logical Device and the hardware.

The new kit offers, for the first time as a free package, a full implementation of all the layers and transfer types, within a user-friendly and well-documented package. The software has been designed from the start to be used and tailored easily to meet customers' specific requirements.

TI Offers Sampling of New DaVinci TMS320DM6441 SoC with ARM9 Core

Texas Instruments announced sampling of the TMS320DM6441 system-on-chip (SoC) based on DaVinci technology. Additional DaVinci software and development tools for the DM6441 make it possible to deliver high-quality video combined with power-saving modes for portable audio and video applications, including portable media players, consumer video security devices, medical devices, data terminals, IP netcams, automotive/in-flight entertainment systems and other digital audio and video applications.

The DM6441 is a dual-core SoC that consists of an ARM9 and TMS320C64x+ digital signal processor (DSP) core plus video/imaging co-processors. By offering this device, TI expands the possibilities of DaVinci technology for those seeking video performance of H.264, MPEG 2, MPEG 4 or VC-1, among others, at 30 frames per second combined with power-efficient optimizations for a whole new realm of consumer applications. The DM6441 provides the key peripherals required for today's portable media applications, including Ethernet, MMC and SD card interfaces, ATA hard disk drive interface, USB 2.0 and multiple UARTs, while offering developers the programmable flexibility and customization they need to design cost-effective portable entertainment products. Furthermore, the power optimization of the device makes it possible for developers to implement power over Ethernet, which is suitable for many video security systems.

With dual power modes, the DM6441 can run at full speed (513 MHz DSP and 256 MHz ARM) at 1.2V, or in power-reduced mode (405 MHz DSP and 202 MHz ARM) at 1.05V. The dual power modes allow the reduction of power consumption during operations, such as audio-only playback, when the full capabilities of the DSP are not required.

Additional clock-gating capabilities provide a mechanism for turning off peripherals that are not in use. Isolating the power domains of the DSP and ARM cores has made it possible to power down the DSP core individually during non-video operations. The combination of dual power mode, clock gating and isolated power domains can yield overall power savings up to 35 percent over the previously released TMS320DM6443 and TMS320DM6446 devices.

Developers can begin product design with the Digital Video Evaluation Module (DVEVM, TMDXEVM6446), which is available today. The DVEVM includes proven design modules for additional power savings with TI's analog devices and microcontrollers. The DM6441 can also be paired with TI's ultra-low-power microcontroller, the MSP430, which offers an exceptional standby current under one microamp and power-manages the DM6441 in its most efficient sleep/halt mode to further reduce average current consumption.

The DM6441 for portable audio and video applications is sampling now and it is $24.95 each in quantities of 10,000.

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