A number of VDC analysts attended the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) held September 26-29 in Boston and participated in several embedded technology supplier briefings and executive meetings.
Many of these briefings included broader, but consistent themes across the embedded supplier landscape. These embedded themes were:
Virtually every embedded hardware and services organizational leader with whom we met mentioned at least one of the themes above as part of a product announcement or strategic initiative. For instance, Microchip Technology, a provider of microcontroller, analog and Flash-IP solutions, announced the availability of an 8-bit PIC microcontroller that features configurable logic along with a high level of peripheral integration in 6- to 20-pin packages.
Microchip's PIC10F(LF)32X and PIC1XF(LF)150X MCUs each feature new peripherals, including Configurable Logic Cells (CLCs), Complementary Waveform Generators (CWGs) and Numerically Controlled Oscillators (NCOs), enabling functionality that was not possible before with low pincount MCUs.
These general-purpose MCUs were developed to enable designers to enhance the functionality, reduce design size, and decrease the cost and power consumption of products in the appliance (e.g. small kitchen appliances); automotive (e.g. interior lighting); consumer (e.g. power tools); and industrial markets (e.g. utility meters), among others.
The CLC peripherals on the PIC10F(LF)32X and PIC1XF(LF)150X MCUs also enable software control of combinational and sequential logic, which increases the on-chip interconnection of peripherals and I/Os, thereby reducing the number of external components, saving code space and adding functionality. The CWG peripheral works with multiple peripherals to generate complementary waveforms with dead-band control and auto shutdown, which provides improved switching efficiencies. Additionally, the NCO peripheral enables linear frequency control and high resolution, which is required for applications such as lighting ballast, tone generation and other resonant control circuits.
The MCUs also feature low power consumption, with currents of less than 30 µA/MHz in active mode, and less than 20 nA in sleep; as well as an on-chip 16 MHz internal oscillator, Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC), and up to 4 Pulse-Width Modulation peripherals. An integrated temperature-indicator module enables low-cost temperature measurements.
VDC believes Microchip's newly introduced MCU families represent an important inflection point in the development of new and expanded applications based on a platform of next-generation microcontroller technology. As a result, Microchip was awarded the annual best in show Embeddy hardware award at the 2011 Embedded Systems Conference.