Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Silicon Labs launches industry’s most flexible and developer-friendly 32-bit mixed-signal MCUs

embedded world 2012, NUREMBERG, GERMANY: Bringing unprecedented design flexibility to the 32-bit market, Silicon Laboratories Inc., a leader in high-performance, analog-intensive, mixed-signal ICs, introduced the Precision32 microcontroller (MCU) family.

Based on the ARM Cortex-M3 processor, the new Precision32 family includes 32 SiM3U1xx and SiM3C1xx MCU products with footprint-compatible USB and non-USB options. Offering a highly integrated, flexible architecture, a rich peripheral set, ultra-low power and Eclipse-based development tools that are downloadable at no charge, the Precision32 family is suitable for a wide range of applications including portable medical devices, point-of-sale peripherals, motor control, industrial monitoring, barcode scanners, optical touchscreen interfaces, sensor controllers and home automation systems.

To help developers reduce system cost, design complexity and component count, the Precision32 family offers an exceptionally high level of peripheral integration that can enable a bill of materials (BOM) savings of up to $1.34 (USD). The following on-chip peripherals greatly reduce component count and system cost:

Integrated precision oscillators with an advanced phase-locked loop (PLL) eliminate the need for a costly 8 MHz crystal by providing the clocking accuracy necessary for crystal-less USB operation while running the core independently at any frequency from 1 to 80 MHz.

An internal 5 V voltage regulator enables the MCU to be powered directly from USB or a 5 V source without the need for an external regulator. Six high-drive I/Os (up to 300 mA each) can directly drive high-power LEDs, small motors, buzzers and power MOSFETs, as well as serve as a boost converter controller. Up to 16 capacitive touch channels eliminate the need for separate touch sensor ICs in applications requiring buttons, sliders or wheels.

The Precision32 family offers a complete USB 2.0 PHY and analog front-end interfacing directly to the USB connector, while most other MCUs require an external USB pull-up resistor and termination circuit.

With design schedules compressing to meet aggressive time-to-market goals, today’s embedded developers tackle complex and often rapidly changing design requirements while meeting stringent cost and power budgets on tight deadlines. Many current 32-bit MCU products lack sufficient architectural flexibility, especially for pinout and peripheral placement, which makes the design job harder than it has to be. The Precision32 family offers developers a more flexible alternative by providing a fully customizable I/O system and pinout arrangement.

Using Silicon Labs’ patented dual-crossbar technology and a drag-and-drop GUI, developers can easily choose their analog and digital peripherals and pin locations for these peripherals. Competing MCUs often have preset peripheral locations and pinouts, leading to pin conflicts that force developers to alter their designs or move to larger, costlier packages. Silicon Labs’ crossbar design and GUI-based AppBuilder software enable developers to optimize their peripheral mix and pinout placement and locate peripherals near connecting components, thus eliminating pin conflicts, simplifying PCB routing, minimizing PCB layers and ultimately reducing system cost.

The Precision32 family’s analog peripherals are specified and tested to operate over temperature and voltage (down to 1.8 V). In fact, these high-performance analog peripherals are so reliable they can replace standalone analog components. Moreover, the Precision32 analog peripherals are highly configurable, enabling developers to simplify their designs and optimize performance for a wide variety of embedded applications.

Silicon Labs engineered the Precision32 family to achieve industry-leading power efficiency in both active and sleep modes. The MCUs leverage Silicon Labs’ state-of-the-art, patented low-power design technologies to achieve power reductions within every block of the MCU design, resulting in up to 33 percent lower active current (22 mA at 80 MHz or 275 µA/MHz) and 100 times lower sleep current (0.35 µA with RTC enabled and 4 kB of RAM retention) than competing 32-bit solutions. Numerous power modes and clocking options enable developers to optimize their embedded designs for the lowest power at a given performance level.

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