This is a video of a test done by Microchip comparing their nanoWatt technology to the MSP430. This is a good demonstration of Microchips efforts to catch-up to Taxes Instrument’s low power experience.
Posted tagged ‘Microcontrollers’
The Phoenix Processor developed by researchers at the University of Michigan can run on a watch battery for 263 years. The processor uses 10 times less power than comparable chips when active and 30,000 times less power in sleep mode. The processor is designed for sensor-based devices. Some applications include medical implants, environment monitors, structural integrity of buildings and bridges. The overall design was based around reducing sleep mode power consumption since in most application the sensor is a sleep 99 percent of the time. The processor runs on 0.5 Volts and in sleep mode consumes 30 picowatts. This is a very exciting development, which could open up the door for electronics to be used in applications that are currently purely mechanical due to the inconvenience of replacing batteries.
For more info: Phoenix Processor
The new MSP430F5xx family of microcontrollers from Texas Instruments run faster and are more configurable than previous versions of the MSP430. If used correctly the 16-bit RISC microcontrollers can by far be the lowest power solution for an embedded system.
The low power features include:
-25MHz core speed
-A Power Management Module (PMM), varying the voltage from 1.4V to 1.9V in four steps
-A Unified Clock System with fail-safe clock operation
-Up to Eight DMA channels
-32-bit Real Time Clock (RTC) for extended sleep times
-Core off with peripherals running draws a mere 2µA
-A RAM and Status retention mode of 1µA
-Programmable GPIO drive levels
-An improved A/D with higher performance and lower current consumption
-Ability to turn different RAM sectors on or off to conserve power
-Read/erase/write of the Flash is possible at voltages down to 1.8V
-Up to 256KBytes Flash
-Up to 16KBytes RAM
Additional features include a hardware 32×32 multiply, a 4-wire JTAG interface, and integrated pull-up and pull-down resistors on GPIO pins.
Check out the video for more information:
Microchip Technology claims to offer the lowest power 16-bit microcontroller which has a standby current of just 100nA. The PIC24FJ256GB1 family of microcontrollers include an integrated USB 2.0 peripheral and up to 256kbyte flash and 16kbyte RAM on-chip. Capacitive touch user interface designs are supported by an integrated charge time measurement unit and the supplier’s royalty-free mTouch Sensing Solution software development kit. The pricing for the device starts at $3.47 each in 10,000 unit quantities. This is very exciting news for anyone who is working on a battery powered embedded application.
Atmel® Corporation has introduced the AT91SAM7L series of high-performance, ultra-low power microcontrollers. The microcontroller incorporates a wide verity of innovative techniques giving you the tools to optimize your system for maximum power savings. In active mode, the power consumption is optimized via a programmable operating voltage, operating frequency, peripheral clock activity, and the use of DMA instead of the CPU for data transfers. While in the different standby modes the power consumption can be controlled via power switches, scalable voltage regulators, and the use of sampling techniques on Voltage Monitors, Power On Reset and Brown Out Detector. Three different standby modes are available, the power down mode, the backup mode, and the wait mode. Power down mode only supplies power to the fast wake up pin. In backup mode only the supply controller, the zero-power POR and the 32kHz oscillator remain running while you have the option of setting the RTC, the 2K backup SRAM, the BOD, the charge pump, the LCD voltage regulator and the LCD Controller to on or off. Finally, in wait mode the 2MHz RC oscillator provides a rapid wake-up time for fast external event management. In single supply mode which can go down to 1.8V the current is 0.5mA/MHz while in power down mode the AT91SAM7L typically consumes 100nA. Assortments of peripherals are available with this microcontroller along with a development board. Definitely, this is a great platform to considering when starting a low power embedded project. Check out the Atmel Press Room for more information, and links to the evaluation kit.
While browsing a microcontroller discussion board about the outlook on Low Power micros for 2008, I came across a very innovative company. Energy Micro is a company with a mission dedicated to energy efficiency. The mission is to develop, market and sell the world’s most energy efficient microcontrollers. I believe that this company has the right idea to succeed in the long-term especially because power consumption is becoming a primary design constraint. Take a look at the company webpage for more info, as well there are some opportunities for employment that could be very interesting.