Mitsubishi Electronics America Inc. today will cast its lot with a new initiative aimed at hitching the horsepower of the microcontroller to the vast networking potential of the Internet.
The company expects the move to propel sales of its MCUs-especially its 16-bit flash microcontrollers-by more fully exploiting the chips' reprogrammability.
Driven by emWare Inc., a Salt Lake City-based software house specializing in distributed embedded-device networking, the Embed The Internet (ETI) initiative is seeking to tap into the data stored in the billions of MCUs serving in applications from gas pumps, to washing machines, to ATMs. With the power of the Internet linked to virtually every consumer, commercial, and industrial electronics device, users may some day be able to upgrade products by remotely downloading new software instructions, automatically notify manufacturers of equipment repairs, or reap reams of market data on customer habits.
Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Mitsubishi will disclose today that it has ported emWare's EMIT (embedded micro internetworking technology) software to its line of M16C 16-bit MCUs. And, at this week's Embedded Systems Conference Spring in Chicago, the company also will demonstrate what it claims is the first flash microcontroller to be reprogrammed over the Internet.
In addition to Mitsubishi, several other chip suppliers are participating in the ETI effort, including Analog Devices, Atmel, Hitachi, Microchip, Philips, and Siemens. The EDTN Network, an online service of EBN parent CMP Media Inc., is a member of the ETI consortium.
EMIT software consists of a compact Web server, the emMicro, that uses as little as 1 Kbyte of an MCU's memory. The on-chip server communicates with the end user via the emGateway, a distributed-device network that links lightweight communications protocols with more substantial networks such as the Internet or intranets.
The open architecture is already being aligned with other networks, such as Java. Mitsubishi could also use its relationship with Microsoft Corp.-both companies belong to the Home API consortium-to convince the software giant to join the EMIT alliance, suggested Brian Sackett, strategic systems marketing manager for the system-integration division of Mitsubishi Electronics America's Electronic Device Group.
Mitsubishi today will roll out two new M16C chips, the M16C/20 and M16C/80. The M16C/20, based on an M16C/60 core, has 56 pins for applications using high-end 8-bit MCUs. With a 10-MHz clock speed and 5-mips performance, the chip is designed for white goods, industrial bar-code readers, and automotive applications.
The 20-MHz M16C/80 targets the 32-bit MCU market by adding a DRAM controller, two DMA controllers, and a sleeker instruction set that includes a number of 32-bit operations. Unlike the M16C/60, which features 1 Mbyte of linear address space and 4 Mbytes of banked memory, the M16C/80 includes a full 16 Mbytes of linear address space.
The M16C/80 and M16C/20 will enter volume production in June, priced at $5 and $3, respectively, in 10,000s.