Royal Philips Electronics is expanding its microcontroller presence with the introduction of its first family of standard 32-bit devices with flash memory and based on the ARM7TDMI core.
Although Philips boasts an extensive number of ARM-based ASICs, the LPC- 2100 family, which was introduced here last week at the Embedded Systems Conference, will be the first ARM devices the company is offering as standard products, and the first offered through distribution.
Oki Semicoductor has also taken this route with its 32-bit line. (See story on page 18.)
"Many customers are looking for standard products, at least for initial product development," said Geoff Lees, director of marketing for Philips' MCU business line in Sunnyvale, Calif. "One of the big issues today is just how few products actually get to full volume and are truly successful and really warrant full SoC development.
"We have a strategy to furnish standard products to enable new applications," Lees said. "And it particularly makes sense when you take into account that 50% of our business worldwide is through distribution."
Lees said Philips believes it can use a strategy similar to the one that led to the company becoming the leading supplier of 80C51-based 8-bit MCUs. The 80C51 architecture was invented by Intel Corp. and is offered by a variety of sources.
"We plan to differentiate ourselves on product specifications, features, price, and service," he said. "There's already a high degree of acceptance for the ARM tools and software. I'm not having to persuade a customer to use some proprietary core and getting into all the deep suspicion of whether the tools will function or the code will convert."
Success of the new ARM family could well damage sales of Philips' 16-bit XAx MCU line, "but that is less than 10% of our business," Lees said. "I would be relatively happy if over the next couple of years ARM products replace it."
All devices in the LPC-2100 family will feature on-chip flash of 128 Kbytes. Pricing in 10,000s begins at less than $5 for the LPC-2104, which has 16 Kbytes of SRAM. The part is manufactured in a 0.18-micron technology process, and Lees said process improvements provide a roadmap for a $3.50 price point in 12 to 18 months.
Philips is also offering the LPC2105 and LPC2106, which have 32 and 64 Kbytes of SRAM, respectively. In quantities of 10,000, the LPC2105 is $6 and the LPC2106 is $8.
The company said the three devices are available in volume quantities.