As is the case with many technical conferences/tradeshows, the last few weeks prior to the event see a variety of product announcements that vendors will be demonstrating and discussing at the show. The Embedded Systems Conference, East Coast Version, is no exception. In contrast to last year's Boston ESC, which was dominated by software announcements (see Software Reigns at ESC), this year's Fall ESC predominantly featured microprocessor and microcontroller product rollouts prior to the show. This announcement wrap-up summarizes some of the more interesting announcements, several of which will be highlighted on the exhibit floor.
Reports of the demise of the 16-bit MCU, along with the ill health of the 8-bit processor, seem to be premature, judging from derivative-product announcements from two well-known MCU vendors.
Zilog is returning to 8-bit basics with the introduction of the company's Z8 Encore! flash microcontroller family. Based on an enhanced eZ8 core, Encore comprises a 20 MHz microcontroller, up to 64 Kbytes of flash memory, up to 4 Kbytes of linear-register SRAM, and plenty of on-chip peripherals (Figure 1). On-chip peripherals include a DMA controller; 12 channel, 10-bit A/D; SPI; I²C; two 9-bit UART ports with integrated Infrared Data Association (IrDA)-compliant encoder/decoders; four 16-bit counter timers, each with capture and PWM capability; and a single-pin, on-chip debugger.
Figure 1: Zilog's Z8 Encore! flash microcontroller is packed with
on-chip peripherals around an eZ8 processing core
The Z8 Encore products combine hardware, software, and a development kit that includes a free ANSI C-Compiler, ZDS II integrated development environment (IDE) software, evaluation board, and a complete suite of Z8 Encore! documentation. Backward compatible with the Z8 MCU, Encore runs at more than twice the speed and, at two to six cycles per instruction, executes instructions three times faster than the Z8. Target applications for the general-purpose Encore include low to mid-range consumer appliances, building control, industrial control, and instrumentation. After designs are "locked in", you can convert any Encore flash device to a ROM MCU for lower cost.
MCU Meets DSP
Motorola's new 16-bit flash-based 56800E devices, known as the 56F83x family, combines the performance of its 56800E hybrid core with the peripherals of the original 56800 family to achieve higher performance, flash-based devices. 56F83 devices target high-end automotive, instrumentation, and industrial-networking applications, including electronic power-assisted steering, data-acquisition equipment, and factory-automation systems. This new MCU/DSP hybrid family operates at 3.3V over an extended temperature range of -40 to +125 ºC with 60 MIPS operation at 60 MHz. In addition, the new devices provide 32-bit performance with 16-bit code densities, resulting in additional processing power while maintaining code efficiency.
According to Motorola, 56F83X chips combine the control functionality of an MCU and the computational power of a DSP. You get DSP functionality through features such as embedded 16-bit multiplier-accumulators (MACs), nested looping capability, modulo arithmetic for circular buffers, integer and fractional arithmetic support, and fast interrupt support. Microcontroller functionality comes from general-purpose register files, 8/16/32-bit data types, and a full set of bit-manipulation instructions along with 16- and 32-bit shifting. Additional 56F83X features include an external memory interface, interrupt controller with fast interrupts, on-chip voltage regulator and ADC reference, PWM modules, quad timers, quadrature decoders, temperature sensor, FlexCAN module, multiple serial ports and GPIO's, and a JTAG/EOnCE debug port (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Motorola's 56F83X MCU combines MCU and DSP functionality in a
Motorola provides software support for the 56F83X family with the CodeWarrior Integrated IDE, a single tool that supports the complete company's family of 16-bit controllers. CodeWarrior provides navigation, editing, and debugging functions such as intuitive graphical project management, optimized C compiler, assembler, linker, debugger, instruction set simulator, and more. Support also includes motor control, industrial, automotive, and general-purpose applications, with drivers and algorithms for the existing 56800 and 56800E families, as well as for the new 56F83x chips upon their introduction.
NEC has recently introduced several new MCUs that also target automotive applications.
High-End 32-Bit MCU
The NEC V850E/CA2 microcontroller, targeting high-end automotive applications, provides up to four full controller area network (CAN) interfaces and a rich set of peripherals. You can use the scalable microcontroller for applications such as high-end body electronics, gateways, and future re-configurable (virtual) dashboards. The controller has no on-board ROM, but contains 4 Kbytes of embedded cache for connecting to external flash memory. This feature lets the V850E/CA2 support applications such as graphics-intensive dashboards that demand large but flexible memory sizes. Various power-saving modes also make the V850E/CA2 suitable for body-electronics applications where low current consumption is necessary.
The V850E/CA2 is based on NEC's high-performance 32-bit V850E CPU core, which enables execution of most instructions in a single clock cycle. The controller is available either with two CAN channels and 12 Kbytes of RAM, or four CAN channels and 16 Kbytes of RAM.
The V850E/CA2's ROM-less design enables development flexibility. For example, if the code needs more memory size than originally planned, you can connect up to 16 Mbytes of external flash memory via the integrated non-multiplexed 16-bit memory interface. A 32-MHz clock speed combined with 4 Kbytes of on-chip instruction cache enables high-speed code execution from external memory devices.
Other V850E/CA2 features include a 12x10-bit ADC; timer unit with five 16-bit timers: watch and watchdog timers; three clocked serial interfaces; two UARTs; interrupt controller; 78 I/O lines; PLL for peripherals, and separate spread-spectrum PLL for CPU operation. The on-chip spread-spectrum PLL, along with optimized chip-design techniques, enables the MCU to meet stringent automotive low electromagnetic-interference (EMI) requirements.
Migrating from 8- to 32-Bits
More new automotive-targeted MCUs from NEC Electronics are the Kx1 and Fx2 series. The Kx1 series comprises the 8-bit 78K0/Kx1 and 32-bit V850ES/Kx1 sub-series, which employ the same registers and software to support identical peripherals and implement local interconnect network (LIN)-capable UARTs. The Kx1 architecture allows designers to migrate designs from 8-bit to 32-bit microcontrollers, to account for higher level performance and serial bus-speed requirements. NEC also has the new Fx2 series, with 32-bit V850ES/Fx2 automotive microcontrollers that use the Kx1 bus architecture and support a full controller area network (FCAN).
All of the devices have failsafe circuitry with an on-chip ring oscillator, clock monitor, power-on clear (POC)/power-on reset (POR) circuits, and low-voltage indicator (LVI), important for safety-critical applications. Automotive applications range from door and mirror controls to high-end safety equipment such as passive occupancy-detection systems.
The 78K0/Kx1 sub-series is based on NEC's 8-bit 78K0 CISC CPU core. Clock frequency can be between 2 and 10 MHz and operation from 2.7 to 5.5 V. The controllers also generate minimal EMI. The 78K0/Kx1 devices are offered in mask-ROM configurations ranging from 8 Kbytes to 60 Kbytes and flash variations from 24 Kbytes to 60 Kbytes. 78K0/Kx1 devices target low-end body applications such as door and mirror modules, advanced wiper modules, seat modules, and keyless entry/immobilizers.
The V850ES/Kx1 sub-series is based on NEC's 32-bit V850ES RISC CPU core, which enables most instructions to be executed in a single clock cycle. The devices support clock frequencies up to 20 MHz and 2.7 to 5.5V operation. Configurations include mask ROM versions from 64 Kbytes to 128 Kbytes and a 128-Kbyte flash variation. You can use the V850ES/Kx1 devices for mid-end body and safety applications such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) modules, door modules, and low- to mid-end passive occupancy-detection systems.
Also based on the V850ES core, the V850ES/Fx2 sub-series has the same features as do the V850ES/Kx1 microcontrollers. V850ES/Fx2 devices have one-to-four channels of full CAN with up to 16 message buffers per channel. You can use V850ES/Fx2 devices for mid-range to high-end body and safety applications, such as gateways, smart junction-box modules, and mid-range to high-end passive occupancy-detection systems.
Addressing Automotive Sound Systems
The new 32-bit V850ES/Sx2 sub-series microcontrollers from NEC are designed for the automotive audio market. Powered by NEC's 32-MHz V850ES RISC CPU core, these devices offer performance levels up to four times higher than the 16-bit controllers currently used in high-performance automotive audio systems. V850ES/Sx2 microcontrollers also feature up to 640 Kbytes of flash or read-only memory (ROM) and 48 Kbytes of random-access memory (RAM). The higher memory capacities can accommodate the large file systems necessary to support today's popular compressed audio formats such as MP3 and Windows Media Audio (WMA). In addition, V850ES/Sx2 microcontrollers have on-chip controller area network (CAN) and J1850 bus controllers for integrated connectivity to automotive networks.
Very Secure Microprocessor Core
MIPS Technologies has introduced what the company claims is the most secure, licensable, 32-bit core currently available. The synthesizable 4KSd core, an expansion of MIPS' MIPS32 4KS secure-data product family, runs at 200 MHz, delivering 270 Dhrystone MIPS, fitting applications requiring high levels of system security and performance. Power consumption is 0.18 mW/MHz. 4KSd applications include point-of-deployment security modules for set-top boxes, smart cards, secure data storage, and others uses where protection of information from unwanted tampering is critical.
Security features of the core include:
- A secure memory-management unit, which partitions applications and protects the sensitive data within each application by preventing unauthorized access by rogue applications
- Anti-hacker and power-analysis countermeasures that the designer can configure
- A low interrupt latency, which allows the core to respond more quickly to attack.
The 4KSd offers flexible, high-performance, software-programmable cryptographic calculation for both public- and secret-key algorithms, including RSA, DES, AES and elliptic curve. The core can perform a 1024-bit RSA signature authentication in less than 15 msec at 200 MHz. With cryptography in software, you don't need a hardware coprocessor, resulting in lower power consumption, reduced chip size, and lower overall system cost. In addition, multiple applications running on a 4KSd core can use different encryption keys without any loss in performance. User-defined instruction set extensions let you create unique features for security and increase performance for cryptography and other applications.
Your Car is Listening
Fonix speech recognition software now supports NEC's VR4122 and VR4131 64-bit MIPS-based microprocessors. The processors and software target hands-free automotive applications such as cell-phone dialing, navigation systems, Internet access, climate control, and entertainment equipment. Fonix's automotive products give you "hands-free" control to improve safety and driver satisfaction. The speech recognition lets you use interactive, highly intelligible speech dialogues to initiate cellular phone calls, check email, get directions from a navigational system or subscriber service, control basic vehicle functions, and access other types of information.
The Fonix proprietary Neural Network Technology provides accurate speech recognition, particularly in noisy environments, and does not require the user to train their voice to the system. The neural network architecture works well with NEC's VR Series microprocessors because of the processors' enhanced architecture and support for DSP-type instructions to enable greater speech functionality.
Designers do not live by MCUs and MPUs alone. Other new silicon cores you'll see at ESC address the rapidly increasing bandwidth and processing requirements of the communications and multimedia markets. For example:
Video Compression for MPEG-4
Amphion Semiconductor has added to its CS6700 series of high-performance cores for MPEG-4 applications with an advanced modular accelerator-based chip for real-time MPEG-4 video compression. The CS6701 MPEG-4 'Simple Profile' (Level 0 to Level 3) Video Encoder uses several optimized hardware blocks for accelerating critical compute-intensive MPEG-4 video-compression algorithms, including motion estimation. Featuring the full compression capabilities of the MPEG-4 standard, the CS6701 addresses applications from handheld wireless video devices to 'home gateway' digital set-top boxes.
For example, in low bit-rate 'Simple Profile' at Level 1 applications, the 110-kgate CS6701 encoder produces QCIF (176 x 144 pixel) resolution compressed video at 15 frames per second and consumes less than 15 mW of power in a 0.18-micron chip when clocked under 5 MHz. This compares favorably to software-based encoders that, in order to produce similar video performance, need a dedicated processor running at 10X this clock rate.
Other, complementary CS6700 cores include the CS6710 Motion Estimator, the CS6711 Pixel Compressor, and the CS6712 Bitstream Packer. Bit-accurate C-models for behavioral evaluation of any of these cores are available from the vendor.