I feel a little like an old fool, but where are we going to find one at this time of day? (Ah, the old jokes are the best ones.) I was deep into a briefing with Spansion about its FM0+, FM3, and FM4 families of microcontrollers. I asked "What does FM stand for?" These was a thoughtful silence at the other end of the phone for a few seconds. Then someone said, "flexible microcontrollers" very slowly, as if that person were talking to an idiot. (Don't say a word.)
But I digress. These scalable and flexible MCU families offer seamless transition between ultra-low power and ultra-high performance. They offer differentiated features such as touch, connectivity, and inverter drives in a single MCU. They range from 20 MHz to 200 MHz in clock frequency with voltages from 1.65 V to 5.5 V and on-chip Flash from 64 KB to 2 MB. And they offer a wealth of communications interfaces to support the Internet of Things (IoT), including serial, CAN, USB, and Ethernet.
I was amazed to discover that there are more than 700 members of the FM family, and the number is rising as we speak. My mind is reeling at the thought of picking the right part for the project out of this cornucopia of offerings, but that's another story.
Spansion's range of FM microcontrollers.
Starting at the top, we have the high-performance FM4 family, which is based on the ARM Cortex-M4 processor core. These little beauties -- which are moving into full production as we speak -- are targeted at industrial and consumer applications with high-performance requirements.
Spansion's FM4 microcontrollers.
Next we have the FM3 family, which is based on the ARM Cortex-M3 processor core. These rascals, which are in full production, are partitioned into foursub-families: the high-performance group, the basic group, the low-power group, and the ultra-low-power group. These devices address a wide range of applications, from factory and building automation to handheld and medical devices.
Spansion's FM3 microcontrollers.
Last but certainly not least, we have the new FM0+ family, which is based on the ARM Cortex-M0+ processor core. These little scamps are sampling now (they will be in full production in the first quarter of 2014). They are targeted at industrial and cost-sensitive applications with low-power and ultra-low-power requirements, which makes them ideal for the IoT.
Spansion's FM0+ microcontrollers.
I don't know about you, but I am very impressed with this wealth of microcontroller offerings. (I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the thought of an MCU with 2 MB of on-chip Flash.) If you wish to investigate more, bounce over to the Spansion website, and then come back here to tell us what you think.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting