At the Electronica tradeshow today, Microchip introduced a family of 8-bit microcontrollers rich with peripherals that offload key industrial control functions from the CPU. The PIC16(L)F161X family's collection of Core Independent Peripherals (CIPs) provides closed-loop digital control and safety monitoring capabilities without the need for external components or additional code, helping reduce latency, code complexity, and operating power.
The onboard math accelerator, for instance, is capable of implementing typical MAC functions, but also has an operating mode that performs a 16-bit proportional-integral-derivative (PID) control calculation using configurable Kp, Ki, and Kd constants. The angular timer works with phase angles rather than clock counts when dealing with periodic waveforms, automatically adjusting to the signal frequency. Both CIPs are implemented in hardware, greatly reducing the code requirements for dealing with such operations.
Other CIPs onboard help developers implement safety-related functions with minimal code burden. A CRC with memory scan CIP, for instance, provides a hardware mechanism for monitoring code integrity in the MCU. Hardware limit timers and a windowed watchdog timer help to rapidly identify fault conditions such as motor stalls or processes that fail to meet critical timing conditions.
There are many other features of the F161 family that address industrial application needs. A high-voltage zero-crossing detector helps in the control of TRIACs for power switching; a 24-bit signal measurement timer provides precise measurements for speed control, range-finding, and the like; a complementary waveform generator simplifies synchronous switching; and configurable logic cells allow the implementation of simple state machines or other control functions without needing CPU involvement. The devices also feature high-current (100 mA) I/O ports to reduce the need for external drive circuits, and high-endurance Flash memory that can be used as NV storage of parameters as well as code.
Programming support for the F161 MCUs includes the PICkit 3 tool and the MPLAB IDE. A Code Configurator plug-in for the IDE automatically generates the code for setup and control of peripherals. It also supports I/O pin selection, as any digital peripheral can be user-routed to any digital I/O pin of the device.
The devices are available in 8-, 14-, and 20-pin versions in a variety of package styles.
— Rich Quinnell, Editor, Industrial Control DesignLine, EE Times