Microchip plans extensions to its 8-, 16- and 32-bit PIC microcontroller lines in the coming months that will, among other things, integrate more analog functions, continue to fight the good fight on stand-by leakage, and boost performance.
Microchip plans extensions to its 8-, 16- and 32-bit PIC microcontroller lines (see comparison chart, bottom) in the coming months that will, among other things, integrate more analog functions, continue to fight the good fight on stand-by leakage, and boost performance.
That’s the word from Fanie Duvenhage, director of applications, architecture and marketing for Microchip who chatted with me on the phone this week.
While the 32-bit segment remains relatively new for the company, it’s wasting no time turning the crank on 8- and 16-bit families, he said.
After a number of portfolio enhancements in the past two years—reducing power consumption, updating peripherals and adding analog functionality—the company is pushing on.
“You’ll see more of the same in the next couple of months,” Duvenhage said.
The company continues to squeeze cost and performance in the 8-bit lines because both it’s analog technology and flash memory cells (high endurance, high robustness on erase/write cycles) are home grown.
The company uses its own foundry for 8-bit, where are 32-bit is built at TSMC.
“We run that flash tech on a mixed process where we have a .35 micron transistors on a .2-ish copper back end,” he said. The reason is largely tied to leakage concerns: The 8-bit world still looks for 5v operation, he added.
Early next year, the company will likely roll 8-bit enhancements with more integrated op amps, faster comparators, integrated switches for power conversion and other analog features, he said.
Microchip has set a performance upgrade for 16-bit devices for within “the next few months,” he said.
Engineers also will leverage the company’s XLP low-power technology at the low end of the 16-bit segment (as well as 8-bit).
“We’ll selectively put higher-end peripherals such as motor control PWMS and so forth … so you have a small, cost-effective 16 bit device with more features,” Duvenhage said. “Features you’d expect on higher-end products that you’ll see on lower-end products.”
The newest segment for Microchip will take a little longer to ferment. Duvenhage said product announcements are probably two quarters away in the 32-bit MIPS-based lines, with an emphasis and effort on software.
“If you look at an 8 bit, it’s slower, there’s more emphasis on hardware peripherals and buses,” he said. “32 bit is more communications intensive, a lot more algorithmic- and software-centric. You have to have a bigger software or firmware library presence. That’s coming through pretty loud in how we’re approaching it.”
As users of MCUs in general or Microchip lines in particular, what enhancements would you suggest in the coming months? They’re all ears.