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Motor control MCUs target appliances

Posted: 16 Feb 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mcu? microcontroller? ac motor? dc motor? motor?

The Kyoto summit on global warming has served as inspiration for chipmaker Microchip Technology Inc. For them, the shelved international environmental agreement symbolizes the growing trend to cap energy consumption of electrical appliances - a movement that Microchip says will be supported by smarter microcontrollers.

To that end, the company introduced the four-member PIC18Fxx31 family of 28-pin and 40/44-pin 8bit MCUs aimed at motor control applications, such as brushless DC motors and AC induction motors in washing machines, refrigerators and fuel pumps.

The devices provide variable-speed control, still seen as a luxury item for most appliances. Because it is still considered pricey, the adoption rate for variable-speed motor control in appliances is less than 10 percent, said Cheri Keller, product marketing manager at Microchip. But that should change as the price of electronic components comes down. "Manufacturers have been forced to keep their costs down, and they're just starting to see the benefits of implementing electronic control," Keller said.

Adding variable-speed control to a refrigerator, for instance, causes the compressor to work less when the load is light, producing an energy savings of 30 percent, she said.

The PIC18Fxx31 family is based on Microchip's high-end PIC18F architecture, with some added features. These include a center-aligned PWM to reduce switching noise; a quadrature encoder interface that once had to be implemented externally; a high-speed ADC that can be synchronized with the PWM; and a fail-safe clock monitor should the external crystal fail.

Pricing for the four devices ranges from $4.61 to $4.87 each in 10,000-unit quantities. Samples and production units are already available. Tools, software and a development board are also available.

- Anthony Cataldo

EE Times

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