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Flash PIC MCUs tout USB 2.0 connectivity for embedded apps

Posted: 15 Nov 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:microchip technology? pic microcontroller? pic mcu?

With full-speed USB 2.0 connectivity built-in, Microchip Technology Inc.'s newest flash PIC microcontrollers (MCUs) are said to provide a complete embedded-control solution for designers working with USB in industrial, medical and many other embedded applications. These MCUs also boast 48MHz operation for 12Mbps data-transfer rates.

The four new MCUs integrate USB as one of the primary serial interfaces, as opposed to the prevalent approach that adds a serial-to-USB patch on top of a legacy design. "Most USB microcontrollers focus on the PC peripherals market, neglecting the unique requirements of many embedded designers working on stand-alone embedded applications," said Ganesh Moorthy, VP of Microchip's Advanced Microcontroller and Memory Division. "This new Full-Speed USB PIC MCU family can perform as the sole controller in embedded applications thanks to the performance of its 12MIPS RISC core, self-programmable flash memory and the power-saving features of our nanoWatt technology."

Embedded applications that can benefit from these full-speed USB PIC MCUs include industrial (manufacturing tools, data loggers, scanners, smart displays, micro fuel cells, gambling-machine peripherals, RFID readers, robot-controller interfaces, industrial timers, gas-flow analyzers and cable-test fixtures); medical (voice-activated applications, advanced wheel chairs and research equipment automation); automotive (vehicle-network bus diagnostic tools, vehicle trace recorders [black boxes] and ultrasonic sensors); battery-powered (handheld tools, sensors, security applications, remote controls and home automation); and consumer (business-card scanners, white-board digitizers, voice recorders, uninterruptable power-supply systems, MP3 players, fire alarms and security-system programmers).

Among the USB PIC MCUs key features is its 24KB or 32KB of self-programmable flash memory, which allows field upgrades for end applications via the USB port. Microchip's PMOS Electrically Erasable Cell (PEEC) flash technology provides high endurance of up to 100,000 erase/write cycles and long data retention of more than 40 years. In addition, its Full-Speed USB 2.0 interface includes an onboard transceiver and a Parallel Streaming Port for direct data transfers to external peripherals with minimum CPU overhead.

Other features include 2KB of RAM, 1KB of which can be a dedicated USB buffer; 256 bytes of EEPROM data memory; EUSART for RS232, RS485 and LIN serial interfaces; and master synchronous serial port for I2C and SPI communication. The MCUs also offer 10bit ADC with high accuracy (1LSB) and up to 12 input channels, two analog comparators, a capture/compare/PWM module with16bit capture and resolution, four timers (3 x 16-bit, 1 x 8-bit), programmable brownout reset and low voltage detect circuits, and enhanced In-Circuit Debugging capabilities with up to three hardware breakpoints.

An area of major concern for most new USB-application designers is the quantity and quality of available firmware support. Microchip is introducing an extensive set of libraries for the most common application classes, including the Human Interface Device (HID), Communication Device Class (CDC) and custom drivers. Recognizing the need for migration from legacy applications, the company is also publishing specific application notes illustrating how to replace a serial port with a Full-Speed USB link in a few easy steps (without the need to become a USB expert).

The MP-USB Wizard 2.0, a GUI-based Windows application that guides the designer through the creation of the descriptor tables, is expected to be available for free via download from the company's website next month.

The new USB PIC MCUs are also supported by Microchip's development systems, including MPLAB Integrated Development Environment (IDE), MPLAB C18 C Compiler, MPLAB ICD 2 In-Circuit Debugger and MPLAB PM3 Universal Device Programmer. In addition, the PICDEM Full-Speed USB Demo Board (part # DM163025), and MPLAB ICE 2000 and MPLAB ICE 4000 In-Circuit Emulator processor modules (part # PCM18XR0), which ease development with this family's advanced USB features, are also expected to be available next month.

General sampling and volume production for the four new USB PIC MCUs are scheduled in December. The PIC18F2550 ($5.06) and PIC18F2455 ($4.75) come in 28-pin SOIC and SDIP packaging options, while the PIC18F4550 ($5.82) and PIC18F4455 ($5.14) are in 40-pin DIP and 44-pin TQFP. Pricing is for 10,000 units.

- Marty Gold


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