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8bit flash MCUs feature on-chip LCD controllers

Posted: 09 Mar 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:flash memory? flash MCU? LCD driver? NEC? SuperFlash?

NEC Electronics America Inc. has introduced the 78K0/Lx3 line of 8bit all-flash MCUs with on-chip LCD controllers/drivers for portable industrial, healthcare and home appliances. The 78K0/Lx3 supports advanced display functions with minimal power consumption.

The 78K0/Lx3 family features 46 devices and 76 product configurations with embedded flash memory capacities ranging from 8-60Kbytes and pin counts ranging from 48 to 80. The flash memory is based on SuperFlash technology licensed from Silicon Storage Technology Inc. The MCUs are suitable for CE-type products that have LCD panels and strict power consumption requirements. The new devices can be used in home healthcare equipment such as scales, blood pressure monitors and blood glucose meters; HVAC and industrial systems such as utility meters; and household appliances such as coffee makers.

Less components
All of the new MCUs have integrated LCD drivers/controllers that help designers reduce the number of system components and increase system reliability. An optimized circuit design reduces standby power consumption by approximately 50 percent, to 2.3?A, compared to the previous-generation 78K0/Lx2 MCUs, while an on-chip 16bit A/D converter offers a 64-fold improvement in resolution, said NEC.

In addition, by having eight rather than four common signal ports, the 78K0/Lx3 devices support up to 288 display segments compared to the previous generation's 160. These improvements enable designers to create products with higher LCD resolution, or products with the same LCD resolution but fewer display segments, said NEC.

A variety of MCU development tools are available including the MINICUBE2 debugger/flash programmer, which makes it easy to develop and test MCU programs, and the Applilet device driver generator, which supports the development of program code for MCU peripheral functions. Together, these tools provide an easy-to-use design environment for the development of MCU software.

Manufacturing strategy
As part of NEC Electronics' global manufacturing strategy announced in February 2006, the manufacturing capabilities of the company's plant in California, U.S.A. now include a 0.15?m process using eight-inch wafers in addition to existing 0.35?m and 0.25?m processes using six-inch wafers. The 0.15?m pilot line is expected to reach mass production levels this summer and will be used to manufacture many of the new 8bit MCUs.

Pricing varies according to device specifications. For example, the 80-pin 78K0/LF3 MCU with 60Kbyte of flash memory is priced at $5 per unit in quantities of 1,000.

Samples of the 78K0/Lx3 devices will be available starting this month. Volume production is scheduled to begin in April 2007. Monthly production is expected to reach approximately 1,000,000 units by Q3 2008.

- Gina Roos

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