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Microcontrollers trim part count in automated metering apps

Posted: 10 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MSP430 MCUs? TI microcontrollers? MCUs meter readers?

Texas Instruments Inc. has announced the sampling of its 16MHz MSP430F47x4 ultralow-power microcontrollers (MCU) for one- and multi-phase metering applications. This is in response to utility companies adopting electronic-based meter readers to reduce cost while providing new services and energy-saving options to consumers.

By integrating up to four individual 16-bit sigma delta ADCs, a 32-by-32-bit hardware multiplier, a 160-segment LCD driver with contrast control, up to 60Kbytes of flash memory and a real-time clock (RTC), the devices enable a five-to-one reduction in system components, said TI.

With standby power consumption as low as 1.5?A, a meter based on the MSP430F47x4 devices allows utilities to reduce overall system power wastage. These MCUs feature several low-power modes, allowing the meter to sleep with almost no power drain between readings. An extremely fast wake-up brings the device to full clock speed within 6?s. Together with a fast shutdown, this "instant-on" wake-up minimizes time spent in active mode, said TI.

The company's utility metering portfolio also includes devices targeted at water and gas metering, as well as power line communications and RF interfaces for automated meter reading (AMR). The MCUs provide ultralow power consumption needed to extend battery life up to over 12 years, eliminating costly ongoing meter service calls for battery replacement. The already available MSP430FE42xx series includes an embedded signal processing unit that integrates the metering function, including current and voltage measurement and power calculations, for faster system development and reduced BOM.

TI also offers dedicated solutions including a single-chip flow meter, the available MSP430FW42xx MCU, which features an embedded scan interface optimized for measuring rotation and AMR interface. In addition, the company's Chipcon RF technology, such as the CC1100, enables a wireless link between the meter and the meter reader. The 32bit TMS320F28x digital signal controllers also offer the performance and high integration required for data communications rates of up to 19.2Kbps in the in the sub-500KHz frequency range.

In volume, pricing starts at $7.50 per 1,000 quantities for the MSP430F47x4 MCUs. The TMS320F28x digital signal controllers and Chipcon RF devices are available in volume and pricing starts at $3.25 and $0.99, respectively. The MSP430F47x4 MCUs will be available for sampling in June.

-Gina Roos

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