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ColdFire+ MCUs integrate thin-film storage tech

Posted: 10 Jun 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:microcontroller? processor? storage technology? EEPROM?

Leveraging on its thin-film storage (TFS) technology, Freescale Semiconductor has scaled down its ColdFire processors to the 90nm node and over a four-fold shrink to just 5mm? for under a dollar.

The new ColdFire+ family includes 40 new 32bit microcontrollers with ultralow power requirements for long battery life, integrated analog converters, touch pad sensing, display support, cyber security accelerators and TFS that can be configured as either flash or EEPROM.

"The unique capabilities that ColdFire+ brings to the industry for the first time include our thin-film storage technology we call FlexMemory, because it can be configured as either a large flash or a small EEPROM," said Jeff Bock, Freescale's director of marketing for industrial and multi-market microcontrollers. "No other memory technology can be configured as either EEPROM or flash by the OEMfor instance, the base model 99 cent V1 ColdFire+ processor has FlexMemory that can be configured as a 2KB EEPROM or a 32KB flash, or some combination of the two like 1KB EEPROM and 16KB flash."

FlexMemory is nonvolatile storage based on Freescale's nanocrystalline thin-film floating gate memory cells that enable write speeds as fast as 100?s and up to 4.4 million write/erase cycles over the full voltage range of 1.71V to 3.6V.

Freescale also claims its power consumption is the lowest in the industry at 150?A/MHz, with stop currents under 500nA and wake-up times under 4?s from 10 different low-power modes. When the touchpad sensing capability is used, the ColdFire+ processors can be awakened with a touch even from the lowest power modes in just 4?s, which appears instantaneous to mobile device users yet extends battery life.

Other special features include a cryptographic acceleration unit and associated random number generator aimed at secure communications and authentication services even for small-footprint applications, such as wireless sensor networks.

The entire ColdFire+ mixed-signal microcontroller line works with the free Freescale MQX RTOS for embedded applications as well as its Eclipse-based CodeWarrier development suite and the modular board-level Tower Rapid Prototyping System.

MQX offers software stacks for USB audio, medical sensors, mass storage, human interfaces, hub- and device-class operations with integrated RTOS kernel awareness for easier debugging with CodeWarrior Development Studio. Third party software support for the new ColdFire+ line has also been announced by Green Hills and IAR.

The first of the ColdFire+ MCUs will sample in the Q2 10 with volume production planned for the middle of 2011.

- R. Colin Johnson
EE Times

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