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MCU dev't tools maximise power efficiency

Posted: 01 Mar 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MCU? evaluation board? development tool?

Silicon Labs has announced its software and hardware development tools that the company said enable engineers to maximise the power efficiency of their 32bit embedded designs. The tools claim to ease the development, simplify low-power optimisation and enable rapid prototyping for embedded design.

Silicon Labs' complimentary Eclipse-based IDE and AppBuilder software for Precision32 MCUs include tools that enable developers to estimate power consumption and receive configuration guidance to minimise system power. The Power Estimator tool gives developers a top-level graphical view of how a Precision32 MCU uses power in active and sleep mode. The tool enables developers to adjust power usage at the onset of a project even without having development hardware. Power Estimator automatically updates the system design with configuration changes, allowing developers to optimise each mode for the lowest power. A companion tool, Power Tips, provides software configuration guidance that helps developers minimise current consumption. Power Tips automatically appears within AppBuilder when the cursor hovers over a configurable setting. This simple ability to see power optimisation tips while configuring the MCU saves considerable development time, noted the company.

The SiM3L1xx MCU evaluation board environment is stand-alone, battery-powered demonstration board that includes an LCD panel that shows changes in temperature and humidity readings from the Si7005 sensor. It includes example code that can be used to speed development of applications requiring both an ultra-low-power 32bit MCU and humidity and temperature sensors such as smart thermostats and in-home energy monitoring systems. The Si7005 sensor is said to provide an accurate, low-power digital solution for measuring temperature, humidity and dew point in applications ranging from HVAC and refrigeration to asset tracking to industrial control.

Roughly the same size as an ID badge, the SiM3L1xx development board showcases the power efficiency of SiM3L1xx MCUs. The board contains an ultra-low-power SiM3L1xx MCU, segmented LCD, supercapacitor, LED and photodiode sensor, debug interface and USB port. The board can display information continuously on the LCD for up to three days after a quick 90-second charge of the supercapacitor through a USB cable. Using the USB connector and debug interface, developers can connect the board to a PC and use the Precision32 IDE for software development. The board offers a "demo mode" that shows typical power consumption for various MCU operating modes on the segmented LCD. Developers can also download an iPhone app that lets them enter text such as names and phone numbers and then send the information to the board using specialised image patterns on the iPhone's LCD that are received by the board's photodiode sensor.

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