NEC Electronics Enters LED Control Market with High-Performance, Intelligent Microcontroller

19th May 2008
Written by : ES Admin
NEC Electronics Enters LED Control Market with High-Performance, Intelligent Microcontroller
NEC Electronics has introduced what it says is the world’s first microcontroller (MCU) with a constant high-current driver (HCD). The new HCD/LED MCU can be used in lighting applications that use more than one LED, in industrial control applications featuring stepping motor and solenoid drives, and in switching-mode power supplies. Developed in collaboration with leading LED solutions supplier Future Lighting Solutions (a division of Future Electronics), the two companies merged their expertise to develop this intelligent design approach to meet the growing market demands of LED lighting and other applications.
The new uPD78F8024 device combines an NEC Electronics 8-bit All Flash MCU with a four-channel HCD that helps reduce size and system cost. NEC Electronics and Future Lighting Solutions worked closely together to define specifications for the new device, which delivers efficient power management capability in street illumination, architecture, entertainment, emergency vehicle and display lighting systems.

“NEC Electronics America and Future Lighting Solutions developed a ‘smart’ design approach to support the growing performance demands of LED lighting and other applications,” said Bart Ladd, general manager, Account Development and Applications, NEC Electronics America. “The new solution offers higher integration and greater intelligence, and is supported with a robust design environment that helps designers bring products to market faster and more cost effectively.”

The uPD78F8024 HCD/LED MCU integrates an 8-bit MCU and constant high-current driver with several discrete components in a low-profile quad flat package (LQFP). The MCU’s small size, compared to traditional device sizes, opens up space on a board for other components. By supporting switching frequencies up to 1 megahertz (MHz), the new device also allows designers to use smaller passive components such as inductors to further reduce board space, a particular benefit in architectural and general-purpose lighting applications and in display backlighting systems where space is at a premium.

High integration offers additional advantages in cost-sensitive applications such as consumer electronics products and emergency vehicles. With fewer off-chip components, overall size of the main component is smaller, making it possible for designers to further reduce costs.

“Customers will value the flexibility that the uPD78F8024 solution provides, such as providing output current support to drive the full range of our LUXEON® high-power LEDs,” said Patrick Durand, Worldwide Applications Manager, Future Lighting Solutions. “Engineers who want to maximize control, reliability and power savings for their solid-state lighting applications can also leverage this new MCU’s ability to dynamically change current for an average LED by communicating with a temperature or ambient light sensor.”

The MCU’s flexible four-channel architecture, 9- to 38-volt (V) input voltage and buck or boost mode capability, enable it to be used in multiple geographic regions. In addition, engineers can configure the high-current driver as four independent channels or as one combined channel to manage dimming and color features more intelligently. Using the channels independently works well in gaming, architectural and entertainment applications that feature distinct lighting functions, for example, for generating different lighting effects. Combining all four channels enables designers to generate arrays of up to 40 high-power LEDs, thereby providing the stronger LED power and built-in redundancy required for general street and tunnel lighting where constant and consistent illumination is key.

The ability to alter effective LED current dynamically is particularly useful in outdoor lighting environments. When used with a series of external MOSFETs, the new HCD/LED MCU can support currents ranging from 350 milliamperes (mA) to more than 1.5 amperes, enabling LED designers to adjust current volumes to improve thermal management and meet a wide variety of power needs. The MCU can also communicate with temperature and/or lighting sensors to improve LED temperature control.

Comprehensive development tools for the uPD78F8024 solution available from NEC Electronics and third-party tools suppliers include C compilers, integrated development environments (IDE), full-function in-circuit emulator (ICE), integrated debugger for design and development, and PG-FP5 flash programmer. A full evaluation kit is also available, along with an Applilet automatic sample code generator that has been optimized specifically for the new HCD/LED device.

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