Texas Instruments has announced a breakthrough generation of ultra-low power MSP430 microcontrollers (MCU), offering the industry’s lowest power consumption for devices that can provide up to 25 MHz peak performance, increased Flash and RAM memory and integrated peripherals such as radio frequency (RF), USB, encryption and LCD interfaces. With as low as 160 µA/MHz (microamp per megahertz) active power consumption and 1.5 µA in standby, MSP430F5xx MCUs enable longer battery life and the ability to use smaller batteries for portable applications, or no batteries at all for energy harvesting systems that run off of solar power, vibration energy or human body temperature.
TI customer, Jim Vogeley, CEO, AdaptivEnergy, explains that their product, the Joule-Thief™ energy harvester, “collects and stores electrical energy from tiny mechanical vibrations and then uses this harvested energy to power a small, low-power MSP430 MCU. The MCU helps enable a compact RF sensor design to implement ambient intelligence that can detect and report critical conditions in factories, automobiles, offices, homes and other environments, all without wiring or batteries.
Increased memory and integrated peripherals like RF, USB, encryption and LCD interfaces allow designers to add functionally needed to advance fields like personal medical, home automation, human interface control, automated meter reading (AMR), portable instrumentation, sensors, consumer electronics and security. Development tools, collateral, third-party support, training and university programs facilitate ease of use and shorten time to market.
The conflicting demands of increased performance, functionality and energy efficiency are the biggest challenges facing the industry today, notes Max Baron, principal analyst, In-Stat. As designers strive to do more with less, the new MSP430F5xx MCU generation will help reduce the power consumed by existing applications while enabling new designs requiring very low power.
With more than 50 percent more processing performance and double the Flash and RAM memory of previous 1xx, 2xx or 4xx generations, F5xx devices help systems perform demanding tasks while operating from very limited power sources. Designers can tap into peak execution performance of up to 25 MHz while consuming as low as 160uA/MHz (microamp per megahertz). A wake up time of less than 5 microseconds with full status retention from both standby and sleep modes provides full performance on demand and instant reaction to events like external interrupts. Multi-channel direct memory access (DMA) permits data exchange with peripherals while the core remains in low-power modes. The industry's highest code density among comparable devices maximizes performance while minimizing memory and power requirements.
A true 32-bit real-time clock (RTC) with an alarm requires just 1.5 µA of standby current, enabling batteries to operate without servicing for 20 years or longer. Extended battery life is critical for customers in the electric, gas and water metering infrastructure industry that save significant time and money by replacing batteries used in their metering systems less frequently. A new, cutting-edge power management module (PMM) offers flexibility to choose the optimum core voltage dynamically for lowest power vs. performance requirements while enabling accurate power on reset and supply voltage supervision with monitoring. A unified clock system (UCS) offers a selection of clocks to achieve the right mix of power and precision, including an option for operation without a crystal.
Intelligent, high-performance digital and analog peripherals consume no power when not in operation, and future F5xx devices will include peripherals such as RF, USB, encryption and LCD interfaces. A new high-resolution timer will offer advanced processing capabilities to enable applications like voice-activated home security systems. Up to one megabyte (MB) of linear memory mapping enables robust user interfaces, as well as applications for ZigBee® and other low-power RF sensor networks. F54xx devices offer up to 16 kilobytes of RAM and up to 256 KB Flash, doubling Flash and RAM available on previous MSP430F2xx, F1xx and F4xx devices. The new devices offer read/erase/write capability down to 1.8 V; for applications based on two AAA batteries, Flash write is possible down to the battery end of life voltage of 0.9 V for each battery.