DSCs provide fixed point affordability and floating point ease-of-use to enable energy-efficient industrial applications

19th February 2008
ES Admin

Embedded control engineers prefer the simplified programming provided by floating-point architectures, but are often deterred by the higher cost. Addressing this paradox, Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) today announced what is said to be the first fixed-point digital signal controllers (DSCs) that are entirely compatible in hardware and software with high-performance floating-point DSCs. TI’s new TMS320F282x series of DSCs combine the affordability of a fixed-point architecture with the faster software development inherent to floating-point devices. Floating-point algorithms that previously required significant recoding for fixed-point operation can now be recompiled in minutes to run on the F282x devices. The DSCs bring savings in time-to-market and manufacturing costs, enabling developers to design energy-efficient, less expense industrial applications such as servo controllers, automotive radar, solar inverters and wind turbines.

The new fixed-point F282x DSCs build on the success of TI’s recently introduced TMS320F283x floating-point DSCs, which double performance and cut development time in half from TI’s previously leading DSCs. The F282x controllers operate at up to150 megahertz, are 100 percent code-compatible with F283x devices and can be programmed using the same development tools. The F282x controllers are also completely pin-to-pin compatible with the F283x series. This means that for the first time, a developer can create a control system using floating-point operations for greater accuracy and rapid programming, then recompile the same source code to be used on a fixed-point device for cost efficiency without re-designing any hardware.

Applications that do not need the full performance of a floating-point controller can be prototyped and debugged using F283x DSCs, then manufactured using F282x DSCs to take advantage of fixed-point economy. The parallel fixed- and floating-point devices not only save significant time in development but also allow manufacturers to target both performance and cost-conscious market segments using the same software and hardware engineering.

“By offering the capabilities of fixed- and floating-point operations in fully compatible DSC families, TI is providing embedded control customers with a new level of performance, convenience and affordability,” said Andrew Soukup, worldwide C2000 marketing manager, TI. “The ease of use of floating point and the cost efficiency of fixed point will enable control system developers to introduce more products that save power at a time when energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important in all markets.”

TI’s F282x DSCs bring high performance, ease of development and greater affordability to a wide array of advanced embedded control applications. For instance, in variable speed AC drives and servo controllers, TI DSCs provide the performance needed to execute the most precise and responsive control algorithms. End applications such as industrial tools, robotics and computer numeric control (CNC) systems can use smaller, less expensive motors that operate with greater precision while drawing less power and supplying a more consistently high output. Similar advantages are seen in power inverters for alternative energy systems, which achieve peak efficiency through Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) algorithms and dynamic algorithm adjustments when the wind speed drops or the sky becomes cloudy. Enhancements such as data logging, power line communications (PLC) or inverter synchronization to the utility grid are also possible with the high level of performance offered by TI DSCs.

For applications such as these, developing code using floating-point operations saves time and expense; then by recompiling the developer can run the same software on a fixed-point controller. The tedious job of recoding and debugging using fixed-point numeric representations has been eliminated, and one version of the source code can continue to support ongoing development for both fixed- and floating-point controllers. Code development for F282x controllers follows the same easy-to-use, proven flow as that for F283x devices, except that resetting a single compiler command directs TI’s IQ Math™ library of numeric functions to link the source code to the appropriate operations for fixed-point implementation. All of the F282x and F283x DSCs are also fully code-compatible with TI’s earlier TMS320C28x DSCs, allowing manufacturers to easily upgrade older designs to TI’s highest-performing controller families.

Development support for F282x fixed-point DSCs is already available in the same tools used for F283x floating-point DSCs. To help jump start development, TI offers its F28335 eZdsp starter kit, which comes complete with an F28335 DSC target board and TI's Code Composer Studio Integrated Development Environment. Other support from TI includes commonly used control algorithms, and a wide variety of tools and software modules are also available from TI’s extensive network of third parties.

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