PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY
32-Bit Mixed-Signal MCUs Offer Easy Configuration of Rich Peripheral Set
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A new microcontroller family offers a highly integrated, flexible architecture, a rich peripheral set, ultra-low-power, and Eclipse-based development tools that are downloadable at no charge. The Precision32 family from Silicon Laboratories is based on the ARM Cortex-M3 processor and is suitable for a wide range of applications including portable medical devices, point-of-sale peripherals, motor control, industrial monitoring, barcode scanners, optical touchscreen interfaces, sensor controllers and home automation systems. The new Precision32 family includes 32 SiM3U1xx and SiM3C1xx MCU products with footprint-compatible USB and non-USB options. The following on-chip peripherals greatly reduce component count and system cost:
• Integrated precision oscillators with an advanced phase-locked loop (PLL) eliminate the need for a costly 8 MHz crystal by providing the clocking accuracy necessary for crystal-less USB operation while running the core independently at any frequency from 1 to 80 MHz.
• An internal 5V voltage regulator enables the MCU to be powered directly from USB or a 5V source without the need for an external regulator.
• Six high-drive I/Os (up to 300 mA each) can directly drive high-power LEDs, small motors, buzzers and power MOSFETs, as well as serve as a boost converter controller.
• Up to 16 capacitive touch channels eliminate the need for separate touch sensor ICs in applications requiring buttons, sliders or wheels.
• The Precision32 family offers a complete USB 2.0 PHY and analog front-end interfacing directly to the USB connector, while most other MCUs require an external USB pull-up resistor and termination circuit.
Using Silicon Labs’ patented dual-crossbar technology and a drag-and-drop GUI, developers can easily choose their analog and digital peripherals and pin locations for these peripherals. Competing MCUs often have preset peripheral locations and pinouts, leading to pin conflicts that force developers to alter their designs or move to larger, costlier packages. Silicon Labs’ crossbar design and GUI-based AppBuilder software enable developers to optimize their peripheral mix and pinout placement and locate peripherals near connecting components, thus eliminating pin conflicts, simplifying PCB routing, minimizing PCB layers and ultimately reducing system cost.
The Precision32 family’s analog peripherals are specified and tested to operate over temperature and voltage (down to 1.8V). Moreover, the Precision32 analog peripherals are highly configurable, enabling developers to simplify their designs and optimize performance for a wide variety of embedded applications.
Silicon Labs engineered the Precision32 family to power efficiency in both active and sleep modes. The MCUs leverage Silicon Labs’ low-power design technologies to achieve power reductions within every block of the MCU design, resulting in up to 33 percent lower active current (22 mA at 80 MHz or 275 µA/MHz) and 100 times lower sleep current (0.35 µA with RTC enabled and 4 Kbyte of RAM retention) than competing 32-bit solutions. Numerous power modes and clocking options enable developers to optimize their embedded designs for the lowest power at a given performance level.
Silicon Labs offers a rich set of hardware and software tools including a unified development platform (UDP) featuring interchangeable MCU and radio components and other subsystems designed to match each developer’s application needs. The UDP includes a single motherboard, modular plug-in boards, and ample room for prototyping, expansion and system integration. It also supports MCU code and firmware development and an array of network and protocol stacks and USB drivers. To accelerate sub-GHz RF design, Silicon Labs offers RF test cards for the UDP that support the company’s new Si446x EZRadioPRO transceivers.
Silicon Labs’ complimentary Eclipse-based IDE includes a compiler, debugger and an online dashboard for application-critical information such as a software library with example code, data sheets, schematics, PCB footprints, app notes, active version tracking and automatic updates. A centerpiece of the IDE is Silicon Labs’ GUI-based AppBuilder software, which enables developers to quickly and graphically select their peripheral mix and properties, set up clocking modes, customize pinouts and generate source code—all without having to write a line of code or read a data sheet.