Looking to extend its family of 8-bit core independent peripheral MCUs to power management applications in automotive, LED lighting, and display applications, Microchip Technology, Inc. (Chandler, Ariz.) introduced its PIC16(L)F1769 (Figure 1) .
It includes up to two independent closed loop channels and a programmable ramp generator (PRG), which automates slope and ramp compensation, and increases stability and efficiencies in hybrid power conversion applications. The PRG provides real-time, down-to-the-nanosecond responses to a system change without CPU interaction for multiple independent power channels.
In an interview with EE Times, Microchip MCU8 Division Product Marketing Manager Greg Brown said that what made this possible was the use of a unique core-independent peripheral (CIP) microcontroller architecture that reverses the traditional role of the MCU in a typical control-oriented application.
Making 8-bit MCUs more useful
“In essence, the core-independent peripheral approach we use turns the majority of the real time and deterministic event management over to a variety of sophisticated on-chip peripheral blocks,” Brown said. “The MCU is used instead for general management of peripheral interactions, user interface operations, external communications, and resolving conflicts. It also manages the code created by the developer for a variety of fail-safe functions that might occur, the mix depending on the application area to which the device is targeted.”
The CIP architecture was conceived as a way to extend the lifetime and usefulness of eight bit MCU architectures such as the PIC16. “It was clear to us that if the industry continued in the direction it was going with a purely code-based approach to managing event control, the 8-bit architecture would eventually die out.”
Company engineers decided to use smaller geometry processes to create a silicon environment in which the MCU itself occupied no more than 5% of the die and where the rest was used to incorporate a variety of peripheral functions normally done externally.
In such an architecture, one thing the MCU does not do is run a lot of code related to the deterministic operations of the various peripherals. “Much of that is offloaded to the peripheral blocks to execute in hardware,” said Brown. “And where some degree of programmability is required, this architecture is designed with a small amount of programmable logic for those contingencies.”
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