Silicon Labs takes Cortex-M3 route for 32-bit MCUs -

Silicon Labs takes Cortex-M3 route for 32-bit MCUs


Embedded World, Nuremberg – Silicon Laboratories Inc. , which has supplied 8-bit MCUs since its purchase of Cygnal Integrated Products in 2003, has has applied its characteristic analog/mixed-signal expertise to expand it portfolio with 32-bit devices based on the ARM Cortex-M3 processor.
The Precision32 family provides 32 SiM3U1xx and SiM3C1xx MCU variants with footprint-compatible USB and non-USB options.

The Precision32 family is designed for use with 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 company says a bill of materials (BOM) savings of up to $1.34 on systems can be provided by 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 5 V voltage regulator enables the MCU to be powered directly from USB or a 5 V 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 while up to 16 capacitive touch channels eliminate the need for separate touch sensor ICs in applications requiring buttons, sliders or wheels.

The Precision32 family provides a complete USB 2.0 PHY and analog front-end interfacing directly to the USB connector, removing the need for an external USB pull-up resistor and termination circuit.

The devices use Silicon Labs’ patented dual-crossbar technology and a drag-and-drop GUI, to enable the choice of analog and digital peripherals and pin locations for these peripherals. An alternative approach can see preset peripheral locations and pinouts leading to pin conflicts that force developers to alter their designs or move to larger, costlier packages.

Peripheral planning: the patented crossbar architecture means developers can choose their peripherals and place them on virtually any pin location.

Two 12-bit ADCs with multiple modes provide up to 28 channels and an interleaving mode (up to 2 MSPS) with programmable auto-scan requiring no CPU.  Burst mode is up to 64 samples and there are 2 comparators with 4 different modes. The low power mode is 400nA while the performance mode has a 150ns response. There are two 10-bit DACs with circular buffer to enable a 12-bit mode.

A 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 down to 1.8 V and, say the company, replace standalone analog components. The analog peripherals are configurable which simplifies designs.

Patented low-power design technologies are use to achieve power reductions within every block of the MCU design, resulting in active currents of 22 mA at 80 MHz or 275 µA/MHz and lower sleep current of 0.35 µA with RTC enabled and 4 kB of RAM retention.

Hardware and software development tools including a unified development platform (UDP) featuring interchangeable MCU and radio components and other subsystems designed to match application needs. The UDP includes a single motherboard, modular plug-in boards, and 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 Si446x EZRadioPRO transceivers.

An Eclipse-based integrated development environment (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.

The IDE includes the GUI-based AppBuilder software, which enables developers to graphically select their peripheral mix and properties, set up clocking modes, customize pinouts and generate source code – without writing code or reading a data sheet.

Silicon Labs is making use of  the Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard (CMSIS) compliant code to accelerate development and code porting from competitive MCU platforms. ARM software interfaces for common peripherals enable peripheral driver re-use and porting from other ARM-based MCUs.

Click on image to enlarge.

Production quantities of Silicon Labs’ Precision32 MCUs are available now with flash sizes scaling from 32 to 256 kB and in five leaded and leadless package types, ranging from a 6 mm x 6 mm QFN-40 fup to an LGA-92 for maximum I/O configurations.

Product pricing in 10,000-unit quantities begins at $2.20 for SiM3C1xx non-USB MCUs and $2.68 for SiM3U1xx USB MCUs.

Silicon Labs says it will add more 32-bit MCU products that take power conservation and precision analog performance to new levels.

Silicon Labs’ UDP hardware tools include economical SiM3U1xx-B-DK and SiM3C1xx-B-DK development kits available for $99. The SiM3U1xx-B-EDK and SiM3C1xx-B-EDK enhanced development kits featuring I/O expander cards and additional demos to enhance the development experience are priced at $349 and $299.

The Precision32 IDE software tools are available for no cost from the company’s web site

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