At the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose this week, Microchip Technology Inc. rolled out a family of 16-bit microcontrollers that feature remappable pins on its packages. The family of devices, which include 28- and 44-pin packages, are targeted at small, complex applications ranging from toys to vending machines to car alarms to remote metering systems.
The new pin-mapping function, known as Peripheral Pin Select, provides more efficient use of pins for designers creating products that must connect to multiple peripherals, such as sensors, displays, memories and other processors.
“To the greatest extent possible, it lets designers access what they need,” said Donald Schneider, product marketing manager for the Advanced Microcontroller & Architecture Division at Microchip Technology. “If there’s a sufficient number of pins available, designers can get what they need.”
Schneider said that’s not the case for conventional microcontrollers today. On today’s units, he said, functions are typically mapped to a fixed set of pins. As a result, designers often run out of options as they add more peripheral functions, even in cases where the total number of pins seems sufficient.
“Sometimes when you use one function, you block others in terms of pin availability,” Schneider said.
Peripheral Pin Select could change that scenario, however. By employing a complicated multiplexing scheme, the feature enables pins to be “remapped,” thus making them available for multiple functions.
The feature is available in eight new members of the company’s PIC24F family. Known as the PIC24FJ64GA004 microcontroller family, the new devices are aimed at small and low-cost 28- and 44-pin packages with 16 to 64 Kbytes of flash memory and up to 8 Kbytes of RAM.