Just introduced by the Electronic Device Group of Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA, the StarterKit Plus for its 8- and 16-bit microcontroller units (MCUs) is aimed at allowing customers to quickly evaluate the company's MCUs in embedded system applications. "The first 120 days of an embedded system project are the most critical," says Richard Sessions, director of the Embedded Systems Dept. in Mitsubishi's Integration, Communications, and Imaging Div. "Here's where the choices of hardware and software are made and the time-to-market determined," he emphasizes. "Thus starter kits, simulators, and emulators can give a fast start to making design choices," understanding a microprocessor's capability, and writing code. At $99.99, StarterKit Plus includes the correct power supply, cables, software, manuals, sample code, and CD-ROM data book. The kit's compiler and debugger come with a 120-day license, renewable for free. The company's M16C 16-bit core microcontroller family uses the same architecture in applications from high-end 8-bit (where it is cost competitive), through 16-, into 32-bit applications, making it easy to migrate designs upward. Mitsubishi Electric:
Microcontrollers get small, offer back compatibility
The PIC18F010 and F020 flash microcontrollers from Microchip Technology offer 10 MIPS performance with 4 kbytes of program memory, 256 bytes of user RAM, and 64 bytes of EEPROM data memory, all in a compact 8-pin package. The company's 0.5-micron process technology allows it to use the 8-pin package, which takes up reduced board space, and, because it requires fewer instructions, RISC architecture makes it easier to use. Flash reprogrammability allows field upgrades. The microcontroller units (MCUs) complement Microchip's existing PICmicro line—with pin compatibility decreasing prototyping time and permitting existing PC board configurations to be used with new features. Software can also be reused because of code compatibility across all 8 to 84 pins of the PICmicro architecture. Low-voltage operation (EEPROM write down to 2V) is suited to battery operation. "The PIC18F010 and F020 continue Microchip's 8-pin, 8-bit MCUs with the flexibility of flash program memory and the performance of the PIC18 architecture," according to Fanie Duvenhage, product manager. Applications include use in the automotive, motor control, industrial telecommunications, and appliance markets. Microchip Technology:
Controller's integrated sensors prolong battery life
The Motorola 68HC908SR12 8-bit microcontroller uses on-chip current and temperature sensors to cut the need for additional components and thus reduce board size. Targeted applications include "smart" batteries and chargers, home appliances, security systems, and other sensing applications. Kevin Kilbane, market development manager for 8- and 16-bit MCUs (microcontroller units), highlights the high level of sensor integration and special algorithms that monitor temperature to speed charging and protect the battery from over-temperatures. "Charging is optimized based on temperature," he says, "and pulsing charge current allows a fast charge and safety," while prolonging battery life. "Users can customize the charging algorithms," Kilbane adds, and thus have several product versions using the same hardware. The chips can be on board batteries or separate in stand-alone charging units. Security system applications involve ensuring battery backup and sensor interface integrity, while industrial control uses are geared to advanced interfacing with processing and temperature sensors. Motorola SPS:
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
In 2003, the world contained just over 500 million Internet-connected devices. By 2010, this figure had risen to 12.5 billion connected objects, almost six devices per individual with access to the Internet. Now, as we move into 2015, the number of connected 'things' is expected to reach 25 billion, ultimately edging toward 50 billion by the end of the decade.
NASA engineer Brian Trease studied abroad in Japan as a high school student and used to fold fast-food wrappers into cranes using origami techniques he learned in library books. Inspired by this, he began to imagine that origami could be applied to building spacecraft components, particularly solar panels that could one day send solar power from space to be used on earth.
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