Texas Instruments Inc. is
taking aim at power reduction in the newest generation of its well-known MSP430
microcontroller, which is said to offer an active current consumption that's
three times better than its previous generation.
say the power reduction could serve to enable some select portable
applications to operate without batteries, instead using so-called "energy
harvesting" to power small devices.
potential for this is really quite high," says Kevin Belnap, product marketing
manager for the MSP430 group at TI. "The active power is so low, it gets you
down to the point where applications like energy harvesting really begin to
generation of TI's MSP430 microcontroller is said to offer the industry's
lowest power consumption for devices operating up to 25 MHz, offering 160
µA/MHz (microamps per megahertz) active power consumption and 1.5 µA in
standby. TI engineers say the active power figure is three times better
than its predecessor, even while using twice as much flash memory. By designing
the new MSP430 in this way, the company plans to eventually integrate more
peripherals, particularly USB and RF capabilities.
very low active current of this device, it just makes a lot of sense to
integrate RF and USB," Belnap says.
some customers are already using the device in energy harvesting. AdaptivEnergy, a maker of miniature
piezoelectric actuators, is using it on a product called the Joule-Thief, which
collects and stores energy from tiny mechanical vibrations and then uses the
harvested energy to power the MSP430. Enough energy is harvested from the
application to implement a full Zigbee wireless system without batteries. Belnap
says such applications wouldn't be possible at the higher power draws of
for the device include home security systems, remote metering and portable
medical equipment, all of which could possibly use smaller batteries as a
result of the MSP430's miniscule current draw. Some energy harvesting systems
could also employ the new MSP430 to operate without batteries, instead drawing power
from solar cells or even human body temperature.