NEC Electronics Corp. has ramped up its LED (light-emitting diode) control lineup, rolling out a
family of 8-bit microcontrollers for lighting applications. The introduction
of the new 14-device family follows on the heels of NEC's mid-2008 unveiling of
a microcontroller (MCU) with a constant high-current driver for LEDs.
the new family is targeted at both fluorescent and LED applications. NEC
engineers say the devices in the lineup are created with two 16-bit timers that
can do power factor correction, making them well-suited for LED applications in
which AC power is used. Along with the power factor correction, the new devices
also enable users to drive LEDs at constant current.
combining those two features into one device, this lineup fits well in applications
where you use AC voltage and you want to bring it down to DC voltage and light
up an LED," says Lance Zheng, applications manager for NEC's Multi-Purpose MCU
NEC says the new MCUs provide an energy conservation boost because they make it
easier for users to switch from incandescent to fluorescent lighting or to LED
lighting. By employing an MCU rather than a dedicated IC to do inverter control
and dimming functions, lighting manufacturers can control illumination at "a
fine-grained level" and do remote control of illumination.
announcement follows its 2008 introduction of the µPD78F8024,
an 8-bit all-Flash MCU with a four-channel high-current driver for LEDs. At
the time of the introduction last May, NEC said the µPD78F8024 was the
world's first microcontroller to offer a constant high-current driver. NEC
engineers say that's important for users who want to control the level of light
want to deliver constant light, you have to drive the LED at constant current,"
design is also said to be important for users who want to maintain independent
control over groups of lights. In the four-channel arrangement, when one string
(or channel) of LEDs fails, the other three channels remain intact, the company
NEC engineers expect
the use of advanced LED controllers to grow in the next few years, especially
as LED prices continue to drop. "Often times, when you drive an LED, you need
intelligence," Zheng says. "To have quality lighting, you have to have