A new family of low-power 8-bit microcontrollers
could set the stage for efficiency improvements in 3-D eyeglasses, as
well as in coffee makers, blenders, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners and LED
The new PIC microcontrollers
(MCUs) from Microchip Technology Inc. are said to offer a vast
improvement in power efficiency, consuming just 50 µA/MHz in the active
state, or about one-third as much electrical current as the best
competitors. Approximately five years in the making, the new PIC12F182X
and PIC16F182X MCU families are reportedly being snapped up for use in
glasses for 3-D televisions, an application that might not have been
imagined when Microchip engineers originally launched the design effort.
power is extremely important in 3-D glasses," says Steve Drehobl, vice
president of Microchip's Security, Microcontroller
and Technology Development Div. "There, you're running off a battery
and you're performing at a high frequency. Engineers want the highest
possible frequency and the least possible current draw."
after launching the design program for the new microcontrollers,
Microchip engineers say they also started hearing from makers of
applications that don't employ batteries. Many such products, they say,
have new low power ratings that engineers need to comply with.
were amazed at how many people said they needed extreme low power and
it had nothing to do with making batteries last longer," Drehobl
recalls. "With a more efficient microcontroller,
designers can make the power supply smaller, they can make the board
sizes smaller, and they can make the housings around the boards smaller.
And when they do that, they can save on shipping costs."
why Microchip says it is hearing from makers of products that can be
plugged into a wall socket. Drehobl says the company is also talking to
automakers and their suppliers for low-power applications involving LED
lighting, keyless entry and body electronics.
"We started this
initiative because of what we heard from the battery folks," Drehobl
says. "But now we're finding that anyone who plugs into a wall wants it,
to watch a video demonstrating Microchip's low active current. Click
to read about low-power MCUs from TI.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.