Texas Instruments Inc. has
unveiled a $4.30 development kit targeted at the 25-cent, 16-bit
microcontroller line that it rolled out earlier this year.
Known as LaunchPad, the new kit is intended to
help engineers who want to transition their future applications from eight-bit
to 16-bit microcontrollers (MCUs).
"We're trying to make the
development process as simple as possible, so that they don't have to start
from the ground, up, and deal with all the bits and bytes of programming," says
Adrian Fernandez, a product marketing engineer for TI's MSP430 team. "By doing
it with LaunchPad, everything is modular. All they have to worry about is their
application and what they want to do with it."
The new product
represents a departure from other development kits, which cost about $50 apiece
on average, with some reaching as high as $200, TI says. As such, the electronics
giant is targeting the new kit at two groups: engineers who want to graduate
from eight- to 16-bit designs; and engineers who have never employed a TI
MSP430 or an MCU of any kind.
the so-called MSP430 Value Line family of microcontrollers in March, with
the idea of going head-to-head with eight-bit devices in the low end of the $13
billion MCU market. Price for the 16-bit family, which offers more MIPS and
lower power consumption than most eight-bit devices, start at just 25 cents
apiece. To date, the company has released 27 separate types of Value Line
devices, with the ultimate plan calling for about 100 of them in the next 15
for the device include capacitive touch and remote sensing, as well as lighting,
safety and security, fitness equipment, and consumer electronics, such as 3-D
glasses. At a TI Wiki page created for
the product, users have posted videos of LaunchPad being applied in the
creation of simple games, LED controllers and servo motor controllers.
says that the development kit was created in response to demand from engineers.
"We received a lot of customer feedback regarding the need for a low-cost
development kit for (the Value Line)," he says.
that the cost of the kit is encouraging developers to try it. "It's cheaper
than a Happy Meal," he says. "We can't wait to see what our customers do with
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