A family of 25-cent microcontrollers is enabling users of 8-bit
microcontrollers to move up to 16 bits, while adding intelligence to products
that never had it previously.
, the new family is said to offer 10 times as much computing
throughput as 8-bit microcontrollers, while using one-tenth as much standby
power. At the same time, the new products cost as much as traditional 8-bit
, makers of the new Value Line family, says the new devices
are already seeing use in lighting, handheld consumer electronics, personal
health and fitness, and so-called "touch sense" applications.
There are 8-bit
microcontrollers in the same price range," says VC Kumar, MSP420 product
marketing manager for TI. "But with these devices, we changed the
price-performance curve, not just the price by itself."
In 2010, TI
rolled out 27 members of the Value Line family, and then followed with the
introduction of 64 new devices in January 2011. The microcontrollers are
code-compatible across the entire platform, enabling users to upgrade to
higher-end devices as application requirements evolve. TI has also added a $4.30
development kit called LaunchPad
to help jump-start new application designs.
engineers say the move to 16 bits enables many of its customers to add new
features to their products. "Even in very inexpensive products that use
microcontrollers, people are always looking to add more functionality," Kumar
says. "We're even seeing some customers adding microcontrollers to applications
where they've never had them before."