A new mixed-signal microcontroller (MCU) promises higher
accuracy and lower power draw for applications ranging from blood glucose
meters to fitness monitors to home thermostats.
Introduced at the Embedded Systems Conference
here this week, the Q32M210 mixed signal MCU is targeted at portable sensing
applications that call for high precision. It incorporates an ARM Cortex M3
processor, dual 16-bit analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) and three 10-bit
digital-to-analog converters (DACs). ON
, maker of the new MCU, says the device's real advantage is
its ability to offer high precision while operating at just 400 µA/MHz.
"It's about efficiency," notes Todd Schneider, vice
president of conversion and control technologies for ON. "It's about providing
performance over the entire battery life, right down to the very end, and doing
it at the lowest possible power consumption."
ON engineers say they designed the new MCU in response to
greater demand for standard 32-bit architectures and for lower power in
embedded products. Makers of medical sensing systems are also pushing for
higher accuracy, particularly in products such as blood glucose measurement
"We're seeing a real demand for improved precision,"
The new device is contained in a 140-pin, 10 x 10 mm package.
The package incorporates memory, power management, USB interface, and precision
ADCs that can be hooked up to temperature and humidity sensors.
The device's low power draw also makes it a candidate for
applications that employ small lithium cells that are typically thrown away
without being recharged.
"It's good for the consumer and it's good for the end
application because you don't have to change your battery as often," Schneider
says. "It's also good for the environment because you're not going to be
throwing away as many batteries."