A new ultra-low power microcontroller (MCU) with on-board
ferroelectric memory could give a big boost to remote monitoring systems.
microcontroller, introduced at the Embedded Systems Conference
here, could be especially important for monitoring of bridges, buildings and
other remote structures. It also could make it easier for manufacturers to
tracks products, such as pharmaceuticals, as they get shipped around the world.
to allow you to put more sensors in more places and monitor more things," notes
Miller Adair, MSP430 product marketing manager for Texas
, maker of the new microcontroller. "The key is the fact that
FRAM writes 100 times faster than Flash (memory) and gives you a 250-times
power savings. So you can do significantly more things with the same battery
than you could with a Flash controller."
Known as the MSP430FR57xx
, the new microcontroller
is said to be the industry's first ultra-low power ferroelectric random access
memory (FRAM) 16-bit microcontroller. Texas Instruments has been working on
FRAM technology for about a decade, but this is the first time that the memory
has been integrated into a microcontroller. The new MCU is said to reduce the
industry's best active power by up to 50 percent when executing code from FRAM,
operating at 100 µA/MHz in active mode and 3 µA in real-time clock mode. It
also offers virtually limitless write endurance at 100 trillion cycles.
For product designers, the new
technology provides the ability to deploy and monitor sensors for years at a
time. TI engineers foresee it being used on many of the country's 600,000
bridges, or on other types of remote structures where safety and security is
"Imagine employing underwater
seismic sensors for years at a time, so we can identify seismic threats and get
notifications out faster," Adair says. "You could also use it for asset
tracking, or you could monitor pharmaceuticals from the day they leave the
factory until the day they hit your medicine cabinet."