New Energy-Efficient Microcontrollers Coming From Toshiba

Toshiba has started working on a line of embedded microcontrollers meant to be more energy efficient while enabling highly precise motor control in electronic equipment and devices.

In recent years, demand has grown for energy-efficient electronics products. A number of companies are working on ultra-low-power circuits and other embedded hardware to enable this. (See: Anagear's Low-Power Circuits Harvest & Save Energy.)

AC motors are commonly used in consumer and industrial motor applications. Toshiba says there has been "strong demand in the market, especially in consumer products, for more energy efficient DC motors." However, controlling these motors requires high-level technician skills, so the company is devising a simpler solution.

That's where Toshiba's somewhat mysterious advanced motor control co-processor -- currently code named the New Vector Engine -- will come into play. The technology will be incorporated into microcontrollers to be released next year to give them precise control while maintaining energy efficiency.

The company is not saying exactly what this technology will entail. Koji Takahata, a spokesman from the e-service group at Toshiba Corp. Semiconductor and Storage Products Co. in Tokyo, did tell us the microcontrollers will foster an "easier and more cost-effective way to apply highly precise motor control to products."

The New Vector Engine will support the trend toward higher-performance, more flexible motor applications, he said, which will enable the type of precision the industry demands. "The New Vector Engine makes it easy to incorporate the special function into the vector control, such as field weakening control required by various applications, realizing highly precise control."

Toshiba's M370 group of microcontrollers use the current version of the Vector Engine, which was developed as part of the energy-efficient Toshiba Cortex-M3 core-based microcontroller series, he said.

In a press release, Toshiba said development of the new microcontroller line will start with the TX03 series, followed by the TX04 series, which will be based on a Cortex-M4F core. "The company will also increase the number of new products in the TX00 product line" that incorporate a new programmable motor driver circuit. This will "create cost-competitive 8-bit microcontroller based solutions."

To accompany the new line, Toshiba will offer "a wide range of embedded memory sizes, peripheral IPs, and packages for application development, including home appliances, office equipment and factory automation equipment."

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