TI Takes Aim at Simple Applications with New 25-Cent MCUs

Inexpensive MCUs bring intelligence to applications that didn’t have it previously.

Texas Instruments Inc. is setting its sights on analog designers with the introduction of two new microcontrollers (MCUs) and an e-book to help them put an inexpensive mixed-signal twist on simple applications.

The new microcontrollers start for as little as 25 cents and can be used in simple electronic applications, such as wake-up controllers and real-time clocks, which may not have employed microcontrollers previously.

“We definitely want to target our existing customer base,” Dave Smith, product marketing engineer for TI, told Design News. “But we also want to get someone who has never used an MCU to start thinking about how they could use one. We’re making this as easy as possible.”


To aid in development of the 25-cent MCU applications, TI is offering the MSP430FR2433 LaunchPad Development Kit for $4.30 until January 1, 2018. (Source: Texas Instruments Inc.)


Indeed, the MSP430FR2000 and MSP430FR2100 microcontrollers feature an accompanying e-book that suggests 25 functions that could be implemented more effectively with a 25-cent MCU. “Many of these functions may not seem mission-critical, so developers typically rely on fixed-function ICs when there are other alternatives offering programmability and other enhancements,” the book states in its introduction. It goes on to place the applications into four categories – communications, pulsewidth modulation, system housekeeping, and timers. To help users get started, it also includes links to source code.

Smith said the rollout of the new products is primarily about value – a combination of lower cost and greater intelligence. “If I look on our website, I can find a simple timer IC for seven cents,” he told us. “An MCU can’t go head to head with that unless it adds value. That’s the differentiator. And we’re trying to do that by providing these code examples.”

The majority of the code examples fit within the 0.5-KB memory used on the 16-bit MSP430FR2000 devices. The MCUs will be priced at 25 cents in large quantities. In quantities of less than 1,000 devices, the price will climb to 29 cents.

To aid in development, TI is also featuring a MSP430FR2433 LaunchPad Development Kit for $4.30 until January 1, 2018. The kit includes a target MCU and in-circuit debugger to help engineers develop their applications. It’s aimed at professional developers and the maker community.

For all users, however, the goal is the same, Smith said. “This is about driving down the cost of adding intelligence to simplified applications,” he told us.

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Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 33 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.



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