Spansion Inc., a chip vendor that formerly focused exclusively on flash memory, launched Monday (Nov. 17) a family of ARM-based microcontrollers targeting machine-to-machine communications and the so-called Internet of Things.
The launch of the Spansion FM (flexible microcontroller) products marks a milestone for Spansion (Sunnyvale, Calif.), a former joint venture between AMD and Fujitsu that spun off on its own in 2005. Spansion previously marketed only NOR and NAND flash memory chips. In August, Spansion acquired Fujitsu Semiconductor's microcontroller and analog chip business for $175 million, providing the company with the technology to market microcontrollers.
Spansion said the Spansion FM products address the high performance and low power requirements of industrial applications such as factory automation, building management, inverter drives, smart meters, home appliances and medical devices. The high end Spansion FM4 family delivers performance of up to 200 MHz, while the Spansion FM0+ products offer ultra low power consumption for applications like sensors, human machine interfaces and home appliances, Spansion said. The products are offered with different voltage ranges from 1.65 to 5.5 voltages, embedded flash memory options ranging from 64 kbytes to 2 mbytes, analog interfaces, and support for serial, CAN, USB and Ethernet communications interfaces, Spansion said.
Spansion is not the first chip company to offer a microcontroller product line tailored toward the Internet of Things, which is ultimately expected to grow the annual market for microcontrollers by several orders of magnitude. But according to Saied Tehrani, Spansion's chief technology officer, the Spansion FM family of microcontrollers offers several things that differentiate it from competitive offerings, including the broad range of operating voltages and flash memory content featured throughout the entire product line.
"It's really the ability that we are giving our customers to be seamlessly able to move based on their needs or requirements," Tehrani said.
Tehrani added that Spansion also offers extensive software support and solutions to help customers simplify system design and accelerate time to market.
"It's about helping customers design their products by offering complete solutions so that they can design the product faster and easier into their systems," he said.
In addition to the Cortex-M4 based Spansion FM4 products and the Cortex-M0+ based Spansion FM0+ products, the Spansion FM family includes the mid-range Spansion FM3 products. In all, the Spansion FM family includes more than 700 products, Spansion said.
Spansion FM3 and FM4 microcontrollers are currently in mass production, while the Spansion FM0+ products are currently sampling, Spansion said. More information about the devices is available on Spansion's website.
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