Microchip Expands 8-bit MCU Line, Offers First BTLE Module

24 June 2014

Microchip Technology Inc. has rolled out an expansion of its 8-bit mid-range core microcontroller (MCU) family as well as its first Bluetooth energy module, both targeting low-power devices and applications.

The additions to the PIC16F178X family carry increased flash memory densities as well as analog-to-digital peripherals. They also implement a programmable switch mode controller (PSMC), a 16-bit pulse width modulator (PWM) operating at 64 MHz.

Microchip said the new features of the MCUs will provide higher efficiency and performance as well as reductions in cost and board space. To help extend battery life and reduce standby current consumption, the MCUs feature Microchip’s eXtreme Low Power (XLP) technology for active and sleep currents of 3232 µA/MHz and 50 nA, respectively.

Microchip says the MCUs are suited to LED and other lighting applications, battery management, digital power supplies, motor control, and general-purpose applications.

“The PIC16F178X integrates intelligent analog and advanced Core Independent Peripherals, enabling high-performance capabilities within a low cost and versatile 8-bit PIC MCU,” says Steve Drehobl, vice president of Microchip’s MCU8 Division. “This level of integration and capability really emphasizes that it is not necessarily all about the core CPU, but rather the capabilities that can be cost-effectively enabled,” he adds.

The additions to the PIC16 family are available now for sampling and volume production with a variety of package options priced at $1.18 each, in 10,000 unit quantities.

Microchip also released its first Bluetooth 4.1 energy module, called the RN4020, which carries regulatory certifications and is Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) certified. The module comes with integrated Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) stack and on-board support for SIG that the company claims will decrease time to market, ensure Bluetooth compatibility, reduce development risks, and eliminate certification costs.

The module comes pre-loaded with Microchip’s Low-energy Data Profile (MLDP) so it can stream any type of data across the BTLE link. Microchip says the on-board module can connect to any MCU with a UART interface, or it can operate standalone without an MCU for basic data collection and communication, such as for a beacon or a sensor.

Microchip said the markets that need this type of energy module include low-power wireless command-and-control applications in home automation and appliances, medical and wearable devices, toys, tags, entry-control fobs, and remote controls. But the devices could also find their way into pulse and proximity sensor-based systems and some industrial applications.

The R4020 is available now for $6.78, each in 1,000 unit quantities.

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