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Freescale 8-bit MCUs, Still a Market for Innovation and Growth

The high end of the MPU and MCU markets seem to always get so much more attention. Yet the 8-bit MCUs still account for huge volume. In 2006, 8-bit MCUs had $4.6 B in sales with shipments growing 5.3% to 4.2 billion units. It is a very competitive market driven by pricing. The 8-bit MCU ASPs declined 7.4% in 2006.

The key vendors driving growth in 8-bit MCUs are offering more features and memory at competitive prices. Automotive is the largest market for 8-bit MCUs. Chip vendors, like Freescale are looking to grow in other areas, in particular consumer and industrial applications. Last week Freescale announced the addition of the LC60 family to its long time successful S08 architecture.

The LC60 adds an integrated LCD driver to the S08. The MCU can be connected directly to an LCD without any additional circuitry. This is configurable for 4x40 or 3x41 segment displays including up to 16 alphanumeric displays. Freescale is offering memory options with 36KB and 60KB of Flash. The LC60 also features integrated communications interfaces: SCI, two SPI modules and inter-IC bus module. This enables connecting the MCU to external power measurement ICs or to ZigBee modules.

The objective was to design the LC60 for low power and portable applications. It is manufactured on Freescale’s 0.25 micron process. The core is spec’ed to operate at 1.8V and 3.6V. Freescale is targeting a wide range of end use products from toys and portable medical devices to household appliances, as well as utility meters and industrial control displays.

The LC60 family features the MCS08LC60 and the MCS08LC36. Volume quantities of both devices in an 80-pin LQFP are available now, and volume quantities for 64-pin LQFP devices are planned for Q2. The 10K unit prices for the starts at $3.70 for the MCS08LC60 and $3.14 for the MCS08LC36.

Semico Spin

There are ever increasing features and functionality in even the simplest of products we buy as consumers. The continuing integration of system functions such as the LCD driver helps reduce the overall BOM costs for manufacturers. Freescale has a roadmap for the LC60 for streamlined versions with smaller amounts of memory and which can connect to smaller lower cost LCD displays. The LC60 may be starting out in a relatively higher featured version, but Freescale is prepared to grow this family to cover a broad range of products.

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