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Microchip Technology Low Sleep Power MCUs

Microchip Technology Inc. is introducing two 8-bit MCU families and one 16-bit family.  According to Microchip, these MCUs provide the world’s lowest sleep power, even lower than the already low sleep power figures for its existing nanoWatt XLP 8-bit and 16-bit MCU families.  The new MCUs can operate in a deep sleep mode using down to 20nA of current.  This deep sleep mode has been achieved by process improvements and by intelligently shutting down all functions that customers have indicated are not essential, while maintaining flexible wake sources that customers have indicated are essential:  a watchdog timer, a real time clock and calendar, a brown-out reset and others.  The watchdog timer operates at currents down to 400nA.  The real-time clock and calendar operates at currents down to 500nA. 

The new families of MCUs are ideal for battery-powered applications such as smoke detectors, utility meters or medical monitors where devices are queried from time to time for values with sleep time between queries.  The low power required in the deep sleep mode can extend battery life significantly.

The PIC24F16KA 16-bit MCU family provides 512B of on-chip EEPROM, up to 16KB of Flash and a deep sleep mode down to 20nA of current.  The PIC18F46J11 8-bit MCU family provides up to 64KB of Flash, 4 KB of RAM, a +/- 1% internal oscillator and a deep sleep mode down to less than 20nA.  It also features digital pin re-mapping so that either a 28 or a 44 pin package can provide a programmed I/O capability equivalent to an 80 pin peripheral set.  The PIC18F46J50 8-bit MCU family adds a full speed USB 2.0 port with an internal USB oscillator. 

Semico Spin

There are an increasing number of battery operated applications for 8-bit and 16-bit MCUs in industrial control, building automation, lighting control, security systems, personal medical devices and automotive end-use markets.  Low sleep power is often critical in these applications.  Picture a snowfall measuring station deep in the mountains as an example.  It might be nearly impossible to reach the station during the winter when the snow is twenty feet deep or deeper. 
In some applications it is desirable to have a battery life that will exceed the lifetime warranty of the product so the battery will never need to be changed.  The new Microchip Technology MCU families will be great news for designers in these kinds of applications. 

The automotive and multipurpose (industrial control, medical, military and other) are the largest combined markets for 8-bit and 16-bit MCUs.  MCU sales, like most of the semiconductor market, will be depressed in 2009.  The 8-bit and 16-bit MCU sales will decline by 8% and 1% respectively.  However, Semico expects to see a recovery in 2010 with 8-bit growing 6% to $4.8B and 16-bit growing 6.4% to $4.2B.

Tony Massimini
Chief Technology Officer

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