Tech & Product

Texas Instruments simplifies low-power microcontroller development with non-volatile FRAM

October 9, 2014

DALLAS, TX – Texas Instruments (TI) announces the lowest-power MCUs with an on-chip LCD controller within a new family of ultra-low-power MSP430™ microcontrollers (MCUs) and a new low-cost LaunchPad rapid prototyping kit that provide all the advantages of non-volatile FRAM in a small memory footprint. The new MSP430FR4x/FR2x MCUs include 60 capacitive-touch-enabled general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins so developers can create flexible ultra-low-power products for home automation systems, household appliances, remote controls, energy harvesting applications and many more.

The MSP430FR4x series rounds out TI’s portfolio of ultra-low-power MCUs with integrated LCD support on-chip. The new MCU featured on the MSP-EXP430FR4133 LaunchPad kit includes a segmented LCD driver with software-configurable LCD pins to enable quick and easy hardware layout and an integrated charge pump that allows the LCD contrast level to be maintained even when the MCU is in low-power modes. The LCD controller can drive up to 256 segments to support large displays used in panel meters and portable health and fitness equipment. TI’s continued focus on ultra-low-power consumption enabled the development of the MSP430FR4x devices, which are the lowest-power MCUs with LCD in the industry. The MSP430FR4133 LaunchPad is immediately available so developers can jump start LCD-based designs quickly.

Explore the unique ultra-low-power capabilities of non-volatile FRAM-based MCUs.

FRAM MCUs offer unbeatable write speeds, combined with 10 billion times more write- cycles than traditional non-volatile memory solutions – exponentially increasing the amount of data that can be collected, outlasting the product lifetime itself. FRAM simplifies code development because it does not require pre-erasure of segments and can be accessed at the bit-level, enabling constant on-the-fly data logging with zero extra power. Wireless firmware updates are less complex, faster and lower energy. FRAM can also reduce manufacturing costs by decreasing programming times on an assembly line.

"The unique flexibility of TI's FRAM MCUs allowed us to partition between RAM-type memory and program memory anywhere within the FRAM and create a unique, low-cost e-ink display solution within a compact footprint,” said Don Powrie, CEO of DLP Design. “Normally, in order to get this amount of RAM, we would require a much larger MCU, thereby driving up the overall product cost."

Features and benefits of TI’s MSP430FR4x/FR2x FRAM MCUs:

• The new 16 KB non-volatile FRAM memory families expand TI’s code-compatible FRAM portfolio so developers have scalable memory options from 16 KB up to 128 KB.
• Up to 60 GPIO pins make design easier and reduce system complexity and board space.
• The industry’s lowest-power consumption of 126 µA/MHz (typical) and less than 1 µA standby with LCD powered on.
• Low-cost MSP430FR4133-based LaunchPad rapid prototyping evaluation kit enables designers to quickly and easily evaluate non-volatile FRAM memory, EnergyTrace™ technology and integrated LCD.
• Get intelligent thermostat designs started quicker with a comprehensive TI Design based on MSP430FR4x MCUs that leverages the LCD controller and overall flexibility of the device to speed time-to-market.
• Integration includes two timers, a 10-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC), real-time clock (RTC) counter and SPI and I2C communications to reduce system cost and product size.
• Debug energy in real-time with TI’s EnergyTrace technology that enables developers to analyze power consumption from nA to mA.
• Integrate EEPROM to design secure products with faster write times, lower power and higher memory reliability.
• Extensive resources for developers include detailed migration guides and application notes to ease the migration from existing MCUs to MSP430FR4x/FR2x MCUs.
• Available in 48- to 64-pin devices in LQFP and TSSOP package options.

Pricing and availability

The MSP-EXP430FR4133 LaunchPad is immediately available for purchase from TI’s eStore or authorized distributors for $13.99. MSP430FR4x MCUs with LCD support are available for immediate sampling. Production quantities of MSP430FR4x/FR2x families will be available in November starting at $1.65.

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