32-bit PICs gain high-end, connectivity-oriented chip series

32-bit PICs gain high-end, connectivity-oriented chip series

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By eeNews Europe

For the MZ MCUs, Microchip claims advances in performance, and high memory and peripheral integration; the core is quoted as delivering 330 DMIPS at 200 MHz, or 3.28 CoreMarks/MHz, which is over three times the performance of previous generation PIC32 MCUs. Microchip also claims 30% better code density than comparable MCUs while maintaining performance. The chips have a analogue/digital converter on-board that has a 28 Msample/sec sample rate, fronted by six sample/hold units; they have up to 2 MB of on-board flash, and up to 512 KB RAM: the flash is true dual-panel (or you can use it as a single bank) for secure in-field code updates – the first time this has been offered on a PIC. Connectivity comes with integrated Hi-Speed USB (480 Mbit/sec), also the first time this has been included on a PIC, with 10/100 Ethernet MAC, two CAN 2.0b modules, six UARTs, six SPI / I²S ports, and five I²C ports: plus an SQI (serial quad interface, to extrenal flash) interface. Also on-chip is a crypto engine with a Random Number Generator (RNG) for data encryption/decryption and authentication to standards such as AES, 3DES, SHA, MD5, and HMAC. The core is the previously-announced MIPS microAptiv with the addition of 159 new DSP instructions supporting streaming/digital audio: the chip will supports up to WQVGA display without external graphics ICs – there is enough RAM to implement an on-board frame buffer. In selecting from development-board support at a number of levels, you can opt for variants that use, or do not include, the crypto option.

Imagination’s MIPS microAptiv core offers execution of DSP algorithms at up to 75% fewer cycles than the PIC32MX families. This core also provides the microMIPS instruction-set architecture – this is the “condensed” ISA for the MIPS core – which improves code density while operating at near full rate.

Three PIC32MZ development tools start with the complete, turn-key PIC32MZ EC Starter Kit priced at $119: the Multimedia Expansion Board II (DM320005-2) is available at an introductory price of $299 for six months and can be used with either Starter Kit to develop graphics HMI, connectivity and audio applications. The 168-pin to132-pin Starter Kit Adapter (AC320006), priced at $59, enables development with Microchip’s portfolio of application-specific daughter boards. The PIC32MZ2048EC Plug-in Module (MA320012) priced at $25, is available for existing users of the Explorer 16 Modular Development Board.

Starting in December 2013, the first 12 members of the PIC32MZ family are expected for sampling and volume production, while the remaining 12 members, as well as additional package options, are expected to become available at various dates through to May 2014. The crypto engine is integrated into eight of the PIC32MZ MCUs, and there is an even split of 12 MCUs with 1 MB of Flash and 12 MCUs with 2 MB of Flash. Pricing begins at $6.68 (10,000) and there is a variety of package options including VTLA – very thin land array – for use in hand-held devices.

At the same time, Microchip has announced the Harmony embedded firmware development framework with internal and third-party support, licensing and resale. This is a software development environment that runs under Microchip’s MPLAB and supports designers in creating, especially, the middleware part of their code build. It provides some common code blocks free; some more complex functions are from Microchip and are chargeable; and there is also a mechanism to purchase 3rd-party IP while receiving support directly from Microchip. Included is a range of middleware, drivers, libraries and RTOSs. Currently, Harmony includes third-party offerings from Interniche, freeRTOS, wolfSSL and OpenRTOS, with more planned. Harmony provides, the company says, a single integrated, abstracted and flexible source for Microchip-tested, debugged and, a point that the company emphasises – demonstrated-to-be-interoperable code. In presents a modular architecture that enables the efficient integration of multiple drivers, middleware and libraries, while offering an RTOS-independent environment that makes it easy to switch RTOSs. In addition to bringing in ready-written code that you don’t need to re-create, Microchip says that its framework will also increase re-use of your own software, by placing it in a framework designed to modularise software elements. Each software function has been written to have the minimum possible dependence on other software as possible, and has standardised interfaces into the RTOS of your choice; this interface is complete on the listed RTOSs. You might use a different RTOS, and Microchip says that following Harmony’s conventions to interface into it should not be difficult. Of the suppliers at introduction, Micrium and Wolf will sell their licences direct, but you’ll get support from Microchip. The Harmony framework supports porting code and migration among all of Microchip’s 32-bit PIC32 microcontrollers.

In Future, Harmony will gain larger functional code blocks such as a Bluetooth stack, Class-B safety package, mTouch capacitive sensing functions, and others. The basic framework is free. The first release provides initial support for the new PIC32MZ family, as well as the PIC32MX families. Full support for all PIC32 families is planned for the next version release, which is expected in March 2014. Once downloaded, there is a modular menu of free and premium software options that are also available today. The expanding list of initial offerings includes FreeRTOS from A Real Time Engineers Ltd. and OpenRTOS from Wittenstein High Integrity Systems; a TCP/IP stack from InterNiche Technologies; and a CyaSSL Embedded SSL Library from wolfSSL, among many others.

Microchip; PIC32MZ;

MPLAB Harmony;

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