Microchip Technology’s new 8-bit MCUs, ‘smallest’ Ethernet controller

Eight-bit microcontrollers are alive and well. Cost-effective new devices with plenty of peripherals are here to provide embedded designers with a way to preserve legacy 8-bit code and development-tool investments, as more designs migrate to lower voltages.

By Control Engineering Staff May 12, 2005
PIC18F microcontrollers offer 40 MHz speed at 3 V and 32 to 128 KB of flash memory in 64- and 80-pin packages.

Eight-bit microcontrollers are alive and well. Cost-effective new devices with plenty of peripherals are here to provide embedded designers with a way to preserve legacy 8-bit code and development-tool investments, as more designs migrate to lower voltages. Microchip Technology Inc. ’s recent announcement of the first 10 members of its high-pincount, high-density memory PIC18F87J10 Flash microcontroller family addresses designers’ needs with reportedly double the performance in low-voltage applications by delivering up to 10 MIPS at 3 V.

New PIC18F87J10 microcontrollers enable linear access to as much as 128 KB of onboard flash memory, plus offer code and tool compatibility with all PIC18F microcontrollers. They also include “nanoWatt Technology” for optimal power management and prolonged battery life, along with two “master” synchronous serial interfaces (SPI or I2C-capable) and two asynchronous serial ports (LIN-capable USARTs) for expanded connectivity.

“This new PIC18F family redefines the price-performance ratio for high-pincount and high-density memory eight-bit microcontrollers serving complex embedded applications,” says Mitch Obolsky, vice president of Microchip’s Advanced Microcontroller Architecture Div. Among high-end applications are industrial, automotive, medical, and consumer products.

Other key features of the PIC18F87J10 family include:

  • Up to 4 KB of data RAM;

  • Five timers/counters (3 x 16-bit, 2 x 8-bit);

  • 15-channel, 10-bit A/D converter with auto-acquisition timing;

  • Two analog comparators;

  • Three enhanced capture/compare/PWM modules with support for MOSFET (H-bridge) motor drives;

  • Two standard capture/compare/PWM modules;

  • Brownout reset;

  • 8-bit/16-bit mode external memory access (up to 2 MB); and

  • Enhanced instruction set for improved C-compiler efficiency.

Microchip’s development tools (most are free) support the new microcontrollers. They include MPLab integrated development environment; MPLab Visual Device Initializer; MPLab C18 optimizing C compiler; MPLab ICD 2 in-circuit debugger; MPLab PM3 Universal Device Programmer, and Application Maestro software. PICDem HPC Explorer Board is available to ease development with these microcontrollers.

Also introduced was what Microchip calls the “world’s smallest Ethernet controller”—a low-pincount (28-pin) stand-alone device intended for network/Internet-connected embedded applications in need of minimizing board space, cost, and complexity. Key features of ENC28J60 controller include IEEE 802.3 compliance (on-chip 10 Mb/s Ethernet physical-layer device and medium-access controller), programmable filtering, 10 Mb/s SPI interface, and programmable 8 KB dual-port SRAM buffer.

Volume production of both microcontrollers is expected this month. Pricing starts at $3.48 (each) for PIC18F87J10 and $4.17 (each) for ENC28J60, in 10k quantities.

For more on these products, click here or visit the Microchip Web site .

—Frank J. Bartos, executive editor, Control Engineering, fbartos@reedbusiness.com