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Importance of analogue-digital on-chip integration

22 Jan 2014  | Richard York

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Firstly, the dual A/D convertor ensures that the two measurements taken are simultaneous, leading to greater control loop accuracy and enhancement of performance. Furthermore, the A/D is synchronised with the PWM module, ensuring that sampling occurs at the midpoint of the zero vector, providing the instantaneous average current that effectively suppresses switching ripple. The on-chip Cortex-M4 processor, with its floating point capability, can then use this accurate information to implement complex control algorithms leading to highly power efficient control of the motor.

Another case in point is Infineon's XMC4000 series of MCUs (figure 2). Targeted at, amongst other things, solar inverters, SMPS, UPS and motor control application, these devices feature the CAPCOM capture and compare unit, 12bit ADCs, Delta Sigma Demodulator and PWM modules. In isolation, these modules are not of any special significance, but when combined with the integrated "connection matrix", the modules can semi-autonomously undertake many control and measurement tasks, leaving the ARM Cortex-M4 core with DSP extensions, supported by the CMSIS DSP library, with the information and opportunity to enable highly power efficient solutions. And Dialog Semiconductor, as a new licencee of the ARM Cortex-M0 processor, plans to further expand its range of PMICs and battery management devices with integrated processing power.

Figure 2: XMC4000 series block diagram.

As interest grows and the technology develops, the Internet of Things becomes a growing reality, promising further opportunity for advancements in energy efficiency. On the one side, IoT promises to make consumers more aware of their energy consumption by appliances sharing energy consumption information with smartphone and tablet applications. On the other, appliances, power supplies and motor control systems attain the ability of communicating with one another, potentially leading not just to unit-level power savings, but a collective power saving of an installed system of many units. An integrated processor is an essential element to enable such a future. One thing is for sure: the demand for carefully crafted mixed-signal silicon devices will continue to grow and with it, the need for competent, power efficient processing cores to complement them.

About the author
Richard York was appointed director of embedded processor products in December 2007. Richard is responsible for the team marketing ARM's embedded and microcontroller CPU products including the Cortex-M and Cortex-R processor series. He is responsible for the embedded roadmap and surrounding ecosystem products.

Richard also works closely with licensees and their customers to advise product and market development. Richard joined ARM in 1994 and has been closely involved in the design of early ARM processors before moving into marketing in 2000.

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