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TI eases MCU dev't non-volatile FRAM, on-chip LCD controller

08 Oct 2014

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 LaunchPad

Texas Instruments (TI) rolled out the lowest-power microcontrollers (MCUs), equipped with an on-chip LCD controller within a new family of ultra-low-power MSP430 MCUs, as well as 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 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 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.


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."

The MSP-EXP430FR4133 LaunchPad is immediately available for purchase from TI's eStore or authorised 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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