NEC Electronics Introduces Low-Power 16-bit Microcontrollers

SANTA CLARA, CA /BUSINESS WIRE/ -- NEC Electronics America Inc. introduced to the Americas twenty-two new 16-bit All Flash microcontrollers (MCUs) for compact, low-power, battery-operated, and sensor-enabled systems. Based on NEC Electronics' high-performance 16-bit 78K0R CPU core, the new 78K0R/Kx3-L MCUs offer very low power consumption to extend battery life, and more on-chip integration to help reduce the size and cost of battery-driven and sensor-enabled systems, such as fire and security alarms, meters, industrial sensors, anti-shake digital cameras, handheld medical diagnostics devices, and data-logging and point-of-sale terminals. In addition to low power consumption, the new lineup offers high-performance on-chip oscillators, built-in circuits for sensor functions, and extended system operating time.

"As environmental awareness has grown, energy-saving systems have become particularly reliant on MCU technology," said Jim Trent, Vice President, Multipurpose Microcontroller and Automotive Group, NEC Electronics America. "Over the past several years, NEC Electronics has delivered many ultra-low-power 8- and 32-bit MCUs that have met the demand for energy efficiency. With the introduction of the new 78K0R/Kx3-L devices, however, NEC Electronics is now delivering the benefits of energy efficiency in its 16-bit products."

By optimizing the power-management circuitry, NEC Electronics has reduced standby power consumption in these new devices (when only the real-time clock functions are operational) by 60%, from an average of 2.4 µA to 1.0 µA. Likewise, power consumption at a clock speed of 10 MHz has been reduced by 10%, from 3.9 to 3.5 mA, and a clock speed of 20 MHz by 20%, from 8.2 to 6.5 mA. This lower power consumption contributes to higher overall performance in end systems, a necessity for designers of the latest battery-driven applications. The new MCUs also offer the industry's highest power/performance ratio, moving the bar from 1.8 to 1.5 mW per million instructions per second (Dhrystone 1.1).

Three on-chip oscillator circuits are able to generate three separate operating frequencies, one at the power-saving clock speed of 1 MHz, another at the high-performance clock speed of 20 MHz, and a third at the conventional clock speed of 8 MHz, allowing users to select the most optimal operating frequency for a given application. An error rate of 1% at clock frequencies of 8 and 20 MHz eliminates the need to add an external oscillator for asynchronous data transfers, which demand high performance. This also contributes to lower costs and smaller sizes in end systems.

An optimized 12-channel, 10-bit A/D converter circuit improves the time it takes to convert analog input to digital output, thereby reducing signal conversion time from 6 to 3 µs, "50% faster than conventional products." Further, the addition of one internal operational amplifier channel and two internal comparator channels, in lieu of externally mounted peripherals, allows a wide range of analog data to be measured at low cost.

NEC Electronics' 78K0R/Kx3-L MCUs also include a built-in dedicated booster circuit that reduces operating voltage during flash programming from 2.7 to 1.8 V and extends operating time in the end system.

(On a worldwide basis, NEC Electronics Corp. was rated the number one supplier of 32-bit MCUs in 2007, according to the Gartner Dataquest March 2008 rankings report.)

Availability and Pricing
Samples of the 78K0R/Kx3-L MCUs are expected to begin shipping in August 2008. Pricing will vary depending on memory, package, and pin configurations. For example, pricing for the 78K0R/KE3-L MCU with 64 KB of flash memory, 3 KB of RAM, and a 64-pin fine-pitch ball grid array (FPBGA) package is $4.50 each in sample quantities. Volume production of the 78K0R/KE3-L MCU is scheduled to begin at the end of 2008. (Pricing and availability are subject to change without notice.)

About NEC
NEC Electronics America Inc., headquartered in Santa Clara, CA, is a wholly owned subsidiary of NEC Electronics Corp., a leading provider of semiconductor products, encompassing advanced technology solutions for the broadband and communications markets; system solutions for the mobile, PC, automotive, and digital consumer markets; and multi-market solutions for a wide range of consumer applications. NEC Electronics America offers local manufacturing in Roseville, CA, and the global manufacturing capabilities of its parent company. In the Americas, NEC Electronics America markets and sells industrial-type active-matrix LCD modules from NEC LCD Technologies Ltd., a global leader in innovative display technologies.

NEC Electronics and NEC Electronics America are either registered trademarks or trademarks of NEC Corp. in the U.S. and/or other countries. All products and services mentioned in this release are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. All Flash is a trademark or registered trademark of NEC Electronics Corp. The All Flash MCUs use SuperFlash licensed from Silicon Storage Technology Inc. SuperFlash is a registered trademark in Japan and the U.S. of Silicon Storage Technology Inc. All other marks are property of their respective owners.