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28 Nov, 22

Introduction To Microcontrollers (MCU)


At the outset, let us glance through the concept of a microcontroller (MCU). An MCU is a compact integrated circuit designed to control specific operations in an embedded system. The typical components of a microcontroller include a processor, memory, and input/ output (I/O) peripherals on a single chip. Also termed embedded controller, or microcontroller unit (MCU), the typical applications of MCUs include office machines, robots, vehicles, transceivers, etc.

In other words, a microcontroller resembles a mini-computer that controls small features of a large component without an intricate front-end OS. Now that we’ve taken a quick look at what microcontrollers are, let us look at the features of a microcontroller and highlight a few microcontroller products manufactured by Nuvoton and Infineon.

Features of Microcontrollers:

  • Processor: From simple 4-bit, 8-bit or 16-bit processors to more complex 32-bit or 64-bit processors
  • Memory Types: Random Access Memory (RAM) and non-volatile memory types. It includes flash memory, erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM) and electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM).
  • Architecture: Based on Harvard architecture or von Neumann architecture that offer varying data exchange methods between the processor and memory. Basis of the Processor: Complex Instruction Set Computing (CISC) or Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC)
  • Microprocessor Language: C (popular), Python and JavaScript
  • Input and output pins to execute peripheral functions such as Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) controllers, analog-to-digital converters, universal asynchronous receiver transmitter (UART), universal synchronous/asynchronous receiver transmitter (USART), etc.

Nuvoton Microcontroller Products

Nuvoton manufactures and extensive range of microcontrollers products. A few of them have been mentioned below. To know about other products, and their applications and features, connect with Millennium Semiconductors.

Product Applications Some Key Features
Low Power Touch Key ML56 Series ML56MD1ML56LD1ML56SD1 ThermostatHome Application HMIMeasurement Devices Voltage range: 1.8 V to 3.6 VTemperature range: -40°C to +105°COperating speed: 24 MHzSupport programmable internal VLCD charge pump modeSupport Internal resistor bias, capacitor biasSupport 2.8V to 5.5V LCD operating voltage4 COM x 32 SEG, 6 COM x 30 SEG, 8 COM x 28 SEG1/2, 1/3, 1/4 bias selectableUp to 4-ch PDMA controllerNormal run mode: 100 µA/ MHz+ 400 µAIdle mode: lowest current: 17 µAWake up from power down in 10 us (run with HIRC).
M487 Ethernet Series Smart HomesIndustrial IoTIoT GatewaySerial-to-Ethernet Converter Up to 192 MHz Arm® Cortex ®-M4F delivering 1.25 DMIPS per MHzMemory Protection Unit (MPU)DSP instruction set2 KB One-Time-Programmable ROM4 KB Secure Protection ROMUp to 160 KB RAM, including 32 KB external SPI Flash cache80 bytes of battery-powered backup registersInternal PLL up to 480 MHzInternal 12 MHz RC oscillatorInternal 10 kHz RC oscillator4 to 24 MHz crystal oscillatorVoltage range: 1.8V to 3.6VTemperature range: – 40°C to +105°C
M485 Crypto Series Smart PaymentSecure USB deviceFingerprint moduleSecure IoT device Memory Protection Unit (MPU)Up to 192 MHz Arm® Cortex ®-M4F delivering 1.25 DMIPS per MHz4 KB Secure Protection ROM512 KB zero-wait state Flash memory2 KB One-Time-Programmable ROMLCD parallel interface, i80 modeTwo quadrature encoder interfacesTwo 24-bit, 3-ch input capture timer/counter unitsVoltage range: 1.8V to 3.6VTemperature range: – 40 ℃ to +105 ℃

Infineon Microcontroller Products

Product Applications Some Key Features
H-Bridge Driver IC with Integrated Arm® Cortex® M3 Window liftSunroofElectrical fansElectrical pumps  Scalability in terms of flash memory sizes and MCU system clock frequency to support an extensive range of motor control algorithmsSame MCU and peripherals as the TLE987x family3-phase driverCharge pump can drive gate charges up to 150nC per MOSFET under restricted conditions
32-bit XMC1000 Industrial Microcontroller Arm® Cortex®-M0 Connected LED lighting suppliesPower tool motor controlFan motor controlI/O modules used in automationSmall combustion engine controls as in lawn movers 32-bit XMC1000 Industrial Microcontroller Arm® Cortex®-M0The BCCU eases digital LED dimming and color control applicationsMultiCAN provides connectivity with 2 nodes and 32 message objectsHall sensors and optical encoders can be connected to POSIF, a position interface for motor position control30ns comparators enable AC-DC and low voltage DC-DC SMPS control, for instance, up to 4 channel buck converters
XC88x Series (Legacy Microcontroller> Legacy 8-bit / 16-bit Microcontroller> XC800 A-Family (Automotive)) Automobiles 16-bit Vector Computer (MDU+CORDIC) for Field Oriented ControlMulti CAN up to 2 CAN nodes10-bit ADC with high accuracy (8-channels). Fast conversion in 1 µsBackground E²PROM emulation3 independent capture/compare timers with up to 4 PWM channels

General Applications of Microcontrollers:

  • Smart energy
  • Building automation
  • Robotics
  • Automotive
  • Industrial automation
  • IoT deployments
  • Electromechanical systems in devices such as fridges, mobile phones, ovens, etc.
  • Office machines such as scanners, photocopiers, fax machines, security systems, ATMs, etc.