ZiLOG(R), Inc. (Nasdaq: ZILG), a leading provider of integrated microcontroller (MCUs) and universal remote control solutions, announced that its Z8 Encore! MC(TM) (FMC16100 Series) is the first 8-bit MCU to offer vector control capability, an innovation that significantly lowers the bill of materials (BOM) costs for appliance manufacturers, reduces both energy consumption and, in appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines, water usage, factors that benefit both consumers and the environment as well as help extend the life cycle of the product itself.
Vector control was previously claimed to be the domain of digital signal processors (DSPs), digital signal controllers (DSCs) and 16- or 32-bit microcontrollers. With the vector control capability developed by ZiLOG engineers using the award-winning Z8 Encore! FMC 16100 series, the myth that only high-end MCUs or DSPs can perform vector control algorithms has been dispelled. Combining ZiLOG’s fast CPU (up to 10 MIPS), fast Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) and integrated op-amp, and optimized C Compiler, ZiLOG can provide the equivalent of DSP functionality in vector control, which ZiLOG estimates can save up to 50 percent on overall BOM costs compared to “higher-end” MCU solutions.
In addition to the lower BOM cost to appliance manufacturers, end users also benefit from vector control. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a front-loading washing machine employing vector control consumes significantly less energy and water than a similar machine not using vector control. Such benefits are likely to make the end product much more appealing to today’s increasingly environmentally sensitive, energy-conscious consumer, and therefore, more commercially competitive and attractive. Over time, households using vector control-enabled appliances can significantly reduce their annual energy costs. According to the 1997 Residential Energy Consumption Survey(1), around 27 percent of all energy used in households is consumed by appliances and lighting, accounting for more than 45 percent of total energy costs. However, current motor technologies used in large appliances, especially older models, are only 50 to 60 percent energy efficient compared to newer models. Appliances using the vector controlled FMC 16100 can improve the energy efficiency of the motor to around 90 to 95 percent as it replaces conventional motors with brushless DC (BLDC) motors, enabling extremely accurate variable speed control.
The vector control required by today’s more advanced appliances enables precise, highly-responsive speed control during changes in the load and optimizes motor efficiency during transitional operations. In front-loading washing machines, for example, where the motor typically runs at up to 18,000 rpm, the fast acceleration possible with vector control reduces power and saves time in the wash cycle. In addition, precise speed control is required to deliver the necessary clothes agitation that is key to reducing water consumption. The precise speed control, also a function of vector control, helps to further reduce the energy used during operation. In addition, by improving overall system efficiency, the designer can minimize wear and tear, helping to extend the overall operation life of the product.
Commenting on the announcement of vector control for the 8-bit MCU market, ZiLOG interim CEO Robin Abrams said: “In today’s competitive landscape, commercial advantage is critical to a product’s success and the company’s bottom line. Vector control capability is a key feature that appliance engineers are focusing on, and represents a huge market opportunity for ZiLOG. Vector control brings significant commercial benefits, both for manufacturers and end consumers, in terms of overall system cost, power usage and product lifespan. The business case for employing vector control right across the spectrum of devices using MCUs for digital power control is compelling. As one of the leading suppliers of motor control MCUs, we are extremely proud to have developed an industry ‘first’ solution which addresses the market demands for power efficient, cost conscious devices that can be readily employed rapidly and cheaply across the motor control market.”
About ZiLOG, Inc.
Founded in 1974, ZiLOG won international acclaim for designing one of the first architectures in the microprocessors and microcontrollers industry. Today, ZiLOG is a leading global supplier of 8-bit micro logic devices. It designs, manufactures and markets a broad portfolio of devices for embedded control and communication applications used in consumer electronics, home appliances, security systems, point of sales terminals, personal computer peripherals, as well as industrial and automotive applications. ZiLOG is headquartered in San Jose, California, and employs approximately 500 people worldwide with sales offices throughout Asia, Europe and North America.
ZiLOG and Z8 Encore! MC are trademarks or registered trademarks of ZiLOG, Inc. in the United States and in other countries.
(1) U.S. Department of Energy: “Energy-Efficient Appliances” Technology