Luminary Micro Debuts Reference Design Kits for Motion Control

Luminary Micro, a fabless semiconductor company that designs, markets, and sells award-winning ARM(R) Cortex(TM)-M3 processor-based microcontrollers and was the first to bring ARM processor-based MCUs for $1.00 to embedded developers, announced the availability of two new Reference Design Kits (RDKs) utilizing the company’s Stellaris(R) microcontrollers (MCUs) designed specifically for motion control applications such as those found in HVAC systems, industrial conveyer systems, liquid pumps, printers, robots, and CNC and other milling machines. The two kits demonstrate variable speed AC induction motor control and stepper motor control, and complement the recent launch of five new Stellaris MCUs featuring powerful motion control functionality. These new parts represent the first time that real-time motion control has been integrated into an ARM-based MCU. Together with the new reference design kits, the new MCUs ease the complexity of motion control designs for OEMs and slash the associated time-to-market and software development costs.

The power subsystem for each motion control design features power semiconductors from Fairchild Semiconductor. The reference design kits are available now from Luminary Micro.

“The motion control industry is a ‘nearly invisible’ industry, in that it is ubiquitous in everyday applications but nearly unseen. While many recognize that power and control must come together for the basic functions of motor control, the complexity of optimizing those functions together is often underestimated,” said Luminary Chief Marketing Officer Jean Anne Booth. “So while the market potential is great, the challenges facing motion control OEMs are even greater: energy efficiency, complexity of applications, time-to-market, and software development costs. Bringing an ARM architecture to the motion control industry, and particularly the Stellaris implementations of the Cortex-M3 architecture, addresses not just one of these challenges, but all of them. For this reason, Stellaris is rapidly becoming the MCU of choice for motion control OEMs.”

Reference Design Kit for AC Induction Motors (RDK-ACIM)
AC induction motors are widely used in appliance and residential applications, in what the industry traditionally refers to as “white goods.” The reliability and simplicity of AC motors also makes them popular in industrial applications, such as residential and light commercial HVAC. Stellaris microcontrollers enable advanced variable speed control that improves efficiency and enables new areas of application. The RDK-ACIM design features a Stellaris LM3S818 microcontroller and drives three-phase AC induction motors up to 1 HP (750 W), and can scale for motors up to 10 HP.

Consumer preference and governmental mandates for energy efficiency are driving the need for more computationally complex control algorithms for variable speed AC induction motors. The space vector modulation implemented in the AC induction motor reference design increases motor efficiency to nearly 100%, thereby consuming significantly less power.

“Reducing energy consumption has become a global concern, with the United States and China as the largest consumers of energy in the world,” added Luminary’s Booth. “More than half of the worldwide electrical output is used to generate motion, and with overall consumption projected to increase dramatically over the next two decades, designing with an energy-efficient, fully integrated MCU with an ARM core, combined with energy management, appeals to OEMs struggling to meet government mandates for energy efficiency improvements.”

Stepper Motor Control Reference Design Kit (RDK-Stepper)
Stepper motors are widely used in printers, scanners, and automation applications. One of the few classes of motor that features high starting torque and precise motion without the aid of sensors, the stepper motor’s unique capabilities have established it as the motor of choice in countless electronic and automation products. The RDK-Stepper demonstrates advanced control of bipolar stepper motors using the Stellaris LM3S617 microcontroller and Fairchild power semiconductors. Its primary application is driving NEMA17, NEMA23, and NEMA34 stepper motors rated at up to 80 V at 3 Amps.

Stepper motors are usually controlled either by a dedicated control chip that lacks programmable intelligence, or by a microcontroller, such as Stellaris, that uses a basic unipolar scheme. Luminary Micro’s stepper motor reference design performs direct high-performance software-based chopper control using the Cortex-M3 microprocessor, enabling the designer to add additional software features without compromising motor performance.

Everything Designers Need to Move from Evaluation to Fully Integrated Solution
Both the RDK-ACIM and the RDK-Stepper feature everything needed to evaluate and develop motor control designs. Both kits include the main control circuit board, graphical control program for Windows(TM), power and USB cables, quick start guide, software source code, schematics, BOM, and Gerber files. The AC Induction Motor reference design includes an Inverter-Duty 1/4 HP 3-phase AC Motor (0-5400 RPM). The Stepper Motor reference design kit includes a NEMA23 Stepper Motor. Both kits ship with multiple motion control algorithms loaded into flash, enabling engineers to evaluate motor and system performance through the graphical user interface (GUI) within 10 minutes of opening the box. The GUI allows designers to configure motor capabilities and safety parameters, test controls and effects, and to understand tradeoffs in the end motor system design. The GUI also allows users to monitor system statistics easily, with visual indicators showing processor performance, bus voltage, and motor currents.

The Motion Control Story Featuring Luminary Micro and Stellaris
The five new Stellaris family members were announced in February 2007 at the Embedded World trade show in Nuremberg, Germany, and have been optimized to support the complex algorithms necessary for efficient energy-saving motion control applications. The MCUs are referenced by part numbers LM3S317, LM3S617, LM3S618, LM3S817, and LM3S818. As with all Stellaris family members, these MCUs are based on the ARM Cortex-M3 processor — the microcontroller member of the ARM Cortex processor family. Designed for serious microcontroller applications, the Stellaris family provides entry into the industry’s strongest ecosystem, with code compatibility ranging from $1 to 1 GHz. Additional advantages include:

  • Easy and cost-effective to upgrade from 8- and 16-bit applications, requiring less flash code space and delivering a 10x improvement in performance over 8051 cores and an 8x improvement in performance over PIC24F cores
  • Extensions to the ARM7(TM) family processor capabilities in critical MCU applications with a 4x improvement in control processing performance, real-time interrupt response capability, and predictable deterministic interrupt behavior, while requiring just half the flash (code space) of ARM7 control applications
  • Greater than 50 MIPS with a demonstrable 20x performance roadmap in the Cortex processor family, allowing for a “no-worry” migration path
  • Best-in-industry development environment and debug tools

The collaboration with Fairchild Semiconductor brings Fairchild’s Power Franchise(R) to each reference design kit. Long recognized as a world leader in high performance semiconductors, Fairchild specializes in products that optimize system power and that are ideal for the energy restrictions that challenge OEMs when developing today’s motor applications.

Pricing and Availability
Reference Design Kit for AC Induction Motors (RDK-ACIM): $379
Reference Design Kit for Stepper Motors (RDK-Stepper): $199

The new Stellaris MCUs sell separately for less than $5.30 in 10K quantities through distribution. They and all other Stellaris MCUs, and their respective development kits, are available now through Luminary Micro’s global sales channel.

About Luminary Micro and Stellaris
Luminary Micro, Inc. designs, markets and sells ARM Cortex-M3-based microcontrollers (MCUs). Austin, Texas-based Luminary Micro is the lead partner for the Cortex-M3 processor, delivering the world’s first silicon implementation of the Cortex-M3 processor. Luminary Micro’s introduction of the award-winning Stellaris(R) family of products provides 32-bit performance for the same price as current 8- and 16-bit microcontroller designs. With entry-level pricing at $1.00 for an ARM technology-based MCU, Luminary Micro’s Stellaris product line allows for standardization that eliminates future architectural upgrades or software tools changes. Contact the company at +1-512-279-8800 or email for more information.

Stellaris is a registered trademark and the Luminary Micro logo is a trademark of Luminary Micro, Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.