Ramtron Unveils Microcontroller with 8kb FRAM, 8051-based Drop-in

Ramtron International Corporation (Nasdaq: RMTR), a leading developer and supplier of non-volatile ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM) and integrated semiconductor products, has launched the VRS51L3174, an 8051-based microcontroller with 8 kilobytes (KB) of non-volatile FRAM memory that drops into industry standard 44-pin QFP sockets for easy device migration. Ramtron has added FRAM to its fast and flexible Versa 8051s for a quick and reliable non-volatile data storage and processing system that only a FRAM-Enhanced(TM) MCU can provide.

Ramtron VRS51L3174 Microcontroller with 8kb FRAM, 8051-based Drop-inThe VRS51L3174 combines 8KB of FRAM memory with a fully-integrated, high-performance system-on-chip. Features include an advanced 40-MIPS, single-cycle 8051-core, 64KB Flash with in-system/in-application programming, 4KB SRAM, digital signal processing (DSP) extensions and a robust digital peripheral set. Operating at 3.3 volts over the entire industrial temperature range, the VRS51L3174 is the ideal embedded data acquisition solution, targeting a wide array of advanced applications from sensors and metering to industrial control, instrumentation and medical devices.

VRS51L3174 Features

  • 8K x 8 FRAM: 8KB of true non-volatile RAM (no battery/super cap required to maintain data) mapped into the VRS51L3174′s XRAM memory for easy access, fast writes and essentially unlimited endurance.
  • 40MHz, Single-Cycle 8051 Processor: This is one of the fastest 8-bit processors on the market. Its advanced core can deliver up to 40 MIPS throughput and is instruction-compatible with standard 8051s, for smooth device migration.
  • MULT/ACCU/DIV Unit with 32-bit Barrel Shifter: This hardware calculation engine significantly outperforms 8-bit processors when executing DSP operations (FIR filtering, sensor output linearization, multiple-byte arithmetic operations, etc). It performs 16-bit signed multiplication and 32-bit addition in one cycle and 16-bit signed division in 5 cycles. The barrel shifter enables logic/arithmetic shift operations.
  • 40MHz Internal Oscillator: The internal oscillator cuts system costs by eliminating the need for an external crystal oscillator.
  • USB-JTAG Interface: For user-friendly and quick device programming and real-time, in-circuit debugging/emulation of the user application without the need for a costly emulator.
  • Dual UARTs with Baud Rate Generator: The universal asynchronous receiver/transmitters operate at up to 1.25 Mbps. Each UART incorporates a dedicated baud rate generator with 20-bit equivalent resolution.
  • Enhanced SPI: The communication speed on the serial peripheral interface can be configured up to 20 Mbps and transactions are adjustable from 1 to 32 bits.
  • PWCs: Two pulse width counter modules provide advanced timer control, simplifying event duration measurement.
  • PWMs: Eight pulse width modulators with up to 16-bit adjustable resolution. Each PWM includes its own timer, which can also be used as general purpose timers.

Other support peripherals include an I2C interface, three 16-bit general purpose timers/counters with three timer capture inputs, a watchdog timer, and 49 interrupts that share 16 interrupt vectors. The VRS51L3174 is available in a QFP-44 package that is pin-compatible with standard 8051 MCUs.

FRAM instead of Flash/EEPROM for non-volatile data storage
FRAM simplifies the design cycle by eliminating the code overhead accompanying Flash data storage, and the limited endurance and drawn out write cycles of Flash/EEPROM. Unlike Flash, FRAM bytes can be modified without first erasing an entire sector, rendering it easier to use. And unlike Flash/EEPROM, FRAM provides virtually unlimited read/write cycles and fast data writes.

Pricing and Availability
The VRS51L3174 is currently sampling and costs under $5 for quantities of 10,000.

About Ramtron
Ramtron International Corporation, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a fabless semiconductor company that designs, develops and markets specialised semiconductor memory, microcontroller and integrated semiconductor solutions used in a wide range of product applications and markets worldwide. Ramtron pioneered the integration of ferroelectric materials into semiconductor products, which enabled the development of a new class of non-volatile memory products called ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM) products. Ramtron has shipped more than 150 million FRAM memory products to customers for use in automotive navigation and entertainment systems, digital electricity meters, multi-function printers, and RAID disk controllers, among others. FRAM products merge the advantages of multiple memory technologies into a single device that retains information without a power source, can read and write at high speeds, can be written to many times, and consumes low amounts of power. Additionally, Ramtron works with various leading-edge licensees and manufacturers to bring its technology to market.