NEC Develops 22 New 78K0R/Kx3-L 16-bit All Flash Microcontrollers

NEC Electronics Corporation (TSE:6723) announced that the company has developed a new line of 16-bit All Flash[TM] microcontrollers (MCUs). Built in the NEC Electronics’ high-performance 16-bit 78K0R CPU core, the 22 MCUs in the 78K0R/Kx3-L line-up are optimized for compact, low power systems that are driven by battery and enabling Ultra-Low Power applications. Samples will begin shipping in August.

Dramatically reducing power consumption, the All Flash TM MCUs share the following features:

(1)A reduction in energy consumption of approximately 60% in standby mode, 17% during 10 MHz and 16% during high-speed (20 MHz) operations from existing low power technology, achieving both a lower demand for energy and higher performance, two elements particularly critical for the latest battery-driven systems.
(2)On-chip 1-, 8- and 20-MHz oscillation circuits for optimal oscillator control according to the needs of the system, decreasing the overall system cost and size.
(3)An internally mounted op-amp, comparator and high-speed analog-digital converter, optimizing the system for sensor functions and analog-dependent applications.

This new 78K0R/Kx3-L All Flash[TM] MCUs delivers new potential to battery driven and sensor applications such as fire and security alarms and detectors, meters, domestic controls, industrial sensors and digital cameras with anti-shake stabilization, as well as handheld equipment such as medical diagnostics, data-logging or point of sale terminals. Not only does the range bring new levels of low power consumption, extending battery life, but also help to decrease system size and cost.

Volume production is planned to begin at the end of 2008, ramping up to a planned monthly turn-out of one million products within a year combined for all 22 models of the MCU.

Since NEC Electronics first brought the All Flash[TM] MCU to market in November 2004 with all internal program memory being flash memory, it has developed a wide variety of products to meet user needs in the 8- to 32-bit range. Among these are the 16-bit products, a total of 54 microcontrollers including the 78 K0R/KG3 introduced in February 2006, that have received a favorable reaction on the market.

With the heightened awareness of the environment in recent years, energy-saving systems have become particularly reliant on microcontroller technology. NEC Electronics has therefore been focusing efforts on developing products with lower power consumption including their line-up of eight 32-bit MCUs featuring “ultra low power” consumption released in October 2007. To meet this demand for higher energy efficiency in the 16-bit market, this upcoming release includes the 78K0R/KC3-L, /KD3-L and KE3-L All Flash[TM] MCU models targeting compact, battery-driven systems expected to enjoy high growth.

The principle features of the line-up are:

(1) The industry’s best in class power consumption
Thoroughly optimizing the circuit, NEC Electronics has reduced the power consumption during standby mode (in which only RTC functions operate) 60% compared to existing conventional consumption from 2.4 to 1.0 microamperes (µA). The decreased internal operation voltage also reduces consumption during 10 MHz operation 17% from 3.9 to 3.2 milliamperes (mA) and during 20MHz operation 16% from 8.5 to 7.2 milliamperes (mA). These innovations contribute to both power reduction and higher performance in the system overall, with the highest power/performance ratio ever in the industry, moving the bar from 1.8 to 1.5 mW/MIPS.

(2) High-performance on-chip oscillators for three different operating frequencies
With three on-chip oscillator circuits for generating the power-saving, 1 MHz and high-performance 20 MHz operating frequencies are available in addition to the conventional 8 MHz frequency, meaning an oscillator optimal to the needs of the system can be selected. NEC Electronics has achieved an error of less than 1% in the operation frequency generated at 8 and 20 MHz, eliminating the need for an external oscillator to make asynchronous communication, which demands high performance. For these reasons, the All Flash[TM] MCUs reduce system costs and make systems more compact.

(3) Built-in peripherals for sensor functions
To improve the conversion rate from inputted analog to digital signals, a 10-bit A/D converter circuit is optimized, halving the existing time for signal conversion from 6 to 3 microseconds compared to conventional products. By providing 1 internal op-amp channel for 2 internal comparator channels instead of external mounting, a wide range of analog data can be measured at low cost.

(4) Program writing at 1.8 V
A dedicated booster circuit is built in, so the voltage required for program rewriting to Flash memory is reduced from 2.7 to 1.8 V in the new line-up. This improved energy use efficiency also extends the operating time for the system.

This line-up of MCUs was developed by further advancing the low power consumption technology developed at NEC Electronics for their All Flash[TM] MCUs. These MCUs are optimized for the final product as compact battery-driven systems and sensor function capacity, and an aggressive sales promotion is planned for them.

NEC Electronics will have these new MCUs on display including product demonstrations at the 11th Embedded Systems Expo & Conference (ESEC) at Tokyo Big Sight from May 14 to 16.

The All Flash[TM] Microcontrollers utilize SuperFlash® licensed from Silicon Storage Technology, Inc. SuperFlash® is a registered trademark in Japan and the US of Silicon Storage Technology, Inc.

About NEC Electronics
NEC Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723) specializes in semiconductor products encompassing advanced technology solutions for the high-end computing and broadband networking markets, system solutions for the mobile handset, PC peripherals, automotive and digital consumer markets, and platform solutions for a wide range of customer applications. NEC Electronics Corporation has subsidiaries worldwide including NEC Electronics America, Inc. (www.am.necel.com) and NEC Electronics (Europe) GmbH (www.eu.necel.com).