NEC Debuts Microcontrollers with Consumer Electronics Control Circuit

NEC Electronics Corporation (TSE:6723) announced that it has commercialized four models of a new 16-bit microcontroller with on-chip flash memory (“All Flash microcontroller”), with a consumer electronics control (CEC) circuit enabling interdependent control of digital televisions, DVD recorders, and other devices via a single cable connection.

There are four new products: two models with 80 pins (78K0R/KF3-C) and two models with 100 pins (78K0R/KG3-C). These products will enable users to easily develop control software, as well as facilitate the realization of CEC features compliant with the high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) for device connection. The new products also include such benefits as massive reduction of current consumption by 1/1,000th (From 0.5 milliamperes (mA) to about 0.5 microamperes (µA)) when the system as a whole is at its lowest current consumption, embedded CEC and remote-control receiver circuits, enabling the simultaneous reception of signals from both CEC and remote controllers and greatly improving system operability.

In recent years, the popularization of digital audio-visual devices has led to the standardization of the HDMI as a communication interface for audio, visual, and control signals connecting devices via a single cable. Functions to interdependently control devices connected via HDMI are now starting to gain popularity. A feature called consumer electronics control (CEC) can be used to interdependently control devices connected via HDMI, for example turning on the power of the DVD recorder and starting recording while watching a television program simply by pressing the record button on the remote control, or automatically turning on the television and switching the input channel to video when a DVD is inserted in the DVD recorder.

Conventional manufacturers of consumer electronic equipment have controlled their products by embedding independently developed software in general-purpose microcontrollers. This method requires the central processing unit (CPU) of the microcontroller to operate constantly when monitoring the system status via CEC. This is a problem for the manufacturers as the power consumption remains high even when the device was powered down.

The new products were developed in order to resolve these issues. Implementing the CEC function in the hardware makes it unnecessary to run the CPU when performing monitoring, and as a result it is possible to greatly reduce the power consumption of the device.

The main features of the new products are as follows:

  • Hardware implementation of CEC and remote-control receiver functions
    The amount of software development required is reduced thanks to the hardware implementation of CEC and remote-control receiver functions which is embedded in the devices.
  • Current reduction by 1/1,000th in lowest power consumption modes
    Because the CEC function is implemented in hardware, the CPU does not need to be kept running continually when monitoring. This enables the device to be controlled by running the sub-clock alone. Consequently, the current consumption when the system is in standby mode and only the CEC function is being operated is reduced to 1/1,000th, from about 0.5 milliamperes (mA) consumed by conventional products using software implemented on a general-purpose microprocessor, to about 0.5 microamperes (µA).
  • Improved system operability
    With conventional mainstream processing, it was not feasible to simultaneously process CEC and remote-control signals. Since the new products have built-in CEC and remote-control receiver circuits, they are capable of processing CEC and remote-control signals simultaneously. This makes it possible to improve system operability.
  • A wealth of development tools is available
    The new products can be used with same the evaluation boards and on-chip debuggers that NEC Electronics has offered for conventional 16-bit microcontrollers/microprocessors. The company is also currently developing a CEC Monitor software program for simulating CEC functionality.

NEC Electronics is positioning the new products as the ideal solution for a digital audio-visual device market in which devices are increasingly networked, and where there is demand for interdependent control. The company plans to expand its product lineup and actively market these new products.
Please refer to the attachment for main features of the 78K0R/KG3-C.

Pricing and Availability
The company will begin shipping samples in September of this year. The sample prices for the new products will vary depending on memory capacity, package type, and number of pins. Mass production of the new products will begin in March 2009; the company plans to be producing a total of one million units per month for all four models combined by the second half of fiscal 2009.

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 peripheral, automotive and digital consumer markets; and multi-market solutions for a wide range of customer applications. NEC Electronics Corporation has subsidiaries worldwide including NEC Electronics America, Inc. and NEC Electronics (Europe) GmbH.

The new products use SuperFlash® technology under license from Silicon Storage Technology, Inc. SuperFlash® is a registered trademark of US-based Silicon Storage Technology, Inc. in the United States, Japan, and other countries.