NEC Electronics Samples 22 New Flash-Memory-Embedded Microcontrollers

NEC Electronics announced it has begun sample shipments this month of 22 new flash-memory-embedded microcontrollers – twelve 8-bit models and ten 16-bit models — with the lowest level of power consumption in the industry as part of the company’s effort to strengthen its microcomputer business. Of the new products, the ones that boast the lowest level of standby power consumption in the industry are: six models in the 8-bit 78K0/KY2-L line with 16 external-connection pins (which is one of the smallest numbers in the industry); six models in the 8-bit 78K0/KA2-L line with 20 pins; six models in the 16-bit 78K0R/KF3-L line with 80 pins; and six models in the 16-bit 78K0R/KG3-L with 100 pins. In addition, using these microcontrollers can reduce the number of parts necessary for building systems because they do not require the use of peripherals, contributed by the enhanced analog features like A/D converters.

In addition, the new 8-bit microcontrollers are the company’s first models in which the number of communication external-connection pins (excluding it for the power supply connection) necessary for debugging have been reduced from four to one. And in the 16-bit products, the power necessary for rewriting programs on flash memory have been expanded from the conventional 2.7 V to 1.8 V. Therefore, these products enable the upgrading of software after mobile devices are shipped out.

These new microprocessors also enable the company’s client set manufacturers to easily develop energy efficient home electronic products and battery-operated systems that require the reduction of standby power.

Due to growing concern for environmental protection, the improved energy efficiency of systems in the microcontroller-applied business has become an even larger appeal to ordinary consumers. In addition, consumers want longer battery life for battery-operated gadgets like fire alarms, electronic tooth brushes, shavers and other small systems. For these reasons, users want electronic parts makers to make more energy efficient electronic parts that ultimately make up systems.

Under these circumstances, NEC Electronics has been introducing to the market new products under the concept of ultra-low-power-consumption. For example, the company released 32-bit microcontrollers in October 2007, 16-bit products in May 2008 and 8-bit microcontrollers in September 2008.

By introducing the twelve 8-bit microcontrollers with the smallest number of external-connection pins as well as the ten 16-bit microcontrollers with the largest number of pins among the 16-bit products, NEC Electronics expanded the lineup of All-Flash microcontrollers that respond to low-power-consumption needs. This boosted the company’s total lineup of microcontrollers with ultra-low-power-consumption to 70 models, enabling users to choose the best option from a wider selection of products.

Features of the new products are described below.

  • Lowest level of power consumption in the industry
    The company’s new products boast the lowest level of standby power consumption in the industry. The company’s new 8-bit products have a standby operating current of 0.7 µA, and an operating current when operating at 1 megahertz of 260 µA. The 16-bit models have a standby operating current of 1.0 µA when only the watch is operating, and 6.8 mA at high-speed operation of 20 megahertz. This enables longer battery life and lower system power consumption.
  • Reduced number of components by expanding analog features
    The 8-bit microcontrollers have one built-in operational amplifier, while the latest 16-bit models have built-in high-speed A/D converter with many analog input pins. For these reasons, these products are optimal for systems equipped with sensor features. And because these microcontrollers do not require peripheral components — as conventional models do – users can reduce the number of peripherals on their systems.
  • Can conduct on-chip debugging with just one pin. (Only the 8-bit products 78K0/KY2-L and 78K0/KA2-L)
    These products became the first NEC Electronics products to have the number of necessary communication pins excluding power connection reduced from the conventional four to one through on-chip debugging when the internal oscillator circuit is used in the main clock. This enables users to develop sets that effectively use features at low cost when developing systems.
  • (Can rewrite programs at 1.8 V (Only the 16-bit products 78K0R/KF3-L and 78K0R/KG3-L)
    Because of an embedded, dedicated on-chip voltage booster, the power needed for rewriting programs onto flash memory is expanded from the conventional 2.7 V to 1.8 V. This enables the rewrite of programs by simply supplying power voltage from batteries even in mobile devices that could not rewrite programs unless supplied with power voltage from non-battery sources. Ultimately, this makes it easier to update software after sets are shipped out.

NEC Electronics believes that these new products can boost the competitiveness of sets in the growing market for energy efficient home electronics and battery-powered systems. The company plans to expand the product lineup and market them actively.

Pricing and Availability
The sample prices of these new products vary depending on the memory and number of external-connection pins. For example, the 78K0R/KG3-L — a 16-bit microcomputer with a 128-KB flash memory and 8-KB RAM equipped on a package with 100 external-connection pins – are priced at 600 yen per unit. The 78K0/KA2-L – an 8-bit microcomputer with a 16 KB flash memory and 768-byte RAM equipped on a package with 20 external-connection pins – are priced at 300 yen per unit. Mass-production of the new products will begin in summer 2009. The total monthly production of these 22 models is set for 1 million units in December 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.

SuperFlash is registered in the U.S., Japan and other countries as a trademark of U.S. firm Silicon Storage Technology.