32-bit PICs gain high-end, connectivity-oriented chip series

November 19, 2013 // By Graham Prophet
Microchip has extended its PIC32 series of 32-bit microcontrollers with the MZ family of chips, initially comprising 24 variants, that is positioned as a high-end “embedded connectivity” offering with higher performance and more integrated features than the existing PIC32MX series. At the same time, the company is introducing a software framework for code development that will assist users by providing pre-qualified code for commonly-used functions, and will ease the process of assembling those functions together with user-generated code in the final executable.

For the MZ MCUs, Microchip claims advances in performance, and high memory and peripheral integration; the core is quoted as delivering 330 DMIPS at 200 MHz, or 3.28 CoreMarks/MHz, which is over three times the performance of previous generation PIC32 MCUs. Microchip also claims 30% better code density than comparable MCUs while maintaining performance. The chips have a analogue/digital converter on-board that has a 28 Msample/sec sample rate, fronted by six sample/hold units; they have up to 2 MB of on-board flash, and up to 512 KB RAM: the flash is true dual-panel (or you can use it as a single bank) for secure in-field code updates – the first time this has been offered on a PIC. Connectivity comes with integrated Hi-Speed USB (480 Mbit/sec), also the first time this has been included on a PIC, with 10/100 Ethernet MAC, two CAN 2.0b modules, six UARTs, six SPI / I²S ports, and five I²C ports: plus an SQI (serial quad interface, to extrenal flash) interface. Also on-chip is a crypto engine with a Random Number Generator (RNG) for data encryption/decryption and authentication to standards such as AES, 3DES, SHA, MD5, and HMAC. The core is the previously-announced MIPS microAptiv with the addition of 159 new DSP instructions supporting streaming/digital audio: the chip will supports up to WQVGA display without external graphics ICs – there is enough RAM to implement an on-board frame buffer. In selecting from development-board support at a number of levels, you can opt for variants that use, or do not include, the crypto option.

Imagination’s MIPS microAptiv core offers execution of DSP algorithms at up to 75% fewer cycles than the PIC32MX families. This core also provides the microMIPS instruction-set architecture – this is the “condensed” ISA for the MIPS core – which improves code density while operating at near full rate.

Three PIC32MZ development tools start with the complete, turn-key PIC32MZ EC Starter Kit priced