8-bit MCUs still keepin’ on; Microchip adds new development platform

September 21, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
This development platform, Microchip says, accelerates design of application functions using advanced peripherals available on 8-bit PIC microcontrollers

With this expansion of its development platform for Microchip’s portfolio of 8-bit PIC microcontrollers (MCUs) with Core-Independent Peripherals (CIPs), designers can combine these building blocks to perform application functions autonomously, and they can be interconnected with an increasing number of integrated ‘Intelligent Analog’ peripherals. Because these functions are deterministically and reliably performed in hardware instead of software, CIPs enable system performance that is far beyond traditional MCUs.

In order to further reduce development time with these next-generation MCUs, Microchip is releasing Version 3.0 of the MPLAB Code Configurator (MCC)—the most recent version of its free graphical programming environment—and adding three development boards. The Curiosity Development Board is an entry-level, cost-effective tool that includes an integrated programmer and debugger along with options for easy external connectivity. The Explorer 8 Development Kit is a rapid proof-of-concept tool with extensive integration, and it supports the widest variety of 8-bit PIC MCUs. The PICDEM Lab II Development Board is a comprehensive development and experimentation tool, with an analogue and mixed-signal focus. This development platform, when combined with the Core-Independent Peripherals, can significantly reduce total design time. An online presentation is here

“For the last 20 years, most 8-bit MCU vendors have continued to release new products with essentially the same product feature approach,” said Steve Drehobl, vice president of Microchip’s MCU8 Division. “Add memory, expand pin count, increase the clock speed, and add more of the same peripherals. But embedded system design has changed, and now even the smallest applications have increased in complexity. We evolved the peripherals on our 8-bit PIC MCUs to be more deterministic and autonomous, so our customers can react quickly to changing market conditions with minimal code rewrites and very short validation cycles.”

All four of these tools are designed to fit within Microchip’s MPLAB X Integrated Development Environment, and can be augmented via Microchip’s ecosystem, including development partners such as MikroElektronika and Digilent. This platform, the company asserts,