Embedded controllers access Intel Enhanced Serial Peripheral standard

September 04, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Designers of mobile computing products can re-use IP across multiple x86 platforms with Microchip’s family of highly configurable low-power embedded controllers; this scalable family of devices supports Intel’s eSPI and existing Low Pin Count interface (LPC) for system host communication.

The MEC14XX family of highly configurable low-power embedded controllers is focussed on the needs of x86-based notebook and tablet platform designers. To ease the mobile computing industry’s transition to the new interface and lower-voltage designs, Microchip’s MEC14XX family also provides a flexible arrangement that allows multiple I/O signals to be configured to support either 3.3V or 1.8V, reducing the system bill-of-materials cost by eliminating the need for external voltage translators.

These features of the MEC14XX family also allow for a seamless migration of intellectual property (IP) reuse across multiple x86 computing platform architectures, such as Intel Atom, Intel iCore and AMD-based systems. This is also Microchip’s first embedded controller family targeted for general x86 computing that includes the company’s MPLAB development tool support.

The MEC14XX devices are offered with a choice of 128 kB, 160 kB or 192 kB of closely-coupled SRAM for code and data that loads from SPI-flash. Designers can use the host SPI-flash (used for BIOS storage) for non-volatile EC firmware storage, as a cost-effective system solution. The added choice of either the MEC140X LPC interface devices or the MEC1418, which supports both the LPC and eSPI interfaces, allows the designer to select the most cost-effective device for a particular platform and provides manufacturers the ability to preserve their investments as the industry transitions. All members of the MEC14XX family are pin and register compatible.

Each member of the MEC14XX family is based on Microchip’s 32-bit PIC MCU architecture and is supported by Microchip’s development tools. The MEC1404 (128 kB SRAM) and MEC1408 (192 kB SRAM) embedded controllers supporting the Intel LPC interface are available; the MEC1418 (192 kB SRAM) embedded controller, supporting both the Intel LPC and eSPI interfaces, is also available.

Microchip; www.microchip.com/MEC14XX-060115a