Ferro-electric memory (FRAM) MCUs enable ultra-low power operation

June 27, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Texas Instruments says it is entering a “new era of ultra-low power” with its MSP430 FRAM microcontrollers; with a feature called EnergyTrace++ technology, they are designed from the outset to enable the lowest power microcontroller systems.

TI's ultra-low power FRAM microcontroller (MCU) platform comes with all the necessary hardware and software tools, and support for developers to reduce energy budgets, minimise product size and enable a “battery-free world”.

TI's MSP430FR59x/69x FRAM MCU families with EnergyTrace++ real-time power profiler and debugger range from 32 to 128 kB embedded FRAM. These MSP430 MCUs are suitable for smart utility metering, wearable electronics, industrial and remote sensors, energy harvesting, home automation, data acquisition systems, the Internet of Things (IoT) and many more applications that require ultra-low power consumption, flexible memory options and smart analogue integration.

TI's ultra-low-leakage (ULL) proprietary technology with embedded FRAM offers active power of 100 µA/MHz, accurate-RTC standby power of 450 nA and power performance across the temperature range from -40 to 85C. The FRAM MCUs include a variety of smart analogue peripherals, such as a differential input analogue-to-digital converter that consumes as little as 140 µA at 200 ksamples/sec and an enhanced scan interface for flow metering that can operate while the system is in standby, resulting in 10 times lower power. In addition, an integrated 8-mux LCD display and 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) accelerator reduce power consumption, bill of materials and board space.

EnergyTrace++ technology is the first debug system that enables developers to analyse power consumption down to 5 nA resolution in real-time for each peripheral. This allows engineers to take control of their power budget and optimise software to create the lowest energy product possible. This new technology is now available for both MSP430FR59x and MSP430FR69x MCU families and with the new low-cost MSP430FR5969 LaunchPad development kit.

Capabilities claimed for the FRAM MCUs include;

Infinite Endurance. The unbeatable read/write speeds mean FRAM MCUs have more than 10 billion times more write-erase cycles than traditional non-volatile memory solutions – outlasting the product lifetime itself.

Flexibility. FRAM has the unique ability to free developers from the traditional boundaries between code and data memory. Users