FRAM MCUs “revolutionise” context save and restore

May 21, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Using the tag-line “lose power, not data”, Texas Instruments has introduced ultra-low-power FRAM (ferroelectric RAM) microcontrollers that feature a facility TI calls Compute Through Power Loss (CTPL); TI aims the parts at industrial automation and metering applications, where it says they will show reduced system costs.

Overcoming a design hurdle that has burdened engineers for decades, TI says that Compute Through Power Loss technology enables context save and restore across its MSP430 FRAM microcontroller (MCU) family, including the new MSP430FR6972 MCU. The technology enables instantaneous wakeup with intelligent system-state restoration after an application unexpectedly loses power. The MSP430FR6972 MCU with TI's CTPL technology includes integrated smart analogue and digital peripherals to reduce system cost, power and size. These features include a low-power segment LCD controller, a 12-bit differential analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) with internal window comparator, and a 256-bit AES accelerator. The ultra-low-power MSP430FR6972 MCU with 64 kB of non-volatile FRAM highlight TI's leading ULPBench scores for 16-bit MCUs and can be used for data logging to enable applications such as a wireless motor condition monitor. This system is paired with TI's bq25570 energy harvesting IC and SimpleLink multi-standard CC2650 wireless MCU to operate from a coin cell battery for decades. This system can monitor and analyse motor vibration frequencies and allows operators to accurately predict and schedule maintenance, reducing potential for machine failures.

The ultra-low-power capabilities of non-volatile FRAM-based MCUs include, TI adds;

Reduces manufacturing costs by decreasing programming times on an assembly line.

Unified FRAM allows flexible memory use across data and application code – a very flexible solution for updates in the field.

Unbeatable write speeds, combined with 10 billion times more write-cycle endurance compared to traditional non-volatile memory solution – excellent for data-logging applications.

Further simplifies code development because it does not require pre-erasure of segments and can be accessed at the bit-level, enabling constant on-the-fly data logging with zero extra power.

TheMSP430FR6972 FRAM MCUs feature;

Integrated 116-segment LCD driver includes software-configurable LCD pins that enable quick and easy hardware layout; an integrated charge pump allows the LCD contrast level to be maintained even when the MCU is in low-power modes.

Additional integration includes 52 capacitive-touch-enabled GPIO, five timers, comparator, real-time clock (RTC)