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issue: March 2007 APPLIANCE Magazine

Motor Technology
Cost Control


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A new microcontroller (MCU) series is said to offer environmentally friendly, power-efficient performance in “wet” appliances while reducing bill of material costs for appliance OEMs.

The FMC16100 series from ZiLOG fits in a 5x5 QFN package, said to be one of the smallest footprints for vector control.

Said to be the first 8-bit MCU to offer vector control capability, the Z8 Encore! MC™ (FMC16100 Series) from ZiLOG, Inc. is targeted at appliance applications such as dishwashers and washing machines. The San Jose, California, U.S.-based company says that with vector control features, the MCUs can reduce energy consumption and water usage—factors that benefit consumers and the environment, as well as help extend the life cycle of the product itself.
Utilized in more advanced appliance applications, vector control is said to enable precise, highly responsive speed control during changes in the load and optimizes motor efficiency during transitional operations. In front-loading washing machines, for example, where the motor typically runs at up to 18,000 rpm, the fast acceleration possible with vector control can reduce power and save time in the wash cycle. In addition, precise speed control is required to deliver the necessary clothes agitation that is key to reducing water consumption. The precise speed control, also a function of vector control, can help to further reduce the energy used during operation. In addition, by improving overall system efficiency, the supplier says the designer can minimize product wear and tear, extending overall operation.
Vector control was previously claimed to be the domain of digital signal processors (DSPs), digital signal controllers (DSCs) and 16- or 32-bit microcontrollers. However, the 8-bit MCU series has reportedly changed all that. By combining a fast CPU (up to 10 MIPS), an analog to digital converter (ADC), an integrated op-amp, and an optimized C compiler, the new MCU series can reportedly provide the equivalent of DSP functionality in vector control.
“The focus of 8-bit MCU design has been on low-end, scalar motor control and leaving vector control to 16- and 32-bit architectures,” notes Rex Allison, senior applications engineer at ZiLOG. “We just took a different design philosophy [to] push the limits of an 8-bit MCU.”
Since all the peripherals are integrated into the MCU, the real innovation comes down to code development, according to Allison. “This first requires breaking up functions into a fast loop running at 250 µs and a slower loop running at 2.5 ms. All high-speed functions such as the phase-current sampling and reconstruction, the current loop, vector rotation, and PWM updates run in the high-speed loop,” he explains. “Slower functions such as the speed-control loop and serial communications can be updated at 2.5 ms. In addition to separating out functions, each function requires benchmarking and then optimization to reduce the computation time.”
By using an 8-bit MCU, the company estimates that appliance manufacturers can save up to 50 percent on overall bill of material (BOM) costs compared to “higher-end” MCU solutions. “All DSPs and DSCs require an external op amp and comparator for vector control, as well as the higher cost of the DSP and DSC,” Allison notes.
He also says that incorporating the MCUs into existing product designs is fairly simple. “Since the reference design and example code are available, the majority of the work has already been done,” Allison explains. “This means that just board level design and maybe a little code modification is left to integrate the FMC16100 into a new design.”
In addition to dishwashers and washing machines, Allison says the new MCUs can also be applied to air-moving applications such as fans and HVAC control, where the price point “has forced scalar solutions.”

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Zilog Inc.
 

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