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issue: September 2007 APPLIANCE Magazine

Motor Technology
More Control for Less


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A new Flash-based digital signal controller (DSC) family breaks the price barrier for appliance motor control applications.

Microchip Technology’s dsPIC33FJ12MC family features Peripheral Pin Select, which allows designers to remap digital input/output to optimize board layout—enabling smaller boards, less noise, and the use of a lower-pin-count DSC.

The new dsPIC33FJ12MC family from Microchip Technology is designed to give appliance OEMs an edge in power efficiency, performance, and overall cost structure. With advanced motor control algorithms and small size, the 40-MIPS DSCs provide engineers with a feature-rich platform for advanced motor control algorithms such as field-oriented control (FOC).

Jorge Zambada, senior applications engineer for Microchip’s Digital Signal Controller Division, says that the low-cost components have established a new price point for the industry, thanks to a small memory footprint and optimized die size. “This low price enables companies to overcome the economic obstacles preventing employment of advanced motor control technology to resolve their need for better performance and efficiency,” he tells APPLIANCE.

Even with a small price tag, the DSC family has capabilities such as pulse-width modulation (PWM) optimized for motor control applications and a quadrature encoder interface for sensored motor applications. “Couple that with full DSP capability, a fast analog-to-digital convertor (ADC) with simultaneous sampling, Flash memory, and low pin counts, and you make a device well-suited to demanding motor control applications,” Zambada says.

The on-chip PWM peripheral is driven from two independent time bases. One can be used for motor control, and the other can be used for power factor correction. The on-chip ADC peripheral has multiple samples and “holds” so that simultaneous sampling of sensor inputs can take place. Zambada says that without this feature, the ADC would have to operate at a much higher conversion rate—and consume more power—to approximate simultaneous conversions.

In addition, the components are said to offer excellent firmware and a software development environment tailored to optimize the design task and make the development process as efficient as possible. “The algorithms are complex and would not be practical for most engineers to develop on their own,” notes Zambada. “They are also free, which impacts favorably the cost of development.”

As with most of the company’s dsPIC DSCs, the new family offers CodeGuard technology that permits a motor control system to use on-chip resources, which a value-added supplier can call upon but cannot view or modify. “For example, a motor control manufacturer could place their algorithm in a secure segment of memory, and allow a washing machine manufacturer to add the control-profile and user-interface functions to the general segment of memory,” Zambada explains. “It is also useful for secure firmware updates, where keys and encryption algorithms are kept in secure memory segments and the revised firmware is saved in general memory.”

The DSC family also addresses designers’ size concerns with a low pin count. The components serve space-constrained motor control applications via 20- and 28-pin packages as small as 6 × 6 mm.

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Microchip Technology Inc.
 

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