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issue: January 2005 APPLIANCE Magazine

Electronics Report
LCD Microcontrollers

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Eight new members of Microchip Technology’s 8-bit PIC® LCD microcontroller family are said to offer maximum flexibility in code development and field re-programmability.

The 8-bit PIC® LCD microcontroller product family by Microchip Technology is based on the company’s PMOS Electrically Erasable Cell (PEEC) Flash technology. The PEEC is said to increase reliability through in-field re-programmability that can withstand up to 100,000 program-memory erase/write cycles and has 40 years of data retention on each memory location over a wide range of operating temperatures.

According to the company, the new additions include the world’s first 28-pin LCD microcontrollers for simple display applications requiring embedded control, and the first programmable 80-pin microcontrollers capable of driving 192 segments for touch screen and segmented LCD displays.

The PIC microcontrollers offer Flash program memory, low power consumption, and LCD control, and certain models feature data EEPROM. The new microcontrollers also use nanoWatt technology, which meets industry low-power design requirements, including the need to drive LCD displays in “sleep” mode. The integrated LCD module is software-configurable and reportedly reduces system components, occupied board space, and system costs.

“The LCD PIC microcontrollers are well suited to the appliance industry because they provide a single-chip solution that drives the LCD display, meeting designers’ requirements to reduce board space,” explains Greg Brown, a product manager for Microchip Technology Inc. (Chandler, AZ, U.S.). “In addition, with up to 8/16 kB of reprogrammable Flash program memory available, these LCD PIC microcontrollers increase flexibility for the design manufacturer, reducing development costs and time to market.”

According to Mr. Brown, the microcontrollers provide the ability to span across numerous applications requiring segmented LCD displays with the capability of supporting human interface through touch screens. In a microwave range top, for instance, LCD displays provide immediate feedback to human interface inputs and desired modes of operation that convey real-time information to the user. Other possible applications include major appliances, electric housewares, home security systems, HVAC and industrial equipment, medical devices, and exercise equipment.

The Flash program, memory-based microcontrollers are also said to allow the ability to change code not only while in development, but also while in production or even in the field. According to Mr. Brown, this offers designers a major advantage over other microcontroller solutions. “Legacy OTM-memory microcontrollers are ideal for solutions that are fully stable and don’t require code updates in production or in the field. If the customer requires code updates, OTP program memory is inherently inflexible,” Mr. Brown notes. “The ability to make real-time changes to the code, as well as the integration of LCD control and EEPROM data-memory, simplifies the overall design and allows the design to become a final product match faster.”

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Microchip Technology Inc.

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