Ultra-Low-Power MCUs
August 2008
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A generation of ultra-low-power MSP430 microcontrollers (MCUs) is said to offer the industry’s lowest power consumption for devices that can provide up to 25 MHz peak performance, increased Flash and RAM memory, and integrated peripherals such as radio frequency (RF), USB, encryption, and LCD interfaces. With as low as 160 µA/MHz active power consumption and 1.5 µA in standby, MSP430F5xx MCUs enable longer battery life and the ability to use smaller batteries for portable applications, or no batteries at all for energy-harvesting systems that run off of solar power, vibration energy, or human body temperature. Joule-Thief, an energy harvester that uses a small MSP430 MCU, powers it by collecting and storing electrical energy from tiny mechanical vibrations. “The MCU helps enable a compact RF sensor design to implement ambient intelligence that can detect and report critical conditions in factories, automobiles, offices, homes, and other environments, all without wiring or batteries,” says Jim Vogeley, CEO of AdaptivEnergy, which produces the device.

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