We are all fascinated by the newest tech gadgets, which seem to appear almost daily, and with the incredible advancements in robotics, automation, medical devices, and the automotive world. Leading this fascination are the latest mobile devices, wearables, drones, automotive infotainment systems, and high-resolution screens with spectacular image quality and sound. And let's not overlook the plethora of smart home devices that adjust to our daily routines by lighting our homes, controlling the temperature, and monitoring and securing our homes.
Driving all this important tech are microcontrollers (MCUs), the unsung heroes of the technology world. MCUs provide the necessary intelligence, speed, design flexibility, functionality, optimization, security, and robustness for the newest devices and applications to function. MCUs are crucial for enabling modern technology to seamlessly operate, and without them, these devices would lack the same level of functionality.
This week's New Tech Tuesday will give a brief overview of MCUs before looking at a pressure-controlled LED demo powered by the Microchip AVR64DD32 MCU, part of Microchip's AVR® DD Family.
MCUs are self-contained, single-chip computers that are usually embedded within other devices to perform dedicated processing tasks. These tasks are typically simple and specific to a device's function, such as managing the keyboard input of a computer or controlling the temperature in a microwave. Unlike general-purpose computers, microcontrollers are designed to perform specialized functions, often with real-time computing constraints.
MCUs consist of a central processing unit (CPU), memory (RAM, ROM, or both), and peripherals like timers, event counters, and I/O ports, all integrated into a single chip (Figure 1). MCUs are found in a wide variety of electronic devices, including toys, appliances, vehicles, telecommunications systems, medical devices, and wearables.
Figure 1: Block diagram of the AVR DD Family of microcontrollers. (Source: Microchip Technology)
This week’s New Tech Tuesday features the Microchip Technology AVR64DD32 Pressure Demo, based on the AVR64DD32 MCU. The demo solution uses the Microchip AVR64DD32 Curiosity Nano evaluation kit (which houses the AVR64DD32 MCU), the Curiosity Nano Base for Click boards™, a Mikroe 4×4 RGB Click, and a Mikroe Force Click. For programming, the project uses the MPLAB® X integrated development environment (IDE), MPLAB XC8 compiler, and MPLAB Code Configurator (MCC).
The demo enables a user to light the LEDs on the Mikroe RGB Click by pressing a piezoresistive force sensor. The applied pressure is converted by the MCU's analog-to-digital converter (ADC) into a digital signal that lights the LEDs based on the magnitude of the applied pressure. To ensure a seamless reading experience, the ADC internally employs a smart filtering technique, gathering sixteen measurements and providing the average for a smoother and more precise result. The pressure reading can also be sent by a UART interface that allows the user to see real-time pressure data on the MPLAB Data Visualizer.
The AVR64DD32 MCU features Core Independent Peripherals (CIPs), which allow it to perform tasks in hardware instead of through software. These CIPs include the 12-bit differential ADC, Configurable Custom Logic (CCL), and Multi-Voltage I/Os (MVIO), all of which enable easy integration into various systems. The MVIO peripheral minimizes the need for external level shifters, reducing both design complexity and BOM cost. The CIPs contribute to the advanced analog and digital operations of the MCU. Additionally, the AVR64DD32 MCU offers high memory support, ensuring optimal performance for cloud-connected sensors and precision control applications.
In the realm of advancing technology, microcontrollers (MCUs) play a pivotal role, often unseen but crucial in driving innovation. From wearables to smart homes, their impact is vast and significant. This week's New Tech Tuesday spotlighted the Microchip AVR64DD32 Pressure Demo, centered around the AVR64DD32 MCU, a testament to the fusion of precision, functionality, and design. Truly, as we continue to embrace the digital age, it's essential to acknowledge and appreciate the unsung heroes—MCUs—that power our everyday tech marvels.
To learn more about the full lineup of Microchip Technology products available from Mouser Electronics, visit https://www.mouser.com/manufacturer/microchip.
“Types of Microcontroller - Lists of Microcontroller Applications.” Elysium Embedded School, July 28, 2020. https://embeddedschool.in/different-types-of-microcontroller-programming-used-in-embedded-systems/.
"Microcontrollers Types: Advantages, Disadvantages & Their Applications." ElProCus - Electronic Projects for Engineering Students. Accessed August 2, 2023. https://www.elprocus.com/microcontrollers-types-and-applications/.
Rudy is a member of the Technical Content Marketing team at Mouser Electronics, bringing 35+ years of expertise in advanced electromechanical systems, robotics, pneumatics, vacuum systems, high voltage, semiconductor manufacturing, military hardware, and project management. As a technology subject matter expert, Rudy supports global marketing efforts through his extensive product knowledge and by creating and editing technical content for Mouser's website. Rudy has authored technical articles appearing in engineering websites and holds a BS in Technical Management and an MBA with a concentration in Project Management. Prior to Mouser, Rudy worked for National Semiconductor and Texas Instruments.
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