New Industry Products

TI Introduces Single-Chip MCU & Low Power RF Solution For Networking, Energy Harvesting, Security, Lighting & Metering

November 11, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) announced the new CC430 technology platform, which is said to offer the industry’s lowest power, single-chip radio-frequency (RF) solution for microcontroller- (MCU) based applications. According to TI, by reducing system complexity, shrinking package and printed circuit board (PCB) size by up to 50% and making RF design easy, the CC430 platform helps advance applications including RF networking, energy harvesting, industrial monitoring and tamper detection, personal wireless networks and automatic metering infrastructure (AMI).

The unique blend of TI’s MSP430F5xx MCU and low power RF transceiver draws a low enough current to enable battery-operated wireless networking applications that operate without servicing for ten years or longer, a critical factor for customers in the metering industry. Advanced functionality in a tiny form factor can also power RF sensor networks that report data to a central collection point to analyze information such as smoke in the atmosphere to detect forest fires, moisture or pesticide information in crop fields or even humidity levels in a winery. The power-efficient, flexible CC430 platform will also enable battery-free sensors that use energy harvesting modules that run off of solar power, human body temperature or vibrations for a power source.

"Our energy harvesting microgenerators are based on the simple idea that the vibration of a piece of plant machinery can be transformed into electrical power for sensor systems to send critical performance data over wireless protocols," explains TI customer, Roy Freeland, CEO of Perpetuum. "Sensing applications are limitless, power supplies are not; solutions like the CC430 platform that combine low power and high functionality with the know-how to take the mystery out of RF design help bridge this gap to help usher in a new age of energy solutions."

The first CC430 devices are monolithic with high integration to allow for a 50% reduction in package and PCB space compared to two-chip solutions. Applications that benefit from this integration and size reduction may include smart hospital tracking systems that communicate patient or medical equipment information to a central location, as well as personal area networking between watches, pedometers, chest strap heart rate monitors and PC-based health and fitness analysis programs. Smaller board space and reduced complexity also help shrink the size of heat cost allocators and AMI smart metering systems, which are expected to make up 28% of all electric meters by 2013.

An extensive MSP430 MCU peripheral set will be available for CC430-based devices including intelligent, high-performance digital and analog peripherals like a 16-bit ADC and low power comparators that provide high performance – even during RF transmissions – and consume no power when not in operation. These peripherals also speed design by integrating functions such as an integrated Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) accelerator that encrypts and decrypts data sent wirelessly for more secure alarm and industrial monitoring systems. An additional choice for designers will be the on-chip LCD controller, contributing to further cost- and size reductions for LCD based applications.

Initial devices in the CC430 platform will be based on the 16-bit MSP430F5xx MCU and the industry’s leading sub-1GHz CC1101 RF transceiver. TI’s low power RF transceivers offer leading selectivity and blocking to ensure reliable communications even in noisy environments. F5xx MCUs allow designers to tap into peak execution performance of up to 25 MHz while consuming as low as 160uA/MHz (microamp per megahertz). As the CC430 platform evolves, future devices will leverage the newest TI MSP430 MCU and low power RF technologies.

The CC430 platform is 100% instruction set-compatible with other MSP430 platforms such as the MSP430F5xx, making upgrades easy and allowing choices from the entire portfolio for a range of applications. In addition, the CC430 platform will enable code and design reuse with standalone MSP430 MCU and low power RF transceiver solutions. The first CC430 samples will be available in limited quantities in 1Q09 with mass-market sampling and further device introductions scheduled for later in the year. Pricing for initial devices will start at less than $2 in volume.