New TI MSP430 sensing MCU offers '25 functions for 25 cents'

November 09, 2017 //By Graham Prophet
Texas Instruments (Dallas, TX) has introduced its “lowest-cost ultra-low-power MSP430 microcontrollers” - for sensing applications, under the slogan “25 functions for 25 cents”. The MCUs feature FRAM (ferroelectric, non-volatile, RAM).

The focus on sensing applications comes with the presence on the respective MCU chips of analogue/mixed-signal functions: the price point (in US cents) is for volume buys of the smallest device in the family ($0.29 and up in more modest volumes). The 25 functions part of the tag line refers to the support that TI is adding in the shape of a library of basic software functions – timers, I/O routines, and the like, that you can patch into application code, or modify according to specific needs.

The introduction will be supported by a new, entry-level LaunchPad development board – this will be available until year-end (2017) at a price that echoes the family designation ($4.30) and at $9.99 thereafter.

At launch, there are two specific, entry-level family members in this MSP430 “Value Line”, the MSP430FR2000 and MSP430FR2100, with 0.5 kB and 1 kB of FRAM, respectively; the second of these has an on-chip 1-bit A/D converter. Packaging is in 3 x 3 mm VQFN; or – offering simple development for those without fine-line surface mount tooling – in TSSOP. The -2000 and -2100 parts have, TI acknowledges, “few peripherals” - however, they maintain compatibility with more complex MCUs in the family. (see next page for feature list).

The software support takes the form of a collection of 25, 2-page app notes, each on a basic function such as timers, input/output expanders, system reset controllers, electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM), with a library of code examples; there is also a range of complete, simple-sensing, designs such as thermostats and smoke detectors.

PWM routines allow output waveform shaping, and tone generation; comparators and the ADC allow wake-on-trigger or wake-on-threshold detection. TI also aims to encourage designers who have not previously used FRAM, to look at the technology.

The MSP430FR2433 LaunchPad development kit ( MSP-EXP430FR2433) hosts a family device with more features; the -2433 chip has 16 kB of memory,