Cypress MicroSystems Inc. has added dynamic reconfigurability to its Programmable System-on-a-Chip (PSoC) family of configurable microcontrollers.
An update to the company's PSoC Designer tool set introduces Device Editor, which allows designers to program multiple peripheral configurations using PSoC blocks-configurable arrays of analog and digital functions-that can be stored on-chip in flash memory and activated or deactivated on the fly.
"Today microcontroller users are pretty much hemmed in as far as what functions they can put on their peripherals. But CMS wants to give them a choice, not only of what they can put on, but when," said Nathan John, marketing director at the Woodinville, Wash.-based subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor Corp.
A vending machine can be programmed to accept money and dispense snacks 23 hours and 55 minutes a day, and for the other 5 minutes can function as a modem to send inventory and revenue data back to the vending company, John said.
MCUs exist to enable similar applications, embedding communications protocols to link everyday consumer appliances or industrial equipment to the Internet. However, CMS claims such fixed devices require additional silicon, which increases cost and complexity.
CMS is shipping PSoC devices to customers in the telecommunications, consumer, and industrial markets. Previously, the main selling point was the ability to automatically customize an MCU without additional engineering resources, silicon cost, or inventory.
PSoCs integrate a proprietary 24MHz, 8-bit microcontroller with 8 to 16Kbytes of flash, SRAM, and PSoC blocks in packages ranging from eight to 48 pins. Prices range from $2 to $3.50 in 1,000s.
The PSoC Designer tool set is free on CMS' Web site. Development kits for the company's CY8C25x/26x PSoC family are available for $249.