30-05-2017 | | By Paul Whytock
A Microcontroller Unit (MCU) with graphics design facilities equaling Microprocessor Units (MPUs) has been launched by microcontroller and analog semiconductor specialists Microchip.
The MCU family, designated 32bit PIC32MZ DA, is claimed by the company to be the first MCU with an integrated 2D Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) and up to 32MBytes of integrated DDR2 memory. This is aimed at simplifying graphics design for 24bit colour and large display sizes.
This performance combination is expected to provide customers with the capability to increase their application’s colour resolution and display size, up to 12 inches with established MCU-based resources and tools including the company’s MPLAB Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and MPLAB Harmony Software Framework. This should prove attractive to customers who want to stay in an MCU design environment.
These MCU tools, says Microchip, provide a visual graphics design environment, custom display driver creation, graphics libraries and an asset converter that can take a custom graphic and optimise it for their chosen display size.
The addition of DDR2 memory is expected to offer double throughput speeds and large graphics buffers and storage for complex communications protocol stacks and algorithms.
In summary the key facts about the new MCU family are: they should simplify graphics design for 24bit colour and large display sizes using MPLAB tools and support; they combine MPU-like graphics with Microchip’s seamless PIC32 and MPLAB development tools; they feature a 32MByte integrated SDRAM or 128MByte externally addressable SDRAM, Flash and SRAM and, finally, they provide space for large graphics buffers and/or storage for communication protocol stacks.