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Freescale aims to drag 8- and 16-bit manufacturing into the modern era with a 32-bit MCU that's cheaper than a cup o' Joe. The ARM Cortex-MO+ based Kinesis L series MCU is now available in alpha to interested parties, it's capable of sipping a scant 50 µA/MHz of power and will cost just $0.49 when you buy 'em in lots of 10,000. While the cheap chips will no doubt go on to help power the internet of things, the associated debut of a $12.95 development board coming in August will also be a boon to developers and hobbyists. The platform will allow "quick application prototyping and demonstration" according to the company, and provide a GUI tool for generating start-up code and device drivers. So, if you've gotta have that new beer dispenser mock-up running at a full 32-bits, check the PR after the break.

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Freescale Debuts Kinetis L Series, World's Most Energy-Efficient Microcontrollers

New 32-bit MCUs designed to transform consumer and industrial applications currently using legacy 8- and 16-bit architectures


SAN ANTONIO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Freescale Semiconductor (NYSE: FSL) is now offering alpha samples of its Kinetis L series, the industry's first microcontrollers (MCUs) built on the ARM® Cortex™-M0+ processor. Kinetis L series devices are on display this week at the Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) Americas and were demonstrated during the event's opening keynote address.

As machine-to-machine communication expands and network connectivity becomes ubiquitous, many of today's standalone, entry-level applications will require more intelligence and functionality. With the Kinetis L series, Freescale provides the ideal opportunity for users of legacy 8- and 16-bit architectures to migrate to 32-bit platforms and bring additional intelligence to everyday devices without increasing power consumption and cost or sacrificing space. Applications, such as small appliances, gaming accessories, portable medical systems, audio systems, smart meters, lighting and power control, can now leverage 32-bit capabilities and the scalability needed to expand future product lines – all at 8- and 16-bit price and power consumption levels.

"In our view, 8- and 16-bit development has reached the end of the road. Those architectures simply can't keep up as the Internet of Things gains traction," said Geoff Lees, vice president and general manager of Freescale's Industrial & Multi-Market MCU business. "Kinetis L series MCUs are ideal for the new wave of connected applications, combining the required energy efficiency, low price, development ease and small footprint with the enhanced performance, peripherals, enablement and scalability of the Kinetis 32-bit portfolio."

Extreme energy efficiency

The ARM Cortex-M0+ processor consumes approximately one-third of the energy of any 8- or 16-bit processor available today, while delivering between two to 40 times more performance. The Kinetis L series supplements the energy efficiency of the core with the latest in low-power MCU platform design, operating modes and energy-saving peripherals. The result is an MCU that consumes just 50 uA/MHz* in very-low-power run (VLPR) mode and can rapidly wake from a reduced power state, process data and return to sleep, extending application battery life. These advantages are demonstrated in the FTF demo, which compares the energy-efficiency characteristics of the Kinetis L series against solutions from Freescale competitors in a CoreMark benchmark analysis. The Kinetis L series is also part of the Freescale Energy-Efficient Solutions program.

Kinetis L series energy-saving peripherals do more with less power by maintaining functionality even when the MCU is in deep sleep modes. In traditional MCUs, the main clock and processor core must be activated to perform even trivial tasks such as sending or receiving data, capturing or generating waveforms or sampling analog signals. Kinetis L series peripherals are able to perform these functions without involving the core or main system, drastically reducing power consumption and improving battery life.

Built using Freescale's innovative, award-winning flash memory technology, the Kinetis L series offers the industry's lowest-power flash memory implementation. This improves upon the conventional silicon-based charge storage approach by creating nano-scale silicon islands to store charge instead of using continuous film, improving the flash memory's immunity to typical sources of data loss.

"The Internet of Things needs very low-cost, low-power processors that can deliver good performance," said Tom R. Halfhill, a senior analyst with The Linley Group and senior editor of Microprocessor Report. "As the first 32-bit microcontrollers to use ARM's Cortex-M0+ processor core, Freescale's Kinetis L-series MCUs will bring the energy efficiency and prices typically associated with 8- and 16-bit MCUs to a broad range of consumer and industrial applications."

Development simplicity

The Kinetis L series addresses the ease-of-use requirement critical for entry-level developers through innovations including:

The Freescale Freedom development platform, a small, low-power, cost-efficient evaluation and development system for quick application prototyping and demonstration. It combines an industry-standard form factor with a rich set of third-party expansion board options. An integrated USB debug interface offers an easy-to-use mass-storage device mode flash programmer, a virtual serial port and classic programming and run-control capabilities.
Processor Expert software, a GUI-based, device-aware software generation tool that eliminates the need to write peripheral start-up code or device drivers. Helps developers easily migrate from 8- and 16-bit to 32-bit solutions by simplifying the software architecture and dramatically reducing application development time.
The Kinetis MCU Solution Advisor, a web-based application with an interactive MCU product selector that helps identify the best-suited MCU by applying dynamic filters based on operating characteristics, packaging options, memory configuration and peripheral hardware library.

Integration and scalability

Each Kinetis L series family includes scalable flash memory options, pin-counts and analog, communication, timing and control peripherals, providing easy migration paths for end product line expansion.

Features common to the Kinetis L series families include:

48 MHz ARM Cortex-M0+ core
High-speed 12/16-bit analog-to-digital converters
12-bit digital-to-analog converters
High-speed analog comparators
Low-power touch sensing with wake-up on touch from reduced power states
Powerful timers for a broad range of applications including motor control

The first three Kinetis L series families:

Kinetis L0 family – the entry point into the Kinetis L series. Includes eight to 32 KB of flash memory and ultra-small 4mm x 4mm QFN packages. Pin-compatible with the Freescale 8-bit S08P family. Software- and tool-compatible with all other Kinetis L series families.
Kinetis L1 family – with 32 to 256 KB of flash memory and additional communications and analog peripheral options. Compatible with the Kinetis K10 family.
Kinetis L2 family – adds USB 2.0 full-speed host/device/OTG. Compatible with the Kinetis K20 family.

The Kinetis L series is pin- and software-compatible with the Kinetis K series (built on the ARM Cortex-M4 processor), providing a migration path to DSP performance and advanced feature integration.

Availability and pricing

Kinetis L series alpha samples are available now, with broad market sample and tool availability planned for Q3. Pricing starts at a suggested resale price of 49 cents (USD) in 10,000-unit quantities. The Freescale Freedom development platform is planned for Q3 availability at a suggested resale price of $12.95 (USD).

For more information about Kinetis L series MCUs, visit www.freescale.com/Kinetis/Lseries.

*Typical current at 25C, 3V supply, for Very Low Power Run at 4MHz core frequency, 1MHz bus frequency running code from flash with all peripherals off.

About the Freescale Technology Forum

Created to drive innovation and collaboration, the Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) has become one of the developer events of the year for the embedded systems industry. The Forum has drawn more than 48,000 attendees at FTF events worldwide since its inception in 2005. Our annual flagship event, FTF Americas, takes place June 18-21, 2012, in San Antonio, Texas.

About Freescale Semiconductor

Freescale Semiconductor (NYSE:FSL) is a global leader in embedded processing solutions, providing industry leading products that are advancing the automotive, consumer, industrial and networking markets. From microprocessors and microcontrollers to sensors, analog integrated circuits and connectivity – our technologies are the foundation for the innovations that make our world greener, safer, healthier and more connected. Some of our key applications and end-markets include automotive safety, hybrid and all-electric vehicles, next generation wireless infrastructure, smart energy management, portable medical devices, consumer appliances and smart mobile devices. The company is based in Austin, Texas, and has design, research and development, manufacturing and sales operations around the world. www.freescale.com

Freescale, the Freescale logo, Energy Efficient Solutions logo, Kinetis and Processor Expert are trademarks of Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. ARM is the registered trademark of ARM Limited. Cortex is the trademark of ARM Limited. All other product or service names are the property of their respective owners. © 2012 Freescale Semiconductor, Inc.