Microchip Elevates the Development Platform Using Advanced Peripherals Designed for 8-bit PIC Microcontrollers

By CIOReview | Friday, October 16, 2015
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CHANDLER, AZ: Microchip Technology expands the development platform of its burgeoning 8-bit PIC (Peripheral Interface Controllers) microcontrollers (MCUs) with Core-Independent Peripherals (CIPs) portfolio. Designers can blend the introduced enhancements to perform application functions autonomously which can be interconnected with an increasing amount of integrated Intelligent Analog peripherals. Respective functions are run on hardware instead of software enabling system performance by CIPs.

The company has designed four tools to meet its longstanding and free MPLAB X Integrated Development Environment which can be easily expanded through Microchip's rich ecosystem, including development partners such as MikroElektronika and Digilent.

"Add memory, expand pin count, increase the clock speed, and add more of the same peripherals. But embedded system design has changed, and now even the smallest applications have increased in complexity. We evolved the peripherals on our 8-bit PIC MCUs to be more deterministic and autonomous, so our customers can react quickly to changing market conditions with minimal code rewrites and very short validation cycles,” says Steve Drehobl, Vice President, MCU8 Division, Microchip.

Microchip has developed MPLAB Code Configurator (MCC) version 3.0 to bring down development time with next-generation MCUs which is one among the four tools.  MCC is a free graphical programming environment that generates seamless, easy to understand C code that is inserted into a project. Using an intuitive interface it enables and configures a rich set of peripherals and functions that is integrated into MPLAB X IDE to offer a powerful and easy to use development platform. MCC 3.0 also adds support for Microchip's libraries, such as TCP/IP, custom LIN drivers, and serial bootloaders, with future expansion plans for mTouch capacitive sensing, USB, and RF protocols. Additionally, Microchip plans to release a Software Development Kit that will allow designers to add their own ‘often-used’ 8- and 16-bit code snippets and/or libraries into MCC 3.0, for easy integration and configuration.

The Curiosity Development Board is a cost-effective, fully integrated 8-bit development platform targeted at first-time users, Makers, and those seeking a feature-rich rapid prototyping board. It incorporates an integrated programmer/debugger which requires no additional hardware to get started. Its external connectors include a mikroBUS™ header that supports more than 100 of MikroElektronika's Click add-on boards, as well as a PCB footprint that enables users to easily add Microchip's RN4020 Bluetooth LE module for communication.

The Explorer 8 Development Kit enables a broad range of 8-bit MCU functions, including human-interface, power-conversion, Internet-of-Things, battery-charging and many other applications. It also has the greatest capacity for expansion in Microchip's 8-bit board lineup, with two Digilent Pmod interfaces, two MikroElektronika Click board sockets, and two expansion headers for custom add-on boards that designers can create as their development needs change. The development solution features several options for external sensors, off-board communication and human interface. Extending enough space for expansion the solution claims to be an apt choice for developers and engineers who are looking for a tool with the largest number of supported 8-bit PIC MCUs.

The PICDEM Lab II Development Board is a development and teaching platform allowing users to experiment with different values and configurations of analog components for system optimization. When in hand with CIPs it can significantly reduce total design time. The board is also modular, enabling users to design a system with one or several PIC MCUs, simultaneously. Connections include two MikroElektronika Click board sockets, a 16-pin LCD module connector, and a 20-pin custom header for custom add-on boards. Microchip provides several labs to assist users in getting started quickly, ranging from simple MCU configuration to power conversion and Class D audio.