NEC : Very-low-power MCUs have enhanced analog features

NEC Electronics Europe has begun sample shipments of 22 new flash-memory-embedded microcontrollers – twelve 8-bit models and ten 16-bit models – with the lowest level of power consumption in the industry.

Of the new products, the ones that boast the lowest level of standby power consumption in the industry are: six models in the 8-bit 78KO/KY2-L line with 16 pins; six models in the 8-bit 78KO/KA2-L line with 20 pins; six models in the 16-bit 78KOR-KF3-L line with 80 pins; and six models in the 16-bit 78KOR/KG3-L with 100 pins. Using these microcontrollers can reduce the number of parts necessary for building systems because they do not require the use of peripherals, contributed by the enhanced analog features like A/D converters.

In addition, the new 8-bit microcontrollers are the company’s first models in which the number of communication external-connection pins (excluding it for the power supply connection), necessary for debugging, have been reduced. And in the 16-bit products, the power necessary for rewriting programs on flash memory has been expanded from the conventional 2.7V to 1.8V. Therefore, these products enable the upgrading of software after mobile devices are shipped out.

These new microprocessors also enable the company’s client set manufacturers to easily develop energy efficient home electronic products and battery-operated systems that require the reduction of standby power.
Due to growing concern for environmental protection, the improved energy efficiency of systems in the microcontroller-applied business has become an even larger appeal to ordinary consumers. In addition, consumers want longer battery life for battery-operated products like fire alarms, electronic tooth brushes, shavers and other small systems. For these reasons, users want electronic parts makers to offer more energy efficient electronic parts that ultimately make up systems.

Under these circumstances, NEC Electronics has been introducing to the market new products under the concept of ultra-low-power-consumption. For example, the company released 32-bit microcontrollers in October 2007, 16-bit products in May 2008 and 8-bit microcontrollers in September 2008.

By introducing the twelve 8-bit microcontrollers with the smallest number of external-connection pins as well as the ten 16-bit microcontrollers with the largest number of pins among the 16-bit products, NEC Electronics expanded the lineup of All-Flash microcontrollers that respond to low-power-consumption needs. This boosted the company’s total lineup of microcontrollers with ultra-low-power-consumption to 70 models, enabling users to choose the best option from a wider selection of products.

Features of the new products are described below.

(1) Lowest level of power consumption in the industry
The company’s new products boast the lowest level of standby power consumption in the industry. The company’s new 8-bit products have a standby operating current of 0.7 µA, and an operating current when operating at 1 megahertz of 260 µA. The 16-bit models have a standby operating current of 1.0µA when only the watch is operating, and 6.8 mA at high-speed operation of 20 megahertz. This enables longer battery life and lower system power consumption.

(2) Reduced number of components by expanding analog features
The 8-bit microcontrollers have one built-in operational amplifier, while the latest 16-bit models have built-in high-speed A/D converter with many analog input pins. For these reasons, these products are optimal for systems equipped with sensor features. And because these microcontrollers do not require peripheral components – as conventional models do – users can reduce the number of peripherals on their systems.

(3) Reduced number of pins used for on-chip debugging (Only the 8-bit products 78KO/KY2-L and 78KO/KA2-L)
These products have a reduced number of pins for on-chip debugging when using the internal oscillator as a main clock enabling low cost development. This enables users to develop sets that effectively use features at low cost when developing systems.

(4) Can rewrite programs at 1.8V (Only the 16-bit products 78KOR/KF3-L and 78KOR/KG3-L)
Because of an embedded, dedicated on-chip voltage booster, the power needed for rewriting programs onto flash memory is expanded from the conventional 2.7V to 1.8V. This enables the rewrite of programs by simply supplying power voltage from batteries even in mobile devices that could not rewrite programs unless supplied with power voltage from non-battery sources. Ultimately, this makes it easier to update software after sets are shipped out.

NEC Electronics believes that these new products can boost the competitiveness of sets in the growing market for energy efficient home electronics and battery-powered systems. The company plans to expand the product lineup and market them actively.


Mass-production of the new products will begin in summer 2009. The total monthly production of these 22 models is set for 1 million units in December 2009.

About NEC Electronics (Europe) GmbH

NEC Electronics (Europe) GmbH, headquartered in Duesseldorf, Germany, is a leading developer and supplier of semiconductor products in Europe. Committed to meeting customers' cost, performance and time-to-market requirements, the company offers solutions ranging from standard products to system-on-a-chip (SoC) solutions, as well as customized products for next-generation designs. Our customers also benefit from state-of-the-art manufacturing from the global production network of our parent company, NEC Electronics Corporation. Additionally, NEC Electronics (Europe) GmbH is the exclusive European sales and marketing channel of LCD modules from NEC LCD Technologies Ltd..

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Note: The above text is the public part of the press release obtained from the manufacturer (with minor modifications). EETimes Europe cannot be held responsible for the claims and statements made by the manufacturer. The text is intended as a supplement to the new product presentations in EETimes Europe magazine.

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