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Stephan Thaler
Scenix Semiconductor
Joe Fowler
FS Communications
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Expanded Memory, I/O Ports, Let MCU Handle Complex Digital Signal Processing In Software
Santa Clara, Calif. - Feb. 8, 1999 - Scenix Semiconductor, Inc. today announced a new version of its SX Series 8-bit microcontrollers (MCUs) that is optimized for the digital signal processing (DSP) functions that are found in communication and Internet connectivity applications. With expanded on-chip memory, added I/O (input/output) ports and multi-function timers, the SX52BD has an improved capacity to execute DSP tasks in software, letting it serve as a cost-effective alternative to dedicated DSP chips in embedded system designs.
Delivering up to 50 MIPS (million instructions per second) of processing power, the SX52BD, which is an extension of the previous SX28AC devices, is the only 8-bit MCU fully capable of supporting more-involved DSP tasks in software. Its combination of performance and features provides the high-speed computation, flexible I/O control and efficient data manipulation required in such applications as digital filtering, sound generation, and frequency measurement, generation or detection.
"Our existing SX18/28 family has been very well received, and has achieved significant design wins, predominantly in communication-intensive applications to replace multiple chips, FPGAs and even DSPs," said Bulent Celebi, president and CEO at Scenix. "It has also generated requests for an MCU that could support more Virtual Peripherals or more complex applications. The SX52BD was developed specifically to meet those requests."
Enhanced Features
To facilitate the implementation of Virtual Peripherals (software modules implementing peripheral functions), the new Scenix MCU offers two powerful high-speed, processor-independent 16-bit multi-function timers. These versatile, programmable timers improve the device's efficiency in running Virtual Peripherals, especially in data communications applications, by generating high-resolution pulse width modulation (PWM) outputs and allowing accurate, simultaneous frequency measurement of incoming signals.
The timers can each be driven by either an on-chip 8-bit prescaler or an external clock source. They each consist of a 16-bit, software-programmable counter that is supported by a 16-bit capture register and a 16-bit compare register. At 50 MHz, the counter is clocked at 6.25 MHz, which provides the smooth waveforms required by motor control and digital filtering functions. Each timer can simultaneously generate PWM signals and measure input waveforms, which is important in implementing full-duplex communications interfaces, as well as in motor control and bus speed measurement applications. In addition, a timer can be clocked from an external source while generating a PWM output, making it ideal for implementing phase-locked loop (PLL) functions.
Increasing on-chip memory enables the SX52BD to execute more complex applications, and also provides storage capacity for the program code needed to run multiple Virtual Peripherals. The SX52BD provides a 4K x 12-word flash/EEPROM program memory, 256 bytes of SRAM for data memory, and an additional 15 bytes of global registers. To support one-instruction-per-clock-cycle execution at up to a 50 MHz operating frequency, the flash/EEPROM has a 10 (ns) access time. In addition, the program memory operates down to 3.3 V, decreasing power consumption and reducing the flash/EEPROM programming time.
The SX52BD provides five 8-bit bi-directional ports to facilitate I/O functions. Each I/O pin is software-selectable and programmable as either input or output, and all the pins are able to sink or source 30 mA.
The SX Series Architecture
The Scenix SX Series takes advantage of advances in 16- and 32-bit architecture development, including a RISC-like instruction set and modified Harvard memory organization, with a four-stage (fetch-decode-execute-write back) pipeline that executes one instruction per clock cycle. It also includes a fixed, deterministic interrupt scheme. Other 8-bit MCUs have an interrupt response time that is unpredictable because it depends upon what instruction is being executed when the interrupt occurs. This imposes resolution and SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) limits on performance. The SX Series has a fixed, three-cycle interrupt response time that eliminates all of these issues. The high performance level provided by the processing architecture is supported by a proprietary, extremely fast (10 ns access time) on-chip flash/EEPROM program memory and correspondingly fast SRAM register file.
Price and Availability
The SX52BD is offered in a 52-pin quad flatpack (QFP) package and another version, the SX48BD, is offered in a 48-pin thin quad flatpack (TQFP) for use in applications that do not require five I/O ports. Both devices are priced at around $5.00 in quantities of 100,000.
The SX52BD and SX48BD are available now in sample quantities directly from Scenix, and through its worldwide network of distributors and representatives. Production-level availability is planned for the second quarter of 1999.
Development tools, including a PC-based assembler and debugger, are also now available from Scenix, Parallax, Inc., and, in Asia, from COMFILE Technology. Virtual Peripherals are available as downloadable files from the Scenix and Parallax Web sites.
About Scenix Semiconductor
Scenix Semiconductor, Inc. is headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif. Founded in 1996, the company's mission is to deliver high-performance, cost-effective, easy-to-use single-chip solutions for embedded systems. Scenix announced the 50 MIPS SX Series family of 8-bit microcontrollers in August 1997 and shipped the first production parts in late December 1997. In October 1998, the company announced the 100 MIPS members of the SX Series, and in December 1998, Cahners Publishing placed the SX Series on its "10 Top Processor List of 1998."
Scenix is the industry leader in using Virtual Peripherals, software modules that implement peripheral functions conventionally realized as hardware blocks or external components. Its PC-based development tools support in-system programming and in-system debugging over frequency and voltage ranges, and allow designers to quickly and easily implement multiple, high-performance peripheral features without any additional silicon.
Additional information on Scenix and the SX Series products can be found on the Web, at
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