NEC Electronics Corporation (NEC Electronics) has developed 12 new 16-bit All Flash microcontrollers (MCUs) with on-chip liquid crystal display (LCD) driver. The new product is optimized particularly for the fields of handheld healthcare diagnostic instruments like blood glucose meters, building utility meters for the gas/water/electricity markets, and FA equipment.

The new All Flash microcontrollers are equipped with the company’s 16-bit 78K0R CPU core, integrating in one chip all the necessary functions to construct systems using LCD segmented displays, while implementing a high performance analog front-end, having 12-bit A/D and 12-bit D/A converters, and operational amplifiers. In addition, the new products reduce standby power consumption to 1.2 microamperes (µA) with the LCD enabled, which is one-tenth the level of the company’s previous products. (2) 12 varieties of products, which users may choose from depending on the system: six kinds of 80-pin 78K0R/LF3 MCU, three kinds of 100-pin 78K0R/LG3, and three kinds of 128-pin 78K0R/LH3.

These new products allow system manufacturers to produce smaller, more reliable, and low-cost battery-operated equipment, like blood glucose meters with LCD display functions, gas/water/electricity meters, and factory automation instruments.

Due to a worldwide increase in awareness of healthcare issues in recent years, the market for home healthcare equipment such as scales, thermometers, and blood glucose meters has been expanding remarkably. In particular, blood glucose meters have become increasingly popular as a convenient home diagnostic test kit to measure blood sugar levels. Measured blood glucose level results are generally shown on the liquid crystal display, and the glucose meter consists of central processing unit (CPU), LCD panel driver, and data converter functions (A/D, D/A).

Conventionally, these functions required three or more integrated circuits, but in order to meet users’ needs for smaller form factors and lower system costs, NEC Electronics’ K0R/Lx3 microcontrollers integrate all necessary functions on one chip, with maximized battery-life, faster processing speed; an increasing end-market demand.

All devices in the line-up show the following features:

Reduced number of components required by having high-performance analog features integrated with the LCD controller/driver:

All the new MCUs have an LCD controller/driver circuit, 12-bit A/D and 12-bit D/A converter, operational amplifiers, and voltage reference that produces metrical voltage when using analog circuit, all integrated into one chip. As a result, the number of components including the CPU core decreased from six to one, making it possible to reduce the cost of components and to shrink the PCB layout area.

Reduced standby operating power by 90% compared to the company’s previous product (Standby mode in which the LCD display is activated):

NEC Electronics’ 16-bit K0R/Lx3 All Flash microcontrollers employ a capacitor split technique that produces LCD drive voltages method by capacitor splitting VDD. Differing from the conventional system using LCD Resistive Bias network, this system produces LCD bias voltages without a wasted DC bias current, thereby dramatically cutting LCD drive current losses. Through these improvements, when the LCD display is enabled but the CPU is de-activated, standby operating current is reduced by 90%, to 1.2 µA as compared to previous products.

Wide selection of products:

There are 12 MCUs in the lineup — six 80-pin 78K0R/LF3 MCUs, three 100-pin 78K0R/LG3 MCUs, and three 128-pin 78K0R/LH3 MCUs. Designers can choose the optimum configuration for their applications.

NEC Electronics believes these new products to be optimized in the fields of healthcare equipment such as blood glucose meters with LCD display functions, building utility meters, and FA equipment, and plans to market them actively.