High-performance 32-bit MCU family

Paul Boughton

Microchip has updated its PIC32MZ family of 32-bit microcontrollers (MCUs) with the latest MIPS Warrior M-class core, integrated hardware Floating Point Unit (FPU) for high performance and lower latency in intensive single and double-precision maths applications and virtualisation support.

The new 48-member PIC32MZ EF series also offers a 12-bit, 18 MSPS analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) for a wide array of high-speed, wide-bandwidth applications. In addition, the PIC32MZ EF supports an extensive DSP instruction set. This combination of DSP instructions, a double-precision FPU and a high-speed ADC improves code density, decreases latency and accelerates performance in process-intensive applications.

The M-Class core runs at 200 MHz/330 DMIPS and 3.28 CoreMarks/MHz, integrated with dual-panel, live-update Flash (up to 2 MB), large RAM (512 KB) and the widest selection of connectivity peripherals in the entire PIC32 portfolio, including a 10/100 Ethernet MAC, Hi-Speed USB MAC/PHY and dual CAN ports.

Many embedded applications are adding better graphics displays, and the PIC32MZ EF can support up to a WQVGA display without the added cost of external graphics controllers. An optional, full-featured hardware crypto engine is also available with a random number generator for high-throughput data encryption/decryption and authentication using AES, 3DES, SHA, MD5 and HMAC.

Full hardware virtualisation technology in the core enables users to run multiple operating systems or applications on a single physical machine. This allows the CPU to run several guest operating systems in parallel, with minimum overhead on overall system performance and stability.

This technology will help developers create new and innovative applications for wearables, IoT and other embedded markets. For example, a PIC32MZ inside a smart home hub can place door and window locks in separate virtualised containers to avoid compromised security throughout the home.

In addition, a separate container can handle lighting control or the connectivity stack; any change in the operation of a container would not affect the others.

The MPLAB Harmony Integrated Software Framework for the PIC32MZ provides a modular, pre-tested and easy-to-use GUI-based development ecosystem that helps to ease integration, reduce testing and speed adaptation to quickly changing market demands, enabling designers to focus on product development.

The new PIC32MZ EF series is also supported by Microchip’s free MPLAB X Integrated Development Environment (IDE), within which Harmony operates, as well as the MPLAB XC32 Compilers. The MPLAB ICD 3 In-Circuit Debugger (DV164035) priced at $199.95, and MPLAB REAL ICE In-Circuit Emulator System (DV244005) priced at $499.98, are also available.

The PIC32MZ EF series is also featured in the new version of the Arduino-compatible Digilent chipKIT Wi-FIRE development board. This board provides easy access to professional applications and libraries targetting new PIC32 users. It enables rapid-prototype development and eases migration into professional integrated development environments, such as Microchip’s MPLAB X IDE.