Silicon Labs packs analogue performance into 8-bit MCUs

Silicon Labs has introduced a microcontroller (MCU) series that is claimed to deliver the highest analogue performance and peripheral integration in the 8-bit market.

The latest addition to Silicon Labs’ EFM8 MCU portfolio, the EFM8LB1 Laser Bee MCUs combine a high-speed analogue-to-digital converter (ADC), multiple digital-to-analogue converters (DACs), a temperature sensor, two comparators and a 72MHz 8051 core with up to 64kB of flash.

Laser Bee MCUs are available in a 3 x 3mm QFN package, suiting them to space-constrained, performance-intensive applications such as optical modules, test and measurement instrumentation, industrial control equipment and smart sensors.

The EFM8LB1 series’ high degree of analogue integration is said to eliminate the need for external analogue components, reducing the overall system bill of materials cost and printed circuit board space while enhancing performance. For example, Laser Bee MCUs integrate up to four 12-bit DACs, eliminating the need for four external DACs typically required by optical modules.

The MCU’s on-chip 14-bit, 900ksps ADC includes an input sequencer and direct memory access controller, claimed to enable raw data collection without MCU intervention. This frees the MCU for other tasks, providing an increase in overall system performance while enabling the MCU to enter a low-power mode for energy-saving benefits. In addition, the MCU’s 72MHz pipelined 8051-based 8-bit core is said to execute more than 70% of instructions in one to two clock cycles, meeting the processing needs of high-speed optical modules and other computationally intensive applications.