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Dataquest* reports that from 1993 to 1995, the global demand for 16-bit microcontrollers grew by an impressive compound annual rate of 86 percent. With this dramatic expansion comes an increasing worldwide demand for higher performance microcontrollers, driven by rapid advances in data processing and telecommunications technology. Traditionally, applications ranging from hard disk drives to scanners, office copiers and fax machines to digital cameras, modems and feature phones have employed a microcontroller chip to monitor real-time events and a separate digital signal processor (DSP) chip for numerical processing and digital filtering. This traditional two-chip solution is not only relatively costly to implement, it also consumes valuable board space and can add a needless level of complexity to manufacturing and quality assurance.

Highest-Performance Integrated Microcontroller/DSP Solution
Intel has responded by expanding its popular MCS® 96 microcontroller family with the next generation of 16-bit microcontroller architecture. With the announcement of its new line of MCS 296 16-bit microcontrollers, Intel now provides design engineers with the highest performance 16-bit microcontroller currently available with integrated DSP capability. The first product in the MCS 296 microcontroller product family is the 80296SA microcontroller, a single-chip solution that can reduce product costs, save board space and enhance both product manufacturability and quality.

For more than 11 years the Intel MCS 96 16-bit microcontroller family has evolved to meet new demands. It is important to note that while new products have added performance and signal processing capability, they have also maintained consistent backward compatibility with earlier microcontrollers. This level of design integrity preserves the customer's software investment, while enabling a smooth future upgrade path to new products with enhanced feature sets. The new Intel 80296SA microcontroller is no exception. It features a new architecture incorporating a 4-stage pipeline instruction unit to significantly boost performance. At a clock rate of 50MHz, the 80296SA microcontroller is capable of executing a single instruction in 40 nanoseconds, which translates up to a five-fold increase in performance over the widely used 20MHz Intel 8XC196KC microcontroller.

More Memory Headroom
The growing demand for feature-rich applications is driving the demand for microcontrollers capable of compiling complex code and high- level languages. To meet this need, the 80296SA microcontroller includes six megabytes of linear memory address space, representing a six-fold increase in headroom for language code compared to 8xC196NU/NP microcontrollers. The new microcontroller also features 2 kilobytes of high-speed code/data RAM and 512 bytes of 3-ported register RAM. For additional design flexibility, the microcontroller features 19 interrupt sources, including 14 sources with programmable priorities. It is also a low-noise solution, featuring PLL technology to minimize radio frequency interference.

Integrated Fast DSP
In addition to its faster microcontroller performance, the 80296SA also features integrated DSP capability. Traditional DSP chips are dedicated processors designed to perform a single repetitive math function. Adding DSP functionality to a high-performance microcontroller is by far the easiest and most cost-effective way to satisfy real time event control and digital signal processing requirement such as digital filtering.

Today there is a growing demand for integrated microcontroller/DSP functionality, especially in servo-control applications for products in and around the PC. Such applications include image scanners, printers and hard disk drives, in addition to office copiers and fax machines. The built-in DSP capability of the 80296SA microcontroller also makes it attractive for applications ranging from air conditioning to advanced 3-phase industrial motor control and digital filtering.

For accelerated DSP performance, the 80296SA microcontroller architecture includes a 40-bit accumulator, 32-bit barrel shifter and an enhanced instruction set for improved math performance. The 80296SA microcontroller can perform a MAC (multiply and accumulate) instruction in 80 nanoseconds, equal to a performance of 12.5 MIPS.

MCS 96 Compatibility
While it features a new high performance architecture, the 80296SA microcontroller is designed to allow smooth performance upgrade path in existing applications that employ Intel MCS 96 microcontrollers, as well as faster time-to-market development for new products. To facilitate design and to protect existing investments in software, the new microcontroller offers full MCS 96 microcontroller instruction set compatibility and is also binary and source code-compatible with Intel's popular 8xC196NU/NP microcontrollers. Available in 100-lead QFP packing, the 80296SA is also pin-compatible with Intel 8xC196NU/NP microcontrollers.

The Intel 80296SA microcontroller is the first of a series of new products featuring Intel's high-performance MCS 296 architecture. This new microcontroller product roadmap supports Intel's global commitment to meet the growing demand for faster and more flexible control and signal processing solutions, while providing product developers with a logical and cost-effective upgrade path to the future.


Dataquest, May 1996: Compound annual growth rate for 16-bit microcontrollers, from 1993-1995.

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* Legal Information © 1999 Intel Corporation