June 15, 2013 Microchip Technology, a provider of microcontroller, mixed-signal, analog, and flash-IP solutions, has announced the MPLAB REAL ICE Power Monitor Module, which enables designers to identify and eliminate code that consumes high current, in real time. Combined with the MPLAB REAL ICE in-circuit emulator and MPLAB X IDE, this development platform allows users to measure, graphically profile, and optimize code power consumption for all of Microchip’s more than 1,000 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit PIC microcontrollers. Additionally, it offers microamp current measurement, with an overall dynamic range up to 1 A, and a voltage range of 1.25 V to 5.5 V. At a list price of $379.99, is suitable for a broad range of battery-powered, digital power-supply, motor-control, and metering applications.
Embedded designers continue to seek new ways to optimize power consumption for both extended battery life and greater line-power efficiency. As MCU vendors and users have greatly reduced hardware power consumption—such as the 9-nA sleep and 30-µA/MHz active current consumption of Microchip’s eXtreme Low Power (XLP) PIC MCUs—application software is the next place for engineers to focus. Microchip’s Power Monitor Module provides programmable power to the target, as well as sampling intervals, enabling users to run at specific voltage levels and see tailored measurements. Designers can also set a “current break” threshold level that breaks when exceeded, allowing them to pinpoint the code causing the spike and debug it. All of these measurements can be displayed graphically, via the “Current Profile Graphing” feature, enabling engineers to better understand which sections of their code are consuming higher current.
“The MPLAB REAL ICE Power Monitor Module meets our customers’ need for a low-cost software optimization tool that enables them to squeeze every last drop of power efficiency out of their code,” said Derek Carlson, Microchip’s vice president of development tools. “Together with our XLP PIC microcontrollers for battery-powered applications, and our MCUs and dsPIC digital signal controllers for digital power conversion, motor control, and metering, Microchip now provides the industry’s first complete low-power embedded design platform.”