Nuvoton Announces New 8-bit MCUs for Battery-free Designs

July 10, 2023 by Aaron Carman

Designs without a power source may find much more in their power budget.

Although wireless power transfer has existed for some time, next-generation electronics require robust, low-power processing to enable at-a-distance charging—a potential candidate for upcoming IoT networks.


The MUG51 series of MCUs

The MUG51 series of MCUs from Nuvoton include characteristics that make it a potential solution for battery-free or low-power designs. Image used courtesy of Nuvoton

Processors must reduce the power consumption of wirelessly-powered devices to create smarter, smaller, and more powerful devices. To meet this market need, Nuvoton has announced an 8-bit MCU to give designers a new tool for battery-free designs.

This article breaks down the specs of the new MCU from Nuvoton and provides readers with some target applications. In addition, we'll use the advancements showcased by the new MCU to discuss how wirelessly-powered devices may benefit from components with lower power consumption.


Low-power Processing

The MUG51 series from Nuvoton is based on the 8051 architecture of microcontrollers and is purpose-built to provide basic MCU functionality while consuming extremely low power. The maximum clock speed of 7.3728 MHz coupled with the wide operating voltage range of 1.8–5.5 V makes the MCU a good candidate for a variety of applications requiring low power and moderate processing ability.


The MUG51 series

The MUG51 series packs numerous peripherals inside one low-power device to ensure versatility in the design process without increasing the power budget. Image used courtesy of Nuvoton. (Click on image to enlarge)

The MCU (technical reference manual linked) consumes under 1.3 mA in normal mode and < 1 μA in power-down mode. During the CPU power-on cycle, the MUG51 series consumes only 200 μA, making it suitable for battery-free devices where current and power consumption are major limiting factors.

The MUG51 series (product brief linked) also includes a broad suite of peripherals, with 24 GPIO pins and support for I2C, SPI, and UART built-in. In addition, low-voltage reset, brown-out detection, and other internal features such as timers and comparators reduce the footprint of the final product, easing requirements on both space and power.


8-Bit MCUs for Any Application

The sole member of the MUG51 family, the MUG51TB9AE, has been developed with battery-free applications in mind, such as stylus pens using EMR technology or RFID cards. In both of these applications, the short-term application of power makes the low startup current of the MCU extremely beneficial for providing fast and accurate readings.

The addition of the MUG51 series complements the rest of Nuvoton’s product offerings, which Nuvoton describes as “one of the industry’s broadest 8-bit MCU product portfolios.” And while the performance of each MCU may differ from others, with more focus put on raw processing speed, the versatility of the 8-bit Nuvoton line allows designers to place simple MCUs in projects with requirements ranging from industrial-grade reliability to ultra-small footprints.


The Nuvoton 8-bit MCU

The Nuvoton 8-bit MCU offerings encompass a wide variety of applications, from hyper-specific LCD drivers to industrial and low-pin count form factors. Image used courtesy of Nuvoton

The first entrant in the MUG51 series is available now, along with an evaluation board that can be used as an out-of-the-box test solution. While the MCU is anticipated to benefit the next generation of EMR pens and RFID tags, any low-power application may benefit from the unique characteristics of the MUG51 series.


Easing Power Requirements

As sensing and communications electronics are integrated into new applications, developers must adopt a viable and scalable power strategy. This is especially true for the IoT, where sensing and communications networks must work efficiently in both single-node and multi-node networks. 

Nuvoton's new series is designed to save power while maintaining high-processing performance and memory capacity, potentially expanding the scope of the IoT with distributed nodes performing more complex sensing and communications tasks.

1 Comment
  • R
    RPLaJeunesse July 14, 2023

    Wow, the 8051 refuses to die! How sad. But hey, start with a no-cost core and you might just end up with the world’s cheapest CPU. Worth every penny!

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