With the continual erosion of industrial sector costs, the demand for cheaper and more sophisticated control electronics has increased dramatically. Subsequently, we are now seeing the need for system designers to address not just the “digital portion” of any control solution but also the wide range of analog peripheral products tailored to suit. This then begs the question as to how the digital domain and mixed-signal analog can combine together not only cost effectively but also still address future system performance requirements. The answer may lie in the embedded RISC processor cores from the likes of ARM alongside National Semiconductor’s vast analog portfolio.

These days, ARM based embedded controllers have become a vital part of many industrial control applications. The wide range of “pure-play” microcontrollers (MCUs) and FPGAs implementations all using ARM cores are testament to their significant success. Essentially, the emergence of these affordable architectures has created a paradigm shift in low cost embedded performance. Both the ARM7 and ARM9 are prime examples of 32-bit embedded cores that have already gained excellent pedigrees for high-level language support, excellent code optimising compilers and high processing performance with minimal silicon overhead. To complement this, National’s analog portfolio has adapted to address ARM-based system control requirements and aims to exploit the advantages of analog leadership through a rich set of peripheral offerings such as high speed I/O, SerDes and Ethernet interfaces to voltage regulators, PLLs, temperature sensors and CMOS image sensor based solutions.

Reprinted in its entirety from ARM IQ Vol. 3, No. 2