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 Latest Low-Power Development Tools from Silicon Labs


Date: 5/3/2013

- Power-Aware software, energy-efficient humidity sensing and ultra-low-power supercapacitor-charged development board

Silicon Labs chose it’s presence at the Embedded World Show in Nuremberg to launch new software and hardware development tools that enable engineers to maximise the power efficiency of its diverse portfolio of Precision32 MCUs based on the ARM® Cortex™-M3 processor, whilst easing the development task, simplifying power optimisation and speeding prototyping.

Power-aware software tools
Silicon Labs’ complimentary Eclipse-based IDE and AppBuilder software for Precision32 MCUs include first-of-a-kind tools that enable developers to estimate power consumption and receive configuration guidance to minimise system power. The Power Estimator tool gives developers a top-level graphical view of how a Precision32 MCU uses power in active and sleep mode and enables developers to adjust power usage at the onset of a project even without having development hardware. Power Estimator automatically updates the system design with configuration changes, enabling  each mode to be optimise for the lowest power. A companion tool, Power Tips, provides software configuration guidance that helps developers minimise current consumption. Power Tips automatically appears within AppBuilder when the cursor hovers over a configurable setting. This simple ability to see power optimisation tips while configuring the MCU saves considerable development time.

Low-power 32-bit humidity sensing demonstration kit
Fully demonstrating the functionality of Silicon Labs’ new Si7005 relative humidity (RH) and temperature sensor this new kit offers an ultra-low-power SiM3L1xx MCU in a standalone, battery-powered demonstration board that also features an LCD panel to shows changes in temperature and humidity readings from the Si7005 sensor. The demo includes example code that can be used to speed development of applications requiring both an ultra-low-power 32-bit MCU and humidity and temperature sensors, such as smart thermostats and in-home energy monitoring systems. The Si7005 sensor provides an accurate, low-power digital solution for measuring temperature, humidity and dew point in applications ranging from HVAC and refrigeration to asset tracking to industrial control.

Low-Power SiM3L1xx development board
Roughly the same size as an ID badge, the BADGER-SiM3L1-EK compact development board showcases the power efficiency of SiM3L1xx MCUs. In addition to an ultra-low-power SiM3L1xx MCU, the board features a supercapacitor, LED and photodiode sensor, debug interface, USB port and a segmented LCD that needs only a 90-second charge of the supercapacitor through a USB cable to display information continuously for up to three days. Using the USB connector and debug interface, developers can connect the board to a PC and use the Precision32 IDE for software development. The board offers a demo mode that shows typical power consumption for various MCU operating modes on the segmented LCD. Developers can also download an iPhone app that lets them enter text such as names and phone numbers and then send the information to the board using specialised image patterns on the iPhone’s LCD that are received by the board’s photodiode sensor.

“Providing embedded developers with a comprehensive suite of tools is just as important as the MCU itself,” said Diwakar Vishakhadatta, vice president and general manager of Silicon Labs’ Embedded Systems business. “To help make the embedded design process faster and easier, we have invested in developing a rich set of free software and cost-effective hardware tools specifically designed to ease development, simplify low-power optimisation and enable rapid prototyping.”

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