MCU offers embedded graphics

Having graphics and processing on the same chip makes a designer’s life easier, while also reducing cost and system complexity at the same time. That’s precisely what you get with Microchip’s latest MCU offering, the 32-bit PIC32MZ DA. It’s the MCU and tools that you’re likely already accustomed to, combined with a 2D graphics processing unit (GPU) and up to 32 Mbytes of integrated DDR2 memory. The result is support for 24-bit color and larger displays. On the tool front, designers would be working with Microchip’s MPLAB integrated development environment (IDE) and the MPLAB Harmony software framework.

While you likely wouldn’t go with a solution like the PIC32MZ DA for full-blown high-end graphics, it serves a great need for designers looking to add graphics capability to an existing application, and it could go beyond a simple GUI. The three-layer GPU can drive 24-bit color Super Video Graphics Array (SVGA) displays. Note that the 32-Mbyte SDRAM can be augmented with a 128-Mbyte externally addressable SDRAM.

The MPLAB tool pair is used to develop a visual graphics design environment, a display driver, and graphics libraries that allows for easy customization, on a display size that’s relevant for the intended application.

Devices in the PIC32MZ DA family are offered in a variety of package options, including a 169-ball BGA, a 176-pin LQFP, and a 288-ball BGA for external DDR2 applications. Devices in the family are available today in volume production starting at $7.73 in 10,000 unit quantities. Starter kits are available, either with stacked DRAM (DM320010) or external DRAM (DM320008).