Saturday, July 31, 2010

This is Amazing

A few days ago I read an article (on Make: then by the builder: Achim Sack )
Detailing how to build the world's smallest intervalometer.
In that article he used a microprocessor from MicroChip the Pic10F222 in a 6-Pin SOT-23 package.

Look at this picture..

This is a picture I staged for size comparison. The little graphic next to the arrow is the same size as the SOT-23 package from MicroChip!!! The vertical line next to the chip diagram is one inch in length. (sketchup wouldn't let me scale it properly so the chip is actually 0.008mm smaller than it should be :P)

Now lets look at some specs for this chip this is so amazing (to me)!

Clock Maximum Frequency of Operation (MHz) 8
Memory Flash Program Memory 512
Data Memory (bytes) 23
Peripherals Timer Module(s) TMR0
Analog inputs 2
Features I/O Pins 3
Input Only Pins 1
In-Circuit Serial Programming™ Yes
Packages 6-pin SOT-23,
Operating Voltage Range (V)• Operating Current:- <>
Note 1: The PIC10F222 devices have Power-on Reset, selectable Watchdog Timer, selectable code-protect, high I/O
(copied from Microchip's datasheet(pdf) )

Yes...8mhz!! From a chip that you could reasonably accidentally swallow (without being TOO painful).

Additionally, this chip executes all instructions (except program branches) in a single cycle. So it can achieve up to 2MIPS (reference).

Furthermore it can run at 4mhz on 2volts and 170 microvolts!! That's 0.000170volts !! Standby adds three more zeros!!

I went digging around the internet to find out what the old school equivalent would be in terms of math ability.

I found the venerable Intel 286 chip can also achieve about 2MIPS (depending on clock speed). I haven't been able to find size specifications, but I remember the 286 being about an inch square. I did manage to find the power specs though. 3.3 watts at 5volts so current draw of about 660milliamps. Or about 66 MILLION times the current the microchip part draws.

The 286 was state of the art in 1982. I knew we had made progress but this is a real eye opener.

The cost is also interesting. Microchip describes the Pic10f222 as being "So inexpensive its practically disposable". It's available for less than 50 cents.

When I see spy gear on movies and tv. My mind usually responds with "they cant really do that" but I had no idea such a capable chip was available down at this size. Some of the spy gear is possible. Without even building custom chips for everything. This chip was available to the general public in 2008 and I'm sure there are things in development and secret that are even more miniaturized now.

I showed this to one friend this week and he said "You'd have to be a magician to solder that". I would say you would have to be a robot. I can barely see it.

I know what your thinking...what can you do with it. Well you can make an intervalometer (camera timer) like the guy who turned me on to it. Or you could do one of the projects on this page, or you could use it to blink leds, like so many people use their Arduinos for, the pic would be MUCH smaller and use alot less power too. Or you could use it for embedding intelligence in far flung systems (I'm thinking car door actuators and switches or similar applications). It would also be good or running servos or steppers (through an amplifier circuit). I would like to build a remote receiver/motor to turn the volume up and down on my stereo (or maybe use a digital resistor chip hacked in place of the volume knob). The 222 should be just right for that...

I also took a look at some other options in very small/cheap/low power processors while preparing for this.

I like the Texas Instruments MSP430. The usb part of the stick is the programmer. You enter your program in the IDE and send it to that little stick. It programs the very end piece. The processor is 16mhz and there are 14 user assignable pins. The great thing is the programmer (usb stick) is only $20 and then the target boards are only $3 a piece. The programmer for the PIC processors is $70. Not quite as easy to write programs for as an arduino but much more economical.

No comments:

Post a Comment