Dilin Anand and Abhishek Mutha of EFY spoke to Badri Kothandaraman, Executive Vice President, Data Communications Division, Head of Cypress Semiconductor India about wireless USB, Bluetooth 4.0, benefits of using PSoC in a low volume application and much more. Read on to find out about Cypress’s flagship product PSoC products.
Q. What is it about Programmable System-on-chips (PSoCs) that design engineers gain the most from?
A. Cypress’s PSoC® is a system on chip with programmable analog and programmable digital blocks in addition to a rich set of peripherals which can be reconfigured giving system engineers ample flexibility. When engineers make mistakes in their designs and want to rectify them, or simply want to add an extra serial interface as an after-thought or want to add some logic gates for additional functionality, or want an extra comparator, PSOC enables them to do it with the same hardware (no extra board re-work), simply with software tweak-ability. The biggest mind-set change with PSoC is that while hardware is important, software is more important. The free software that comes with PSoC is called PSoC Creator. A great place to start is the Getting Started Application Notes on PSoC on Cypress website
Q. Could you share a few examples of PSoC applications, to help designers understand where it can be applied?
A. PSoC evolution in Cypress history has resulted in creation of three product families. One is a generic programmable SoC, which serves the whole wide variety of industrial applications such as System Management Controllers, Temperature Sensing, Power Supervisors etc. Here the power of PSoC, namely analog and digital programmability is exploited. And this product family serves a broad base of customers with a long tail of low volume customers coupled with few high volume customers. The second product family has capacitive-sensing products. For example, consider the first iPods introduced by Apple in 2006. The click wheel comprised of a Cypress PSoC chip, which was invented years before. We never intended to use it for that application in the first place. However, the power of PSoC is exactly that – it can be reconfigured in ways that you never thought of. Let me talk about more applications of the capacitive sensing products. Any mechanical button can be replaced with a capacitive sensing button. An induction cooker today, no longer comes with old-fashioned buttons, but with stylish, sleek capacitive sensing control buttons. Once the finger is placed on these capacitive buttons, it recognizes the change in capacitance between your finger and the surface and senses the touch. The third product family, Touch screen controllers was yet another evolution of PSoC. Today, we are in several high volume cell phones all around the world. We have chips that can do upto 10-finger touch gestures, water-proofing etc. These chips will also work under extreme conditions such a gloves etc (which is becoming a necessity in winter conditions). Another big advantage is that our chip is immune to all kinds of charger noise. Very often one comes across chargers that generate 10V noise, which cause false touches and our latest generation – TSG5M which is in production, is immune to 40V of peak-peak noise. We are very excited about this chip and expect it to be a winner.
Q. What would be the major benefits to a design engineer using PSoC in a low volume application?
A. When the exact system evolution is unknown, design engineers have to work with uncertainty and PSoC provides them with ample flexibility to counter that. Engineers can add a serial I2C/SPI port or a USB port simply with our free software called Creator. They can add a 12-bit ADC or op-amps or comparators late in the game with Creator. Designers can also have flexibility in IO routing in choosing any pinout they want. For instance, consider a design engineer wanting to add a Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) block on specific package pins for layout reasons. Many chips may not be able to provide that flexibility but in PSoC one can route the SPI blocks to the desired pins, by programming in Creator. As I said before, we morphed the PSoC’s to become an Application Specific Standard product (ASSP) i.e. a touch screen controller. PSoC is ideal to be utilized in low volume applications, where flexibility and immediate solution are of high priority. It is our desire to have a broadbase of 50,000 customers buying PSoC.