When the first Cypress programmable system on chip (PSoC™) entered a market full of competing 8-bit microcontrollers (MCUs). The company made a bold move to establish a foothold in a rapidly growing marketplace. Rather than attempt to go head-on with major competitors that had significant portfolios, Cypress had engineered key differentiating features into PSoC™ 1: programmable analog and digital functionality.
PSoC™ captures the market
Overnight, PSoC™ was a game-changer. For hardware engineers, selecting PSoC™ meant that not only did they get an excellent 8-bit M8C microcontroller core but a host of configurable analog and digital functions too. In practice, this meant that design teams could squeeze a whole lot more circuit functions inside a single IC. This approach was attractive from a circuit design perspective and made a lot of business sense. For most engineers, selecting a microcontroller for a design was just one component of many. They still had to get analog and digital signals in and out, often through signal conditioning circuits, discrete logic, and other mixed-signal functionality. The bill of materials (BOM) list kept growing, as did the component costs.
Early adopters of PSoC™ 1 quickly discovered that many of the supporting functions could be configured inside PSoC™ and would operate completely independent of the MCU core. Need to include an op-amp in the design? No problem, just drop in that component using the PSoC™ Creator software tool and assign the input and output pins to suit the PCB design. More complex functions, analog and digital, could be assembled from individual primitive building block functions.
Moreover, PSoC™ introduced a previously unheard-of MCU capability of reconfigurability. One moment a PSoC™ could operate as a coin validation application in a vending machine. In an instant, it could reconfigure itself as a dual-tone multi-frequency signaling (DTMF) status reporting function before reverting to its primary task. This approach also accommodated last-minute design iterations that in the past would necessitate the use of 'blue-wires' and board re-work.
Just one example highlights how PSoC™ could impact component count. A manufacturer of card-based hotel door locks reduced a BOM of 90 items down to 20. In so doing, designers simplified the PCB layout by using fewer layers and making it smaller.
PSoC™ goes from strength to strength with the launch of PSoC™ 3 and PSoC™ 5, quickly followed by PSoC™ 4, and PSoC™ 6
Some hardware engineers introduced to PSoC™ for the first time found themselves stunned by what it could do, like walking into a candy store of tempting delights but unable to decide what to have. Once reality set in, the possibilities were virtually unlimited.
After a decade of the entry-level PSoC™ 1 and shipping over 1 billion devices, Cypress, now Infineon since April 2020, introduced the PSoC™ 3 and PSoC™ 5 series. PSoC™ 3 uses an 8-bit 8051 MCU core, and PSoC™ 5 has a 32-bit Arm Cortex M3 core. Both series expanded the flexibility, integration, and programmable capabilities of PSoC™. Application-specific functionality also was developed, such as CAPSENSE, for capacitive touch sensing.
In 2013 the fourth generation of PSoC™ came to market. PSoC™ 4 introduced the 32-bit Arm Cortex-M0 core to the expanding lineup, promptly followed by an Arm Cortex-M0+ series and Bluetooth low energy (BLE) 2.4 GHz transceiver.
PSoC™ 6, launched in 2017, heralded the sixth generation of PSoC™ market leadership. Combining an Arm Cortex-M4 and Cortex-M0+ cores, dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS), the ultra-low-power PSoC™ 6 is purpose-made for the internet of things applications.
The last decade has also seen a gradual migration of engineering emphasis from a hardware-based approach to a software-enabled one. PSoC™ continues to serve the needs of both embedded development methods, bringing design flexibility and a fast prototype-to-production process to any application requirement.
The PSoC™ lineup today
Today's Infineon PSoC™ lineup is considered the one of the world's programmable and reconfigurable system-on-chip processors based on 32-bit Arm® Cortex®-M cores.
Purpose-built to speed the development of any IoT application, the ultra-low-power dual-core PSoC™ 6 family features Arm Cortex-M4 and Cortex-M0+ cores. Ideally suited for battery-powered applications, the dual-core architecture permits embedded developers to optimize their design for power and performance.
As with any IoT application, security is a primary requirement, and PSoC™ 6 incorporates Arm's latest platform security architecture (PSA). Programmable features include the ability to create an analog front-end function from configurable and fixed analog components. Digital programmability using PSoC™ universal digital blocks (UDBs) allows easy interfacing to digital output sensor ICs and eInk displays. Fixed PSoC™ functions include the multi-touch CAPSENSE™ capacitive sensing required by screen-based consumer and IoT applications.
For the environmentally demanding automotive infotainment and control applications, the PSoC™ 6 series of automotive-qualified - Gen6 and Gen7 PSoC™ devices offer single touch, two-finger, and multi-touch capabilities on screen sizes up to 15-inches. The PSoC™ automotive portfolio includes a range of low-cost PSoC™-based touch controllers for screens smaller than 8.5 inches and high-performance variants for larger screen sizes.
Offering the industry's most flexible and scalable low-power mixed-signal architecture, the Arm Cortex-M0 / Cortex-M0+ based PSoC™ 4 is perfect for any complex embedded system. PSoC™4 includes programmable analog front-end features and a range of connectivity options, including USB, CAN, and BLE.
The PSoC™4 lineup includes devices for general industrial applications and automotive-qualified parts. The AEC-Q100 compliant Automotive PSoC™ 4 series integrates an Arm® Cortex®-M0+ core with programmable and reconfigurable analog and digital blocks, a CAPSENSE™ capacitive touch function, and general-purpose I/O. The series also supports all the popular automotive network communication interfaces SENT, CAN, LIN, and CAN FD.
The PSoC™ 4 HV family accommodates high voltage 12 V operation and interfacing, suiting a host of automotive sensor applications. Battery management systems (BMS) used in electric vehicles are one example. The HV family conforms with the ASIL-B functional safety integrity level defined by ISO 26262. An integrated capacitive touch sensing function offers the ability to incorporate HMI control functions for comfort and door controls.
Based around an Arm® Cortex®-M3 core and incorporating a comprehensive set of programmable and reconfigurable analog and digital functions, the PSoC™ 5LP series is optimized for wearable and smart mobile devices. Supporting multiple power domains and a wide range of operating voltages, PSoC™ 5LP integrates 24 UDBs, a 24-bit digital filter block, and extensive analog front-end components.
PSoC™ Development Resources
Getting started developing PSoC™-based applications couldn't be easier. The Infineon ModusToolbox™ offers a convenient approach to software creation for embedded software developers familiar with an Eclipse-based integrated development environment (IDE). Supporting the whole range of Infineon microcontrollers and connectivity ICs, ModusToolbox™ suits any form of embedded system development, from edge-connected IoT sensors to automotive HMIs.
Development support extends beyond the IDEs to include:
Infineon Developer Community: The go-to developer community to post and search for answers to all your technical queries (https://community.infineon.com/)
PSoC™ Evaluation Boards: A comprehensive lineup of evaluation boards, development kits, and connectivity options for PSoC™ 5, PSoC™ 4, and PSoC™ 6. (https://www.infineon.com/cms/en/product/microcontroller/32-bit-PSoC™-arm-cortex-microcontroller/#!boards)
PSoC™ Reference Designs: Over 120 reference designs for PSoC™ applications (https://www.infineon.com/cms/en/search.html?intc=searchkwr-return#!view=downloads&term=PSoC™&doc_group=Reference%20Design)
Infineon/Cypress YouTube Channels: You'll find hundreds of hours of informative, deeply technical content on YouTube. Some videos form a series of hands-on tutorials, and others address specific aspects of configuring PSoC™. In addition to third-party content from innovators, embedded developers, and distributors. (https://www.youtube.com/c/CypressSemi)
Reference books on PSoC™ are also available. Learn Digital Design with PSoC™, by Dave Van Ess, is an excellent example of a book focused on the practical aspects of implementing a variety of digital logic circuits in PSoC™. The book highlights 42 digital circuits readers can prototype using a PSoC™ 4 Pioneer board.
PSoC™ - Purpose-built for the IoT, a problem solver on chip
PSoC™ is one of the world’s programmable and reconfigurable system-on-chip processors based on 32-bit Arm Cortex-Mx cores.
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