Never before have engineers had so many microcontroller options to choose from. Whether a project is cost-sensitive,
large processing power or needs to operate from batteries, there is a microcontroller for every application. But
are many cost-effective options available to engineers, the increasing demands from even the simplest designs can
engineers with great difficulties when selecting a microcontroller.
The LPC860 – An Overview
In recognition of the changing demands from engineers, NXP has recently launched its
family of 32-bit microcontrollers
that fully support existing software solutions and programming environments developed by NXP.
The LPC860 integrates a 32-bit Arm® Cortex® M0+ CPU with a maximum clock frequency of 60MHZ, built-in nested
interrupts and a
system tick timer for time tracking. Regarding memory, the LPC860 offers up to 64KB of flash memory and 8KB SRAM
providing strengthened code read protection, ideal for security in commercial products. In addition to internal
LPC860 also supports boot loaders that enable firmware updates in the field, and this can be used to provide
measures after deployment.
Having plenty of GPIO access is a must for most commercial applications, and the LPC860 meets these demands with up
to 54 GPIO
and a 12-bit ADC connected to 12 selectable input channels providing sample rates up to 1.9Msps. For applications
larger currents, 4 pins on the LPC860 support 20mA current source and sinking.
S32K39 Block Diagram
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The LPC860 includes numerous digital peripherals, including 1 x I3C, 1 x I2C, 2 x SPI, and 3 x USART, providing
multiple bus options. Regarding timers, the LPC860 includes two FlexTimers with DMA capabilities and selectable
triggers. Not only can these timers be used in motor controller applications, but dedicated motor fault detection
allows for the
LCP860 to shut down an external motor upon detecting faults. In addition to the two FlexTimers, four multi-rate
repetitive interrupt generation, and a self-wakeup timer can resume CPU operation from sleep after a predefined
Finally, the LCP860 integrates an internal voltage regulator for powering the internal core, thus only requiring a
voltage input (as opposed to a separate VCCIO and VCORE).
Advantages of the LPC860
By far, the biggest advantage of the LPC860 for engineers is its price-competitive nature compared to other
similar capabilities. The LPC860 is supported by the widely adopted
Suite of Software and Tools
and engineers can integrate LPC860 devices into pre-existing devices using older NXP parts that require upgrading.
to this, the LPC860 also allows engineers to stay within the NXP ecosystem so that future upgrades (with more
parts), are faced with little difficulty.
The wide range of integrated peripherals also makes the LPC860 highly versatile as it can target most applications.
to the integrated peripherals, the availability of I3C not only helps to future-proof the LPC860 but allows
engineers to move
away from the aging I2C protocol. Furthermore, the I3C peripheral supports both controller and target modes, meaning
LPC860 can act as either a peripheral or as a main bus controller (it also allows for chip-to-chip communication
The integrated voltage regulator helps engineers to reduce the system cost of using the LPC860 by eliminating the
multiple external regulators (instead, a single regulator can provide a bus voltage for multiple sensors,
peripherals and the
LPC860). The FlexTimers offered by the LPC860 not only allow for complex timing operations but have been designed
control applications in mind. For example, the LPC860 integrates a motor fault detection circuit, which not only
minimize external motor circuitry but allows for intelligent motor operation as well as improved safety features.
The LPC860 support for bootloaders is a particularly important feature when considering the increasing importance of
cybersecurity in the electronics field. Devices that are deployed to the field may be discovered to have software
vulnerabilities, and these can easily be updated in-circuit without the need for dedicated programmers and
Thus, products using the LPC860 can integrate software upgradability and long-term support.
The last major advantage of the LPC860 is the availability of 4 high current GPIO pins. While these can be used to
and other high-current devices, they can also be used for controlling power amplifiers that require a substantial
current for biasing (such as large BJTs and MOSFETs).
Applications for LPC860 Microcontrollers
As the FlexTimers are ideal for use with motors, the LPC860 is an excellent candidate for use in products that use
products can include power tools, kitchen equipment, and domestic appliances that require the use of a motor. The
detection offered by the LPC860 allows for advanced protection mechanisms to be integrated which can reduce the
damage done to
stalled motors, while PWM capabilities allow for real-time speed control.
The high-current GPIO can be used to power small LEDs, but if used with an amplifier, can be used to control large
setups. In addition to LED control, the LPC860 can also utilize its ADC to monitor the ambient light levels to
brightness of LEDs via PWM dynamically, and the I3C peripheral allows for communication with other lighting systems.
to I3C, the combination of FTM1 and GPIO allows for the LPC860 to be used with DALI Bus, a protocol that is used to
Battery Charging Applications
Another potential application for the LPC860 microcontrollers is in battery charging controllers. The integrated I2C
allow for the LPC860 to communicate with pre-existing charge controllers, while the combination of ADC and PWM
allows for the
LPC860 to read and control the state of a charge controller intelligently. For example, Lithium batteries have
cycles, and the LPC860 can use its ADC to read cell voltages, while a PWM output can be used to control the charging
PC I3C Accessories
As I3C steadily becomes more popular, the ability of the LPC860 to operate in both target and controller modes
allows for it to
be used as a peripheral. One area where I3C is becoming popular is in PC motherboards that utilize I3C to control
devices such as lights, fans and sensors. Considering that the LPC860 can be used in both lighting and motor
LPC860 is also an excellent candidate for next-generation PC accessories that require intelligent control via an OS.
The LPC860 is a cost-effective microcontroller with a powerful 32-bit Arm Cortex-M0+ core with numerous peripherals,
features and compatibility with existing software solutions. The ability to use the I3C controller in both target
controller modes allows engineers to create devices using a single microcontroller platform, the integrated
engineers to target motor applications, and the multitude of other peripherals provides engineers with a large