April 30, 2009 Employing a sleep mode to cut power consumption and prolong battery life has become a standard feature in electrical devices that need to run constantly, but there is always room for improvement. Microcontroller manufacturer Microchip Technology Inc. has set what it calls a "new industry benchmark" with its nanoWatt XLP eXtreme Low Power Technology providing sleep currents as low as 20 nA.

The nanoWatt XLP technology offers three key advantages. Sleep currents down to 20 nA (which is one fifth that of the competition according to the video comparison below), Real-Time Clock currents down to 500 nA, and Watchdog Timer currents down to 400 nA. The PIC nanoWatt XLP microcontrollers (MCU) also offer numerous wake-up features. There are also options for on-chip peripherals for USB and mTouch sensing solutions which offer power reduction in a broad range of USB and capacitive touch sensing peripherals.

The list of devices that could benefit from the power saving technology is almost endless, including game controllers, digital photo frames, coffee machines, utility meters, security systems, thermostats, timers, car alarms, home medical devices, white goods and portable electronics to name a few.

The low-power PIC nanoWatt XLP microcontrollers are available to manufacturers with prices ranging from USD$1.38 to USD$1.78 each in 10,000 unit quantities.

For a head-to-head comparison video of Microchip's microcontroller power consumption vs. the competition check out the video below.

Darren Quick