Microcontroller-based LED drivers inspire new designs

December 03, 2012 //By Alex Zaretsky, Renesas
Microcontroller-based LED drivers inspire new designs
Ever increasing energy costs and the global debate about environmental pollution is making society more conscious about the need for adapting its energy consumption behavior accordingly. One obvious way is to use fewer energy guzzling gadgets wherever possible. In addition, government regulations around the world are enforcing energy saving measures through the step by step banning of inefficient light sources, such as incandescent lamps, compelling the industry to invest in developing alternative energy efficient light sources.

The lighting market trend today is defined by LED technology which offers significant advantages over traditional light sources. LEDs are known for their low power consumption and long life cycle. Technological advances in the past decade have continually improved the luminous efficacy (Lumen/Watt) of LEDs and their productions costs are getting lower. These technical features, catalyzed by economic, ecologic, and political constraints for the industry, are boosting the spread of LEDs in the lighting industry at a rapid rate.

For Renesas Electronics, the lighting segment is one of the key markets with an increasing focus worldwide. Renesas' commitment to offering powerful and state of the art lighting products (intelligent LED drivers) to the industry substantiate this, enabling it to design and produce lighting end-products to meet the present day economic and ecologic demands.

Renesas offers a wide range of dedicated, advanced semiconductor components for lighting applications. The spectrum ranges from its latest RL78/I1A MCU ASSP family through to discrete LED driver ICs like the R2A20134 and the R2A20135, and include a wide variety of MOSFETs and optocouplers supplemented by lighting specialized communication solutions. These products cover all aspects of the design of LED lighting, replacing incandescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes not only in commercial indoor and outdoor event lighting but also for architectural, street, and domestic lighting applications.

This article outlines briefly RL78/I1A MCU ASSP features specifically for lighting applications, its development tools, and the technology outlook. The discrete LED driver ICs R2A20134, R2A20135, and other components are not discussed further here.

RL78/I1A MCU ASSP for lighting applications

RL78/I1A is an ASSP member of Renesas’ latest RL78 series of microcontrollers which combines the best features of its previous industry standard microcontroller cores, the 78K0 and the R8C, and offers higher computing performance.

This new 16-bit microcontroller generation boasts the lowest power consumption in its class in the world. It offers two different on-chip flash ROM configurations, and - depending upon

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