"Motorola has put a stake in the ground with the Nitron family, offering Flash technology at a price point half the current market," said Tony Massimini, chief of technology, Semico Research Corporation. "The Nitron family will mean significant evolution of product capabilities that will improve the functionality of an untold number of products -- and allow manufacturers to adjust to changing market demands quickly and cost- effectively."
At a suggested resale price of $0.70* (USD), the Nitron family competes with the less flexible microcontrollers, including one-time programmable (OTP) memory. Its flash technology allows manufacturers to re-program microcontrollers several times in the development cycle, adding flexibility to adjust to fast-changing market demands or correcting problems remotely in the field.
"The Nitron family's Flash technology and low cost offer manufacturers the agility to quickly change their product lines by reprogramming their microcontrollers much later in the manufacturing process," said Fred Shlapak, executive vice president, Motorola, Inc., and president of Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector. "Developers will be able to bring new functionality to a host of cost-sensitive products through new applications and consumers will see the difference as home appliances, for instance, will have high-end features -- without seeing a significant impact on price."
For example, a lighting manufacturer that currently offers a basic dimmer switch can use a Nitron 68HC908 Flash microcontroller to add features, such as programmable settings, time delays and safety shut-off, with minimal effect on the price. A power tool, such as a drill will be able to adjust its own applied torque, dependant on the application need. This technology is able to help lower product costs and thereby drive higher volume from the manufacturing plant to the shelves.
Redefining the 8-Bit Microcontroller Market
According to Semico Research, the 8-bit microcontroller market is valued at $4.5 (USD) billion in 2002, and predicts that it will grow to $5.6 (USD) billion by 2006. Semico estimates that Motorola is currently the market leader with more than 24% of the marketplace. Semico estimates the 8-bit microcontroller marketplace to be 43% of the total microcontroller market, even while the actual selling price for 8-bit microcontrollers will be declining. This projects the Motorola Nitron initiative in the 8-bit market as representative of a much larger market share going forward.
Internationally, the Nitron family is projected to have exceptional growth, especially in China and Korea. Semico's Massimini notes, "Korea should be a region of high-growth for microcontrollers, while China's "New Golden Economy" will also generate high demand for microcontrollers, according to the SEMICO Forecast Workshop, September 5, 2002."
ELMARC s.r.l, Company, of Antonio Merloni Spa, is a leader in Europe for the production of domestic appliances, producing 3 million appliances per year. An early embedded system developer using Nitron microcontrollers, ELMARC reports that upgrading time has been reduced from months to hours, when compared to previous microcontroller designs.
"Motorola's 68HC908 devices incorporate on-chip Flash memory that not only enables us to re-program our systems many times during the development cycle, but also to program late in the manufacturing cycle and make upgrades remotely in the field," said Marco Borgiani, president of ELMARC. "This means we can offer our customers new features, better performance, safety features and security, with a minimal increase in costs. The Nitron family will enable us to introduce a microcontroller into a very cost-critical application -- the thermostat of a refrigerator."
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