Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The MSP-EXP430G2 Development Board

First of all, thanks to Pramode Sir for allowing me to lay my hands on this beauty !!!

The MSP-EXP430G2 Texas Instruments (TI) Launchpad is a $4.30 (only!) Development Board for the MSP430 family from Texas Instruments (TI).

The 14 pin DIP chip shown in the pictures is a MSP430G2231.

Fig 1. Top Side View.


The original MSP430 was introduced in the late 1990's. In its currrent form, it is a decent midrocontroller with a 16-bit processor having von-Neumann architecture. It is primarily designed for low power applications.

MSP430 is a 16-bit microcontroller, with obviously, a 16 bit data bus and a 16 bit address bus. Its address space is therefore, 2^16 = 64KB of memory. The registers in its CPU are also 16 bit. Hence, machine language instructions can be used with ease whether it be local variables, address or data. Note that MSP430X has extended registers, and a wider address bus and can handle upto 1 MB of memory.

It can be said to be a RISC, but unlike a pure "RISC", it can perform arithmetic operations directly on values in memory. Overall, the MSP430 is one of the simplest microcontrollers from Texas Instruments (TI).

Fig 2. Side View.

Its all in the name ...

The name MSP stands for Mixed Signal Processor (MSP). It indicates that the device can take analog signals as input, and there are also analog to digital converters with a resolution of upto 16 bits.

The letter after MSP430 shows the type of memory.
    F - Flash memory
    C - ROM

For ASSPs, there is a second letter, to indicate the type of measurement.
    E - electricity
    W - water
    G - signals with a gain stage and op-amps in-between

Next digit shows family, and final 2 or 3 digits identify the specific device.

Fig 3. Top Front View.

  • A very small and efficient CPU with 16 bit registers.
  • Specially designed low power modes.
  • No special instructions are needed to put the device in a low-power mode. The mode is controlled by the respective bits in the status register. If an interrupt occurs, MSP430 awakens and returns back to the low power mode smoothly, after the particular interrupt has been serviced. 
  • There is an internal Digitally Controlled Oscillator (DCO) which clocks the CPU. It is capable of restarting in 1 us, thus making the device to wake up from standby or return to low power mode very quickly.
  • There are various low power modes, differing in how much area of the device is active, and how long it takes to restart.
  • It is compatible with a wide range of peripherals used for various purpos
  • It can drive Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) directly.
  • Some are classified as Application Specific Standard Products (ASSP), and used for specialized purposes. 

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