An introduction to the TI MSP430 low-power microcontrollers


The MSP430 is a very clean 16-bit byte-addressed processor with a 64K unified address space, and memory-mapped peripherals. The current family includes a variety of on-chip peripherals, and ranges from a 20-pin package with 1K of ROM and 128 bytes of RAM to 100-pin packages with 60K of ROM and 2K of RAM. Devices with greater RAM and ROM, and additional peripheral blocks are in development.

The MSP430 excels where low power consumption is important. Many applications, such as water meters, are currently achieving more than 10 years operation from a single button cell battery. If low power is not critical, well, the MSP430 is a nice elegant device to use, anyway. It programs very well in C, making assembly language programming unnecessary. There is no memory bank switching to make the compiler's life difficult; it uses normal RAM for its stack; it has a clean 16 bit instruction set. In fact, it is somewhat like an ordinary desktop RISC processor, but requires very little power.