Texas Instruments has released a new microprocessor designed to be a workhorse for any number of medical diagnostic devices needing an embedded processor. What makes the new MSP430 interesting to the medical device community is its integrated analog signal filtering, digital conversion, and processing functions in addition to a complete digital signal processing path. What this means is that a designer can input analog signals from sensors like pulse oximeters, BP meters, and many other diagnostic characteristics, and without any additional microprocessors develop a device ready to manufacture. Since the microprocessor features everything from input to a display graphic controller, it can potentially simplify the development of new devices, and make the existing ones even smaller.
From the press release for the techies who can digest this:
Medical diagnostics are changing rapidly, aided by a new generation of equipment and handheld devices that can be carried to the patient’s bedside. Processing solutions for such equipment must not only offer high performance and low power consumption, but also minimize board space and component counts through SoC integration. In order to measure, monitor and display analog physiological input signals such as temperature, blood pressure and other vital signs, the ultra-low power MSP430FG4270 MCU integrates the complete analog and digital signal chain. This includes signal conditioning techniques such as amplification, filtering and digital conversion.
The MSP430FG4270’s 16-bit RISC architecture is designed for optimized performance and extended battery life — key care abouts of designers of portable applications. Five low-power modes, with a standby power consumption of only 1.1 μA, conserve power, while a wake-up from standby to active mode of less than 6 us provides excellent response when the equipment is needed. On-chip functions that save external components include a high-performance 16-bit sigma-delta analog to digital converter (ADC) with internal reference and five differential analog inputs, 12-bit digital to analog converter (DAC), two configurable operational amplifiers, 16-bit timer, 16-bit registers, 32 I/O pins, zero-power brown-out reset, and a liquid crystal display (LCD) driver with contrast control for up to 56 segments.