Renesas launches easy-to-use HMI platform for lowest-cost, high-quality TFT user interfaces

Renesas Technology Europe announces the immediate availability of a new turn-key reference platform for lowest-cost Human-Machine-Interface (HMI) solutions, based on Renesas' H8S/2456F high performance 16-bit Flash microcontroller. The kit enables engineers to develop HMI's using colour TFT LCD quickly and easily. It targets a Bill-Of-Material (BOM) for a finished HMI module, including a QVGA TFT with 16-bit colour-depth, of under 20 € for volume orders.

"At such a low BOM, many electronic companies will start replacing the classic HD44780-style alphanumeric LCD's with graphics TFT. The cost adder is now small compared to the huge advantages of using bright and colourful graphics TFT rather than small, black & white alphanumeric LCD's", says Joachim Hüpper, Marketing Manager at Renesas Technology's Consumer & Industrial Business Unit. "A special feature of this solution is its instant-on boot process. Unlike systems based on processors running linux, this Flash-microcontroller-based solution has almost zero boot time. Apply the power and your system runs."

HMI's based on graphics colour TFT offer a far superior user experience. Such high quality HMI's also enable better user guidance, which in turn results in fewer user errors. The ability to show pictures and diagrams actually opens up completely new user interface options, which were simply impossible before. Finally, because the display is a highly visible element of any electronic system, such a high quality HMI offers an extreme advantage over competition using old-fashioned alphanumeric LCD's.

The kit comprises a board, a WQVGA TFT LCD (480x272), an E10A JTAG debugger, as well as a range of software and documentation including a free Graphics API / library supporting objects like buttons, sliders, bit maps, proportional fonts, basic shapes and gradient colouring. The kit is a fully featured reference platform that allows engineers to not just evaluate the solution, but to also complete the entire development.

The board is based on the H8S/2456F high performance 16-bit Flash microcontroller. The device features 256Kbyte zero-wait Flash (512Kbyte under development), 64Kbyte RAM, USB 2.0 FS device with Phy, 5 channels of USARTs including ISO7816 smartcard mode, 4 channel IIC, SPI, IrDA as well as strong timer resources, three different Direct-Memory-Access modules, ADC, DAC and an external bus interface including a SDRAM option. The line-up is available in 120-pin and 144-pin LQFP options and offers a migration path to even more powerful H8SX/166x 32-bit microcontrollers, which offer up to 1Mbyte of embedded zero-wait Flash. The latter products can drive up to VGA resolution TFT LCD's.

The microcontroller needs only an external SRAM as framebuffer to complete the system, with no external TFT-controller chip. Furthermore, cost is reduced because an embedded Flash microcontroller with just one external SRAM requires a much simpler PCB compared to systems based on processors operating at very high clock frequencies and BGA packages with hundreds of pins, which need to run code from DDR SDRAM and require an external Flash to boot from.

The kit is now available ex stock, with order part name YLCDRSK2456S.