S1C17F63 microcontroller ideal for smart cards with displays and other applications using small e-paper screens
Seiko Epson Corporation (TSE: 6724, "Epson") has developed and begun shipping samples of the S1C17F63, a 16-bit microcontroller unit (MCU) with a built-in driver that is ideal for driving small e-paper displays. Epson plans to produce 500,000 of these MCUs per month.
The market for e-paper displays is expanding. These displays are flexible, offer paper-like legibility, and consume very little power, since no power is needed to keep data on the screen. They are being used in place of liquid crystal displays for everything from e-books and signage to electronic shelf labels and particularly smart cards. In smart cards, one-time password cards and dynamic CVV/CVC*1 cards with security codes that change at regular intervals are seen as a means to provide stronger protection against phishing attacks, which are causing mounting losses as online banking and payments become increasingly common. However, there are problems that need to be addressed with current embedded-display cards, which are susceptible to electronic component damage if bent or subjected to other physical stresses and which have limited battery capacity due to the limitations of the card configuration.
To solve these problems, Epson developed a single-chip microcontroller with built-in driver circuitry engineered specifically for e-paper displays. Since there is no need for external drivers, having built-in drivers reduces the component count, shrinks chip size through optimization of built-in peripheral circuits, and increases card durability. Epson also successfully reduced current consumption in real-time clock operation mode to 120 nA (typ.), a 40% reduction compared to a comparable earlier MCU.*2 The low power draw makes it possible to extend the battery life of the product without increasing battery capacity. Moreover, the extra current can be used to rewrite a display screen, making it possible to shorten the interval between security code updates, thus contributing to enhanced protection.
In addition to the display driver circuit, the new MCU offers Flash memory, EEPROM, timers, an A/D converter, and a temperature sensor. The built-in temperature sensor can be used to compensate display quality effects arising from the temperature characteristics of e-paper displays. The sensor can also be used together with a theoretical regulation function*3 to compensate for temperature-induced frequency drift in crystals. Updating passwords requires synchronization between a card terminal and system server, so accurate time measurements that are not affected by the ambient environment increase the security system value of customers.