Say one thing for Smart Grid and distributed energy applications: They've helped stimulate the design of low-power processors. Among the most recent examples of the trend is a new family of low-power microcontrollers from Microchip Technology Inc. The PIC18F K22 MCUs incorporate features such as operation from 1.8 to 5.5 V, numerous communication channels, 8 to 128 KB Flash memory, and peripherals for mTouch capacitive touch-sensing applications. All of them use what's called nanoWatt XLP technology for eXtreme Low Power operation, with sleep currents down to 20 nA. Additionally, the MCUs use about half as much active current as previous generations.
Specifically, the new chips have a sleep-mode current down to 20 nA, a watchdog timer that uses as little as 330 nA, a real-time clock/calendar using 700 nA, and a low-power brown-out reset down to 45 nA. Additional low-power features include an RC-timed wake-up function consuming as little as 150 nA and active current reductions down to 75 µA/MHz.
Battery-powered applications benefit from nanoWatt XLP technology, which reduces current draw and thus extends battery life. Applications for the power-miserly processors include smart metering, HVAC controls, lighting, and managing tasks in energy efficient appliances.
Microchip Technology Inc., http://www.microchip.com/get/U2SN