Inverter control of home appliances such as air conditioners has helped reduce their power consumption and enhance user experience. There are several methods of inverter control. The most commonly used method today is FOC that allows you to improve motor efficiency and reduce acoustic noise and vibration.
However, vector control involves complicated computation. For high-speed operation, it requires a combination of an expensive 32-bit MCU and an AD converter and thus entails difficult software development. Toshiba motor control MCUs simplify and reduce the cost of development of FOC applications.
Toshiba has developed a coprocessor called the Vector Engine that quickly performs complicated computations of FOC. The Vector Engine eliminates the need for a part of software development. Toshiba motor control MCUs integrate the Vector Engine, a CPU and an AD converter on a single chip to simplify the use of FOC. Furthermore, the CPU is offloaded by passing FOC routines to the Vector Engine. Consequently, the CPU can operate at low speeds, reducing power consumption and cost. Instead of being depleted by FOC processing, the CPU resources are now available for sensor management and power supply monitoring so as to improve efficiency. Additionally, Toshiba motor control MCUs incorporate a suite of peripheral circuit blocks on the same chip to improve space utilization and motor control safety.
Toshiba was the first company to offer MCUs with inverter control support. Since then, Toshiba has continuously endeavored to reduce the power consumption and improve the performance of motor applications. In the 1990s when a 16-bit MCU was primarily used for inverter control, Toshiba successfully realized inverter control by means of an 8-bit MCU with a programmable motor driver (PMD), reducing power consumption and cost. Toshiba subsequently released many MCUs incorporating a CPU and dedicated hardware, while, at the same time, accumulating expertise and offering industry-leading solutions for inverter control.
Since 2009, Toshiba has adopted ARM® cores. At present, Toshiba offers the M370 Group of MCUs with a ARM Cortext®-M3 core. Because ARM cores have a global user base, software can be reused across a wide range of applications and an extensive suite of tools are commercially available.
Toshiba also provides a development support environment that makes for a steep learning curve for novice FOC designers.
Toshiba is planning to further increase the speed of the MCU and the performance of the Vector Engine. Also on the agenda is incorporation a unique control technology in cooperation with the Corporate Manufacturing Engineering Center, which is involved in the R&D of electrical motors.