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How to Remove the Limitations of Software Solutions for Motor Control

Motors convert electrical energy into movement that can be used to make things, move things, cool things and much more. They are a large energy user and the greatest potential efficiency improvements lie in the way in which motors are driven.

There are many approaches for controlling motors. Field Oriented Control (FOC), sometimes known as Vector Control, is a mathematical approach that overcomes the poor low-speed accuracy of trapezoidal control while addressing the high-speed inefficiency of sinusoidal control. As a sensorless technique, the space, weight and energy consumed by a rotary encoder are saved with an FOC approach.

Block diagram of TMPM37x vector engine microcontroller

FOC is efficient across all motor speeds but it requires fast execution of functions, putting significant demands on system processing capacity. However, hardware platforms such as Toshiba's Vector Engine (VE) move the complex FOC vector control equations into a dedicated hardware engine with customisable firmware. By reducing the software content, the VE ensures stable and predictable execution of code that is not impacted by interrupts or the quality of the software.

Also, as dedicated hardware can execute up to 70% faster than a software-based solution, higher rotor speeds can be achieved. Moreover, the hardware VE approach releases main CPU resources for high-level product features. In many cases, when a hardware VE is implemented, a lower performance main CPU can easily provide the required application-level functionality thus saving space, cost and energy.

Even though the vector control is hardware-based, the VE allows for widely differing solutions to be implemented via software. This brings both flexibility and hardware-based performance into a single solution. This flexibility is further enhanced through an architecture that allows developers the flexibility to choose whether to use their own IP or take advantage of hardware acceleration using IP from Toshiba.

As Toshiba provides standard software as part of the development environment, designers can focus on their core competencies and bring products to market far quicker.

To learn more about Toshiba's VE technology and the range of integrated and advanced microcontrollers that implement VE for motor control, please click here:

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