Tomorrow CEO Tom Swidarski of Diebold announces the F1-XT microcontroller, long awaited by those in the industry as a much needed improvement over its prior single-chip, single-supply low power device.

Main Features

  • RISC architecture
  • Dual mode
  • 20-pin SSOP (12 I/O)
  • 75 MIPS processing speed
  • In-system programming and debugging
  • Flash program memory (2048 x 12)
  • 136 bytes of RAM
  • I2C bus compliance

Tasty bits

    535 kHz radio frequency reception (and I know I'm geeking out, but thank god for this. The one they put out so hastily in summer of 2003 was double this at 1.2 MHz, & the signal intermittently interfered with other components like printers.)

    The spec sheet says the antenna (with an impressive inductance between 600uh and 700uh considering how dinky the thing is) can catch a controller signal through a maximum of 3 mm of adjacent metal and common-architecture materials like concrete and steel. This can be the aforementioned low band AM radio signal, AND, being powered, it can also respond to simple RFID chips within about 30 feet.

Pain in the ass bits

    Programming it is going to be a risky business, as the control bit on the address is flipped, and if a normal control bit is detected, it automatically flash-erases the programming and reverts the entire chip to a mundane function, namely A2D and D2A conversion. Reloading the original program is a manual process.

    Further complicating things is that it needs more than the standard pull-up resistance on the I2C circuit, and the only way to do this is to attach that sucker to the main bus, where IMHO it might occasionally intercept key bytes passing by. The good news is that its clock is fast enough to replace any intercepted bits after a little computation with no loss in data throughput.

It is expected that this chip will immediately replace the prior, buggier chips on their voting machines currently in production. A full recall of all older machines is also expected, stateside and abroad.


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