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dsPIC® DSCs: Power of a DSP With the Simplicity of an MCU

Learn more about our dsPIC® Digital Signal Controllers (DSCs) and how you can utilize them in your application.


Microchip’s dsPIC® Digital Signal Controllers (DSCs) have been in the market for nearly 20 years. The dsPIC DSCs have been focused on applications including motor control, digital power, advanced sensing and control, robust touch, embedded security, functional safety and various other high performance and robust designs.


The dsPIC DSCs have been designed with the main objective of giving a microcontroller (MCU) the power and features of a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) engine with the required architecture and the instruction set. These DSCs have come a long way and are now adaptive to the mainstream real-time control applications and are suitable for diverse applications. The upcoming dsPIC33 DSCs will include enhanced features to support emerging technologies and their applications.


For more information, visit Microchip’s dsPIC webpage.


dsPIC33 DSCsMore Than an MCU

An MCU is ideal for applications requiring user and sensor interfaces. They can initialize and control applications, monitor inputs, react to interrupts and drive outputs through displays and actuators. But when it comes to processing real-time signals, an MCU needs more capabilities.


A DSC is a single-chip, embedded controller that seamlessly integrates the control attributes of an MCU with the computation and throughput capabilities of a DSP in a single core. Microchip’s dsPIC DSCs offer everything you would expect from a powerful controller: accelerated math operations, fast, sophisticated and flexible interrupt handling, and functional safety and security features. The dsPIC DSCs execute most instructions in a single cycle. Combine that with high instruction throughput and true DSP capabilities, such as single cycle multiply and zero overhead looping, and you have a very powerful MCU for your embedded control designs. Together with fast deterministic performance to address real-world design requirements and dsPIC DSCs include a rich set of application-specific peripherals to help you develop real-time control systems.

  • The combination of high-resolution motor control Pulse-Width Modulators (PWMs) and very fast and accurate 12-bit Analog-to-Digital Converters (ADCs) with a DSP engine allows you to implement high-efficiency, high-precision, variable-speed, constant-torque, Proportional Integral (PI) control and Field Oriented Control (FOC) for a variety of motor control applications

  • Switch Mode Power Supply (SMPS) PWMs, multiple high-speed ADCs, Programmable Gain Amplifiers (PGAs) and a Central Processing Unit (CPU) with fast and predictable interrupts enable the execution of tight control loops and powerful algorithms to maximize efficiency in digital power conversion applications at all load conditions

  • With a high level of analog integration, dsPIC33 DSCs are well suited for advanced sensor interfacing and robust touch applications. These DSCs offer a high-performance Central Processing Unit (CPU) with a DSP engine for deterministic and real-time response

  • Select DSCs offers 5V operation for better noise immunity and robustness

  • With −40°C to 150°C operation (AEC-Q100 Grade 0 qualification), these DSCs are ideally suited for under-the-hood automotive designs

  • Our broad portfolio of functional safety-ready and functional safety-compliant dsPIC33 DSCs offers integrated hardware safety features, Failure Modes, Effects and Diagnostic Analysis (FMEDA) reports, safety manuals and diagnostic software libraries to develop safety-critical applications meeting ISO 26262, IEC 61508 and IEC 60730 requirements

  • dsPIC33 DSCs with integrated secure subsystem or any dsPIC33C DSCs can work together with the CryptoAuthentication and CryptoAutomotive security ICs to implement robust system-level security

Apart from the regular MCU capabilities, the DSP engine in the dsPIC DSCs include the following hardware design features to optimize DSP algorithm execution such as dual Address Generation Units, a Barrel Shifter, a Multiplier and adder, Dual Accumulators and Context Registers.



  • The dsPIC architecture integrates the MCU and DSP functions using a modified Harvard Bus Architecture. A combined instruction pipeline supports CPU instructions with up to three operands to optimize execution time.

  • The heart of the DSP engine is a 40-bit ALU along with two 40-bit saturating accumulators. Assisting this is a bi-directional barrel shifter capable of shifting a 40-bit value up to 16-bit left or right in a single cycle. A hardware multiplier supports high speed arithmetic and logical operations.

  • To support the MAC instructions and DSP algorithms with specific addressing modes, Dual Address Generation Unit (AGUs) are provided to speed up the process of data address computation, access and storage.

  • Well defined single-cycle MAC instructions support filter, FFT and vector math operations. Optimized DSP routines are available as libraries in the XC-DSC compiler to reduce execution time.

  • The Zero Overhead looping instructions from the hardware core eliminate the software dependency of looping and improve code performance speed.

  • The context registers help in switching DSP functions at a faster pace while leveraging the benefits of fast deterministic interrupt responses and the flexible software stack overflow detection.


The latest dsPIC DSCs are designed to offer performance up to 100 MHz, richly featured with peripherals including CAN-FD, Configurable Logic Cell (CLC), Touch Controller, a secure subsystem, Operational Amplifiers (OP-AMPs), Current Bias Generator (CBG), a Peripheral Trigger Generator (PTG) and more, connected through a high-speed peripheral bus. The on-chip memory ranges from 32KB–1MB Flash for Program Memory and 8KB–128KB of RAM for Data Memory.


dsPIC Target Application Domains

Motor Control

dsPIC33 DSCs feature high-resolution PWM outputs with dedicated time bases and fast and highly accurate 12-bit ADCs along with a rich complement of other analog peripherals. These peripherals are designed for motor control applications that require variable speed with constant torque and Field-Oriented Control (FOC) for top energy efficiency. Listed are some of the peripheral features of the dsPIC33C DSCs which enables them to spin motors efficiently.


  • High-resolution complementary PWM outputs with dead-time insertion and compensation, supporting independent, edge and center aligned operation modes

  • Up to 24 channels of high-resolution PWMs enabling quad-motor control and/or integrated PFC for high-voltage applications

  • Up to five very fast (3.5 MSPS) 12-bit ADCs, supporting up to 27 analog inputs, with highly accurate conversions (10.5 ENOB typical), along with built-in digital comparators, oversampling filters and multiple Sample-and-Hold (S&H) circuits

  • Differential high-speed (15ns) analog comparators with integrated 12-bit Digital-to-Analog Converters (DACs) supporting automatic PWM shutdown upon over-current detection

  • 3 high-bandwidth (20 MHz) Op-Amps with fast slew rates (40V/s) and low input voltage offset (1.5mV typical), or Programmable Gain Amplifiers (PGAs) for motor current gain circuits

  • Hall sensor and optical (incremental) encoder rotor position feedback support (QEI Module)

  • Tightly coupled PWMs, ADCs, Op-Amps or PGAs and Comparators support fast and predictable control loops without CPU involvement

  • Dual Core DSCs optimize real-time responsiveness and enable easy software integration for multiple development teams​, or teams located in diverse locations

  • High level of analog integration provides a lower Bill of Materials (BOM) cost

Besides designing our dsPIC DSCs specifically for motor control, we provide a rich ecosystem of development boards, reference designs, software tools and application notes with code to enable rapid prototyping of motor control applications. Our worldwide motor control team provides expert localized customer support. For more information, visit Microchip’s Motor Control webpage.


Digital Power

dsPIC33 family of devices features dedicated peripherals, including advance analog and multiple high-resolution PWM generators, to improve the efficiency of digital power conversion and lighting applications that function over widely varying load conditions.


Listed are some of the features of the dsPIC33 DSCs:

  • Power supply PWM modules

    • 250ps for duty cycle, phase shift, period and dead time for high switching frequency designs

    • Flexibility to control numerous power topologies

    • Configurable PWM control inputs for hardware response to external events to reduce control latency

  • Up to five high-speed 12-bit, 3.5 Msps ADCs for simultaneous sampling

    • Sophisticated triggering capabilities with overall latency as low as 0.89 µs

  • Integrated PGAs for signal conditioning

  • Up to four analog comparators with a response time of 15ns and 12-bit DACs with waveform generation

  • Streamlined interoperation between PWM, ADC and CPU

  • Additional channels of 16-/32-bit timers, input capture, circuits, output comparators and PWM generators

  • Communication peripherals including UART, SPI, I2C, PMBus™ and CAN/CAN FD interfaces

For more information, visit Microchip’s Digital Power webpage.


High Performance and Robust Designs

dsPIC33 DSCs offer a rich set of peripherals designed to meet diverse needs of demanding high-performance applications. These DSCs offer accelerated CPU performance and a high level of analog integration for real-time control, robust connectivity and advance sensor interfacing applications.


Here are some of the features of dsPIC33 DSCs enabling them to perform high performance time critical applications.

  • Enhanced CPU with 100 MHz performance and deterministic response

    • DSP engine for accelerated real-time signal processing such as FIR filter, IIR filter, n¬¬-FFT, data conversion functions and more

    • Optimized DSP routines available as built-in libraries within the MPLAB® XC16 compiler

    • Fifteen times faster execution of DSP functions* compared to a typical general-purpose MCU

  • Low-interrupt switching latency using five sets of context registers and DSP accumulators

  • Precision high-speed internal oscillators eliminate the need for external crystal oscillator

  • Live update for real-time firmware upgrades with no downtime for operating power supplies used in servers

  • Up to five independent 3.5 Msps 12-bit ADCs for high-speed and simultaneous signal sampling

  • Oversampling filters and digital comparators in the ADC controller for noise filtering

  • High-speed op-amps for active filtering, signal conditioning and reducing power disturbance (unity-gain buffer)

  • Fast analog comparators for fast event detection

  • DMA for ADC offloads CPU intervention

  • Peripheral Pin Support (PPS) allows remapping of I/O pins leading to saving PCB space and easy routing

  • High-speed, 12-bit DACs to provide accurate voltage reference to sensors

  • Current Bias Generator (CBG) to provide biasing for external circuitry or sensors

  • 5V operation of select DSCs offers noise immunity and robustness

  • −40°C to 150°C operation with AEC-Q100 Grade 0 qualification for under-the-hood automotive designs

  • Robust communication with CAN FD, LIN, SENT and other protocols

  • Data EEPROM emulation library enables emulating high endurance EEPROM using the on-chip program memory

For more information, visit Microchip’s Advanced Sensor Interfacing webpage.


Functional Safety

Microchip’s dsPIC33 family of DSCs offers a broad portfolio of functional safety-ready and functional safety-compliant devices supporting integrated hardware safety features, Failure Modes, Effects and Diagnostic Analysis (FMEDA) reports, safety manuals and diagnostic software libraries to develop safety-critical applications meeting ISO 26262 and IEC 61508 requirements.


Dedicated peripherals and functions have been integrated into dsPIC33 devices to help increase the reliability and monitoring for safety-critical applications. These features help ensure that end applications operate as intended, with safe state/shut down if any exception or issue arises.


Here are the targeted functional safety standards:

  • ISO 26262 (ASIL): Functional safety for Road Vehicles​

  • IEC 61508 (SIL): Functional Safety for Industrial Applications​

  • IEC 60730: Functional Safety for Household Appliances​

For more information, visit Microchip’s Functional Safety webpage.


Embedded Security

Microchip’s dsPIC33 family of DSCs combined with Microchip’s ATECC608 CryptoAuthentication™ and TrustAnchor100 (TA100) CryptoAutomotive™ security ICs and dsPIC33C MPT family of secure DSCs which feature an integrated secure sub system that is based on a Hardware Security Module (HSM) architecture and compliant with EVITA full specification for automotive security, allows you to implement robust security in your design.


Here are some of the features of this secure system:

  • Secure key storage

  • NIST SP800-90 A/B/C Random Number Generator (RNG)

  • Advanced and fast crypto engines supporting ECC, RSA, AES, SHA, HMAC, CMAC

  • ECDSA, ECDH, ECDHE and ECBD key agreement

  • ECDSA- and RSA-based sign and verify

  • Compliance with the EVITA Full Specification for automotive security

  • Advanced crypto engine algorithms that have achieved:

  • Common Criteria recognized Joint Interpretation Library (JIL) High rating

  • Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) Cryptographic Algorithm Validation Program (CAVP) certification

For more information, visit Microchip’s Embedded security webpage.


dsPIC Ecosystem

Microchip offers a variety of hardware development boards for dsPIC33 family of devices that can streamline your design cycle so you can develop prototypes quickly. These boards offer easy connectivity to an MPLAB ICE 4 In-Circuit Emulator, Programmer and Debugger, MPLAB PICkit™ 4 In-Circuit Debugger or the TRACE32 debugger from Lauterbach. Many boards also include an integrated debugger and programmer. Leverage our MPLAB development ecosystem, which includes MPLAB X IDE and the MPLAB XC16 Compiler, to build your skills using our dsPIC33 DSCs in your designs.


motorBench® Development Suite








The motorBench® Development Suite is a GUI-based software development tool for Field-Oriented Control (FOC) that accurately measures critical motor parameters, automatically tunes feedback control gains and then generates the source code for an MPLAB X IDE project by utilizing the Motor Control Application Framework (MCAF). This graphical, interactive development environment helps motor control embedded engineers save time in starting up and running new motors with no load or a constant load, especially when the motor parameters are unknown. The motorBench Development Suite is a library used with MPLAB Code Configurator (MCC), a plug-in for MPLAB X IDE.


MPLAB PowerSmart™ Development Suite









The MPLAB PowerSmart™ Development Suite is a software suite comprised of multiple selectable components for system definition, system modeling, code generation, control system fine tuning and real-time debugging. We have designed this suite for fully digital control systems for Switched-Mode Power Supplies (SMPS) that use our dsPIC DSCs. This suite accelerates power supply designs by eliminating the need to manually write DSP-specific code.


Want More?

Learn more about the differences between MCUs and DSCs by watching our YouTube video.

For more information on available hardware development tool, visit our dsPIC web page.

See our web page for or more information on reference designs.

For more information, visit Microchip’s tools webpage.

Be sure to check out our MPLAB development ecosystem for dsPIC DSCs.


Gaurav Chawla, Sep 14, 2023

Tags/Keywords: Industrial and IoT

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