The timer modules on MSP430™ ultra-low power microcontrollers often base several different outputs off of a single time base – a single timer period. This is especially true for the typical implementation of pulse width modulation (PWM) signals on the MSP430 devices, where one capture compare register (TxCCR0) sets the period, and the rest (TxCCRx) simply set different duty cycles. However, in some applications, multiple time bases are needed to generate multiple output frequencies. Normally this is done using multiple timer modules, but this might require upgrading to a part with many more extra features that may not be needed for the application.
However, in exchange for a small amount of software overhead, multiple time bases can be implemented on a single MSP430 timer module, allowing for more features to be implemented on a simpler MSP430 device. This potentially can reduce cost and board space by allowing a smaller MSP430 device to be used and, on large MSP430 devices, allows for new applications requiring a large number of different output frequencies to be implemented.