MCUs build foundation for integrated hardware/software platform

The key to building a presence in a new market with an innovative new technology is to construct that technology on a solid foundation. To achieve that goal, embedded designers need an extensive line of compatible and scalable MCUs to maximize software and hardware reuse.


By Stefan Ingenhaag, Renesas Electronics Europe                 Download PDF version of this article


Designers eyeing new applications in the embedded and rapidly emerging IoT market need a highly scalable, upwardly compatible family of MCUs that combine high efficiency with competitive price/ performance characteristics. Synergy MCUs are designed from the ground up to serve that purpose. Based on the ARM Cortex-M family CPU cores, these new microcontrollers combine extremely low power consumption with excellent deterministic behaviour in a small package. The range of potential embedded applications for these new MCUs runs the gamut from simple tags designed to attach to a cow’s ear to monitors in household appliances. Given the wide variety of application requirements, crafting the right MCU feature set is no small task. But some functions are clearly essential. One is connectivity.

Most of the MCUs in the embedded market today supply a base set of peripherals including a wide array of connectivity options. Synergy MCUs take this one step further. The top-of-the-line MCU family, for example, offers dual Ethernet with IEEE-1588 synchronization, USB HS, plus many serial interfaces including UART, IIC, SPI, IrDA, QSPI, SSI, SDHI and CAN interfaces. As embedded and IoT applications move toward the edge of the network where systems are often measuring the environment, analog interfaces play an increasingly crucial role. To meet this need the MCUs add a full array of analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters, analog comparators and temperature sensors. In addition, the MCUs add a variety of timing functions that are typically used in motor and industrial control applications.

Time to market is a huge factor in the success of any company. The ability to reuse hardware and software helps design teams shorten development time. Synergy MCUs are architected from the ground up to provide a seamless scalability and peripheral compatibility among products, enabling customers to extend software reuse by using common peripherals based on a consistent memory map. MCU scalability enables customers to easily migrate from one product to another in the same family or between families. And the use of a concentric package design allows customers to easily migrate from one package to another with minimum hardware changes.

In addition, a common CPU architecture based on ARM Cortex-M CPU cores enables seamless code migration across the entire MCU family. Taken together these characteristics make it a truly scalable and compatible solution, enabling customers to maximize reuse of software and hardware and, in the process, shorten development time and reduce time to market.

Based on the ARM Cortex-M0+ CPU core, Synergy S1 Series MCUs, represented here by the superset S124 device, offer an ideal solution for low power, cost-sensitive embedded and IoT applications.

 

Given the fundamental role connectivity plays in every IoT design, solutions at every level of the network are vulnerable to malicious attacks. The threats can occur at every stage of the product lifecycle. During manufacturing a less-than-honest employee could clone firmware or the security configuration of a product. Once the product goes into the field hackers could replace firmware with malware or exploit a software update session to inject malware into a system. And if system parameters are lost, firmware could be susceptible to an eavesdropping attack. Clearly product designers must address a wide array of potential security concerns, not only to ensure the integrity of their product, but also to reassure prospective consumers before they buy into this new market.

For higher levels of integration, Synergy S3 Series MCUs, represented here by the S3A7 device, offer more memory and a wider array of peripherals than the S1 Series.

 

To protect embedded systems from these threats, Synergy MCUs add significant security capabilities in hardware where they are less susceptible to attack. As an example, when each MCU in the Synergy product line is manufactured, it is assigned a 128-bit unique ID which can be used to generate keys to protect applications and assist provisioning. Synergy includes on a chip a true random number generator for use with industry standard specifications such as NIST SP800-90 recommended deterministic random bit generators (DRBGs). Many of the MCU members also feature Memory Protection Units (MPUs) that can be used to read- and write-protect an area across the entire addressable memory map. Developers can use this feature to create a secure region that is protected from access by a rogue program. Hardware accelerators are also featured for symmetric cryptography and asymmetric cryptography as well as HASH.

At the low power end of the market where many embedded and IoT solutions are expected to emerge, Renesas selected the ARM Cortex-M0+ CPU core. Optimized for battery-powered applications, this core combines a state of the art low-power architecture with optimized low-power modes, faster wake-up time and low-power peripherals. Utilizing these capabilities Renesas engineers have developed the S1 Series MCUs for very low power, cost-sensitive embedded and IoT applications where developers may be considering migrating from an 8- or 16-bit solution. With these new devices they now have access to the processing resources of a 32-bit MCU. Fabricated using a 130nm low power process, the S1 Series MCUs dissipate exceptionally low power in both standby and operating mode. On-chip memory for initial devices ranges up to 128KB of code flash, 4KB of data flash and 16KB of SRAM.

With up to 2MB of code flash and an extensive array of security and connectivity capabilities, Synergy S5 Series MCUs offer a platform for higher performance embedded applications.

 

S3 Series initial devices are based on a 48 MHz ARM Cortex-M4 CPU core and serve applications that demand higher levels of integration than the ARM Cortex-M0+ CPU core-based S1 Series. Fabricated using the same 130nm low power process used for the S1 Series, the S3 Series adds up to 124 GPIOs and larger memory resources with up to 1MB of code flash, 16KB of data flash and up to 192KB of SRAM. Emerging IoT applications require a high level of security. The S3 Series offers essential security and encryption building blocks such as GHASH, AES and True RNG. In addition, the Series features a flexible Segment LCD controller and high accuracy analog peripherals such as a 14-bit A/D converter. Finally, on-chip operational amplifiers and high-speed analog comparators make the S3 Series MCUs a solution for IoT building automation applications.

For higher performance applications, the S5 Series MCUs use an ARM Cortex-M4 CPU core running at between 100 MHz and 200 MHz. Targeted at more complex embedded applications, this Series offers more memory on chip including up to 2MB of code flash, 64KB of data flash and 640KB of SRAM. These MCUs are fabricated using the same high performance 40nm process used for the S7 Series. The S5 series also offers a higher level of encryption for IoT applications. These devices feature True RNG, AES, DES/ARC, RSA/DSA and Hashing functions. In addition, rich connectivity such as Ethernet controller, USB HS and QSPI make the S5 devices suited for economical HMI applications in the appliance market that require a Graphics LCD controller with 2D drawing engine and JPEG Codec.

Based on a 240 MHz ARM Cortex-M4 core and featuring up to 4MB of code flash, Synergy S7 Series MCUs, represented here by the superset S7G2 device, are suited for applications that demand the highest levels of performance and security.

 

At the top end of the performance spectrum, the initial devices in the S7 Series deliver high performance using a 240 MHz ARM Cortex-M4 CPU core. This MCU series features a wide array of peripherals and significantly more memory on-chip including an industry-leading 4MB of code flash and 640KB of SRAM fabricated using a high performance 40nm process. These additional resources give embedded developers substantial new design options particularly when their solutions require memory resources to buffer large high-speed messages, perform calculations in background, or run multiple software applications concurrently.

The S7 Series devices are suited for applications that require a higher level of encryption and security. The MCUs feature True RNG, AES, DES/ARC, RSA/DSA and Hashing functions. In addition to superior performance, the S7 Series offer high speed, high precision analog interfaces such as high-speed analog comparators and 12-bit A/D converters with an outstanding sampling rate of 2.5 Msps. The S7 Series also feature multiple high-speed connectivity options including USB HS, Dual Ethernet controller and QSPI. When combined with an integrated Graphics LCD controller with a 2D drawing engine and a JPEG Codec, this feature set makes this Series suited for HMI, factory automation and building applications.


Related


Cloud for flat-panel controllers and RFID readers

The first cloud for flat-panel controllers offers full connectivity to enable central parameterization and constant monitoring of the operational status of displays. This brings two clear advantages: ...

PCAP Touch displays - what does the future hold?

In this article the author compares three different touch technologies and examines their suitability for industrial applications. Figure 1. Example of a touch panel with Force Touch in a medic...

 


Dirk Giesen describes the Parasoft tool suite for Embedded Software Development

Are you responsible for embedded software development in your organization? Your goal should be to create safe, secure, and reliable software. To make sure your device will work properly, deploy Paras...


Ross Sabolik of Silicon Labs talks about advanced Power over Ethernet

In this video Ross Sabolik of Silicon Labs talks about smart  Power over Ethernet systems with Alix Paultre at their APEC exhibit in San ANtonio, Texas. As PoE migrates to higher power levels and...


Dialog Semi walks through their latest IC solutions for battery chargers

In this video an engineer from Dialog Semiconductor walks us through their latest ICs for battery chargers at APEC 2018. Dialog's Qualcomm Quick Charge adapter solutions offer high efficiency to e...


Steve Allen of pSemi explains their latest LED driver solution

Steve Allen of pSemi explains their latest LED boost product based on Arctic Sand's two-stage architecture. Their PE23300 has a charge-pump, switched-capacitor architecture that offloads most of t...


Teledyne describes their latest 12-bit Wavepro HD oscilloscope

In this video Teledyne LeCroy describes their latest Wavepro HD oscilloscope to Alix Paultre of Power Electronics News at the company's launch event. The WavePro HD high-definition oscilloscope de...


Dialog Semi walks through their latest IC solutions for battery chargers

In this video an engineer from Dialog Semiconductor walks us through their latest ICs for battery chargers at APEC 2018. Dialog's Qualcomm Quick Charge adapter solutions offer high efficiency to e...


ROHM explains their latest wireless battery charger solution kit

In this video an engineer from ROHM goes over their latest wireless power development kit, co-developed with Würth for embedded development. The kit provides a complete wireless power transfer sy...


Tektronix describes their latest mixed-signal oscilloscope

In this video Tektronix explains the features in their latest 5 Series MSO Mixed Signal Oscilloscope. Features include an innovative pinch-swipe-zoom touchscreen user interface, a large high-definitio...


AVX shows a supercapacitor demonstrator at APEC

In this video Eric from AVX explains their supercapacitor demonstrator box at APEC 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. The box shows how a 5V 2.5-farad supercapacitor can quickly charge up using harvested ene...


OnSemi explains their latest passive smart wireless sensor for industrial applications

In this video On Semiconductor explains their latest wireless sensor for hazardous environments at APEC in San Antonio, Texas. Intended for applications like high-voltage power cabinets and other plac...


TI demonstrates an improved gaming power system at Embedded World

In this video Texas Instruments' explains Significant reduction in ripple, which results in improved reliability and increased design margins, among other advantages. Another benefit that improve...


Infineon explains their latest motor drive technology at APEC 2018

In this video Infineon demonstrates new gate drivers using their LS-SOI technology at APEC 2018. In the demo Victorus, an Infineon application engineer, shows in real time how much better thermal the ...


STMicro goes over their latest wireless-enabled microcontroller for the IoT

In this video STMicroelectronics goes over their latest wireless-enabled STM32WB microcontroller for the IoT and intelligent devices in several live connectivity demonstrations at Embedded World 2018....