STMicroelectronics has launched the STM32 F4 series of microcontrollers (MCUs), based on the latest ARM Cortex-M4 core. This adds to the signal-processing capabilities and faster operations to the portfolio of STM32 MCUs.
The STM32 F4 series brings the world’s highest performance Cortex-M microcontrollers at 168 MHz FCPU/210 DMIPS and 363 Coremark score.
Vinay Thapliyal, technical marketing manager-India, Microcontroller Division, Greater China and South Asia region, STMicroelectronics Marketing Pvt Ltd, said that the series extends the ST’M32 portfolio of 250+ compatible devices already in production, including the F1 series, F2 series and ultra-low-power L1 series, respectively. ST is said to have 45 percent of the market share by units.
The STM32 F4 series of MCUs are re-inforced on five pillars:
* Real-time performance — 168MHz/210 DMIPS.
* Outstanding power efficiency.
* Superior and innovative peripherals.
* Maximum integration – 1Mbyte Flash, 192 Kbyte SRAM.
* Extensive tools and hardware — CMSIS DSP library, Matlab support, various IDE starter kits, RTOS and stacks.
A Coremark study says that STM32 F4 gives the best acceleration and highest speed. Thapliyal added, “We are ready for the market.” It takes ART to be #1 in performance: It is a combination of core, embedded Flash design, process, acceleration techniques, etc.
ST’s ART Accelerator, an adaptive real-time memory unleashes the Cortex M4 core’s maximum processing performance equal to 0-wait state execution, and Flash upto 168MHz. Real-time performance is the 32-bit multi AHB bus matrix. The layers are independent of each other.
The STM32 F4 series boasts a high-performance digital signal controller. The MCU leads to the ease of use of C programming, interrupt handling and ultra-low power. The FPU facilitates single precision, ease of use, better code efficiency, faster time to market, eliminates scaling and saturation, and easier support for meta-language tools. The DSP is based on Harvard architecture, single-cycle MAC and barrel shifter.
It also boasts of an outstanding power efficiency. The 230 μA/MHz, 38.6 mA at 168 MHz executing Coremark benchmark from Flash memory (with peripherals off), has been made possible with:
* ST’s 90nm process allowing the CPU core to run at only 1.2 V.
* ART Accelerator reducing the number of accesses to Flash.
* Voltage scaling to optimize performance/power consumption.
* VDD min down to 1.7 V.
* Low-power modes with backup SRAM and RTC support.
The low power in real-life applications is not just low-power mode. There is also a need to consider the percentage of time spend in low-power (LP) mode and in Run mode. If competitors are claiming better low-power modes, these are only an advantage if the overall system is spending more than 90 percent of the time doing nothing in low-power mode.
Superior and innovative peripherals includes, among others, two USB OTGs, two full duplexes PWMs at 168MHz, ADC at 2.4MSPS.
As for maximum integration, the 1-Mbyte Flash and 192-Kbyte SRAM memories available in the product accommodate advanced software stacks and user data, with no need for external memories. The 4-Kbyte SRAM battery back-up is used to save the application state and calibration data (SRAM block used as an EEPROM). In addition, the 528 bytes of OTP memory make it possible to store critical user data, such as the Ethernet MAC addresses or cryptographic keys. Read more…
STMicroelectronics has unveiled its roadmap for ARM Cortex-M4 and -M0 with products sampling from mid 2011 onward and production by end of 2011. It has also unleashed the full performance of the Cortex-M3 with its latest STM32 F-2 series.
According to Vinay Thapliyal, technical marketing manager, MCU, STMicroelectronics, India, there are over 30 new part numbers, pin-to-pin and software compatible with existing STM32 devices.
He said: “Today, we already have 110 parts running for the F-1 series, which is currently existing and in full production. Now, we are extending the family. This time, we have launched the F-2 family — the highest performance family — to unleash the ultimate performance of Cortex-M3.” Naturally, the F-2 series is benefiting the existing F-1 devices.
As mentioned, 30 new devices will be launched. They are already ramping now. “All of these belong to the high-performance, low-power family. We will also be revealing our roadmap for M4 and M0 — to be in production by end of 2011, with sampling by middle of 2011.”
ST’s F-2 series will further enhance real time preformance. Thapliyal added that ST has built in ART accelerator into these devices. This will deliver 150 DMIPS (Dhrystone MIPS) at 120MHz.
The adaptive real-time memory accelerator unleashes the Cortex-M3 core’s maximum processing performance equivalent to 0-wait state execution Flash up to 120 MHz.
The ART accelerator is a pre-fetch queue and branch cache mechanism that stores the first instructions and constants of the branches, interrupt and subroutine calls. The penalty occurs the first time those events occur like for any pipelining mechanism.
After that, the instructions stored in cache are pushed immediately in the pref-etch queue upon recognition of a stored branch address. In addition, the embedded Flash is organized in 128-bit rows, allowing up to 8 (16-bit) instructions to be read per access. Read more…
Green power and TI
The power IC landscape is rapidly evolving – new technologies are being developed. Even well established mega-markets are changing process technologies that are used – driven, for example, by the integration of added sensor functionality.
Ananthaswamy highlighted TI’s role in green power. TI, along with leading energy harvesting vendors, are creating a complete ecosystem allowing designers to not only envision but also create a battery-less world. Also, TI’s LED lighting portfolio and worldwide technical support network are helping LED designers achieve their goals faster.
From energy harvesting to aiding cutting-edge medical applications to bringing healthcare into homes, MCUs have helped to make a difference in the way people use electronics. In the energy segment, MCUs are used in:
In healthcare, it can be used for applications like personal healthcare and fitness equipment, portable healthcare devices like digital thermometers, handheld ultrasound, blood pressure meters, etc. It is also used in consumer electronics like mobile phones, computers, TVs, toys, etc. Read more…
It is always a pleasure to listen to Dr. Biswadip (Bobby) Mitra, president and managing director, Texas Instruments India. Therefore, when Texas Instruments India invited me to a media roundtable today, it was an event to look forward too. However, the famous Bangalore traffic jam held me up so long that I missed out on most of Dr Mitra’s keynote! Nevertheless, I did catch some bits of it toward the end.
Dr. Mitra noted that LEDs and lighting applications are becoming a key area for growth in India. He added that the industrial segment is just right in terms of applications in electronics growth.
In telecom, analog and MCUs stand out. “Every single customer has to use analog as part of its system design. Our no. 1 position in analog gives us a unique position,” he added.
MCUs play a very important role in a huge number of areas — from consumer appliances, energy meters, lighting products etc. There is a huge customer base in India where very large application specific innovation has been happening.
In India, TI has set up a strong sales network across 14 locations, giving it a pan-India presence. Dr. Mitra added: “We want to tap the India market with sales support and applications support. You need to work hand in hand with the OEMs. We also need to get closer to our customers.” TI India supports both Indian and MNC OEMs.
“The amount of system designs being done by the MNC OEMs in India is pretty high. The third area — design houses — these OEMs are their customers. The fourth area belongs to the EMS players,” he said.
Today was virtually a walk into TI India’s ‘kitchen.’ The roundtable participants were shown demos of some really cool products and applications, especially the handheld pico projector, which also played 3D cinema!
The sessions were largely focused on analog, low power and energy efficiency, metering, solar PV/solar inverters, LEDs, medical electronics, etc. — all key areas of focus for the Indian electronics and semiconductor industries.
I will add bits from the other speakers at this event later. Stay tuned folks!
STMicroelectronics recently launched the STM32L EnergyLite ultra-low-power MCUs. I caught up with Vinay Thapiyal, technical marketing manager, MCU’s, ST India, to learn more.
The highlights of this series of MCUs include a commitment for ultra-low power — the EnergyLite platform is common for 8-bit (STM8L) and 32-bit (STM32L) MCUs. Also, it is strong on pure energy efficiency, with high performance combined with ultra low power, i.e., high high energy saving. Finally, the ultra low power member in STM32 portfolio enriches both the STM32 ultra-low-power EnergyLite platform and the STM32 portfolio.
According to Thapliyal, STMicroelectronics has been involved in the MCU market for a long time. Off late, it has started focusing on the STM32 — the ARM Cortex based MCU and the STM8 — for 8-bit family. “We have started converging our old families into these two domains,” he added.
The STM32F is the foundation of the STM32 family. STM32F is a family of low power MCUs based on the 32-bit ARM Cortex M3 architecture.
The STM8 is a family of MCUs based on ST’s propritetary atchitecture. The STM32L is STMicroelectronics’ ultra low power family mainly used for portable and very low power applications.
The ultra-low-power EnergyLite platform, featuring the STM32L and the STM8L is based on STMicroelectronics’ 130 nm ultra-low-leakage process technology. They share common technology, architecture and peripherals. The STM8, which was launched in 2009, has caught on very fast. It is a high performance, low cost MCU.
He added that STMicroelectronics started with 130nm technology, and low pin count and low flash on STM8, while higher memory and high pin count is available on the STM32. Read more…
Early this month, STMicroelectronics and Freescale Semiconductor introduced a new dual-core microcontroller (MCU) family aimed at functional safety applications for car electronics.
These 32-bit devices help engineers address the challenge of applying sophisticated safety concepts to comply with current and future safety standards. The dual-core MCU family also includes features that help engineers focus on application design and simplify the challenges of safety concept development and certification.
Based on the industry-leading 32-bit Power Architecture technology, the dual-core MCU family, part-numbered SPC56EL at ST and MPC564xL at Freescale, is ideal for a wide range of automotive safety applications including electric power steering for improved vehicle efficiency, active suspension for improved dynamics and ride performance, anti-lock braking systems and radar for adaptive cruise control.
The Freescale/STMicroelectronics joint development program (JDP) is headquartered in Munich, Germany, and jointly managed by ST and Freescale.
The JDP is accelerating innovation and development of products for the automotive market. The JDP is developing 32-bit Power Architecture MCUs manufactured on 90nm technology for an array of automotive applications: a) powertrain, b) body, c) chassis and safety, and d) instrument cluster.
STMicroelectronics’ SK Yue, said: “We are developing 32-bit MCUs based on 90nm Power Architecture technology. One unique feature — it allows customer to use dual core or single core operation. The objective of this MCU is to help customers simplify design and to also reduce the overall system cost.
On the JDP, he added: “We will have more products coming out over a period of time. This JDP is targeted toward automotive products.”
Commenting on the automotive market today, he said that from June onward, the industry has been witnessing a gradual sign of recovery coming in the automotive market.
Automotive market challenges
There has been an increasing integration and system complexity. These include:
* Increasing electrification of the vehicle (replacing traditional mechanical systems).
* Mounting costs pressure leading to integration of more functionality in a single ECU.
* Subsequent increase in use of high-performance sensor systems has driven increased MCU performance needs.
There are also increasing safety expectations. Automotive system manufacturers need to guarantee the IEC61508 (SIL3) and ISO26262 (ASILD) system-safety capability. Also, a move from passive to active safety is increasing the number of safety functions distributed in many ECUs.
Finally, there is a continued demand for quality — in form of zero defects, by which, a 10x quality improvement is expected.
MCU family addresses market challenges
The MCU family offers exceptional integration and performance. These include: high-end 32-bit dual-issue Power Architecture cores, combined with comprehensive peripheral set in 90nm non-volatile-memory technology. It also provides a cost effective solution by reducing board size, chip count and logistics/support costs.
It also solves functional safety. The Functional Safety architecture has been specifically designed to support IEC61508 (SIL3) and ISO26262 (ASILD) safety standards. The architecture provides redundancy checking of all computational elements to help endure the operation of safety related tasks. The unique, dual mode of operation allows customers to choose how best to address their safety requirements without compromising on performance.
The MCU also offers best-in-class quality. It is design for quality, aiming for zero defects. The test and manufacture have been aligned to lifetime warranty needs.
The MCU family addresses the challenges of applying sophisticated safety concepts to meet future safety standards. Yue added, “There are two safety standards — we are following those guidelines.” These are the IEC61508 (SIL3) and ISO26262 (ASILD) system-safety capabilities.
The automotive industry is also targeting for zero defects. “Therefore, all suppliers in tier 1 and 2 need to come up with stringent manuyfaturing and testing process that ensures zero defects,” he said.
32-bit dual-issue, dual-core MCU family
Finally, why dual core? Yue said that the MCU helps customers to achieve to achieve safety and motor control. Hence, dual core will definitely help deliver results.
“In many automotive applications, especially in safety-related applications, we want to have redundancy for safety. In the lock-step mode, two cores run the same task simultaneously, and results are then compared to each other in every computation. If the results are not matched, it indicates that there are some problems.”
This MCU family definitely simplifies design. It uses a flexible, configurable architecture that addresses both lock-step and dual parallel operation modes on a single dual-core chip. Next, it complies with safety standards.
A redundant architecture provides a compelling solution for real-time applications that require compliance with the IEC61508 SIL3 and ISO26262 ASIL-D safety standards. It also lowers the systems cost.
Dual-core architecture reduces the need for component duplication at the system level, and lowers overall system costs.
Renesas Electronics was among the worst hit companies during the Japanese earthquake in March this year. To its credit, Renesas restarted production at its quake-hit factories by mid-June. For the record, Renesas’ Naka factory had been the worst-affected by the March 2011 earthquake. The Naka factory produces around 20 percent of MCUs and SoC solutions, and about 10 percent of analog and power devices.
According to Jeffrey Soh, director – South Asia & Pacific Business Unit, Renesas Electronics Singapore Pte. Ltd, power shortages had been created by the earthquakes. “The Naka plant was the most affected. It has been housing 65nm and 90nm process technologies. We have had very good support from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI),” he said.
On June 1, 2011, the Naka factory started production again. “We are now in full recovery. We still have to recover a lot of backlog,” noted Soh. From the earthquake to the recovery of the Naka plant, Renesas was able to start the production of automotive processors. The massive earthquake in Japan and the resulting tsunami in March saw Renesas strengthen its business continuity plan (BCP) and re-inforce the risk management system. “We have now taken up BCP. The earthquake only accelerated the BCP,” said Soh.
So, what’s the outlook like for 2012? According to Jeffrey Soh, there are double challenges. First, there is the high Yen. However, the high Yen has forced Renesas to be even more competitive. “We expect that the Japanese government will also roll out a recovery plan,” Soh, noted.
Renesas’ situation in India
Elaborating on Renesas’ India plans, Jeffrey Soh said: “We plan to grow in India. We have spent the last five years cultivating the Indian localization. Here, we are developing all India based solutions.” Out of the 30 products that have been developed in India so far, Renesas has been able to help 16 companies up until now.
“We have built a company that works on the localization of products. We are soliciting a lot of Japanese support to enhance the Indian localization of products,” he added.
According to him, besides mobile communications, healthcare and medical electronics, automotive electronics and smart energy, Renesas is also looking at developing the power electronics segment in India.