On the growth drivers for GP MCUs, the market growth is driven by faster migration to 32 bit platform. ST has been the first to bring the ARM Cortex based solution, and now targets leadership position on 32bit MCUs. An overview of the STM32 portfolio indicates high-performance MCUs with DSP and FPU up to 608 CoreMark and up to180 MHz/225 DMIPS.
Features of the STM32F4 product lines, specifically, the STM32F429/439, include 180 MHz, 1 to 2-MB Flash and 256-KB SRAM. The low end STM32F401 has features such as 84 MHz, 128-KB to 256-KB Flash and 64-KB SRAM.
The STM32F401 provides thebest balance in performance, power consumption, integration and cost. The STM32F429/439 is providing more resources, more performance and more features. There is close pin-to-pin and software compatibility within the STM32F4
series and STM32 platform.
The STM32 F429-F439 high-performance MCUs with DSP and FPU are:
• World’s highest performance Cortex-M MCU executing from Embedded Flash, Cortex-M4 core with FPU up to 180 MHz/225 DMIPS.
• High integration thanks to ST 90nm process (same platform as F2 serie): up to 2MB Flash/256kB SRAM.
• Advanced connectivity USB OTG, Ethernet, CAN, SDRAM interface, LCD TFT controller.
• Power efficiency, thanks to ST90nm process and voltage scaling.
In terms of providing more performance, the STM32F4 provides up to 180 MHz/225 DMIPS with ART Accelerator, up to 608 CoreMark result, and ARM Cortex-M4 with floating-point unit (FPU).
The STM32F427/429 highlights include:
• 180 MHz/225 DMIPS.
• Dual bank Flash (in both 1-MB and 2-MB), 256kB SRAM.
• SDRAM Interface (up to 32-bit).
• LCD-TFT controller supporting up to SVGA (800×600).
• Better graphic with ST Chrom-ART Accelerator:
— x2 more performance vs. CPU alone
— Offloads the CPU for graphical data generation
* Raw data copy
* Pixel format conversion
* Image blending (image mixing with some transparency).
• 100 μA typ. in Stop mode.
Some real-life examples of the STM32F4 include the smart watch, where it is the main application controller or sensor hub, the smartphone, tablets and monitors, where it is the sensor hub for MEMS and optical touch, and the industrial/home automation panel, where it is the main application controller. These can also be used in Wi-Fi modules for the Internet of Things (IoT), such as appliances, door cameras, home thermostats, etc.
These offer outstanding dynamic power consumption thanks to ST 90nm process, as well as low leakage current made possible by advanced design technics and architecture (voltage scaling). ST is making a large offering of evaluation boards and Discovery kits. The STM32F4 is also offering new firmware libraries. SEGGER and ST signed an agreement around the emWin graphical stack. The solution is called STemWin.
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 recently opened its India subsidiary in Bangalore. Elaborating, Sunil Dhar, managing director of Renesas Electronics India said: “We are glad to announce the opening of Renesas Electronics India Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Renesas Electronics Singapore Pte Ltd., located in Bangalore.
“Since 2010, Renesas has been providing technical product support to its customers here via branch offices in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. As part of its expansion plan, Renesas will turn our said branches into a full subsidiary.
“The branch office setup served us well when the organization was small and its role was limited. In order to expand further in terms of opening more offices in India for close customer support, and to be able to provide wider services to customers in India like reference software, hardware, reference solutions which would be developed in India, it would require us to have a permanent establishment here.
“Through this new company, we aim to expand business by providing the best solution offerings and technical support as well as a regional systems solution development expertise to the Indian market.”
How does the India R&D team play a role in global innovation and where do you see Renesas Electronics in India five years from now?
He said that over 50 percent of the Renesas India team is application development or field engineers armed with knowledge of embedded hardware and software development and support.
In order to expand the footprint in Indian markets, Renesas plans to build up a strong application engineering team. India Application engineering team will engage with the Renesas headquarters, regional offices to develop new products and solutions dedicated for emerging countries, including India.
The application engineering team and the future solution centre aim to survey the market for solution needs, prepare India designed solutions fitting the price points and specifications points as required in the Indian market. Along with the customers, the team also intends to collaborate with the design houses to create innovative solutions addressing upcoming needs of the market. Our goal is to become the most trusted semiconductor solution provider in India.
What are the India-centric solutions that would be developed from the India Application Engineering team?
Dhar added that the needs of emerging markets are usually different in both specifications as well as price points. By providing dedicated local support via the new company, and with a focus on industrial and automotive applications for two- and four-wheelers, Renesas aims to increase its MCU share in India and expand its solution offerings with rich lineup of kit solutions (MCU + SoC + power devices) and platform reference boards (boards with complete ecosystem including devices and software) to provide customers a shorter time-to-market.
The team will initially focus on automotive and particularly, two-wheeler solutions. The intention is to expand the scope of the application engineering team’s activity to industrial and consumer appliances in near term.
What is the overall India employee strength? How are the investment plans looking up?
Dhar said: “In order to expand our footprint in Indian markets, we will double our headcount in near term. Currently, we are just under 30 staff and over 50 percent of us are application development or field engineers armed with the knowledge of embedded hardware and software development and support. Upon setting up the organization in Sales and Marketing roles in the initial days, we also have plans to announce the setting up of a Solutions Centre in India to develop reference application solutions to enable our customers to use our devices.
“We are intending to invest in lab, infrastructure setup and expansion of activities in the next three to five years. Additionally, we are also considering investing towards 3rd party and IDH for enlarged business engagement.”
Trends driving automotive market in India
Regarding trends driving the automotive market in India, Dhar said that Renesas focusses on three business segments – automotive, industrial and home, OA and ICT. Renesas holds more than 40 percent global market share for automotive MCU business. Our target applications for automotive segment are automotive control and automotive infotainment and network.
Renesas has dedication applications solutions for integrated cockpit through system on chip, R-car ecosystem collaboration solution for e-mobility and automotive analog and power devices for driving, steering and braking.
As semiconductor technologies evolved, it has enabled automakers to integrate multiple applications on a single chip significantly reducing the board area; thus optimizing performance and adding new features for comfort, safety and infotainment. Power technologies have brought energy efficiency, limiting power consumption in vehicles. Advancements in process technologies will continue to drive the auto industry in the coming years.
Renesas, for instance, developed the industry’s first 28nm flash memory IP for MCUs and the first semiconductor supplier to move from 40nm to 28nm process technology.
“Trends driving auto industry in India and globally are more of less the same. However, for India market, we see a specific demand for two-wheeler solutions and that is our target in coming years,” he concluded.
Lastly, I must take the opportunity to thank Ms Shweta Dhadiwal-Baid and Ms Sharmita Mandal for making this happen! ;)