Chips That Won’t Stop Evolving
The options in 32-bit microcontroller (MCU) designs available to the embedded systems developer continue to expand and evolve at a rapid clip. These crucial workhorse chips are delivering more power efficiency, durability, security, and cost-efficiency, year over year.
The 32-bit microcontroller (MCU), that workhorse of embedded systems, has experienced continuous and steady innovation and growth in its capabilities for decades by taking advantage of the latest in semiconductor technology integration. Of course, a singular “it” doesn’t do the variety of 32-bit offerings on the market today any justice.
Here, in this month’s Datasheet gallery, you will find devices designed for applications ranging from residential smart meters to rugged, industrial environments. Between those poles, we have chips designed for general-purpose applications, affordability, developer accessibility, IP and data security, power efficiency, and, of course, diminutive size requirements.
If there’s a common thread, it’s the various incarnations of Arm Cortex processors to be found in these chips. Almost every product featured this month sports a 32-bit Arm Cortex CPU, whether an M0+, M4, M7, or M33. There are a couple of exceptions to this rule, notably from tech giant Texas Instruments. But the domination of Arm cores has become a predictable pattern in our annual 32-bit MCU Datasheet coverage over the last few years; the industry is evidently smitten with them, for the time being.
All of the products featured in this month’s gallery were released since our last article covering these devices. As always, bear in mind that this collection represents only a small sample of the overabundance of 32-bit MCU available today. Even within individual companies, it was difficult to choose which of the many new 32-bit MCUs should be given the spotlight. My aim in their selection was to attempt to give a glimpse of the sheer breadth of functions that new 32-bit MCUs are serving.
Ultra-Low-Power Chip for Complex Sensor Processing
Analog Devices’ MAX32672 is a reliable, highly-integrated, ultra-low-power 32-bit microcontroller (MCU) that hails from Analog’s DARWIN family. Equipped with an Arm Cortex-M4 processor with a floating-point unit (FPU), 12-bit 1MSPS ADC, and 1MB of flash and 200KB of SRAM, this tiny device supports complex sensor processing applications while maintaining a healthy battery life.
- Arm Cortex-M4 Processor with FPU up to 100MHz
- 1MB dual-bank flash with error correction
- 200KB SRAM (160KB with ECC enabled), optionally preserved in lowest power modes
- EEPROM emulation on FLASH
- 16KB unified cache with ECC
- Dual or single supply operation, 1.7V to 3.6V
- Wide operating temperature: -40°C to +105°C
- Flexible clocking schemes
- Power management maximizes uptime for battery applications
- Up to 42 General-Purpose I/O Pins
Best-in-Class Compute in a Rugged Design
Infineon Technologies’ XMC7000 series are designed for high-end industrial solutions, bringing best-in-class compute performance and low-power 40nm process technology. This new MCU family (consisting of the XMC7100 and the XMC7200) offer single and dual-core Arm Cortex-M7 cores, respectively, and they both feature a Cortex-M0+ for peripheral and security processing. These chips are rugged—built to operate in a temperature range of -40°C to 125°C—and are ideal for power-critical applications. The image, specifications, and datasheet are for the dual-core XMC7200.
- One or two 350MHz 32-bit Arm Cortex-M7 CPUs, each with: Single-cycle multiply; Single/double-precision floating point unit (FPU); 16KB data cache, 16KB instruction cache; Memory Protection Unit (MPU); 16KB instruction and 16KB data Tightly-Coupled Memories (TCM)
- 100MHz 32-bit Arm Cortex M0+ CPU
- Inter-processor communication in hardware
- Three DMA controllers
- Integrated memories: 8384KB of code-flash with an additional 256KB of work-flash; Read-While-Write (RWW); Single- and dual-bank modes (for Firmware Update Over the Air); Flash programming through SWD/JTAG interface
- 1024KB of SRAM
SoC Series Built for Smart Metering Applications
Microchip Technology recently debuted a new PIC32CXMT family of 32-bit MCUs geared smart metering applications. Its PIC32CXMTSH series offers up to class 0.2 metrology accuracy over a dynamic range of 3000:1 within an industrial temperature range. Built around dual Arm Cortex-M4F RISC processors, this series of systems-on-chips (SoCs) allow the integration of the application layer, communications layer, and metrology functions in a single device. The specifications, image, and datasheet provided are for the PIC32CXMTSH.
- Application/host core: Arm Cortex-M4F running at up to 200MHz (application/host core)
- 16KB ITCM/I-Cache, 8KB DTCM/D-Cache
- Compliant with IEEE 754, ANSI C12.20-2002, and IEC 62053-22
- Up to 2MB embedded dual plane/dual boot Flash
- Up to 512KB embedded SRAM
- Metrology/coprocessor core: Arm Cortex-M4F running at up to 240MHz
- Symmetrical/asynchronous dual-core architecture
- Energy Metering Analog Front End (EMAFE) with single- and dual-phase meter support
Affordable, Tiny, and Secure MCUs
NXP Semiconductors’ LPC550x/S0x family, based on the ARM Cortex-M33, is a low-cost, small-footprint expansion on the existing LPC5500 series of general-purpose MCUs. It offers advanced security and safety integration, providing isolation and TrustZone technology for IP and data protection. And the family is development-ecosystem-friendly—with pin, software, and peripheral compatibility, plus a comprehensive portfolio of software and tools.
- Arm Cortex-M33 core, running up to 96MHz
- CASPER Crypto co-processor for hardware acceleration in functions required for certain asymmetric cryptographic algorithms
- Up to 256KB on-chip flash program memory, flash accelerator, and 512B page erase and write
- Up to 96KB total SRAM
- PRINCE module for real-time encryption of data being written to on-chip flash and decryption of encrypted flash data during read to allow asset protection
- ARM TrustZone enabled
- AES-256 encryption/decryption engine
- Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA2) module
Power-Efficient, High-Performance MCUs
Speaking of expansions, Renesas announced in March two additions to their RA MCU family: the RA4E2 and the RA6E2—two balanced, high-performance devices that deliver 100MHz (RA4E2) and 200MHz (RA6E2) in compact packages. Also based on the Arm Cortex-M33 core and with Arm TrustZone technology, these devices provide best-in-class power efficiency. They have plenty of options for connectivity, like on-chip CAN FD, USB, QSPI, SSI, and I3C interfaces. The RA4E2 and RA6E2 are ideal for ideal for high-performance applications requiring a small footprint, such as sensing, gaming, wearables, and appliances. Specifications are for the RA4E2.
- 100 MHz Arm Cortex-M33 CPU core
- Integrated flash memory of 128KB; 40KB RAM
- Support for wide temperature range: -40/105°C
- Package options from 32- to 64-pin
- Low power operation: 82µA/MHz in active mode while executing at 100MHz
- Integrated communications options including USB 2.0 Full-Speed Device, SCI, SPI, I3C, HDMI CEC, SSI, and CAN FD
- System costs reduction with internal oscillator, abundant GPIO, advanced analog, low-voltage detection and internal reset function
Chips for Energy-Efficient Applications
Part of the Series 2 Gecko portfolio, the EFM32PG23 Gecko family of MCUs from Silicon Labs are based on an 80MHz Cortex-M33 core. With rich analog and communication peripherals, this energy-efficient family of devices are suited to support energy-friendly embedded applications, including metering, industrial automation, test and measurement, appliances, and portable medical devices.
- 80MHz Arm Cortex-M33
- Up to 512KB flash program memory
- Up to 64KB RAM data memory
- 21μA/MHz in Active Mode (EM0) at 80MHz; 1.33 μA EM2 DeepSleep current (64 kB RAM retention and RTC running from LFXO); 1.03 μA EM2 DeepSleep current (16 kB RAM retention and RTC running from LFRCO)
- Hardware Cryptographic Acceleration for AES128/192/256, ChaCha20-Poly1305, SHA-1, SHA-2/256/384/512, ECDSA +ECDH(P-192, P-256, P-384, P-521), Ed25519 and Curve25519, J-PAKE, PBKDF2
- ARM TrustZone
- Wide selection of MCU peripherals
- -40°C to 125°C operating temperature range
Cost-Effective and Accessible MCU
STMicroelectronics has premiered its most affordable 32-bit MCU yet: the STM32C0, built around the Arm 32-bit Cortex-M0+ with up to 48MHz frequency. This cost-effective device makes 32-bit capabilities accessible to all developers, bridging the gap between 8- or 16-bit MCUs and higher-performance 32-bit MCUs. Sharing the same platform as the STM32G0, the STM32C0 offers up to 32KB flash memory and 6-12KB RAM. There are a variety of 8- to 48-pin package options, with dimensions as small as 1.70mm x 1.42mm.
- Arm 32-bit Cortex-M0+ CPU, frequency up to 48 MHz
- -40°C to 85°C/105°C/125°C operating temperature
- Memories: Up to 32KB of flash memory with protection; 12KB of SRAM with HW parity check
- CRC calculation unit
- Low-power modes: Sleep, Stop, Standby, Shutdown
- Clock management: 4MHz-48 MHz crystal oscillator; 32KHz crystal oscillator with calibration; Internal 48MHz RC oscillator (±1 %); Internal 32KHz RC oscillator (±5 %)
- Up to 45 fast I/Os, all mappable on external interrupt vectors
Efficient 32-Bit Solutions for Power Electronics
Texas Instruments’ TMS320F28003x belongs to the broader C2000 family of scalable, ultra-low latency real-time MCUs. These devices are intended for efficiency in power electronics solutions needing high power density, high switching frequencies, and with support for GaN and SiC technologies. Example target applications include motor drives, appliance es, hybrid/electric/powertrain systems, solar and EV charging, digital power, body electronics and lighting, and test and measurement.
- TMS320C28x 32-bit DSP core at 120MHz
- Programmable Control Law Accelerator (120MHz)
- On-chip memory: 384KB (192KW) of flash (ECC-protected) across three independent banks; 69KB (34.5KW) of RAM (ECC-protected); Dual-zone security; Secure Boot and JTAG Lock
- Clock and system control: Two internal 10-MHz oscillators; Crystal oscillator or external clock input; Windowed watchdog timer module
- 3.3-V I/O design
- System peripherals: 6-channel Direct Memory Access (DMA) controller; 55 individually programmable multiplexed General-Purpose Input/Output (GPIO) pins; 23 digital inputs on analog pins; and more
Ultra-Cheap MCU for Industrial Applications
The CH32V003 MCU from WinChipHead (WCH)—a brand affiliated with Nanjing Qinheng Microelectronics Co., Ltd.—is based on the QingKe RISC-V2A core. These ultra-affordable, industrial-grade devices are suited to general purpose applications, with wide voltage, 1-wire serial debug interfaces, low-power consumption, and an ultra-compact package.
- QingKe 32-bit RISC-V2A processor, supporting two levels of interrupt nesting
- Maximum 48MHz system main frequency
- 2KB SRAM, 16KB Flash
- Power supply voltage: 3.3/5V
- Multiple low-power modes: Sleep, Standby
- 1-channel general-purpose DMA controller; op-amp comparator; 10-bit ADC
PUBLISHED IN CIRCUIT CELLAR MAGAZINE • APRIL 2023 #393 – Get a PDF of the issue
Sam Wallace - became Circuit Cellar's Editor-In-Chief in August 2022.
His experience in writing, editing, and teaching will provide a great perspective on the selection, presentation, and clarity of editorial content. The Circuit Cellar audience will benefit from his strong academic background encompassing a Master of Fine Arts in Writing and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with honors. His passion for learning and teaching is a great fit for Circuit Cellar's continuing mission of Inspiring the Evolution of Embedded Design.