NXP has released the MCX A14x and A15x series of “all-purpose” microcontrollers. MCX A is part of the larger MCX portfolio that shares a common Arm® Cortex®-M33 core platform. MCX was founded with the idea of bringing together the best elements of popular NXP devices plus new innovative features to provide the next generation of intelligent edge devices.
Scalability is an important pillar of the MCX portfolio. MCX A Series serves a significant role in this portfolio, being the go-to for all-purpose devices. It targets a wide range of applications spanning multiple markets including:
- Industrial Communications
- Smart Metering
- Automation and Control
- Low-Power/Battery Powered Devices
The MCX A14x operates at 48 MHz and the MCX A15x operates at 96MHz. Device package options include 32-pin QFN, 48-pin QFN and a 64-pin LQFP. MCX A parts are IO and pin compatible across the package types, simplifying migration and upgrades. Peripherals are also common, simplifying software development efforts. Up to 8 pins are capable of 20mA high current drive with a select number being 5V tolerant.
MCX A uses a capless LDO power subsystem which can operate from 1.7V to 3.6V. A key part of the MCX A power architecture is its outstanding power efficiency:
- 59 µA/MHz (3V, @25 °C) in active mode running Coremark from internal flash.
- 6.5uA Deep Sleep, 10 µs wake-up with full SRAM retention, 3V @25 °C
- <400nA Deep Power down with 2.78ms Wake
A Full Speed USB Device Controller and Flexible Boot ROM
MCX A devices include a full-speed USB device controller with onboard PHY. Adding USB further establishes the MCX A as an all-purpose device, enabling connectivity to PCs and other smart devices. A notable feature of the USB subsystem in MCX A is in-system programming (ISP) via the boot ROM. Products can be field updated using the USB interface.
ISP functionality is built into the MCX A boot ROM. Failed firmware updates can be a problem of the past. The boot ROM ensures that there is a fallback programming option that is guaranteed to work regardless of the contents of FLASH memory.
It’s important to note that the ISP functions are available over UART, I2C and SPI interfaces. We make using the boot ROM functions easy via our MCUXpresso SEC tool, allowing users to develop their own production programming and field update workflows using an intuitive graphical interface, with the ability to output command line operations for scripting. Our open-source Secure Provisioning SDK(SPSDK) enables advanced users to further customize the command line operations, if desired.
A Rugged Memory Subsystem for Industrial Sensing and Control
There are two notable features in the MCX A memory architecture.
The first is the Low-Power Cache Controller (LPCAC). The LPCAC is a small, but efficient 4KB cache controller attached to the Arm Cortex-M33 code bus. Data and instructions can be available with a low latency with the LPCAC. Bus availability for other peripherals, such as DMA, is improved as the processor performance can be decoupled from system memory performance.
This feature can be a critical feature for achieving the best IO and processing performance for sensing and control applications. If the cache mechanism is not required, the 4KB LPCAC memory can be repurposed as instruction memory. Critical code and interrupt vectors can be placed in this region for tight timing and control loops.
A subsection of RAM on MCX A has ECC capability which can be used in conjunction with the error reporting module (ERM) for applications requiring higher reliability.
Motor Control and the Analog Subsystems
The MCX A includes a high-speed 4MSPS ADC along with high-speed comparators that feature an 8-bit reference DAC. The analog subsystem can be coupled with the motor control subsystem which includes the FlexPWM peripheral.
Coupling connectivity with advanced analog peripherals and motor control subsystem showcases that MCX A is ideal for applications such as:
- BLDC motor, PMSM and field oriented control
- Precision servo systems and positioning
- Distributed battery management systems (BMS)
Ease of Use Enabled by the MCUXpresso Developer Experience
We strive to offer developers the freedom of choice in how they develop software. At the heart of MCX A is the MCUXpresso Developer Experience. The MCUXpresso suite of software and tools offers core software development kits (SDKs), integrated development environments (IDEs) and configuration tooling.
The SDK for MCX A includes low-level peripheral drivers, configuration utilities and middleware such as a USB device stack.
The SDKs are flexible and can be used with a range of IDEs include:
- MCUXpresso for Visual Studio Code (VS Code): VS Code extension to enable fast, flexible development
- MCUXpresso IDE: Custom, Eclipse-based IDE optimized for ease-of-use
- IAR Embedded Workbench: Safety certified, highly optimizing compiler and development environment for C/C++
- Arm Keil MDK: High-performance Arm Compiler with extensive middleware
MCX A is well suited for bare metal applications but is RTOS capable. FreeRTOS samples are available in the SDK for MCX A. First class Zephyr RTOS support will be upstreamed later in 2024.
NXP | nxp.com
Kirsten Campbell is a Marketing Tornado and junk robot of information. Analytical and creative, she has been in marketing and communications since 2008 and worked with everyone from small businesses to your favorite household names.
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