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Nuvoton Pursues the Industrial Edge With New MPUs

May 01, 2024 by Duane Benson

The new Arm 32/64-bit industrial microprocessors hit on computing performance, expansive connectivity, and tight security.

Nuvoton has announced the NuMicro MA35D0 series, a new line of microprocessors (MPUs) targeted at industrial and IoT edge computing applications. It contains a set of powerful Arm Cortex-A35 cores, up to 256 MB of SDRAM, and native functionality for security and trust, as is necessary in today’s industrial environment.

 

Nuvoton President Hsin-Lung Yang

Nuvoton President Hsin-Lung Yang at an Embedded World 2024 press conference presenting the M2L31 series, which, like the MA35B0 covered in this article, emphasizes secure edge computing.
 

Packing Performance With Dual Arm Cortex-A35 Cores

The MA35D0 series fits just below the MA35D1 series in Nuvoton’s product lineup.

 

MA35B0 product line compared to MA35D1

MA35B0 product line compared to MA35D1. Image used courtesy of Nuvoton
 

It is powered by dual 64/32-bit Arm Cortex-A35 cores at up to 650 MHz.  Each core has 32/32 KB I/D of L1 cache and 512 KB of shared L2 cache. The MPUs contain a 128 KB internal boot ROM and can boot from USB, SD/eMMC, NAND, and SPI Flash (SPI NOR/SPI NAND).

The series includes two parts (datasheet linked): the MA35D03F864C with 256 MB of DDR and the MA35D03F764C with 128 MB of DDR. Both come in a 24 mm x 24 mm, 216-pin LQFP package with 154 GPIO. The chips are industrial temperature rated for operation from -40°C to 125°C. To keep the package size down, the MPUs use internal stacked DDR SDRAM. The 3F764C uses DDR2, and the 3F864C has higher capacity and faster DDR3L.

Nuvoton provides a full-featured ecosystem for its MPUs, including the new MA35D0. The product line supports multiple operating systems or can be run “bare metal” for microcontroller-like operations that need the lowest overhead.

 

Nuvoton MA53D0 ecosystem

Nuvoton MA53D0 ecosystem. Image used courtesy of Nuvoton
 

MA35D0 MPUs have full I/O and peripheral feature sets, making them suited to industrial and edge applications such as smart home and building products, industrial control, factory automation, and smart gateway systems. They include broad connectivity features, including 2x megabit Ethernet, high-speed USB host and device modes, SD3.0/eMMC, 3x CAN FD, and 11x UART. The MPUs have a built-in TFT 1280 x 800 LCD controller with touchscreen support, 2D hardware graphics, and native JPEG image decoding for easy human interaction. 

 

Robust Security for Industrial Applications

Security is a major factor in the MA35D0 series MPUs. Not long ago, security was often an afterthought for computing on the edge. Now, however, as industrial and embedded systems become more ubiquitous, developers now underscore that security is every bit as important on the edge as it is everywhere else. Nuvoton is showing its understanding of this by making security a core feature in the new processor line.

The series has security that covers boot, execution, communications, and chip-level storage. The MA53D0 has secure booting and encrypted communications functionality built-in. It takes advantage of Arm TrustZone, which prevents non-secure programs from accessing secure hardware functions and provides secure booting. In addition, it has snoop Control Unit (SCU) L2 cache protection and Arm cryptographic extension with AES, SHA, ECC, RSA, and SM2/3/4. It also has a true random number generator (TRNG) to enhance systems that depend on randomness to prevent attacks. Other security features include a cryptographic key store and one-time programmable (OTP) memory to prevent in-field tampering.

 

Evaluation Board and Example Sets

Along with the MPUs, Nuvoton introduced a full-featured evaluation board. The NuMaker-IoT-MA35D0-A1 comes pre-loaded with remote control examples, including cloud connectivity and browser-based status and control, and board-to-board communications examples. 

 

NuMaker-IoT-MA35D0-A1 evaluation board.

Web demonstration set for NuMaker-IoT-MA35D0-A1 evaluation board. Image used courtesy of Nuvoton

 

Mass production of the MPUs will begin in Q2 2024.

 


 

Featured image (modified) used courtesy of Nuvoton.