Renesas Amps Up Security with 32-bit Bluetooth Low Energy 5 MCUDecember 05, 2019 by Gary Elinoff
Renesas’ Trusted Secure IP (TSIP) and onboard mesh networking are geared for secure, wireless communications.
The RX23W is a 32-bit microcontroller (MCU) that combines the RXv2 core, Renesas’ Trusted Secure IP (TSIP), and BLE 5. Renesas aims for the MCU to provide a solution for IoT endpoint applications, such as industrial IoT equipment, fitness equipment, healthcare devices, and smart home appliances.
The new 32-bit MCU includes Bluetooth 5.0. Image from Renesas
"While devices with Bluetooth 5.0 Low Energy are not new in the market, Renesas adds value for this ubiquitous wireless technology with a twist: a strong emphasis on security and privacy,” said Daryl Khoo, VP of product marketing of the IoT platform business unit at Renesas.
Khoo explains that “Renesas believes applications deploying Bluetooth 5.0 Low Energy capabilities will be complemented with our strength in hardware security, all within one MCU that can handle application, communication, and security.”
The 32-bit RXv2 CPU Core
The heart of the system, the RXv2 core, operates at a maximum operating frequency of 54MHz and is capable of 88.56DMIPS in operation at 54MHz. The core incorporates a 32-bit single-precision floating-point unit (FPU) that is compliant to IEEE754.
DSP capabilities include support for 32-bit multiply-accumulate instructions and 16-bit multiply-subtract instructions.
Block diagram of RX23W. Image from Renesas
The variable-length instructions allow ultra-compact code. The core also includes an on-chip debugging circuit.
Renesas’ Trusted Secure IP
The RX23W amalgamates Renesas’ Trusted Secure IP (TSIP) into its built-in hardware security engine. TSIP serves to securely boot IoT devices and nodes and protects them from hackers and malware with encryption key management and hardware accelerators.
The hardware security of RX23W includes features comparable to Renesas' RX231 communication security evaluation kit. Image from Renesas
TSIP encryption functions will disable unauthorized access to the encryption engine. There are 128- or 256-bit key lengths for the AES for ECB, CBC, and GCM block cipher modes among others.
Bluetooth Low Energy 5
Renesas asserts that RX23W is capable of communicating over a distance of 400 meters at a data throughput of 2Mbps. Of course, with built-in meshing capabilities, that limit is obviated by the relaying capabilities that meshing provides.
The unit requires 3.0mA reception mode peak current, which Renesas claims to be the industry's lowest level. At 125Kbps, the reception sensitivity level is 105dBm.
Bluetooth low energy protocol stack basic package. Image from Renesas
Beyond the Bluetooth 5.0 basic protocol stack package, Renesas provides a number of API functions. These include an automation I/O profile (AIOP), a health thermometer profile (HTP), and an environment sensing profile (ESP). These capabilities are geared to speed up the engineering design process.
A Quick-to-Market Development Environment
The Renesas Smart Configurator is a utility for combining software. It supports functions related to the embedding of Renesas drivers for systems under design. It is used with the company’s e2 Studio integrated development environment (IDE). QE for BLE, which also works with the e2 Studio, is a debugging tool.
There is also the Bluetooth Trial Tool Suite. With this GUI-based tool, developers can perform wireless characteristics evaluations and Bluetooth functional verification.
A target board for the RX family. Image from Renesas
Finally, Renesas provides target boards for all the various RX families, including the RX23W. They provide starting points for evaluation, prototyping, and development. Because the board incorporates emulator circuits, engineers can use them with no need for further tool investments.
What market trends toward hardware security have you noticed? Share your insights in the comments below.