Renesas’ New RA2E2 32-bit MCUs Promises More Scalable IoT Designs
Based on the ARM Cortex-M23 32-bit core, the RA2E2 microcontroller unit (MCU) group hopes to bring more scalability to the internet of things (IoT) endpoint applications.
As the IoT continues to become entwined with daily life and various industries, there are many ways to design these devices. One consideration designers of IoT devices should keep in mind is what microcontroller to use since different MCU architectures have many use cases.
A brief overview of an 8-bit MCU vs a 32-bit MCU. Image used courtesy of Altium
Specifically, a 32-bit MCU architecture could be suitable for low-power IoT applications. Though designers have an array of MCU architectures to choose from, the 32-bit MCU architecture is fast becoming popular in usage across a wide range of applications.
This article will take a look at the benefits of using a 32-bit MCU, dive into Renesas' RA MCU family, and finally, zoom into the newest addition.
Benefits of 32-bit MCU for IoT Applications
While 8-bit microcontrollers have often been a top of consideration for IoT solutions, especially if size and cost are the main factors, 32-bit MCUs often have more robust features that enhance the performance of embedded designs, including those for industrial automation.
Most 32-bit microcontrollers support a real-time operating system (RTOS), making it possible to run multiple instructions simultaneously.
They also claim to be optimized to read sensor data accurately and send it over an IP-based network. In addition, the microcontrollers feature a large RAM (random access memory) size, which increases their overall performance when executing tasks.
What’s more, 32-bit MCUs can be scalable in various applications, including wearables and energy harvesting, while also being relatively cost-effective and easy to use.
Though there are many reasons why a 32-bit MCU might be preferred for IoT devices, it all comes down to what design constraints the project has. Overall, Renesas is hoping that the pros for the 32-bit outweigh some of these constraints and have invested in a large family of 32-bit MCUs.
The Renesas RA Family of Microcontrollers
With built-in peripherals for analog, human-machine interfaces, security, and so on, the RA series of microcontrollers could be suitable for the rapidly expanding IoT and edge computing market. The family, which employs ARM Cortex for its processing core, comprises four series of microcontrollers: RA2, RA4, RA6, and the much-anticipated RA8.
The RA family of microcontrollers. Image used courtesy of Renesas
Each of the series has robust and distinct characteristics. While the RA4 series has a clock frequency of about 100 MHz, the RA2 series features frequencies up to 60 MHz. In addition, the RA4 series comes with peripherals such as capacitive touch sensing and a segment liquid crystal display (LCD) controller.
On the other hand, the RA6 series can be used in a wide range of advanced performance 2D graphics engine applications. It also has a thin-film transistor (TFT) based LCD controller and supports high-performance applications like human-machine interface and inverter control.
The manufacturer also provides a flexible software package (FSP) for versatile code generation, which features ready-to-use middleware stacks and protocols. Developers can use any real-time operating system of their choice, thanks to the availability of FreeRTOS from Amazon, which is featured in this FSP.
Renesas' FSP architecture. Image used courtesy of Renesas
In general, the RA family of microcontrollers aims to deliver an ultra-secure, connected, and intelligent IoT. Roger Wendelken, the Senor VP in the IoT and Infrastructure Business Unit at Renesas, claimed that, with its newest addition released this week, the RA family now has solutions from 16 to 176 pins, as well as from 48 to 200 MHz performance. He also remarks on how its FSP supports each family member, thus enabling an easy and fast transition of design IP between different devices.
With Wendelken's words in mind, let's dive into the long-awaited new group of MCUs.
Highlights of the New RA2E2 Microcontroller Units
Renesas recently released a new RA MCU group, the RA2E2, an energy-efficient MCU, aiming to meet the demands of industrial automation, building automation, medical and healthcare wearable devices, and so on.
This group comes in a tiny HWQFN-packaging with a 4 mm x 4 mm x 0.8 mm dimension, can operate at a wide range of voltage supplies from 1.6 V to 5.5 V, and has a clock frequency of 48 MHz.
The RA2E2 also comprises devices that have program memory storage ranging from 16 KB to 64 KB. Each of the devices in the group has a data flash memory of 2 KB.
Block diagram for the RA2E2 MCU. Image used courtesy of Renesas
Though this MCU packs a lot more features than mentioned, all in all, the new RA2E2 microcontroller units are designed to be power efficient and to address the needs of IoT endpoint applications.
Featured image used courtesy of Renesas
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