STMicroelectronics multicore STM32MP1 family joins the company’s long-established STM32 MCU portfolio and utilizes the company’s extensive OpenSTLinux Distribution.
Image modified from STMicroelectronics
The STM32MP1 multicore microprocessor series is meant to facilitate the development of high-performance solutions for industrial, consumer, smart home, and health applications. The new MPUs are covered by ST’s "rolling 10-year longevity commitment"—a program designed to build trust with designers that the company will provide long-term support for their products.
The STM32MP1 utilizes the familiar STM32 architecture that combines Arm Cortex-A and Cortex-M cores. Halting Cortex-A7 execution and running only from the more efficient Cortex-M4, power can typically be reduced to 25%. From this mode, going to standby further cuts power usage to a thrifty 36 µW.
There is also a VBAT mode that draws a scant 4.5 µW. The units embed a large set of peripherals, as well as a 3D graphics processor unit (GPU) to support HMI (human-machine interface) displays. Additionally, a wide range of external DDR, SDRAM and flash memories can be supported.
Available Versions of the STM32MP1 Series
There are three different lines of the STM32MP1. Each has a 209 MHz Cortex-M4 core.
- STM32MP151 Single Cortex-A7 cores @ 650 MHz
- STM32MP153 Dual Cortex-A7 cores @ 650 MHz and CAN FD
- STM32MP157 Dual Cortex-A7 cores @ 650 MHz, 3D GPU, DSI display interface and CAN FD
Versions of the STM32MP1. Image from STMicro
Largely due to the fact that this new series of microprocessors joins a well-established family, an unusually large set of development tools are available.
STM32Cube tools are evolved from the STM32Cube package. The STM32CubeMX is a graphical tool that enables an easy configuration of the devices and a quick generation of the corresponding initialization C code.
The STM32CubeMX. Image from STMicro
Evaluation Boards and Discovery Kits
Available with the intent of speeding the process of product selection and time-to-market, STMicro plans to make the following boards and kits available by April of 2019:
Developer Software Packages
Three packages are available to aid designers, as well:
- Starter Package (STM32MP1Starter) to start work with any STM32MP1 microprocessor device
- Developer Package (STM32MP1Dev) to add your own developments on top of the STM32MP1 Embedded Software distribution
- Distribution Package (STM32MP1Distrib) to create your own Linux distribution, your own starter, and your own developer packages
Who Else Is in the Ultra-Low-Power MCU/MPU Game?
The terms "microprocessors" and "microcontrollers" appear to be used interchangeably. If any readers can shed some light on this distinction, please do so in the comments below.
Regardless, STM’s offering is probably the most stripped-down version now available. Other options include:
- Analog Devices’ Ultra-Low-Power (ULP) MCUs also utilize ARM Cortex processor cores. The company’s ADUCM4050 has a maximum clock speed of 52 MHz and draws only 680 nanoamps in hibernation mode.
- Redpine Signals RS12000 SmartMCU series feature a deep-sleep mode current draw of only 600 nA.
What do you look for in an MPU? Share your thoughts in the comments below.