Targeting the Secure Edge, NXP Adds All Purpose MCU to Its MCX Family

January 30, 2024 by Jake Hertz

Unveiled today, the new MCUs bring an optimized and cost-effective blend of performance and peripherals.

As edge devices and embedded applications continue to proliferate in our modern technological world, there are a number of unique challenges facing the embedded engineer. These small, battery-powered edge devices require a unique blend of power efficiency, scalability, and performance, all without sacrificing footprint or cost.

Naturally, balancing all of these tradeoffs is a major design challenge, one that is ultimately influenced by the designer’s choice of microcontroller (MCU).


The NXP MCX A series

The NXP MCX A series


Today, NXP is announcing two new all-purpose MCU families, which are said to help embedded engineers balance the tradeoffs of edge devices. All About Circuits had the chance to interview Romain Ricci, Regional Marketing Manager, Microcontrollers EMEA at NXP, to learn more about the new family firsthand.


The MCX A14x/A15x

The new family of MCUs being announced by NXP is the MCX A14x/A15x solutions. “Designers on the edge always need more performance, better efficiency, and scalability,” says Ricci. “But they also need development platforms that help them develop quickly.” With that in mind, the MCX A14x/A15x family is designed to tackle each one of these concerns head-on.

From a computing perspective, the families are both built around an efficient Arm Cortex-M33 core, with the A14x variants capable of running up to 48 MHz and the A15x variants up to 96 MHz.

According to NXP, the design emphasizes scalability through a unified core architecture for software compatibility and a variety of feature sets to fit different application needs. The Arm core is supported by up to 128 kB of flash, 4 kB of cache, up to 32 kB of RAM, and on-chip ROM.


System block diagram of the MCX A14x/A15x.

System block diagram of the MCX A14x/A15x. (Click image to enlarge)


To help the families deliver more power efficiency without sacrificing performance, NXP designed the devices with a set of noteworthy peripheral features. For example, the MCX A series incorporates intelligent peripherals that can operate independently from the CPU.

These peripherals include BLDC/PMSM motor control and integrated sensor interfaces like MIPI-I3C, I2C, and SPI. This feature allows for significant power savings, as the CPU can remain in a low-power (in other words, sleep) state while peripherals manage tasks such as data collection and communication.

In general, the families can have up to 52 GPIOs on the 64LQFP package, including up to 8 hi-drive 20 mA pins, 50 MHz I/Os on select ports, and a 12-bit ADC with reduced bandwidth (16-bit mode). The I/Os and the MCU itself can operate as low as 1.71 V.


Developer Support

NXP takes things one step further by providing a slew of support options for developers building on the MCX A14x/A15x families. Specifically, the MCX A family's developer support is anchored by the MCUXpresso Developer Experience and the FRDM platform, designed to streamline and enhance the development process. 

MCUXpresso integrates a suite of tools, including IDEs, SDKs, and configuration tools, to facilitate software development, debugging, and performance optimization. This unified environment supports various NXP microcontrollers, ensuring consistency and ease of use.


The MCUXpresso developer experience.

The MCUXpresso developer experience. (Click image to enlarge)


The FRDM development boards complement this by offering low-cost, accessible hardware platforms for prototyping and experimentation. They are equipped with industry-standard I/O connectors and integrated debugging capabilities, making them versatile for a wide range of applications. 

Together, MCUXpresso and the FRDM boards provide a robust ecosystem, enabling rapid development and deployment of applications across the MCX A series and other NXP MCU families.

“The MCUXpresso is our one-stop shop for software development, including IDEs, SDKs, configuration tools, and secure provisioning tools,” says Ricci.


“Along with the FRDM boards, we’re enabling developers to do more on an entry-level all-purpose microcontroller, thanks to the ability for flexible and rapid prototyping.”


Serving a Crucial Need

Thanks to a combination of power efficiency-enhancing peripherals and features, along with a low-cost and small-footprint design, the MCX A14x/A15x families seem well poised to serve a crucial need in the world of embedded systems and edge devices. The devices, along with their associated FRDM boards, are currently available for public use. 


All images used courtesy of NXP