Revealed over a year ago at Embedded World but only available now, the highest-performing and most secure Arm core-based Renesas microcontrollers to date are designed to bridge the gap between microcontrollers and embedded processors.
First introduced by Renesas during the June 2022 edition of the Embedded World fair, the first (and to date the only) microcontrollers on the market based on Cortex-M85British Arm’s most efficient and safe core, are now available in volume and inaugurate the Japanese manufacturer’s RA8 series.
Designed to bridge the gap between microcontrollers and embedded processors, they feature 6.39 Coremark/MHz performance and Arm Helium technology that delivers a quadruple increase in DSP processing performance and machine learning compared to microcontrollers based on Cortex-M7, Arm’s previous high-performance core. Using Arm Helium to accelerate neural network processing, RA8 series microcontrollers enable edge devices to implement voice AI and predictive maintenance applications, for example.
In addition to cutting-edge performance, they have an advanced level of security. In addition to Arm TrustZone technology that enables secure/insecure isolation and partitioning of memory, peripherals and code, the RA8 Series MCUs incorporate the most advanced Renesas RSIP-E51A security IP that provides top-notch cryptographic accelerators and supports truly secure boot, from according to the Japanese.
Other security features include immutable storage for robust security Root of trust hardware, octal SPI with on-the-fly decryption (DOTF), secure and authenticated debugging, secure factory programming, and tamper protection. Additionally, the Armv8.1-M architecture introduces the PACBTI security extension (Pointer authentication and branch target identification), which helps mitigate software attacks targeting memory security breaches and memory corruptions. The RA8 series also targets PSA Certified Level 2 + Secure Element (SE), NIST CAVP and FIPS 140-3 certifications.
Added to this is a combination of low-power modes, independent power domains, a lower voltage range, a fast wake-up time, and low typical active and standby currents, which helps reduce overall system consumption, including when perform various DSP tasks and machine learning.
Housed in LQFP packages of 100, 144 or 176 contacts and BGA of 224 contacts, the first models of the RA8 series, the RA8M1, use a Cortex-M85 core clocked at 480 MHz and integrate 1 or 2 MB of flash memory, 1 MB of SRAM, as well as multiple interfaces (CAN-FD, Ethernet, USBFS/HS, 16-bit camera interface and I3C , etc. .). An evaluation kit referenced RTK7EKA8M1S00001BE is also available.
The RA8M1s target applications such as industrial automation, home appliances, smart home, consumer electronics, home automation, medicine and AI in equipment such as fingerprint readers, thermostats, programmable controllers, smart meters, etc.