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Semiconductors and Components

Renesas Adds Software to MCUs for Platform Approach

24 June 2015

Renesas Electronics Corp. is introducing a "platform" approach to selling microcontrollers (MCUs) and supporting customers, at least for the industrial and Internet of Things (IoT) markets. The Synergy Platform includes MCUs and bundled software up to the operating system level and a defined application programming interface (API).

The company’s platform comprises what it says is a new range of MCUs based on Cortex-M series cores. These cores are licensed from ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) and allow MCU users to manage application development at the API level as the first stage of system development. Renesas has partnered with Express Logic Inc. (San Diego, Calif.) to provide some of the software components for the platform. Synergy is due to be available during the fourth quarter of 2015.

The platform is aimed at the industrial and Internet of Things (IoT) markets—but not automotive. Renesas says that by including qualified software and the API, it can reduce time to market and reduce barriers to entry for customers.

Four families of MCU will be available for launch, a Renesas spokesperson tells Electronics360.

Two MCU families optimized for low power are implemented in the Renesas MF3 130nm manufacturing process. They make use of Cortex-M0+ and Cortex-M4 cores running at up to 32MHz and 48MHz clock frequency, respectively.

Two high-integration, high-performance groups use Cortex-M4 cores and are implemented in a 40nm CMOS process. These incorporate onto every device multiple communication interfaces, graphics controllers, up to 4Mbytes of embedded flash non-volatile memory and safety and security IP cores. Renesas says there will be around 40 MCU variants available at launch and the numbers will rise to more than 100 by the end of 2016.

Renesas also says it can provide and support services as the real-time operating system, communication stacks (TCP/IP, USB), file systems, graphic user interfaces and their associated development tools.

Synergy also includes device drivers, application framework and security, safety and DSP libraries. "Additionally, we are working together with third parties to provide optional multiple communication and RF protocols," says a spokesperson.

Eclipse-based integrated solution development environment (ISDE) is available with C compilers from GNU and IAR Systems.

Renesas, one of the world's leading suppliers of semiconductors in the automotive sector, also sells MCUs in the industrial sector. However, it needs to respond to wide-ranging changes in that sector, not least the creation of a clear market leader with the merger of NXP and Freescale (see NXP to Buy Freescale for $11.8 billion).

"Engineering teams used to spend valuable development time writing software ranging from low-level peripheral drivers to complex communication and specialty stacks,” says Ali Sebt, senior vice president at Renesas in a statement. “This resulted in months of engineering resources spent integrating, testing, and maintaining software that didn’t differentiate the end-product in the market.”

A software is the first approach that could make developing devices for the IoT, industrial and other markets easier, Renesas says. It intends to do so by taking care of the low-level embedded software, real-time event management, secure connectivity, power management and robust GUIs.

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Related links and articles:

IHS MCUs and MPUs research

News articles:

Toshiba, Microsoft Team Up for IoT

Industrial Chip Growth to Slow in 2015

NXP to Buy Freescale for $11.8 Billion

Renesas Retains Top Spot in Automotive Chip Vendor Ranking

ARM Offers Free OS for Internet of Things

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