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NXP launches GHz microcontroller

NXP Semiconductors has launched the i.MX RT1170 range of crossover MCUs that that it says will open the GHz microcontroller era.

The chipmaker says the new chip “combines unprecedented performance, reliability, and high levels of integration to propel industrial, IoT and automotive applications”.

The NXP i.MX RT1170 family reinforces NXP’s commitment to advance edge computing with its EdgeVerse portfolio of solutions and marks a technology breakthrough with MCUs that run up to 1GHz while maintaining low-power efficiency.

Additionally, to achieve an optimal balance of power, performance, and cost-effective integration, the solution uses advanced 28nm FD-SOI technology, making NXP the first company to build MCUs in this advanced technology node.

Geoff Lees, senior vice president and general manager of Microcontrollers at NXP, says: “NXP saw the potential early on to create high-performance crossover MCUs, utilizing the latest applications processor architecture and design philosophies.

“Now, with the i.MX RT1170 breaking the GHz barrier, we have opened up edge computing to all these technology possibilities.”

The i.MX RT1170 MCU features include: a dual-core architecture with the Arm Cortex-M7 core running up to 1GHz and Cortex-M4 running up to 400MHz, 2D vector graphics core, NXP’s pixel processing pipeline (PxP) 2D graphics accelerator, and EdgeLock 400A, the company’s advanced embedded security technology.

Moreover, it is architected to deliver a record-setting 12ns interrupt response time, 6468 CoreMark score and 2974 DMIPS while executing from on-chip memory.

The new crossover MCU integrates up to 2MB of on-chip SRAM, including 512KB that can be configured as TCM with Error Code Correction (ECC) for Cortex-M7 use, and 256KB of TCM with ECC for Cortex-M4 use.

The i.MX RT1170 dual-core system pairs a high-performance core and a power-efficient core with independent power domains of operation, enabling developers to run applications in parallel or reduce power consumption by turning off individual cores as necessary.

For example, the energy-efficient Cortex-M4 core can be dedicated to time-critical control applications, such as sensor hub and motor control, while the main core runs more complex applications.

Additionally, its dual-core system can run ML applications in parallel, such as face recognition with natural language processing to create human-like user interactivity.

For edge compute applications, the GHz Cortex-M7 core significantly enhances performance for ML, edge inference for voice, vision and gesture recognition, natural language understanding, data analytics, and digital signal processing (DSP) functions.

The combination of GHz performance and high density of on-chip memory speeds up face recognition inference time by up to 5x compared to the today’s fastest MCUs in the market, in addition to having processing bandwidth to improve accuracy and immunity against spoofing.

The GHz core is also exceptionally efficient in executing computationally demanding voice recognition, including audio pre-processing (echo cancellation, noise suppression, beamforming, and barge-in) for improved cognition.

Dipti Vachani, senior vice president and general manager of the automotive and IoT line of business at Arm, says: “As we move towards a world of a trillion connected devices, businesses are looking for real-time data insights, driving an increased requirement for on-device intelligence.

“The i.MX RT1170 family efficiently combines enhanced on-device processing with low-latency performance, significantly lowering the bill of materials (BOM) cost, while pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for embedded and IoT applications.”