MCU family targets the intelligent edge

MCU family targets the intelligent edge
New Products |
Semiconductor designer and manufacturer NXP Semiconductors has announced a new portfolio of microcontrollers (MCUs) designed to advance innovation in smart homes, smart factories, smart cities and across many emerging industrial and IoT edge applications.
By Rich Pell

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The MCX family pf MCUs includes four series of devices built on a common platform and is supported by the widely adopted MCUXpresso suite of development tools and software. This combined offering, says the company, allows developers to maximize software reuse across the portfolio to speed development.

The portfolio also features the first instantiation of the company’s new, specialized neural processing unit (NPU) for accelerating inference at the edge, delivering up to 30x faster machine learning throughput compared to a CPU core alone. The breadth of the MCX portfolio, says the company, allows developers to select devices that best fit their application needs, freeing them to invest in differentiating aspects of their design.

“As we approach the milestone of 75 billion connected devices,” says Ron Martino, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Edge Processing for NXP Semiconductors, “we are entering a new era of edge computing, requiring us to fundamentally rethink how to best architect a flexible MCU portfolio that is scalable, optimized and can be the foundation for energy efficient industrial and IoT edge applications today and in the decades to come. By building on our strong legacy in MCUs, this new portfolio will offer the performance and integration needed to address the real-time workloads for the next wave of innovation.”

The MCX portfolio comprises the following series:

  • The MCX N Advanced series is designed for secure, intelligent applications, with families that include an integrated EdgeLock secure subsystem and dedicated NPU with a high efficiency compute architecture for real-time inference.
  • The MCX A Essential series is optimized to provide critical functionality for a broad range of applications such as motor control where cost constraints, advanced analog capabilities such as high-precision data converters and fast time to market are key considerations.
  • The MCX W Wireless series offers low-power narrowband connectivity, including Bluetooth Low Energy. Designed to simplify adding wireless connectivity to IoT devices, its energy-efficient radio helps extend the battery life of small connected systems.
  • The MCX L Ultra-Low Power series is designed for power-critical applications. With one of the industry’s lowest static and dynamic power consumption, these devices will help extend battery life significantly compared to traditional MCUs.

The four series in the MCX portfolio are designed for ease of use, to simplify migration and to scale up or down as needed with maximal software reuse to minimize development cost. The portfolio is based on high-performance Arm Cortex-M cores and integrates a comprehensive set of peripherals for design flexibility. MCX devices feature up to 4 MB of on-chip flash memory, low power cache and advanced memory management controllers, plus up to 1MB of on-chip SRAM to further enhance real-time performance of edge applications.

Machine learning and run-time inference will be supported by NXP’s eIQ ML software development environment. Developers can utilize the easy-to-use tools offered by eIQ to train ML models targeting either the NPU or the CPU core and deploy them on the MCU. MCX families that are built following the company’s security-by-design approach will offer secure boot with an immutable root-of-trust, hardware accelerated cryptography and, on select families, a built-in EdgeLock secure subsystem.

NXP Semiconductors

AI - AIoT - IoT - MCU - MPUs/MCUs
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