MCU portfolio enables higher processing capability

13th July 2021
Alex Lynn

Texas Instruments (TI) has introduced a new high-performance microcontroller (MCU) portfolio that advances real-time control, networking and analytics applications at the edge. With new Sitara AM2x MCUs, engineers can achieve ten times the computing capability of traditional, flash-based MCUs. 

This high-performance portfolio closes the growing gap between today’s MCUs and processors, enabling designers to push the limits in applications such as factory automation, robotics, automotive systems and sustainable energy management.

“Demands for industrial automation, next-generation vehicles, intelligent analytics, and higher levels of connectivity are all fueling the need for fast, accurate microcontrollers at the edge. Delivering more advanced, power-efficient processing to distributed systems is one of the critical next steps in Industry 4.0,” said Chris Morris, Senior Research Analyst at Omdia.

Built around high-performance Arm MCU cores, the Sitara AM2x MCU portfolio includes single and multicore devices running at speeds up to 1GHz and integrates specialised peripherals and accelerators. Implementing high-performance processing capabilities has never been easier, with accessible tools and easy-to-use software that simplify evaluation and reduce overall design complexity and cost. 

“Designers increasingly need higher performance at a lower system cost to keep up with the demand for precise control, fast communications and complex analytics. In our new portfolio of Sitara MCUs, TI’s industry-leading processing, real-time control and advanced networking come together seamlessly, enabling engineers to break performance barriers in new, emerging applications,” said Mike Pienovi, General Manager for Sitara MCU at TI.

Processor-level performance in a power-efficient MCU

The AM243x MCUs, the first family of devices available in the AM2x portfolio, feature up to four Arm Cortex-R5F cores, each running up to 800MHz. This high processing speed is critical in factory equipment such as robotics, where fast computations coupled with the MCU’s internal memory enhance a robot’s precision of motion and speed of movement, translating to higher productivity.

The additional processing capability enables designers to add analytics for functions such as predictive maintenance, reducing downtime on factory floors. In typical applications, AM243x devices can achieve this level of performance while consuming less than one watt of active power, enabling factory operators to extend their power resources, lowering both their operating costs and energy footprint.

Integration brings real-time control and networking to the edge

Sitara AM243x MCUs integrate sensing and actuation peripherals to enable low-latency real-time processing and control for factory automation as well as communications accelerators to simplify industrial networking. AM243x devices expand upon TI’s support of multiple gigabit industrial Ethernet protocols and time-sensitive networking (TSN), enabling next-generation factory networks.

With AM243x, engineers can leverage certified protocol stacks available directly from TI to support EtherNet/IP, EtherCAT, PROFINET, IO-Link Master and more to meet evolving industrial communication standards. On-chip security features on the AM243x MCUs support the latest encryption requirements, and integrated functional safety mechanisms, diagnostics and collateral help enable system integrators to target up to Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 3 of the IEC 61508 standard with their industrial designs.

Simplify high-performance designs with accessible tools and software

To reduce the complexity of design and development, TI created the Sitara AM243x LaunchPad Development Kit, enabling the quick evaluation of high-performance MCUs for less than $100. With this evaluation tool and the Sitara MCU+ software framework, developers can immediately start using the precision real-time control and out-of-the-box networking capabilities in the AM243x MCU.

Developers also have access to application-specific reference examples, a strong ecosystem of tools and software, and the MCU+ Academy training portal to help them streamline designs and accelerate time to market.

Preproduction versions of the AM2431, AM2432 and AM2434 are now available exclusively on TI.com in a 17-mm-by-17-mm or 11-mm-by-11-mm package. Pricing starts at US$6.05 for 1,000-unit quantities. The AM243x LaunchPad Development Kit is also available on TI.com for US$89.

Commenting on the release of the AM2X family, Mike Pienovi, General Manager, TI’s Sitara MCUs, said: “We continue to engage with our customers across a number of different applications and industries, and we see a continued need for increasing performance levels in our customers’ applications.

“If we look at the market today, different factory settings, automotive applications, etc we’re really seeing an increasing level of performance requirements. And there are really two primary reasons that drive that.

“One is the integration of more systems into a single application, and secondly more intelligence at the edge as our customers’ applications continue to grow and have different levels of complexity that need to be supported.

“We also know that in our industrial and automotive systems that our customers develop, there is a reliance on real-time control and general decision making. So again, having that high performance or fast decision-making capability, and just in general to be able to process more data, is a clear need and growing trend that we're seeing.

“And then lastly, as we look at communications and systems continuing to become more and more automated, where they have to interface and collaborate with other systems within overall end equipment, this has increased the need for networking higher bandwidth.

“We’ve developed the Sitara AM2X family of microcontrollers to address what we see is an intermediate gap between what the traditional microcontrollers that are available in the industry are able to accomplish, and what higher performance processors have traditionally been able to address.

“Our goal is to break down design barriers. We’re going to deliver processor level computing performance, with MCU design simplicity and then ultimately bring that together in an easy to use experience that looks and feels like a microcontroller, and ultimately has ease of development that many customers have come to expect from this class of product.”

Featured products

Product Spotlight

Upcoming Events

View all events
Latest global electronics news
© Copyright 2021 Electronic Specifier