MPU family incorporates the ARM Cortex-A7 & M4 cores

23rd June 2015
Siobhan O'Gorman

At the 2015 Freescale Technology Forum, Freescale introduced the i.MX 7 series of power efficient APs, based on its successful i.MX platform. The i.MX 7 series delivers outstanding core power efficiency of 15.7DMIPS/mW, a Low Power State Retention mode (LPSR) of 250μW and the industry’s first general purpose MPU family to incorporate both the ARM Cortex-A7 and the ARM Cortex-M4 cores. 

These technologies, together with Freescale’s companion PF3000 PMIC, provide the potential for innovative, secure and power efficient end-products for the wearable computing and IoT eras.

The first members of the series are the i.MX 7Solo and i.MX 7Dual product families, which feature Cortex-A7 cores operating up to 1GHz and a Cortex-M4 core operating up to 266MHz. The Cortex-A7 and Cortex-M4 achieve processor core efficiency levels of 100μW/MHz and 70μW /MHz respectively. All of the cores can be individually power enabled to perform as needed. This performance-on-demand architecture allows the i.MX 7 series to meet the high-performance needs of running Linux, GPUs, wireless stacks or other high-bandwidth data transfers with one or both of the Cortex-A7 cores. When high levels of processing are not needed, the work can be transferred to the smaller, lower powered Cortex-M4, enabling the power gating of the Cortex-A7 core.

Through the use of an advanced 28nm ultra low leakage process technology and discrete power domain architecture, the LPSR mode consumes only 250μW, representing 48% power savings versus competition, while supporting DDR self-refresh mode, GPIO wakeup, and memory state retention. Creating a system with power efficient processing and low power deep sleep modes enables a new tier of performance-on-demand, battery operated devices requiring smaller batteries and becoming lighter and cheaper.

Freescale’s i.MX 7 series processors are suitable for a host of applications including wearables, secure point-of-sale equipment, smart home controls, industrial products and a vast array of innovative IoT solutions. The i.MX 7 series also continues Freescale’s industry leading support for the e-Reader market via integration of an advanced, 4th gen EPD controller.

High bandwidth connections are provided through a variety of interfaces such as PCIe and Dual Gigabit Ethernet with AVB support. Both of the i.MX 7 processors support the performance and power driven range of external memories including eMMC5.0 and Low Power-DDR3, meeting higher bandwidth applications.

“Freescale’s i.MX 7 series scores industry leading dynamic and static power efficiency numbers, at a fraction of competing devices,” said Ron Martino, Vice President of Applications Processors and Advanced Technology Adoption, MCU Group, Freescale. “We’ve combined our ultra-low power performance-on-demand architecture and the ARM Cortex-A7, the most energy efficient multicore ARM application core ever developed, to deliver innovative new features like a new battery savings mode consuming only 250μW, representing a three times improvement over our previous generation, and minimising wake up times without requiring Linux reboot.”

Samples of the i.MX 7Solo and i.MX 7Dual applications processors are available now with full production planned for November 2015. The PF3000 PMIC is available now from Freescale and authorised distributors worldwide. Two PF3000 board designs are available now: the KITPF3000FRDMEVM evaluation board and the KITPF3000FRDMPGM programming board.

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