Renesas’ MCUs are the first based on Arm Cortex-M85 processor

8th November 2023
Paige West

Renesas Electronics Corporation recently unveiled its new RA8 Series microcontrollers (MCUs), which achieve performance of over 3,000 CoreMark points.

These MCUs are notable for their fully deterministic, low-latency operation, catering to the rigorous demands of various applications. Notably, the RA8 Series is the first to incorporate the Arm Cortex-M85 processor, enhancing device efficiency with a performance rate of 6.39 CoreMark/MHz. Such capabilities enable the RA MCUs to be employed in scenarios traditionally reserved for microprocessors (MPUs). The RA8 Series also complements Renesas' established RA Family of MCUs which are based on Arm Cortex processors, allowing for seamless transition from other RA devices.

The RA8 Series integrates Arm Helium technology, which delivers a fourfold increase in performance for digital signal processor (DSP) and machine learning (ML) tasks compared to the Arm Cortex-M7 processor-based MCUs. This leap in performance was showcased at Embedded World 2023 and may negate the need for a separate DSP in some systems. Renesas' has a comprehensive range of embedded AI and TinyML solutions, with applications spanning automotive, industrial, and commercial sectors. The RA8 Series further enriches Edge and endpoint devices with enhanced neural network processing for applications like voice AI and predictive maintenance.

Roger Wendelken, Senior Vice President, and Head of the MCU Business at Renesas, expressed pride in the launch of the RA8 Series, underscoring the expectation of cutting-edge performance from their products. "The RA8 Series sets a new standard for MCU performance and features, facilitating the integration of AI across numerous new applications," Wendelken remarked.

Paul Williamson, Senior Vice President, and General Manager at Arm's IoT Line of Business, highlighted the increasing need for intelligence at the Edge, pointing to the RA8 Series MCUs as pivotal for innovators targeting the burgeoning AI sector within embedded and IoT markets, without security compromises.

The RA8 Series MCUs have advanced security features, incorporating Arm TrustZone for secure memory and code partitioning, as well as the most sophisticated Renesas Security IP to date. These MCUs aim for comprehensive security certifications, including PSA Certified Level 2 + Secure Element (SE), NIST CAVP, and FIPS 140-3.

Efficiency is also a key focus, with the RA8 Series devices featuring several low-power modes and power-saving innovations that do not detract from their performance. This aligns with regulatory demands and customer requirements for energy-efficient operation.

Renesas has initiated the shipping of the first devices in the RA8 Series, the RA8M1 Group, targeting a wide array of applications from industrial automation to AI-driven devices.

Key specifications of the RA8M1 Group MCUs include a 480MHz Arm Cortex-M85 core with Helium and TrustZone, integrated Flash memory and SRAM, an extensive set of peripherals, and advanced security provisions. The MCUs are available in various packages and are supported by Renesas' Flexible Software Package (FSP) for expedited application development.

The adoption of RA8M1 MCUs is already underway, with Mantra Softech implementing them in a sophisticated fingerprint scanner. Hiren Bhandari, Technical Director at Mantra, praised the MCUs for their high performance and AI integration capabilities, which have provided them with a competitive edge in the market.

Renesas continues to create synergies by pairing the new RA8M1 Group MCUs with compatible devices from its portfolio, offering a range of synergistic combinations for diverse applications.

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