NXP’s i.MX RT family of MCUs addresses price-sensitive applications with high-performance requirements. The Arm-based 600-MHz chips feature an interrupt latency of 20 ns.
The products are nicknamed as crossover processors. They are designed for applications such as audio subsystems, consumer and healthcare, home and building automation, industrial computing, motor control, and power conversion. The processors feature SRAM (Static Random-Access Memory) and integrated DC-DC converters.
“We see embedded designers being forced to make trade-offs between performance and cost in their end products. The i.MX RT’s impressive leap in both areas is indicative of NXP’s innovation and understanding of real market needs,” said Markus Levy from NXP. “This kind of unique approach will revolutionize embedded designs across ‘thousands’ of IoT applications”.
The chipmaker claims, that the i.MX RT1050 is the highest performing ARM Cortex-M7 based device with real-time operation and an applications processor-level of functionality. At 600 MHz, it is 50 percent faster than any other Cortex-M7 product and more than two times faster than existing Cortex-M4 products. Furthermore, by integrating 512 KiB of TCM (Tightly Coupled Memory) SRAM, an effective core performance is maintained for real-time IoT applications.
An integrated DC-DC converter not only eliminates the need for an external PMIC, but also enables an active power efficiency (Coremark per mW) that is two to four times better than competing MCU solutions, claims the manufacturer. At 110 μA/MHz (full operation) the i.MX RT1050 is two to three times better than the competing Cortex-M7 based MCUs.
MCU customers can use their current tool chain including MCUXpresso Software and Tools, IAR Systems, and ARM Keil MDK. Developing and prototyping are possible with open source real-time operating systems. This includes FreeRTOS, ARM Mbe OS, Zephyr OS, and the global ARM ecosystem that provides software libraries, online tools, and support. The evaluation kit (EVK) compatible with Arduino hardware shields can be used for product developments. NXP’s USB Type-C shield board works with i.MX RT through the Arduino header.
“RT blows the lid off anything else on the market. It enables customers to move up to application-level performance while staying with their current tool-chain and ecosystems. It’s also much easier on the supply chain to program low pin count serial flash than a wide variety of larger package MCUs,” said Geoff Lees from NXP. “Stay tuned, the race to GHz Cortex-M is on.”
The i.MX RT1050 is available now starting at US-$ 2,98 for quantities of 10 000 and more. The i.MX RT1020 scheduled for Q2 in 2018 will cost US-$ 2,18 for the same quantity.