Low-power MCUs speed industrial applications - Embedded.com

Low-power MCUs speed industrial applications

A new family of high-performance MCUs offer a step function increase in compute power while consuming less than 1 W of active power for motor drive and PLC applications on the factory floor.

The blurring lines between the microcontroller (MCU) and the microprocessor (MPU) have one more design testimony. A new family of high-performance MCUs offer a step function increase in compute power while consuming less than 1 W of active power for motor drive and PLC applications on the factory floor.

The AM243x MCUs—the new addition to Texas Instruments’ Sitara AM2x portfolio of high-performance MCUs—claim to offer 10 times the computing capability of traditional, flash-based MCUs. Mike Pienovi, general manager for Sitara MCU at TI, says that processor-level compute is crucial for higher precision motor control and more distributed real-time processing in edge designs.

So, the edge designs are continuously pushing MCUs toward more processing power. The outcome is processor-level computing combined with ease of development and real-time precision of an MCU. Chris Morris, senior research analyst at Omdia, calls this one of the critical next steps in Industry 4.0. “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.”

Take the case of factory automation applications like robotics, where high processing speed is vital. Here, faster computations coupled with the MCU’s internal memory enhance a robot’s precision of motion and speed of movement. That, in turn, translates into higher productivity.


Source: Texas Instruments

The AM243x MCUs feature up to four Arm Cortex-R5F cores, each running up to 800 MHz. They also integrate sensing and actuation peripherals to enable low-latency real-time processing and greater control for factory automation.

Next, these high-performance MCUs incorporate communications accelerators to simplify industrial networking while providing support for multiple industrial gigabit Ethernet and time-sensitive networking (TSN) protocols. Additionally, the MCUs allow designers to leverage TI’s certified protocol stacks for EtherNet/IP, EtherCAT, PROFINET, and IO-Link Master networks.

The AM243x MCUs also incorporate on-chip security features, including the latest encryption requirements, integrated functional safety mechanisms, and diagnostics. That enables system integrators to target up to Safety Integrity Level 3 (SIL 3) of the IEC 61508 standard. Moreover, the MCUs come with the Sitara AM243x LaunchPad Development Kit, which facilitates a quick evaluation of these high-performance MCUs.

>> This article was originally published on our sister site, EDN.


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