NXP uses dual core ARM SoC for always-on sensor apps

At Electronica , NXP Semiconductor is taking the wraps off its dual core LPC54100 series of microcontrollers which it claims consumes an average of 20 percent less power than its closest competitors.

The LPC54100 Series will be demonstrated in the NXP booth #524 and #525, in hall A4 at the Electronica 2014 Show in Munich, Germany, November 11-14, 2014.

According to Jim Trent, vice president and general manager, microcontrollers business line, NXP Semiconductors, the LPC54100 series requires as little as 3µA for continuous sensor listening.

“The advanced features appearing in mobile devices today such as context-, location-, and environment-awareness; motion-, touch-, and gesture-based interaction, even voice activation are made possible by the growing number of ‘always-on’ sensors,” he said.

“In the near future, other industries will make similar strides by requiring mobile phone product features to enhance their customer’s experience. Today, many older MCU sensor-processing architectures are just too power hungry or do not scale efficiently as the number of sensors increase.”

To make sure it has a piece of that action, NXP, in what Trent says is a first for sensor applications, has implemented this new family with an asymmetric dual-core architecture for scalable active power/performance. (Figure 1, below )

Figure 1. NXP's dual-core always on MCU architecture.

The architecture, he said, will “allow developers to optimize power efficiency by using the 55 µA/MHz Cortex-M0+ core for sensor data collection, aggregation, and external communications, or the Cortex-M4F core (100 µA/MHz) to execute math-intensive algorithms (i.e., motion sensor fusion) more quickly while saving power.”

This architecture is complemented by a range of analog and digital interfaces designed from the ground up for power efficiency — including a 12-bit, 4.8 Msps ADC capable of full-spec performance at the full voltage range (1.62 to 3.6 V), as well as low-power serial interfaces — enabling the LPC54100 series to offer the lowest power consumption for sensor processing.

He said the new dual core offering is targeted at a wide range of applications in mobile, wearable health/fitness, industrial applications (environmental monitoring, home and building automation lighting, and robotics), gaming, or other use cases that require long battery life as a key driver.

NXP has also partnered with Bosch Sensortec to offer an application-in-a-box Sensor Processing/Motion Solution that combines an LPC54102 microcontroller, nine popular sensors, including Bosch Sensortec’s motion and pressure sensors and sensor fusion middleware, and NXP’s LPCXpresso development platform and support.

In addition to Bosch Sensortec, Trent said the company has partnered with strategic manufacturers and sensor-processing middleware providers, including CyWee Motion, Hillcrest Labs, and others.

He said the new microcontrollers will be available for wide distribution in the first quarter of next year . However, Trent said, a Sensor Processing/Motion Solution and LPCXpresso evaluation board are available now..

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