Starting with the RX family of 32-bit microcontrollers as the flagship products, Renesas Electronics introduces microcontrollers with a 40-nanometer wire pitch and called the RX64M group. These microcontrollers are ideal for use in industrial or networking equipment requiring excellent real-time performance and large memory capacity.
Makoto Mizokuchi talks here about Internet of Things Opportunity for semicon market and Renesas targeted products for this market.
1. What is the Internet of Things (IoT) and what is needed to make it a reality?
The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to technology that makes possible a more secure, safe, and convenient society by making use of data and information collected from a wide variety of devices and sensors connected to the Internet, which previously only had computers connected to it.
To make the IoT a reality we need to connect more devices to the network. Wired and wireless communication technology, sensing technology, and technology for making devices such as microcontrollers and DSPs more power efficient will be needed to achieve this.
2. What are your thoughts on the IoT and how will it contribute to the semiconductor market moving forward?
As the IoT expands, opportunities for semiconductors to contribute to society will increase. For example, there are already systems in operation that use output from sensors to detect deterioration in infrastructure, such as bridges, tunnels, and roads, something that previously had to be done on-site by human workers, and sends this information wirelessly to a data center. In this way, semiconductors have come to be used in places where they were never used before. Another new application is wearable devices and the like, a category which many products have appeared recently. This is another example of how the semiconductor market is expanding.
3. How will microcontrollers contribute to the realization of IoT products?
Microcontrollers will be used to add capabilities such as wireless communication to existing applications and also for many new applications such as those mentioned above. These applications will branch off in many directions, including healthcare, wearable devices, and factory automation. The value and role of microcontrollers in these applications will be determined by three things: Can intelligent control be achieved and can an advanced human-machine interface (HMI) be realized? Can connection to the network be achieved with low power requirements? And in the area of security, can valuable data be protected?
4. What new microcontroller technologies are available to meet IOT demands?
More and more functions are being demanded of microcontrollers. LCD driver functionality, touch key detection functionality, graphics acceleration functionality, encryption engine functionality, analog front-end functionality, and more are being integrated into microcontrollers in response to the need to build IoT capabilities into devices.
5. Is Renesas targeting the IoT market? Have you announced any products for the IoT market?
We are targeting the IoT market by strengthening the above-mentioned LCD driver functionality, touch key detection functionality, graphics acceleration functionality, encryption engine functionality, etc., of our microcontrollers and boosting their data processing performance.
Starting with the RX family of 32-bit microcontrollers as the flagship products, we are introducing microcontrollers with a 40-nanometer (nm, a nanometer is one billionth of a meter) wire pitch and called the RX64M group. Samples of these products are available now.
The RX64M group contains a total of 112 product versions, all built around the RX family’s new RXv2 CPU core announced last November and incorporating high-speed flash memory with an operating frequency of 120 MHz. These microcontrollers are ideal for use in industrial or networking equipment requiring excellent real-time performance and large memory capacity.
6. What are the features of your products for the IoT market?
The features of RX64M products include the following: (1) 40 nm process and up to 4 megabytes (MB) of flash memory and 512 kilobytes (kB) of SRAM, while also combining superior power efficiency of 0.3 mA/MHz with the RXv2 CPU core for industry-leading performance of 4.2 Coremark/MHz (target value*), (2) a full complement of peripheral functions, including communication and time functions such as Ethernet (IEEE 1588 support), SD host interface,and Quad Serial Peripheral Interface (QSPI), providing support for industrial and networking applications as well as a wide variety of electronic IoT devices, and (3) a powerful toolchain that interoperates tightly with the device to contribute to shorter development cycles for the customer.
By adopting these new products customers can develop in a short period of time industrial equipment with support for a variety of communication functions and combining high performance and low power consumption.
7. What difficulties or issues do you face in designing products for the IoT market?
Connecting many different things to the Internet requires extended operation time on battery drive. In addition, there are cases where devices must operate on regenerated energy only, with no battery installed. In these cases power is supplied by so-called energy harvesting. For applications such as these, ultralow power consumption along with ultralow voltage in the 0.9 V class is required. We are presently engaged in developing technology with the aim of achieving low power consumption combined with ultralow voltage.
Also, as you know, development of products using the 40 nm process necessitates larger on-chip memory capacity and improved real-time processing capabilities in order to accommodate things like support for various communication protocols and to impleme