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Thursday, November 24, 2011
Freescale Releases Microcontrollers Built on the ARM Cortex-M Family

Freescale Semiconductor claims that its new Kinetis X series is the world's fastest MCUs built on an ARM Cortex-M core.

The Kinetis X series offers designers additional horsepower and memory for their applications, while retaining the cost-effectiveness, ease of use and power consumption of an MCU rather than transitioning to a microprocessor solution.

The new Kinetis X series shares the same ARM Cortex-M4 core (with DSP and floating point instructions) used for other Kinetis devices, but with an increased operating frequency up to 200 MHz. Kinetis X series internal memories include 1-4 Mbyte of flash and 0.5 Mbyte of SRAM, with multiple off-chip memory options also available for expansion headroom. In addition, the X series offers a suite of connectivity, security and HMI peripherals, all accompanied by Freescale's bundled software enablement. The Kinetis X series can be used in including automation, point of sale, medical instrumentation, test and measurement and systems that incorporate a human-machine interface (HMI).

Kinetis X series MCUs offer several hardware acceleration techniques designed to maximize system performance by freeing the core from memory access limitations and peripheral servicing constraints. These include large on-chip instruction and data caches that maximize CPU efficiency, 32 KB of tightly coupled SRAM for single-cycle access to scratchpad data and a 64-channel DMA controller that offloads general peripheral and memory servicing tasks from the CPU. The X series also includes a 64-bit AXI bus, a first in Cortex-M class MCUs, that increases concurrent data transfer capabilities from several bus masters.

Kinetis X series MCUs offer 1 to 4 Mbyte of embedded flash memory and 0.5 Mbyte of ECC-enabled SRAM, providing an expansive solution. Freescale will also offer a flash-less version.

For further expansion, virtually any type of external memory can be addressed (including NOR and NAND flash, serial flash, SRAM, low-power DDR2 and DDR3). High-performance execute in place (XIP) is possible from NOR or Quad-SPI serial flash.

Kinetis X series MCUs also feature Ethernet, high-speed USB On-The-Go, CAN, IIS and serial communication interfaces, as well as cryptographic acceleration and tamper detection units.

Applications that require a graphical user interface (GUI) can select from a low-power segment LCD or graphics LCD controller. The large amount of on-chip SRAM supports graphics LCD panels of up to WQVGA resolution without the need for an external frame buffer. If required, this can be expanded to accommodate higher-resolution panels using external 8-bit DRAM. For the rapid development of embedded GUIs, Freescale offers the PEG (Portable Embedded GUI) WindowBuilder suite and the complimentary, low-resource eGUI LCD driver.

All Kinetis MCUs come with a suite of software and tools, including Freescale's MQX real-time operating system with integrated TCP/IP and USB stacks and support for low/no-cost graphic LCD and encryption plug-ins. Also bundled with Kinetis MCUs is the Eclipse-based CodeWarrior 10.x integrated development environment (IDE) with Processor Expert - providing a visual, automated framework to accelerate the development of complex embedded applications. Kinetis MCUs also are supported by the expansive ARM ecosystem, including development tools from IAR Systems, Keil and Green Hills.

In addition, Freescale plans to introduce a software development platform before the arrival of silicon.

Freescale plans to provide Kinetis X series alpha samples and development tools in Q2 2012, with production quantities available in Q1 2013.

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