As I’ve mentioned before, I like to follow embedded development, but unfortunately don’t have much time to do it, either at work or at home.Â There truly is an amazing number of very capable microcontrollers, such as theÂ ST STM32F4, NXP LPC18xx, and Microchip PIC32MZ, that most don’t stand out.Â However, I’d like to highlight a couple MCU families that have uncommon features:
- TI’s Tiva TM4C129x is a typical high end ARM Cortex M4F MCU with FPU, up to 256K SRAM, up to 1M flash, and lots of connectivity and other peripherals.
- What’s unusual?Â It includes an Ethernet PHY on chip (IIRC, the only other ARM MCU with PHY was TI Stellaris LM3S9B models, which are now legacy parts.Â Freescale also has some MCUs with Ethernet PHYs, such as the Coldfire MCF5223X).
- NXP’s LPC4370 is another Cortex M4 MCU, clocked at 204MHz,Â with FPU, 264K SRAM, no flash, Cortex M0 co-processor, and lots of peripherals.
- What’s unique?Â An 80M samples/sec 6-channel 12-bit ADC.Â Even if the ADC isn’t as good as a dedicated ADC chip, that’s still quite impressive, especially for the price (~$10 in small quantities).
- Freescale’s Vybrid series features a Cortex A5 at up to 500MHz, optional Cortex M4 co-processor, 1.5M SRAM, no flash, and lots of communications peripherals; a low cost dev board is available.
- What’s unusual?Â The most SRAM in an affordable (VF3xx is <$12 in 100’s) and available chip; double precision FPU is also uncommon.Â (Renesas has some MCUs with 1M SRAM, with up to 10M SRAM coming, but they aren’t widely available or affordable).
- Cypress’ PSoC 5LP is a Cortex M3 MCU with up to 64K SRAM, 256K flash, 2 1M samples/sec ADC, and a 20-bit ADC.
- What’s unique?Â Cypress’ PSoC programmable analog peripherals combined with a powerful ARM core.
- The XMOS xCORE-XA has a Cortex M3 core, up to 192K SRAM, up to 1M flash, and a $15 dev kit that attaches to a Raspberry Pi.
- What’s unique?Â It also has 7 deterministic XMOS cores, for a total speed of 500 MIPS, which can be used to create peripherals in software.Â The concept is very similar to Ubicom’s chips (Ubicom started by making the speed PIC-compatible SX chips, then created a multi-threaded (IIRC) MCU.Â They went bankrupt, and IIRC, Qualcomm bought their assets), and a bit similar to the Parallax Propeller (but much faster).Â Note: the dev kit uses the xCORE-Analog A8 chip withÂ 8 xCORES, but no Cortex M3.
- Spansion’s FM series of MCU’s are a broad range of ARM-based MCUs.
- What’s unique?Â All series include parts that can run at 2.7V to 5.5V, which is very unusual for a 32-bit MCU.
Note that the Tiva and FM series aren’t in full production yet.