STMicroelectronics, a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, has delivered first samples of a new microcontroller family that combines today’s highest performing ARM Cortex-M4 core running at 180MHz and graphics-related enhancements, enabling richer user experiences.
Simultaneously, ST is delivering increased software support for embedded graphics development in conjunction with leading vendor SEGGER. ST has also announced full production of a 168MHz series with ultra-large on-chip memory density, which began sampling to lead customers in 2012.
The new 180MHz STM32F429/39 series extends the STM32 family’s performance lead among Cortex-M microcontrollers while new production and design techniques have reduced STOP-mode current, enabling longer battery life in portable applications. In addition, the STM32F429/39 has new features such as a TFT-LCD controller, ST Chrom-ART Accelerator™ for faster graphics, and SDRAM interface, allowing user interfaces for applications such as smart meters, small appliances and industrial and healthcare devices to provide richer, more colorful content and more intuitive operation.
I2S TDM (Inter-IC Sound Time Division Multiplex) connectivity allows multi-channel audio designs. Selected devices also have the latest, strongest anti-copying security for embedded processors.The new STemWin graphics software also announced today provides access to the SEGGER emWin embedded graphics stack, and is optimized to take full advantage of these new hardware graphics features.
STemWin is free of charge for STM32 customers, and also includes the SEGGER VNC "Virtual Network Computing" system enabling remote viewing of the user interface using Internet protocols. Additional powerful features for developers include window-manager and widget packages, touchscreen/mouse support, and memory device contexts that allow flicker free screen updates.
“Our STM32 series has established another important new benchmark with the arrival of the STM32F429/39 series,” said Michel Buffa, General Manager, Microcontroller Division, STMicroelectronics.” We are delighted, also, to complete our work with SEGGER to deliver STemWin for high-quality graphics development. The timing is perfect for our customers to take full advantage of the new STM32F429/39 features.”
“We are also entering full production with the STM32F427/37 series first revealed in November 2012,” continued Buffa. “These devices deliver high core performance and industry-leading memory density to support feature-rich apps and powerful software environments.”
The STM32F429/39 are now sampling to lead customers and are available in the established LQFP100, LQFP144, WLCSP, LQFP176 and UFBGA176 packages. In addition, ST has introduced two new package options with more than 200 pins - the LQFP208 and TFBGA216 packages that provide extra I/Os allowing designers to maximize the extra performance and functionality of these new devices.
Budgetary pricing is from $7.60 for the STM32F429VGT6 with 1MByte Flash and 256KByte SRAM in LQFP100 package, to $10.23 for the STM32F439BIT6 with 2MByte Flash, 256KByte RAM and crypto/Hash processor in LQFP208 package. All prices are for orders of 10,000 pieces per year.
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The latest 180MHz version of the ARM Cortex-M4 core, featured in the STM32F429/39 series, allows customers currently using a microcontroller and discrete entry-level or mid-range DSP to replace or combine both chips in one digital signal controller based on a standard core. The combination also delivers high energy efficiency and access to the powerful development ecosystem supporting the STM32. The ARM Cortex-M4 core in ST’s STM32F4 variants is further enhanced with ST’s Adaptive Real-Time (ART) Accelerator. The ART Accelerator achieves zero-wait execution from Flash and achieves 225DMIPS (Dhrystone MIPS) and 606 Coremark (EEMBC Coremark benchmark) scores using industry-standard performance metrics.
By also providing designers with up to 2MByte Flash or 1MByte dual-bank Flash, each with 256KByte RAM - STM32F429/39 devices allow embedded systems to use sophisticated platforms such as Microsoft® .NET, Java or uC Linux™, whereas embedded designers have historically been limited to a structured language such as C. This approach enables developers to build more feature-rich applications, delivering enhanced user experiences, more quickly and efficiently. Devices with dual-bank Flash permit read-while-write operations which can help protect memory contents, for example by allowing an application to run normally while an update is downloaded to be applied safely at a later time.
In addition, ST has included support for high-speed SDRAM in the device by including an external memory interface for SDRAM modules, thereby offering a cost-effective alternative to SRAM external memories. This latest external memory interface also has a 32-bit wide data bus and operates up to 84MHz.
The enhanced display controller now provided on-chip allows the application to be connected to a standard TFT-LCD while benefiting from the low cost, physical size and real-time effectiveness of a microcontroller-based system. The on-chip TFT-LCD controller features ST’s Chrom-ART Accelerator, a hardware block for faster graphics processing, which is capable of doubling pixel-format conversion and transfer throughput compared to running software on the Cortex-M4 core. Developers can also take advantage of typical microcontroller on-chip features such as embedded reset capability and voltage regulators, as well as rich connectivity peripherals and integrated memories. The STM32F429/39 series also delivers freedom from high power consumption, external memory components and the non-deterministic behavior of an operating system, which are typical of MPU-based designs.
By providing state-of-the-art I2S TDM (Inter-IC Sound Time Division Multiplex) digital audio connectivity, the STM32F429/39 supports multi-channel audio designs, whereas earlier microcontrollers have typically supported only the dual-channel I2S standard.
Security and cryptographic capabilities are also enhanced. Whereas STM32F21x and STM32F41x series offered SHA-1 support as part of the hardware cryptographic and hash co-processor, the STM32F437 and STM32F439 now add SHA-2 support as well as AES GCM (AES Galois/Counter Mode) and CCM (Combined Cipher Machine). In addition, the STM32F439 offers advanced memory protection, allowing restricted execution-only access to Flash memory sectors. These new memory-protection features help software-IP providers, customers and silicon providers protect firmware against illegal copying.
Even with the increased core performance, the STM32F429/39 series has low current down to 100µA (typical) in STOP mode. This is around one-third the STOP current of the existing STM32 F2 and STM32 F4 devices, and is achieved through ST’s advanced 90nm fabrication process and new design techniques. Customers looking for both high-performance capability in RUN mode and low power in STOP mode now have a solution.
With the STM32F427/37 and STM32F429/39 families at the high end, ST’s STM32 microcontroller portfolio extends from entry-level STM32 F0 devices leveraging the Cortex-M0 32-bit core, through ultra low-power, mainstream and high-performance STM32 L1, F1 and F2 variants featuring the Cortex-M3 core, to the latest Cortex-M4 STM32 F3 and F4 mixed-signal and high-performance microcontrollers with DSP and Floating-Point Unit (FPU). All benefit from ST’s low-power process technology.
Extensive pin, software and peripheral compatibility among STM32 microcontrollers, and the extensive supporting ecosystem including code samples, design IP, low-cost Discovery kits and third-party development tools, enhance flexibility to scale designs, re-use software and hardware and gain the maximum benefit from investing in the STM32 platform.