Renesas embedded controller suits compact IoT devices

  • July 8, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

Japanese electronics company Renesas has introduced an embedded controller for use in compact IoT devices for sensor control in applications such as smart homes, smart buildings, environmental sensing, structure monitoring, trackers and wearable devices.
The semiconductor firm has expanded its RE family with the low power consumption device based on its silicon-on-thin-buried-oxide (SOTB) process technology and built around the Arm Cortex-M0+ core. Part of the RE01 line, it is a 256kbyte flash memory variant in addition to the 1.5Mbyte flash memory embedded controller already in mass production.
The embedded controller received a certified EEMBC ULPMark-CoreProfile (CP) score of 705, verifying its energy efficiency. This score was achieved through the use of the SOTB process, which enables reduction in both active and standby current consumption.
“We are very pleased that the RE embedded controller’s ultra-low power consumption was officially certified,” said Hiroto Nitta, senior vice president at Renesas. “We hope that this will lead to a wider adoption of the RE family, expanding the battery life of embedded devices and relieving more customers of their battery maintenance burden.”
Current consumption is down to 25µA/MHz during operation and 400nA during standby. Users can further reduce operation current consumption to 12μA/MHz by using the firm’s low Iq ISL9123 as an external step-down regulator.
As well as extending battery life in embedded devices, the controller is capable of high-speed operation in applications that require real-time data processing from multiple sensors, even when powered by compact batteries with small current output or by energy harvesting devices.
RE MCUs with 1.5Mbyte of flash memory suit applications requiring a large memory capacity, such as image data processing or wireless firmware updating via wireless communication, while the latest RE01 unit is for compact devices and IoT devices for sensor control.
The R7F0E01182xxx has an operating voltage of 1.62 to 3.6V with operation of up to 64MHz from 1.62V. It comes in 3.16 by 2.88mm 72-pin WLBGA, 7mm square 56-pin QFN, 14mm square 100-pin and 10mm square 64-pin LQFP packages.
On-chip energy harvesting control circuit includes fast boot condenser charging and secondary battery charge protection functionality. There is support for flash programming on approximately 0.6mA of power.
The EK-RE01 256 KB evaluation kit can be used in combination with user systems to evaluate all peripheral functions, including energy harvesting systems. The evaluation board includes the ISL9123 DC-DC converter, which enables measurement of the low operating current of 12μA/MHz.
In addition to the energy harvesting element interface required by energy harvesting systems and a secondary battery connection interface, the evaluation board is equipped with an Arduino-compatible interface to simplify extended evaluation capabilities for sensor boards, and a Pmod connector for extended evaluation using wireless functionality.
Compatible development tools include IAR Embedded Workbench for Arm, which supports the IAR C/C++ compiler, and e2 studio, which supports the GNU compiler. Driver software supporting Arm’s Cortex CMSIS microcontroller software interface standard is available. A low-level sample code for use in low-power applications that cannot permit the power loss from the overhead imposed by driver software is also available.
Sample shipments of the RE01 embedded controller are available now with mass production scheduled to begin later this month.