Increased Performance for Smart, Connected Devices With Fast MCUs

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  • The MCUs provide enriched graphics and AI functionalities along with improved cyber protection and faster processing speed for cost-conscious applications
  • At the same time, the devices ensure full execution performance and security

STMicroelectronics has unveiled the STM32 microcontrollers (MCUs) with embedded Flash that brings high-end features such as rich graphicsAI and state-of-the-art cyber-protection to cost-sensitive new products.

The new STM32H7 MCUs is built on the Arm Cortex-M7 core and operates at a fast core speed of 550 MHz amongst other MCUs that integrate Flash storage on-chip to run deeply embedded applications. These single-core devices, which are available with up to 1 Mbyte of Flash, deliver increased performance with affordability for cost-conscious applications.

At the same time, the devices can interact with off-chip storage while ensuring full execution performance and security. Their benchmark performance figures of 2778 CoreMark®1 and 1177 DMIPS are realised whether working from internal or external memory, aided by features such as the Flexible Memory Controller (FMC) and Octal SPI memory interface. This lets designers tackle memory-hungry applications, such as high-resolution, full-colour graphics and video (that demand a large frame buffer) to create new products that deliver more sophisticated and immersive user experiences.

Further assisting the creation of full-colour user interfaces are the TouchGFX graphic framework STM32Cube Expansion Package (X-CUBE-TOUCHGFX) and TouchGFX Designer programming tool.

Developing Added Features

Advanced features powered by AI technology can be developed thanks to STM32Cube ecosystem and STM32Cube.AI (X-CUBE-AI) to port neural networks and leverage computer vision through the parallel camera interface. By connecting the STM32H7 to one or multiple sensors, condition monitoring and other machine learning techniques will also help to bring added value to the STM32-based product.

As part of the STM32Trust security suite, cyber-protection is enhanced with support for on-the-fly decryption (OTFDEC) and secure firmware install (SFI). OTFDEC enables encrypted code to be executed from external memory. SFI lets OEMs order standard products anywhere in the world, to be programmed only with encrypted code. These two solutions effectively safeguard OEM intellectual property in Flash memory. Out-of-the-box security features include support for secure boot, symmetric (by hardware or software library) encryption and cryptographic key provisioning. Asymmetric encryption (by software library) is also available. 

Cryptographic processing is handled with a true random number generator, hardware acceleration for AES-128, AES-192 and AES-256 encryption, and support for GCM and CCM2, Triple DES and hash (MD5, SHA-1 and SHA-2) algorithms.

“Our latest STM32H7 MCUs enable small, low-power products to deliver extraordinary functionality and performance while leveraging the outstanding value and efficiency of the STM32 family,” said Ricardo de Sa Earp, Group Vice President, Microcontroller Division General Manager, STMicroelectronics. “Home appliances, small medical devices, and industrial sensors and actuators that might previously have been unable to incorporate computationally intensive features such as AI, graphics and voice interaction now have an appropriate solution.”

Several key features deliver important advantages in industrial applications, including an integrated switched-mode power supply (SMPS) that overcomes dissipation constraints to allow extended-temperature operation up to 125 degrees Celsius. Also, fault-resilience is provided through error correction (ECC) for all memories.

Quick Prototyping

ST has updated the STM32 development ecosystem to allow users to get started quickly with the new devices. Flexible prototyping and demonstrations can leverage the STM32H735G-DK Discovery kit, while the NUCLEO-H723ZG Nucleo-144 board provides an affordable option for quickly building prototypes and proof-of-concept models. The latest STM32H7 MCUs are also supported in the STM32Cube ecosystem, which comprises tools, embedded software and middleware including graphics libraries, communication stacks and application-code examples such as motor control, AI, and advanced security.

The MCUs’ capabilities can also be exercised using appropriate software tools for application and security development published by Arm Keil and IAR Systems.

Haydn Povey, General Manager Embedded Security Solutions, IAR Systems, said, “ST’s latest STM32H7 MCUs deliver game-changing value, performance and security enhancements. The security features, including enhanced cryptographic accelerators, advanced off-chip memory protection, and secure key provisioning are all critical capabilities in achieving legislative requirements, including the recent EN303645 standard. We expect IAR Embedded Workbench, coupled with C-Trust for security, to be the IDE of choice for engineers to realize their full potential in next-generation designs.”

The new STM32H7 devices introduced are the STM32H723/733STM32H725/735, and STM32H730 Value-Line MCUs, which are available in various package options. 

Further Tech Details

Each of the new devices is based on the Arm Cortex-M7 core running at a fast frequency of 550 MHz and features single-core architecture to deliver cost-effective advanced performance. 

Further features that let designers maximise performance, energy efficiency and flexibility in diverse applications include:

  • 32 Kbytes I-cache and D-cache sizes
  • Tightly coupled instruction RAM (ITCRAM) with remapping for zero-latency in time-critical routines
  • ST’s proven FMAC (filtering) and Cordic (trigonometric) blocks for mathematical acceleration
  • Crypto algorithms supported
  • Advanced analogue peripherals including two 16-bit ADCs and one 12-bit ADC in the low-power domain
  • Interfaces to popular industrial connectivity standards, including three FD-CAN ports, Ethernet and Parallel Synchronous Slave Interface (PSSI)
  • ST’s Chrom-ART Accelerator for superior graphics performance

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