Renesas Electronics Corporation announced a total of 15 new products in the RZ/A1 Group of embedded microprocessor (MPU) solutions (with subcategories RZ/A1H, RZ/A1M, and RZ/A1L) for creating sophisticated human-machine interface (HMI) implementations for the “smart society” of the future. These are the first products to appear in the new RZ Family of embedded MPUs, announced by Renesas in October 2012 under the slogan “the fusion of control and IT.”
Key features of the new products include 10 megabytes (MB) of on-chip RAM and capabilities needed to implement an HMI, such as camera input, hardware accelerated graphics output, OpenVG 1.1 and audio functions. Since there is no need for additional external memory (DRAM), developers of new products can implement a WXGA-resolution (1,280 × 768 pixels) graphics display without concerns about the long-term procurement of DRAM, while achieving improved system performance, reduced power consumption, and lower system cost overall. In addition, the use of a CPU designed by ARM® allows developers to take advantage of the ARM ecosystem [which refers to the formation of a large business by leveraging a single CPU architecture by bringing together development environments including OSes, compilers, and debuggers; developers; and solution providers. Applying the term “ecosystem” to the IT business expresses the notion of similarity with an ecosystem in nature], contributing to shorter system development cycles and a reduction in development costs.
Detailed features of the RZ/A1 Group
(1) DRAM-less solutions with large-capacity on-chip RAM, eliminating concerns associated with external DRAM while contributing to improved system performance and reduced cost
The new products come with the most on-chip RAM in the industry: 10 MB. This large on-chip RAM capacity means that the internal memory is sufficient to handle instruction codes during program execution and large volumes of image data required for HMI applications such as graphics processing. Therefore, there is no need for external DRAM. This means that in addition to eliminating concerns regarding DRAM procurement, the overall system cost is less because a smaller mounting area is sufficient as fewer chips are needed; power consumption and the generation of electromagnetic noise are reduced; the cost of the printed wiring board is lowered; and a less expensive power supply can be used because no dedicated power supply is required for the DRAM.
(2) Combination of ARM CPU and peripheral functions exclusive to Renesas for excellent scalability
Moving forward, implementing increasingly sophisticated networking functions and higher resolution HMI functions will demand more powerful software and associated development environments, in addition to hardware. This is why the new RZ/A1 Series products employ ARM CPUs, which benefit from a global ecosystem of development tools and software, alongside peripheral functions that have been inherited from the Renesas SH7260 Series, which has a proven track record in a wide range of HMI applications, and further enhanced. This enables developers adopting the new RZ/A1 Series products to make full use of their experience with previous Renesas products in system development.
Developers will also benefit from an even wider range of highly flexible development tools from an array of tool vendors who have provided support for Renesas MCUs in the past.
Furthermore, in an industry first Renesas and ARM are jointly developing a version of the real-time OS of the Cortex™-M, RTX CMSIS (Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard) [RTOS compliant real-time operating system for Cortex-A series processors, the Keil RTX RTOS, which is a royalty-free BSD licensed code and will ship in the ARM Development Studio 5 (DS-5™) toolchain]-RTOS, for the Cortex-A, which provides superior throughput processing performance. This will enable easy porting of application resources developed for the Cortex-M to the Cortex-A and provide performance scalability in fields requiring real-time performance.
“ARM is pleased that Renesas is widening its ARM processor-based product portfolio,” said Keith Clarke, vice president, Embedded Processors, Processor Division, ARM. “Recognizing the importance of the market for automotive and industrial applications, ARM and Renesas have adapted the CMSIS-RTOS RTX to work with ARM Cortex-A series processors for the first time. The combination of Renesas’ deep experience in the embedded business, with ARM’s low-power processor technology and productivity-enhancing software tools, will enable our mutual customers to develop many more attractive solutions for automotive and industrial applications.”
By adding the new RZ Family to the existing RL78 Family, RX Family, and RH850 Family, Renesas aims to deliver a full lineup of solutions for implementing the smart society and the MCU and MPU products to support them. Renesas plans to continue developing new products ranging from the high to the low end in response to the evolving requirements of the market.
Features at a glance
Maximum 10 MB on-chip large-capacity RAM enables more compact system size
Maximum 10 MB on-chip RAM enables image data for two screens of WXGA size image display to be recorded (used as frame buffer) without external SDRAM. Compared to the WVGA size (800 x 480 pixels) display of previous Renesas products, the product can be expanded to WXGA size without adding external SDRAM, enabling a more compact size to be obtained. Since external SDRAM is unnecessary, issues concerning the cost of SDRAM, mounting area, power consumption, noise, stable long-term supply, and so on can also be solved.
High-speed operation of CPU with maximum operating frequency of 400 MHz supports high performance and high functionality of system
To achieve high-speed access to the large-capacity RAM, faster digital audio signal processing, and so on, the maximum operating frequency of the CPU was increased by 1.5 times from the previous Renesas product to 400 MHz. When the RAM is used for program storage, CPU performance can be maximized. Systems with advanced functionality—such as, for example, using voice commands while music is playing or reducing noise in hands-free phone sets—can be supported.
Solutions fusing Renesas’ experience and the ARM ecosystem help shorten prototype development time and reduce development costs
The new product offers to users advanced hardware technology as well as optimal solutions for the human machine interface field that fuse Renesas’ experience in the microprocessor business and the global ecosystem of ARM partners. This contributes to shortened prototype development time and a great reduction in development costs.
Samples of select RZ/A1L and RZ/A1H products will be available from July 2013.