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ST's 32bit flash MCU promises more design freedom

Posted: 19 Jun 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ST microcontrollers? 32bit flash MCU? design freedom?

STMicro's STM32 flash MCU

STMicroelectronics has cashed in on its early participation in the development of the Cortex-M3, ARM's latest core, with the launch of the STM32 family of 32bit flash MCUs. The new MCU draws power from the Cortex-M3's many enhancements to attain high performance, low manufacturing costs, enhanced energy efficiency and faster time-to-market with ease of use both in system design and software development.

Among the core's specific architectural features key to the STM32's development are its 32bit performance at 8bit costs; Thumb-2 instruction set, which delivers enhanced energy efficiency and better code density; nested vector-interrupt controller with a minimum inter-interrupt latency of six CPU cycles; and tightly integrated peripherals.

The STM32 will release two lines, each addressing specific customer needs. Both feature up to 128Kbytes embedded flash but differ in maximum SRAM size and peripheral combinations. Both lines are pin-to-pin and software compatible. Only seven capacitors are needed, in addition to a power supply, for LQFP100 packaged devices.

Performance, Access lines
The 72 MHz STM32F103 "Performance" line is targeted for the 32bit market, featuring up to 20Kbytes of SRAM and two ADCs (12bit at 1ms conversion time), as well as USB, CAN and PWM timer. The STM32F101 "Access" line, which features clock frequencies of up to 36MHz, is geared for users looking for a device in the price range of 16bit MPUs.

The STM32 family "brings new degrees of freedom" to the MCU market because it offers "the best of both worlds" for designers choosing between a 16bit and 32bit solution, Semir Haddad, 16/32bit marketing manager at ST's MCU business unit, told EE Times-Asia.

The vendor said that by becoming the lead driver of convergence between both MCU markets, the STM32 eliminates the need to make difficult decisions involving compromises between factors such as cost, power and performance, as well as whether to use industry-standard or proprietary platforms.

ST said that while the 16bit MCU market is here to stay, the 32bit's flexible, feature-rich offering is one compelling reason for customers to switch over from a 16- to a 32bit product. "In any market, all customers want to bring innovation... more features into their applications," Haddad said. The company expects low-power capability, ease-of-use and the cost of the STM32 to broaden 32bit usage.

Traditional, emerging apps
The new STM32 family is well suited for traditional applications such as home appliances, industrial automation, and fire alarm and HVAC systems; consumer applications such as bank card readers, biometrics, gaming and digital cameras; and portable applications, especially in emerging technology markets such as health care, where low power consumption is important.

Development tools are now available for the device family, including an evaluation board, a USB developer's kit and a free software library, with starter kits from third-party vendors expected to roll out soon.

Haddad said sampling has begun for the STM32, with the company's lead customers expressing excitement and strong interest for the product. The STM32 should be widely available by the end of the year. Distribution pricing for LQFP devices ranges from $1.80 to $3.60.

- Elizabeth Valdezco
EE Times-Asia




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