TI adds network accelerators to boost Sitara microcontrollers

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By Nick Flaherty

Texas Instruments has launched a family of microcontrollers with a range of dedicate hardware accelerators to boost perfornace in real-time control, networking and analytics applications at the edge.

The Sitara AM2x family, built on a 16nm FinFET process, includes a 400MHz ARM CortexM4 core and 1, two or 4 ARM Cortex-R5F realtime cores. The family is divided into sub-families based on the number of R5 cores. The first sub-family to ship is the AM243x with R5F cores, each running up to 800 MHz with a power envelope of 1W. This gives the R5F core block up to 6,400 real-time Dhrystone MIPS.

This also takes some of the blocks from the existing AM3x series of processor that uses the ARM Cortex-A8 processors with high level operating systems and brings them down to the real time controllers with real time operating systems.

The Sitara AM243x MCUs integrate sensing and actuation peripherals to enable low-latency real-time processing and control for factory automation as well as communications accelerators to simplify industrial networking using existing software support of multiple gigabit industrial Ethernet protocols and time-sensitive networking (TSN) with certified protocol stacks to support EtherNet/IP, EtherCAT, PROFINET and IO-Link Master taken from the Industrial Communication Subsystems (ICSS) gigabit networking engine in the AM3x.

The AM243x has two ICSS engines, each with three dedicated RISC Cores for general purpose, real time and transmit functions. There are two 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports with eight banks of 30 × 32-bit register scratchpad memory, interrupt controller and task manager and two 64-bit Industrial Ethernet Peripherals (IEPs) for time stamping and other time synchronization functions. The ICSS also includes 18 Sigma-Delta filter with six mMulti-protocol position encoder interfaces and a 16550-compatible UART with a dedicated 192-MHz clock to support 12-Mbps PROFIBUS

The ICSS blocks are linked by a proprietary shared memory architecture says Sonia Ghelani, Business Manager for the Sitara MCU range. Other accelerators will be connected to the M4F and R5F controller blocks using an appropriate interface, she says.

On-chip security features on the AM243x MCUs support the latest encryption requirements, and integrated functional safety mechanisms, diagnostics and collateral help enable system integrators to target up to Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 3 of the IEC 61508 standard with their industrial designs.

The microcontroller family also supports low power interface to LPDDR4 external memory and 12bit, 4Msample/s analogue to digital converter (ADC).

The range is potentially quite complex, so TI has developed the Sitara AM243x LaunchPad Development Kit, enabling the quick evaluation of high-performance MCUs for less than $100. With this evaluation tool and the Sitara MCU+ software framework, developers can immediately start using the precision real-time control and out-of-the-box networking capabilities in the AM243x MCU.

Preproduction versions of the AM2431, AM2432 and AM2434 are now available on in a 17-mm-by-17-mm or 11-mm-by-11-mm package. Pricing starts at US$6.05 for 1,000-unit quantities. The AM243x LaunchPad Development Kit is also available on for US$89.

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