32bit MCUs provide safe, secure communication to machinery
Two groups of 32bit microcontrollers (MCUs), the RX65N and RX651, from Renesas Electronics can be used in industrial sectors, such as networked industrial machinery and building automation. The MCUs can be used to increase the basic performance of industrial systems and add the ability to safely reprogram the MCU’s built-in memory over a network such as wireless local area network (WLAN) or Ethernet.
Changes to machine settings or control programs, can develop systems, with machine control to accommodate changes in the installation environment or end-user requirements.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 has increased the need for secure network connectivity devices in manufacturing environments. Network connectivity makes it possible to monitor the operating state of machinery from both inside and outside the factory, to exchange data and make changes to production instructions, and to reprogram the MCU’s memory to update equipment settings. System manufacturers also need the capability to safely reprogram firmware or data in the MCU’s on-chip flash memory to update machine control functions in a timely manner.
The RX65N and RX651 MCUs are manufactured with an RXv2 CPU core, using a 40nm process for five times the power efficiency of competing MCUs of the same class, claims the company, and significantly extended battery operation time
The core delivers a CoreMark score of 516. Operating current is 15mA (typical), power performance is 34.4 CoreMark/mA – up to five times higher than that of comparable 32bit MCUs in the 120MHz operating frequency class. With 1Mbyte of flash memory and 256kbyte of RAM, software can be developed to run exclusively in internal memory. The built-in memory can accommodate software for communication middleware processing of network connection, as well as buffer areas. This eliminates the need to access external memory results in reduced power consumption, and therefore contributes to further extend the battery operation time.
The core also delivers 1.3 times the processing performance of comparable 32bit MCUs in the 120MHz operating frequency class. This level of performance enables the MCUs to handle communication and added functions that make use of network connectivity, in addition to conventional measurement data operations and sequence control.
Both families also retain legacy communication functions, such as Ethernet, USB, CAN, UART, SPI, and I2C, of the RX63N and RX631 groups. The new MCUs provide a WLAN module connection through an SD host interface capable of 4bit data communication, as well as quad SPI with support for connections to serial flash memory. To manage all required communication stacks, a 256kbyte embedded RAM can be used to handle the buffers.
The AES (advanced encryption standard) and TRNG (true random number generator) hardware modules can be used to encrypt and decrypt communication data, assuring safe data transfer over networks. The area protection function makes it possible to apply protection against overwriting to specified areas when programs in the on-chip flash memory are updated. This prevents the flash memory from being reprogrammed erroneously.
This allows system manufacturers to receive feedback from AI functions using cloud or fog computing, to update machine settings or control functions in a timely manner by reprogramming via a network, or to update machine control functions in response to changes in the installation environment at the request of the end user.
An integrated development environment (IDE) includes software examples and drivers, including the firmware integration technology (FIT) drivers. FIT simplifies embedding peripheral function module drivers and improves the portability between RX MCUs, by offering common API functions to migrate to and from existing products that support FIT, says the company. The device drivers and middleware can be combined and used in the development process with sample source code for peripheral functions supported by a code generation tool. Documentation on incorporating FIT modules, manuals, technical updates, can be updated and referenced using tools linked to an IDE, such as e2 studio. According to the company, device drivers and middleware can be developed in less time, reducing the development workload of the system overall by approximately 20 per cent.