Power chip enables ST’s first multicore Linux IoT processor

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By Nick Flaherty

The STM32MP1 multicore microprocessor series combines ARM Cortex-A cores running OpenSTLinux with Cortex-M core for real time control in industrial, consumer, smart home and wearable applications, with a footprint of just 10 mm x 10 mm in a package pitch of 0.5 mm. 

To get low power operation, the supporting STPMIC1 integrates four DC-DC buck converters, six LDOs, a DC/DC boost converter, and USB VBUS and general-purpose power switches, creating a space and BOM savings to supply all required power rails for the STM32MP1 and for other components on the board, particularly in battery-powered applications.

The STM32MP1 series has dual Arm Cortex-A7 application processor cores running at 650MHz and a Cortex-M4 core running at 209MHz, supported by DDR3, DDR3L, LPDDR2, LPDDR3 32/16-bit at 533MHz, which prevents performance bottlenecks and bandwidth issues on MPU systems. On top of this, the STM32MP1 supports a wide range of Flash products: eMMC, SD card, SLC NAND, SPI NAND and Quad-SPI NOR Flashes. Developer code is protected hardware security including ARM’s TrustZone, cryptography, hash, Secure Boot, anti-tamper pins, and a real-time clock.

The 3D Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) in the family provides advanced HMI development, based on OpenGL ES 2.0 interface and native support for Linux and various application frameworks, including Android Qt, for equipment such as industrial control panels to enhance user experiences.The series also embeds a large set of peripherals that can be seamlessly allocated either to Cortex-A / Linux or Cortex-M / Real-time activities. The STM32MP1 devices are available in a range of BGA packages to support the lowest PCB cost structure and use the smallest board space.

“The STM32MP1 brings the strength of the STM32 experience to applications that need MPU compute and graphics support, combined with power efficient real-time control and high feature integration,” said Ricardo De Sa Earp, General Manager of STMicroelectronics’ Microcontroller Division. “Our commitment to consolidating open-source Linux software and microcontroller development support, combined with the longevity that consumer-oriented alternatives cannot equal, establish solid confidence in STM32MP1 for embedded MPU projects.”

For example, by stopping Cortex-A7 execution and running only from the more efficient Cortex-M4, power can typically be reduced to 25%. From this mode, going to Standby further cuts power by 2.5k times – while still supporting the resumption of Linux execution in 1 to 3 seconds, depending on the application.

To accelerate development, ST is demonstrating its commitment to software development with the release of OpenSTLinux Distribution as a mainlined open-source Linux distribution. OpenSTLinux has already been reviewed and accepted by the Linux community: Linux Foundation, Yocto project and Linaro. The distribution contains all the essential building blocks for running software on the application-processor cores.

Enhanced STM32Cube tools, specially upgraded from the STM32Cube package for Cortex-M microcontrollers, features all necessary characteristics – and more — to accelerate microprocessor development using Arm Cortex-A-core MPUs. ST’s solution simplifies setting up MPU projects and configuring the on-chip resources.

STM32MP1 part numbers are in production now, priced starting at $4.84 for orders of 10,000 pieces and pProducts will be available through distributors in March. Two Evaluation boards (STM32MP157A-EV1 and STM32MP157C-EV1) and two Discovery kits (STM32MP157A-DK1 and STM32MP157C-DK2) will be available through Distributors channels in April.

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