TAIPEI—Freescale Semiconductor is expanding its portfolio of ARM-based micro-controllers (MCUs) for the emerging market for Internet of Things (IoT), promising to offer 110 ARM MCUs by the end of 2013, up from 66 Kinetis L series devices offered here today.
For IoT devices, which depend on ultra-low power consumption, Freescale is shipping its ARM Cortex-M0+ in a 5-by-5 millimeter quad-flat no-lead (QFN) package today, with its chip-scale package measuring just 1.9-by-2.0 millimeter due out next month (see figure).
IoT devices often run on battery power, requiring the most energy efficient power management as well as an ultra-small form factor, but also often require a 32-bit microcontroller to perform the kind of realtime data processing expected from smart IoT devices. Freescale was first to the market with ARM's super energy efficient Cortex-M0+ processor core, and is now aiming to follow up with the widest breadth of options for its Kinetis 32-bit family of MCUs in 2013.
"By incorporating a tiny, energy-efficient, affordable Kinetis 32-bit "brain," devices that have typically been standalone and "dumb" are ripe for connection to the rapidly expanding IoT," said Geoff Lees, vice president and general manager of Freescale's MCU business.
Freescale's ARM-based Kinetis microcontrollers are available today in a 5-by-5 millimeter package, but next month will debut in a 1.9-by-2 millimeter chip-scale package.
Freescale claims its Kinetis KL02 family is the world's most energy-efficient 32-bit microcontroller with its power-stingy ARM Cortex-M0+ core, consuming just 36 microAmps per MHz in low-power run mode. The KL02 family offers 10 power modes in all, clock and power gating, and power-smart peripherals including a 12-bit analog-to-digital converter, timers, motor controller and low power UART, SPI and I2C interfaces.
Freescale claims its Kinetis 32-bit microcontroller family is gaining design wins in all sorts of connected consumer electronic devices, including wireless sensor nodes, wearable computational devices and healthcare innovations such as ingestible medical sensors that are currently in clinical trials.
I like the idea of wearable wireless devices. I am thinking heart rate, O2 levels, respiration rates, etc while exercising would be a nice use of the technology. Small, light, long battery life come in very handy for these types of applications. I wonder if these could be used for a secure dog or cat collar? Putting one on a loved pet and providing some basic tracking would be nice but I am thinking that would require some sort of infrastructure.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.