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© snehitdesign dreamstime.com Components | June 24, 2013

Renesas: First Products of the RZ Family

Renesas Electronics announced a total of 15 new products in the RZ/A1 Group of embedded microprocessor (MPU) solutions (with subcategories RZ/A1H, RZ/A1M, and RZ/A1L) for creating HMI implementations.
These are the first products to appear in the new RZ Family of embedded MPUs, announced by Renesas in October 2012 under the slogan “the fusion of control and IT.”

Key features of the new products include 10 megabytes (MB) of on-chip RAM, the largest capacity in the industry and capabilities needed to implement an HMI, such as camera input, hardware accelerated graphics output, OpenVG 1.1 and audio functions.

Since there is no need for additional external memory (DRAM), developers of new products can implement a WXGA-resolution (1,280 x 768 pixels) graphics display without concerns about the long-term procurement of DRAM, while achieving improved system performance, reduced power consumption, and lower system cost overall. In addition, the use of a CPU designed by ARM® allows developers to take advantage of the ARM ecosystem, contributing to shorter system development cycles and a reduction in development costs.

Thanks to advances in information and communication technology (ICT) and semiconductors, all sorts of products and systems that we use every day, including home appliances, industrial equipment, building maintenance systems, power grids, automobiles, and transport infrastructure, are being connected to networks, and a “smart society” is emerging in which all aspects of our lives are linked to the cloud. Smartphones and tablets are rapidly gaining popularity as interfaces between people and the smart society, and demand is growing quickly for high-resolution displays and touchscreen interfaces for common household appliances and industrial equipment.

Implementing such sophisticated networking and HMI functionality requires high levels of performance and functionality that have been difficult to achieve using MCUs alone, so traditional embedded MPUs requiring external memory (DRAM) have generally been used for such applications. This approach has several downsides, however. The operating frequency requirements of the DRAM complicate the system design; frequent generational changes in DRAM interfaces mean that it is difficult to achieve long-term procurement stability for industrial equipment in particular; mounting area and electromagnetic noise increase; and the increasing sophistication of the equipment creates a growing software development burden.

Renesas is introducing the new RZ/A1 Series as a solution to these problems.

Details of the features of the new products

1) DRAM-less solutions with large-capacity on-chip RAM, eliminating concerns associated with external DRAM while contributing to improved system performance and reduced cost The new products come with the most on-chip RAM in the industry: 10 MB. This large on-chip RAM capacity means that the internal memory is sufficient to handle instruction codes during program execution and large volumes of image data required for HMI applications such as graphics processing.

Therefore, there is no need for external DRAM. This means that in addition to eliminating concerns regarding DRAM procurement, the overall system cost is less because a smaller mounting area is sufficient as fewer chips are needed; power consumption and the generation of electromagnetic noise are reduced; the cost of the printed wiring board is lowered; and a less expensive power supply can be used because no dedicated power supply is required for the DRAM.

In addition, with on-chip RAM there are no bandwidth limitations imposed by the pin counts of the chips. Wide-band, low-latency memory access is possible, enabling overall system performance to be increased by as much as 30 percent to 50 percent.

2) Combination of ARM CPU and peripheral functions exclusive to Renesas for excellent scalability Moving forward, implementing increasingly sophisticated networking functions and higher resolution HMI functions will demand more powerful software and associated development environments, in addition to hardware.

This is why the new RZ/A1 Series products employ ARM CPUs, which benefit from a global ecosystem of development tools and software, alongside peripheral functions that have been inherited from the Renesas SH7260 Series, which has a proven track record in a wide range of HMI applications, and further enhanced. This enables developers adopting the new RZ/A1 Series products to make full use of their experience with previous Renesas products in system development.

Developers will also benefit from an even wider range of highly flexible development tools from an array of tool vendors who have provided support for Renesas MCUs in the past.

Furthermore, in an industry first Renesas and ARM are jointly developing a version of the real-time OS of the Cortex-M, RTX CMSIS (

Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard
)-RTOS, for the Cortex-A, which provides superior throughput processing performance. This will enable easy porting of application resources developed for the Cortex-M to the Cortex-A and provide performance scalability in fields requiring real-time performance.

“ARM is pleased that Renesas is widening its ARM processor-based product portfolio,” said Keith Clarke, vice president, Embedded Processors, Processor Division, ARM. ““Recognizing the importance of the market for automotive and industrial applications, ARM and Renesas have adapted the CMSIS-RTOS RTX to work with ARM Cortex-A series processors for the first time. The combination of Renesas’ deep experience in the embedded business, with ARM’s low-power processor technology and productivity-enhancing software tools, will enable our mutual customers to develop many more attractive solutions for automotive and industrial applications.”

By adding the new RZ Family to the existing RL78 Family, RX Family, and RH850 Family, Renesas aims to deliver a full lineup of solutions for implementing the smart society and the MCU and MPU products to support them. Renesas plans to continue developing new products ranging from the high to the low end in response to the evolving requirements of the market.

Availability

Samples of select RZ/A1L and RZ/A1H products will be available from July 2013.

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