ARM Cortex microcontrollers for Digital Signal Control at competitive cost

June 27, 2012 // By Nick Flaherty
STMicroelectronics is now delivering the first samples of its new STM32 F30 and F37 Digital Signal Control (DSC) microcontrollers to major OEM customers.

The STM32 F3 microcontrollers are system-on-chip devices based on the Cortex-M4 core with FPU, and are optimized for efficient handling and processing of mixed signals in circuits such as three-phase motor controls, biometrics and industrial sensor outputs or audio filters. They will help simplify design, cut power consumption and reduce pc-board size in consumer, medical, portable fitness, system monitoring and metering applications.
With versatile analog circuitry and the ARM Cortex-M4 with FPU, the STM32 F3 series provides low to medium memory sizes at competitive cost. The Cortex-M4 with FPU core augments the proven Cortex-M3 CPU with additional Digital Signal Processing (DSP) capability, optimized single-cycle and saturating arithmetic instructions, and Floating-Point Unit (FPU), to boost performance over ST’s STM32 F1 Cortex-M3 devices. It positions the new series between the successful STM32 F1 and the best-in-performance-class STM32 F4, which features the Cortex-M4 with FPU core and large memory capacity combined with high-speed 168MHz maximum CPU frequency for complex applications.
The F3 family comprises four product lines, differentiated according to on-chip memory density and integrated peripherals. The peripherals deliver analog integration with such a 12-bit Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC) offering 5Msamples per second performance. The F30x devices have seven fast comparators with 50ns response time, four programmable gain amplifiers supporting four different gain settings with 1% accuracy, two 12-bit digital-to-analog converters (DACs), and four 12-bit 5Msps analog-to-digital converters (ADCs). This is the fastest ADC performance in any ARM Cortex-M microcontroller, achieving up to 18Msps in interleaved mode. The devices also have two advanced motor-control timers running at up to 144MHz. These allow one microcontroller to manage two motors plus power factor correction (PFC) via its on-chip analog peripherals, in equipment such as home appliances. Among other capabilities of the advanced timers, timing resolution better than 7ns supports new applications such as digital power supplies in telecom infrastructure or data servers, micro-inverters in solar installation and LED lighting.
To help developers optimize code execution time,