First in production with ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs, says ST

June 26, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
ST claims a lead with its STM32F7 microcontrollers, which it says are the first to production with this ARM processor core. ST has announced the STM32F7 Discovery Kit to enable design starts with the MCU series

ST asserts it is the first chip maker to begin volume production of microcontrollers featuring the Cortex-M7 processor: the latest and highest-performing Cortex-M core for advanced consumer, industrial, medical, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices.

The architecture of STM32F7 MCUs combines the Cortex-M7 core with advanced peripherals, giving product designers opportunities to enhance application performance, add new functions, extend battery life, ensure security, and minimise use of external components. The architecture also, ST claims, saves designers’ time in optimising code performance and length, to allow extra focus on creating differentiating features in the end product.

The extensible STM32F7 Discovery kit builds on ARM’s mbed and Arduino ecosystems. The kit comes with the STM32Cube firmware library, as well as direct support from an ecosystem of software-development tool partners and the ARM mbed online community. The Discovery Kit’s open hardware, priced at $49.90, includes WQVGA touchscreen colour display, stereo audio, multi-sensor support, security, and high-speed connectivity. Together with an integrated ST-Link debugger/programmer (no need for a separate probe), unlimited expansion capability is provided through the Arduino Uno connectivity support and immediate access to a large choice of specialised add-on boards.

The STM32F7 devices are in production now, in a range of package options from a 14 x 14 mm LQFP100 to 28 x 28 mm LQFP208, plus 10 x 10 mm 0.65 mm-pitch UFBGA176, 13 x 13 mm 0.8 mm-pitch TFBGA216, and 5.9 x 4.6 mm WLCSP143. Prices start from $6.73 for the STM32F745VE in 100-pin LQFP with 512 kB on-chip Flash (1000).

STM32F7 microcontrollers, ST adds, maximise the advantages of the new Cortex-M7 core over earlier cores such as the Cortex-M4. It has about twice the digital-signal processing (DSP) capability for applications requiring high-speed or multi-channel audio, video, wireless, motion recognition, or motor control. It is also the first Cortex-M core to feature on-chip cache, and is capable of ultra-fast data transfers and high-performance execution from embedded Flash or from external memories such as dual-mode Quad-SPI.

Integrated with the Cortex-M7 core, ST’s advanced peripherals have features such as a dedicated power rail for the USB OTG peripheral, which enables USB connectivity to continue operating while the rest of the chip is powered at 1.8V to save power. The dual clock domain on most peripherals allows the CPU speed to be reduced to minimise power consumption, while keeping the clock frequency unchanged on the communication peripherals.