RA8 MCUs Take Performance Lead
Author: Bryon Moyer
Renesas’s new RA8 MCU architecture achieves a 21% performance advantage over competitors. Featuring Arm’s new Cortex M85 CPU, its maximum clock frequency doubles from previous versions.
Renesas is the first to launch an MCU based on Arm’s flagship Cortex M model. The first RX8 family member, the RX8M1 (M1), is a single-core design achieving 6.39 Coremarks/MHz with a maximum clock speed of 480 MHz. Active power is just over 300 μW/MHz. Pricing is in the $15 range in 250 unit quantities at one distributor.
The company positions the processor as a mainstream crossover unit, bridging MCUs and MPUs. Target applications include industrial (for which it includes a safety block), consumer, smart home, office automation, and health care. It includes Arm’s Helium licensable SIMD engine for implementing modest AI functions. A security block includes key management, crypto, and secure memory.
Built on a 40 nm process and available now, the M1 competes against models with Arm’s erstwhile flagship in this class, the Cortex M7. Even ones with faster clocks have Coremark performance below that of the RA8. Renesas will have the lead at least until others take up the new CPU.
The higher performance enabled by the M85 supports increased algorithm complexity in applications such as factory automation, robotics, smart consumer devices, smart home systems, barcode and fingerprint scanners, infusion pumps, and CPAP machines. Faster speed with power increasing by a smaller amount also results in higher performance efficiency.
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