Renesas Launches RA6M4 Cortex-M33 Microcontrollers for Secure IoT Applications

Arm Cortex-M33 core with Arm Trustzone security was first unveiled in 2016, and since then several silicon vendors introduced secure Cortex-M33 microcontrollers with, for instance, Nordic nRF91 LTE-IoT SoC, STMicro STM32L5 MCU family, or NXP LPC551x/S1x.

Renesas has now added one more alternative with RA6M4 Cortex-M33 microcontroller family clocked at up to 200 MHz with increased performance and security compared to their earlier Cortex-M4 RA6 microcontrollers clocked at 120 Mhz.

Renesas RA6M4 Cortex-M33 MCU

Key features for RA6M4 microcontrollers:

  • MCU Core – Arm Cortex-M33 @ 200 MHz with TrustZone technology
  • Memory – 256 KB RAM include 64KB ECC RAM
  • Storage – 512-1024 embedded flash, QuadSPI, and OctaSPI memory interface
  • Networking – Ethernet controller with DMA
  • USB – USB 2.0 Full Speed and CAN
  • Other Peripherals
    • Capacitive touch sensing unit
    • SCI (UART, Simple SPI, Simple I2C), and SPI/ I2C multi-master interface
    • SDHI and SSI (Serial Sound Interface)
  • Security
    • Renesas’ Secure Crypto Engine supporting multiple symmetric and asymmetric cryptography accelerators, advanced key management, security lifecycle management, tamper detection, and increased resistance to side-channel attacks
    • Arm TrustZone
  • Supply Voltage – 2.7-3.6V
  • Power Consumption – 99uA/MHz while running CoreMark from flash
  • Package – 64-pin to 144-pin LQFP
  • Process – 40nm

RA6M4 Block Diagram

Renesas provides a  Flexible Software Package (FSP) that backward compatible with earlier RA6 (RA6M1, RA6M2 and RA6M3) microcontroller, and including FreeRTOS and middleware with a device-to-cloud option for developers. Developers can also use the e2 studio Integrated Development Environment for module selection and configuration, code development, code generation, and debugging.

Renesas EV-RA6M4 evaluation kit offers a way to easily evaluate the new microcontrollers and get started with software development.

The kit includes the top-end R7FA6M4AF3CFB MCU with 1MB flash, 256kB SRAM, as well as 64MB external Octo-SPI flash, 32MB external Quad-SPI flash, Ethernet, debugger, and access to all I/Os.

Many years ago, I worked with NEC microcontrollers around the time they were bought by/merged with Renesas, and my younger self did not know how good I had it with support and documentation until we had to move to Holtek microcontrollers due to cost pressures. Hopefully, they have kept it up with documentation, and I can see plenty of documentation on the board’s product page.

Typical applications include wired Ethernet, enhanced security (fire detection, burglar detection, panel control), metering (electricity, automated meter reading), robotics, home appliances, vending machines, etc…

EK-RA6M4 evaluation kit is available now for $162, but I could not find pricing for the microcontrollers just yet. Further information may be found on the product page.

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