NXP may have just unveiled plans for i.MX 9 processor family with Arm Ethos U65 microNPU, and advanced security using the company’s EdgeLock enclave, but NXP also introduced new members to its popular i.MX 8 series with i.MX 8ULP and i.MX 8ULP-CS (Cloud Secured) processors.
Both processors come with a mix of Cortex-A35 application processor(s) and Cortex-M33 real-time core, as well as Energy Flex low-power architecture and EdgeLock secure enclave, but i.MX 8ULP-CS includes Microsoft Pluton for secure cloud connectivity and lacks 2D/3D graphics and the HiFi 4 audio DSP.
NXP i.MX 8ULP and 8ULP-CS key features and specifications:
- i.MX 8ULP – Up to two Arm Cortex-A35 @ 1.0 GHz and Arm Cortex-M33 @ 216 MHz,
- i.MX 8ULP-CS – One Arm Cortex-A35 @ 1.0 GHz and Arm Cortex-M33 @ 216 MHz
- GPU (i.MX 8ULP only) – 2D GPU, and 3D GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.1, OpenCLTM, Vulkan (both likely Vivante IP blocks, but not specified)
- Fusion DSP @ 200 MHz for low-power voice and sensor hub processing
- i.MX 8ULP only – Cadence® Tensillica® Hifi 4 DSP @ 600 MHz for advanced audio, voice and ML processing
- Memory – Up to 896 KB on-chip SRAM, LPDDR3/LPDDR4/LPDDR4X external memory support
- Storage – SPI-NOR, SPI-NAND flash
- Display I/F
- 1x 4-lane MIPI DSI with PHY up to 24-bit RGB (DBI/DPI)
- Color EPD Display
- Camera I/F – 1x 2-lane MIPI CSI with PHY
- Networking – 10/100M Ethernet
- Peripherals – FlexCAN, UART, I2C, FlexSPI, USB OTG, SPDIF/DiGMIC, etc…
- i.MX 8ULP – EdgeLock secure enclave
- i.MX 8ULP-CS – Microsoft Pluton enabled on EdgeLock secure enclave
- Power Management – RISC-V powered Power Management Subsystem (µpower)
- Packages – FCBGA 9.4 X 9.4 mm2; MAPBGA 15 x 15 mm2
- Temperature Range – -40°C – 105°C
NXP will offer support for Linux and Android on the Arm Cortex-A35 core(s), and real-time operating systems on the Cortex-M33 core with FreeRTOS the most commonly used option on other i.MX 8 heterogeneous processors.
Just like in i.MX 9, NXP’s Energy Flex architecture implementation combines heterogeneous domain computing, design techniques, and optimized process technology, 28nm FD-SOI in this case, in order to offer lower power consumption. There’s also a RISC-V power management subsystem that offers more than 20 power modes.
EdgeLock secure enclave aims to simplify complex security implementations, and in i.MX 8ULP-CS specifically contains a Microsoft Pluton to bring Azure Sphere certification and enable ultra-low-power, secure edge to cloud security.