NXP unveils MCX general-purpose Arm MCU family with 30x faster machine learning performance

NXP has announced a new MCX general-purpose Arm Cortex-M MCU family designed for advanced industrial and IoT edge computing and integrating an NXP neural processing unit (NPU) capable of delivering over 30 times higher performance than running the AI inference tasks on an Arm Cortex-M33 core alone.

The new MCX portfolio builds upon the earlier NXP LPC and Kinetis microcontroller families, but does not replace these, and aims to improve machine learning performance and security for a variety of applications including machine learning, wireless, voice, motor control, analog, and more.

NXP MCX MCU family

The new MCX family will be available in four series:

  • MCX N Advanced series
    • Designed for secure, intelligent applications
    • 150 MHz to 250 MHz
    • Neural processing unit (NPU) and DSP for real-time inference
    • EdgeLock Secure Subsystem
  • MCX A Essential series
    • Optimized to provide critical functionality for applications such as motor control
    • 48 MHz to 96 MHz
    • Built-in timers, low pin count, single pin power supply
    • Optimized for cost-constrained applications
  • MCX W Wireless series
    • MCU with low-power narrowband connectivity, including Bluetooth Low Energy
    • 32 to 150 MHz
    • On-chip integration to reduce BOM cost
  • MCX L Ultra-Low Power series
    • Designed for power-critical applications.
    • 50 to 100 MHz with an optional 50% boost
    • Lowest active power and leakage of the MCX family

NXP MCX NPU performance

The MCX microcontrollers will be supported by the MCUXpresso software and tools just like the Kinetis and LPC MCUs, as well as the eIQ ML SW development environment for AI inference on the MCX N Advanced series with an NPU, and other MCX microcontrollers using the Cortex-M core. NXP has not provided detailed specifications and documentation just yet, and timed the press release for Embedded World 2022, where they’ll showcase the MCX W series next week.

The company stresses that MCX will not replace the Kinetis and LPC families which they’ll keep on selling:

The MCX portfolio is not a replacement for Kinetis and LPC portfolios. MCX is a new NXP portfolio that was purpose-built based on our rich history and knowledge of microcontrollers. Our Kinetis and LPC portfolios have been experiencing record demand and are still relevant devices in our industry.

More details should eventually be available on the product page.

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