Renesas RA8M1 is the world’s first Arm Cortex-M85 microcontroller

Renesas RA8M1 is an up to 480 MHz Arm Cortex-M85 microcontroller with Arm Helium technology to improve DSP and machine learning performance on Cortex-M microcontrollers, and delivering up to 6.39 CoreMark/MHz performance using EEMBC’s CoreMark, or over 3,000 CoreMark at 480 MHz.

The Arm Cortex-M85 core was first unveiled in April 2022 as a faster Cortex-M7 alternative and new Arm Helium technology that delivers machine learning performance similar to Cortex-M55 application processor. We had some teases about the upcoming Renesas Cortex-M85 in the last year, but the world’s first Cortex-M85 microcontroller is finally here.

Renesas RA8M1 Arm Cortex-M85 microcontroller

Renesas RA8M1 key features and specifications:

  • MCU core – Arm Cortex-M85 clocked at 240 to 480 MHz with Helium MVE (M-Profile Vector Extension) with 32KB I/D Caches and 12KB Data Flash
  • Memory & Storage
    • 1MB SRAM with TCM
    • 1MB to 2MB Flash memory
    • External memory interfaces (CS/SDRAM)
  • Camera – 16-bit Capture Engine Unit (CEU) interface
  • Communication interfaces
    • Ethernet controller with DMA
    • USB – USB 2.0 High-Speed and Full Speed interfaces
    • 2x CAN-FD
    • xSPI compliant Octal SPI with XIP & DOTF
    • Up to 6x SCI (UART, Simple SPI, Simple I2C)
    • SPI/ I2C/I3C multi-master interface
    • 2x SSI, 2x SDHI
  • Analog
    • 12-bit ADC and 12-bit DAC
    • 2-ch High-Speed Analog Comparator
    • Temperature sensor
  • System
    • Low power modes
    • Battery backup function (VBATT)
    • Event Link Controller (ELC)
    • Data Transfer Controller (DTC)
    • 8-channel DMA Controller (DMAC)
    • Power-on reset
    • Programmable Voltage Detection (PVD) with voltage settings
  • Timers
    • 32-bit & 16-bit Timers, 32-bit Ultra-Low-Power Timer
    • Watchdog
    • RTC
  • Security
    • ARMv8-M TrustZone Security
    • Renesas Secure IP (RSIP-E51A)
    • On-chip immutable ROM for First Stage Bootloader with hardware Root-of-Trust
    • Octal SPI with Decryption-on-the-fly (DOTF)
    • Secure authenticated debug
    • Secure factory programming
    • Tamper protection
  • Packages – 100-pin to 224-pin packages (LQFP100, LQFP144, LQFP176, BGA224)Renesas RA Family Portfolio 2023

RA8M1 is the first MCU part of the RA8 family and places itself in the mainstream line/low power sub-family. Renesas says the level of performance of the chip will allow designers to use the RA8M1 MCUs in applications that previously required microprocessors (MPUs), and the Arm’s M-Profile Vector Extension provides up to a 4x performance boost for digital signal processor (DSP) and machine learning (ML) implementations versus MCUs based on the Arm Cortex-M7 processor, so it can eliminate the needs for an additional DSP in some applications. The RA8 series also comes with security features that should enable PSA Certified Level 2 + Secure Element (SE), NIST CAVP, and FIPS 140-3 certifications.

The general-purpose Arm Cortex-M85 MCUs from Renesas can expect to be found in a wide range of compute-intensive applications in industrial automation, home appliances, smart home, consumer, building/home automation, medical and AI for applications such as fingerprint scanners, thermostats, PLC, smart meters and home hubs. The company also provides two “winning combinations” , i.e. reference designs, for a smart robot vacuum cleaner and smart glasses based on the RA8M1 microcontroller.


EK-RA8M1 Arm Cortex-M85 development board
EK-RA8M1 evaluation kit

Evaluation of the RA8M1 MCU can done with the EK-RA8M1 evaluation kit featuring the BGA224 package of the microcontroller with access to all I/Os, as well as Arduino, MikroBUS, and Pmod connectors. The microcontroller and board are supported by Renesas’ Flexible Software Package (FSP) with multiple RTOS, BSP, peripheral drivers, middleware, connectivity, networking, and security stacks as well as reference software.

Renesas RA8M1 MCUs are available now, but I was unable to find pricing information right now, and the EK-RA8M1 evaluation kit (RTK7EKA8M1S00001BE) is selling for $67.42 and up. Further information, including technical documentation, may be found on the product page and in the press release.

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8 months ago

It seems that CPU core with coprocessors and accelerators are main benefits of this MCU. Peripherals are very similar to existing Renesas MCUs and there are almost nothing new. To me it seems like minor upgrades. I lack any display interface + “GPU”.

According they will also soon release (most probably low power) RA2E3 family which according to header file looks like competitor for STM32C0.

8 months ago
8 months ago

Arm did not say when we can expect Cortex-M85 microcontrollers, but there can be a lag of one or two years after an Arm core is announced for silicon from partners to become available.

You weren’t kidding. 🙂

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