New Arm Cortex-M85-based devices bridge gap between MCUs and MPUs

The Renesas RA8 series microcontrollers feature Arm® Helium™ technology which boosts the performance of DSP functions and of AI and machine learning algorithms. A rich set of security features includes cryptographic acceleration and secure boot.

Renesas has introduced what it bills as the world’s most powerful microcontrollers. The new RA8 series MCUs, the industry’s first to implement the Arm Cortex®-M85 processor, produce industry-leading performance measured at 3,000 CoreMark points, or 6.39 CoreMark points/MHz.

The deterministic, low-latency, real-time operation enabled by this high performance allows system designers to use an RA MCU in applications that would previously have required a microprocessor. The new RA8 series is part of the Renesas RA family of MCUs based on Cortex-M processors. Existing designs built for other RA devices can easily be ported to the new RA8 devices.

The new RA8 MCUs deploy Arm Helium technology, which provides up to a four times improvement in DSP and machine learning performance compared to MCUs based on the Cortex-M7 processor. This performance boost can enable designers to eliminate an additional DSP in the system in some applications. 

The combination of high CPU performance and Helium technology also provides a dramatic improvement in the MCUs’ ability to perform AI and machine learning tasks. For instance, the RA8 series MCUs enable edge and endpoint devices to implement natural language processing in voice AI and predictive maintenance applications, using Helium to accelerate neural network processing. The design of AI applications is assisted by Renesas’ provision of embedded AI and TinyML solutions for automotive, industrial and commercial products, based on its Reality AI tools. 

The security of AI and connected devices benefits from the advanced features of the RA8 series MCUs. The Cortex-M85 core includes Arm TrustZoneŽ technology, which enables isolation and secure/non-secure partitioning of memory, peripherals and code. The MCUs also feature the most advanced Renesas security IP, RSIP-E51A, which provides leading-edge cryptographic accelerators and supports a true secure boot. 

The RA8 series consists of the RA8M1 and RA8D1 groups. The RA8M1 are general-purpose MCUs that address diverse compute-intensive applications in industrial automation, home appliances, smart home, consumer, building/home automation, medical and AI applications.

The RA8D1 MCUs are specialized with a feature set optimized for human-machine interface, graphics, and vision AI systems in the industrial automation, home appliances, smart home, consumer, home and building automation, and medical/healthcare market segments. 

All RA8 MCUs are supported by the Renesas Flexible Software Package (FSP). The FSP enables faster application development by providing all the infrastructure software needed, including multiple real-time operating systems, a board support package, peripheral drivers, middleware, and connectivity, networking, and security stacks. It also includes reference software for building complex AI, motor control and cloud designs.

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