NXP Upgrades Industrial-Grade Cortex-M7 MCU with TSN

This article is part of TechXchange: Time for Time-Sensitive Networking

NXP Semiconductors has deployed a family of high-performance microcontrollers that incorporate a gigabit-per-second time-sensitive network switch (TSN), in an effort to expand its footprint in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The new i.MX RT1180 is the latest in the company’s i.MX RT series of high-performance crossover microcontrollers.

With up to five Gb/s Ethernet ports, NXP said the i.MX RT1180 MCU supports a wide range of network protocols for industrial communications, including the latest TSN Ethernet standards, as well as legacy protocols in time real such as EtherCAT, Profinet, Ethernet/IP and CC-Link, among others. The company said the i.MX RT1180 replaces a standalone Ethernet switch, saving board space and reducing costs.

TSN is a set of networking standards that bring real-time, deterministic communication to factories and industrial systems. It provides a shared understanding of time to sensors and other devices so they can connect securely over Ethernet, complementing many legacy protocols used today. With TSN, information (IT) and operational technology (OT) can run on the same network.

Networking event

According to NXP, the i.MX RT1180 is the first in its i.MX RT family to incorporate its EdgeLock secure enclave. NXP said EdgeLock eases the challenge of implementing robust security and intelligence in IIoT devices.

The secure enclave acts as a root of trust with secure boot. It can handle authentication, secure device lifecycle management, and advanced key management for the IIoT.

The modern factory is becoming more and more automated, creating a complex network of network protocols. “Industrial and automotive customers are looking to deliver increasingly advanced networking capabilities and need a solution that not only provides processing power, but can also handle time-sensitive network traffic,” said Jeff Steinheider. , vice president and general manager of industrial edge processing at NXP.

Additionally, the i.MX RT1180 can be used as a networking switch between electronic control units (ECUs) in cars. Cars today increasingly rely on TSN Ethernet for high-bandwidth, real-time control.

NXP is trying to take a larger share of the market for high performance microcontrollers with the reliability and rigor required for modern factories. It competes with companies like Texas Instruments and STMicroelectronics.

Last year, TI rolled out an industrial-grade microprocessor series, the AM243x, which integrates real-time Cortex-R5 and Cortex-M4 processors with a wide range of network and Gb/s Ethernet accelerators.

800 MHz microcontroller + SRAM

The i.MX RT1180, based on a dual-core architecture, tolerates a temperature range of -40 to 125°C. A high-performance 800 MHz Cortex-M7 is paired with a high-efficiency 240 MHz Cortex-M33, which runs in a completely independent secure domain. The chip’s memory subsystem adds a large 1.5MB block of SRAM, along with 512KB of cache in the Cortex-M7 and 256KB in the Cortex-M33.

NXP said the i.MX RT1180 is housed in a 10 x 10 mm or 14 x 14 mm BGA package. The compact footprint makes it easy to integrate into motor control systems, industrial gateways and other equipment.

The microcontroller is also peripheral-laden, NXP said. They include 12x UART, 3x I3C, 6x I2C, 6x LPSPI, 2x FlexIO, 2x USB Gen 2 OTG, 3x CAN FD and two 16-bit analog-to-digital converters (ADCs).

NXP plans to deploy a suite of system configuration tools, an open-source software development kit (SDK) and an integrated development environment (IDE) to facilitate software deployment on the i.MX RT1180.

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