New Industry Products

MCU Family Designed for Smart and Secure IoT Devices

October 16, 2018 by Paul Shepard

Redpine Signals®, Inc. has launched the RS12000 SmartMCU™ , the industry's first family of MCUs designed specifically to meet the high MIPS, memory and security demands of IoT devices, while at the same time improving battery life compared to traditional ARM Cortex-M4 MCUs. These MCUs deliver ultra-low power (19uA/MHz @20MHz) and high performance (1.07GOPS) in a single chip, reducing the overall system cost for smart device development.

The RS12000 SmartMCUs include 2 integrated dc-dc switching regulators, one optimized for high-performance and one for low-power operation. These dc-dc regulators support efficient gear-shifting from 65uA/MHz at 180MHz down to 19uA/MHz at 20MHz. Deep-sleep current is only 600nA.

Based on a unique optimized multi-core IoT processor architecture, the new RS12000 SmartMCU™ family delivers best-in-class performance, ultra-low-power, and highly-secure operation, making it suited for IoT edge-intelligent, voice assistant-enabled, and network and cloud connected devices.

To achieve this, the RS12000 SmartMCU™ family features an ARM Cortex M4F running up to 250MHz, sensor hub DSP coprocessor at 125MHz, a four-threaded network security processor based on Redpine's ThreadArch® running up to 160MHz, and a full suite of analog and digital peripherals.

"Redpine has fifteen-plus years of deep industry experience developing highly differentiated wireless connectivity solutions for the IoT market, and we have fully leveraged that know-how in our new SmartMCU architecture," said Venkat Mattela, CEO of Redpine Signals.

"Existing MCU solutions in the market feature either high-performance or low-power, forcing IoT device designers to choose one mode or utilize multiple MCUs in their designs.  With its unique gear-shifting architecture, Redpine has - for the first time - empowered IoT designers with both high-performance and low-power within a single processor core.

"By combining this architecture with the RS12000 series' best-in-class trusted execution environment, Redpine is accelerating the development of the next generation of intelligent and wireless connected devices with zero compromise on security," Mattela concluded.

Targeted applications include:

  • Smart Watches, Fitness Wearables, Wristbands
  • Bluetooth headsets, Hearables
  • Voice Assistant enabled Speakers and other Voice enabled Devices in the home
  • Smart Locks, Door-bell cameras
  • Motion and Entrance sensors
  • Water Leak monitors
  • Smoke/CO Alarms
  • Smart Electric sockets and adapters
  • Anti-theft/Loss Tags
  • Thermostats and associated sensors
  • Toys
  • Smart Appliances
  • Networked LED lights (indoor and outdoor)
  • Environment sensors, Agricultural sensors
  • Connected Field Devices in Manufacturing (Industrial)

The RS12000 SmartMCU™ family's high-performance configurations feature up to four cores and provide double the processing power, memory, and peripherals by including two gear-shifting ARM Cortex M4 processors and two ThreadArch™ network security processors.

As IoT devices are intended to be connected devices, the integrated network security processor includes the ability to run an embedded TCP/IP stack, offloading the primary M4 processor and providing the IoT designer full access to the M4 processor cycles and RAM.  In addition - a sensor hub coprocessor at 125MHz accelerates DSP processing (CMSIS-DSP) and machine learning (CMSIS-NN) functions within a local sensor data buffer, thereby freeing up the M4 further.

Based on a trusted execution environment (TEE) architecture with a separate network security processor, secure RS12000 SmartMCU products include suite-B Crypto HW accelerators, secure boot, secure firmware upgrade, secure XIP and secure peripherals. Its high-security levels are ideal for applications such as smart locks, medical devices and secure voice-based ordering.

The RS12000 SmartMCU series featuring Redpine's gear-shifting processor architecture and ThreadArch™ 4-threaded network security processor includes the following products:

  • RS12100 - SmartMCU
    • ARM Cortex-M4F up to 250MHz
    • Sensor hub DSP coprocessor up to 125MHz
    • Up to 400KB RAM and 4 Mbytes Flash
  • RS12200 - High-Performance MCU
    • Single-core and dual-core ARM Cortex-M4F versions up to 250MHz
    • Sensor hub DSP coprocessor up to 125MHz
    • Up to 800KB RAM and 8 Mbytes Flash
  • RS12300 - Secure MCU with Trusted Execution Environment
    • Single-core and dual-core ARM Cortex-M4F versions up to 250MHz
    • Sensor hub DSP coprocessor up to 125MHz
    • Up to 800KB RAM and 8 Mbytes Flash
    • ThreadArch™ network security processor at 160MHz
      • UP to 1MB ROM
      • Integrated Security stack
      • Integrated full featured TCP/IP stack
      • Trusted Execution Environment with Secure Boot

The RS12000 SmartMCU series' patent-pending gear-shifting is achieved through hierarchical architecture implemented at every level including big and small bus matrices, switching regulators, clock-sources, memory, GPIOs and peripherals, thereby providing optimized transitions between high-performance and low-power operating modes on the same M4 processor core.

These ultra-low power capabilities enable battery-operated devices such as smart locks, fitness bands, industrial control units, sensors and location tags to have 3-4x the battery life compared with other solutions. The RS12000 series also includes an "always-on" sensor-hub with hardware accelerators for voice-activity detection (VAD), sensor data collection and capacitive touch.

The RS12000 also supports a rich set of digital and analog peripherals including VAD, CAN, Ethernet, eMMC/SD Card, ADC, OpAmps, DAC and USB HS-OTG with PHY. The RS12000 seamlessly interfaces with Redpine's RS9116 wireless connectivity solutions to provide Wi-Fi, dual-mode BT 5 and 802.15.4 connectivity for IoT products.

Redpine Signals offers the RS12000 SmartMCU series in QFN, BGA and WLCSP packages. The RS12000 SmartMCU series products are sampling now with volume production starting in Q1 2019.