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Date: 05-06-22

Top 5 low power MCUs - secure high processor performance per watt

In your electronic product design's power consumption budget, if the share of power consumed by microcontrorller is higher and important, then naturally you look for selecting a microcontroller consuming as low power as possible without compromising on performance. Example, if you're designing a health monitoring device running on battery, selecting a lowest power consuming microcontroller is necessary. So you may finally start hunting for low-power micrcontrollers in the market.

In some applications microcontroller need to process the data at normal to full capacity only for a short period of time, where as in some cases microcontroller churns out a lot of data processing 90% of the time, switching to no work/sleep mode for a very less percentage of its operation time. So your selection of microcontroller chip depend on these design requirements.

The key technology trends in microcontrollers to save power includes, multiple power modes of operation, wide operating voltage and ability to operate at very low voltage and also the time microcontrollers required to shift from one mode to other mode.    

Some of the microcontrollers may consume more power but provide a lot of functions internally in the chip, so that you can save the board from using those external components and the power consumption of those parts.   

To save your time, and also to keep you more informed, we try to provide a list of micrcontrollers  consuming very low-power.  Applications such as wearables, industrial IOT consumer IOT, safety and security devices, medical electronics, smart home, and farming equipments are some of the examples where low-power microcontrollers need to be used. We selected and  listed these below low-power microcontrollers available in the market.

1. Ambiq’s Apollo4 Plus
 This is the ARM Cortex M4 microcontroller with up to 2MB of MRAM and 2.75MB of SRAM. It can be used both as application processor and a co processsor. Suggested for extreme low-power applications such as smartwatches fitness bands, and any such wearable applications.  Has built-in features such as graphic accelerator, deep sleep mode support with selectable levels of RAM/cache retention, Secure boot, onchip audio processing, ample amount of clock sources, temperature sensor,  and low-power consuming serial interface peripherals. This chip nearly satisfies your wish list for low-power wearable and tracking applications.  

For more details visit https://ambiq.com/apollo4-plus/


2. e-peas EDMS105N power-optimized 32-bit MCU

If you think ARM Cortex M4 is too much for your processing requirements and ARM Cortex M0 is powerful enough to handle your application. You have this microcontroller EDMS105N from e-peas, a company exclusively focusing on power consumption.
EDMS105N is powered by 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0, 24 MHz operating frequenc, operating with a supply voltage of 1.8 V to 3.3V. This chip boasts an active current of 18 µA/MHz,  and a deep sleep current of 340 nA. Other functions and Peripherals packed inside the chip include, DMA controller, buck converter, LDO. The internal memory available include  256 kB of non-volatile single-cycle flash memory with instruction cache and 32 kB of SRAM memory. The application suggested include smart home, smart building, smart sensor, industrial monitoring, asset tracking, and medical electronics

To learn more about this product visit https://e-peas.com/microcontroller-edms105n/

3. Onsemi’s Bluetooth MCU RSL 15

One more  high performing  microcontrorller to join this group is RSL 15 from On Semiconductor. The interesting part of this IC is it has Bluetooth radio. In sleep mode, power performance of RSL 15 chip ranks highest compared to any other device in the market. While operating at a voltage of 3V, sleep mode current rating of this device is 36 nA. RSL 15 chip is powered by ARM Cortex M3 and integrates Bluetooth low energy 5.2.
The operating voltage range is 1.2 V to 3.6 V.  This means it can be  powered from a single 1.5V silver oxide battery.  This microcontroller is suggested for broad range of applications from smart toothbrushes to robots. The data sheet lists 40+ applications. The peripherals and other functions packed include DMA, SPI, UART, ADC, buck-converter and LDO, flexible clocking functions, security functions and temperature sensor. The security function called ARM CryptoCell −312 allows for end −to−end product security with Secure Boot with Root of Trust, secure lifecycle management, secure key management, and application and data encryption using symmetric or asymmetric cryptography.

For more details visit the page:
https://www.onsemi.com/products/wireless-connectivity/wireless-rf-transceivers/rsl15
And datasheet is available at:
https://www.onsemi.com/pdf/datasheet/rsl15-d.pdf


4. Renesas’ New RA 2E2 MCU

The leading microcontroller vendor Renesas is offering its most energy-efficient MCU RA2E2 which is part of its RA family of ARM Cortex M based microcontrollers.  RA2E2 is powered by  48MHz ARM Cortex-M23 core with 2kB Data Flash to store data as in EEPROM.
This MCU design to operate from a wild operating voltage of 1.6 V to 5.5V. The internal functions include 12 bit ADC, temperature sensor, PWM timer, UART, SPI, and I2C and security and encryption functions.  This device measures 4mm x 4mm in size.
The power consumption in sleep mode is not that good compared To the some of the other listed in this article.

For more details visit the site https://www.renesas.com/us/en/products/microcontrollers-microprocessors/ra-cortex-m-mcus/ra2e2-48mhz-arm-cortex-m23-ultra-low-power-general-purpose-microcontroller#overview

5.  STMicroelectronics'  STM32U5
STMicroelectronics has a legacy of producing very low-power microcontrollers since many years. However recently others could slightly overtook ST made microcontroller chips in low-power performance. The key features of its families include dynamic voltage scaling, which optimizes energy consumption according to the workload, and the ST ART Accelerator to read Flash memory efficiently.

STM32U5 is powered by ARM Cortex M33 core  running at 160 MHz and is designed for applications such as wearables, personal medical devices, home automation, and industrial sensors. Featuring powerful cybersecurity,  STM32U5 consumes a current  of 110 nA in shutdown mode, 300 nA in standby mode and down to 19 µA/MHz in active mode. This device also features  ST ART Accelerator working both on internal and external Flash.  The built-in functions include USART, SPI, I2C, low-power DMA, camera interface, ADC, Cambridgeshire sensor, USB-C, CAN-FD, op-amp, comparator, ADV and security functions. STMicroelectronics said it has achieved Arm PSA Certified Level-3 and SESIP3  embedded security certifications for STM32U5 General-Purpose MCUs.   STM32U5 is suppose to be the first MCU  with default support for AzureRTOS. NeoChrom GPU inside some of the STM32U5s optimizes animations such as flips, spins, scaling, and zooms basically accelerates texture mapping and alpha blending.
 
To learn more about this product visit
https://www.st.com/en/microcontrollers-microprocessors/stm32u5-series.html

if you are a microcontroller manufacturer/user know better microcontroller product than these above, please let us know.

Below is one more related interesting article on MCU selection:

"ARM Cortex-M3 and M4 Microcontroller selection table "

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