In the 50 years since the advent of the early microcontrollers (MCUs), we have seen continuous advancements in MCU technology, with highly integrated MCUs becoming increasingly powerful—more power efficient, richer in peripherals, safer and smarter. General-purpose 32-bit controllers dominate the MCU market today, and most product portfolios include a wide variety of products optimized for specific applications, ranging from industrial controls to IoT connectivity to precision analog.
Given the maturity, breadth and size of the MCU market today, we can’t help but ask: Does the world need another whole new 32-bit MCU portfolio?
The short answer is “need”. Ultimately, it’s about keeping up with our rapidly evolving technology landscape and meeting the needs of developers and end users.
Modern applications place more demands on MCU platforms than ever before. Creating intelligent edge devices requires addressing complex security challenges, meeting IoT connectivity requirements and power control requirements, while providing advanced machine learning capabilities to process visual and voice input to more accurately predict human intent.
NXP has released a new portfolio of MCX microcontrollers, enabling new era industrial applications and IoT edge computing. For more information on the new MCUs, click here >>
Some applications require dedicated neural processing acceleration to handle machine learning workloads. Some applications require low-power wireless connectivity for IoT devices, extending battery life from months to years. There are also applications that require precision analog capabilities for motor control and industrial automation. Everyone needs the latest security technology to stay ahead of competitors or prevent competitors from cloning. It is also imperative to provide scalable performance, memory and functionality across a broad product portfolio. Every MCU platform must be backed by a rich ecosystem of software and tools to simplify development.
Responding to the needs of new and existing customers, NXP has launched the MCX product portfolio, a new MCU platform that meets developers’ needs for scalability, parallelism, security for a variety of IoT, edge machine learning and industrial automation applications requirements for flexibility, simplicity, and optimized functionality.
Combining two outstanding MCU platforms
NXP has combined the industry-leading LPC and Kinetis MCU families to create an MCX portfolio that combines the features of each family to reshape the future of general-purpose MCUs for smart, connected edge and industrial applications. We build on NXP’s decades of MCU technology accumulation, bringing together the outstanding features, peripherals and functions of LPC and Kinetis to create a new dedicated product portfolio.
Powered by the mainstream and widely used MCUXpresso suite of software and development tools, MCX enables developers to create scalable, intelligent and secure system designs for an exciting future. The MCX product portfolio offers optimized tools, dedicated accelerators, rich analog integration, and a wide range of peripheral and memory options for any power- and cost-sensitive application requiring intelligence, voice, precision motor control, and wireless connectivity.
A quick look at MCX
General-purpose MCU designed for intelligent edge applications
The MCX family offers more memory options and lower power requirements, enabling existing LPC and Kinetis customers to port code to next-generation MCU platforms without starting from scratch, saving engineering investment. New customers can also benefit from the product portfolio’s scalability, simplified system design and developer-focused software during development. Designs are constantly changing, requiring higher performance and more functionality, and MCX customers can also adopt the NXP i.MX RT crossover MCU and i.MX applications processor portfolio for future growth.
Create four series with a unified core concept
MCX general-purpose MCUs feature a high-performance Arm Cortex-M33 core and are built on low-power processing, advanced on-chip security and wireless connectivity technologies. The portfolio also integrates, for the first time, NXP’s new specialized Neural Processing Unit (NPU) for accelerated inference at the edge, delivering up to 30x improvement in machine learning throughput compared to individual CPU cores. Scalable memory options include 4MB of flash backed by a low-power cache, an advanced memory management controller, and 1MB of SRAM for improved real-time performance.
Benefits and Features of the MCX Portfolio
The MCX portfolio debuts four new MCU families that combine scalability, optimized integration and developer-focused software to simplify system design.
The MCX N series of high-performance microcontrollers, dedicated to delivering secure, intelligent applications, includes a family of products that integrate the EdgeLock security subsystem and a dedicated NPU with an efficient computing architecture that enables real-time inference.
The MCX A-Series benchmark microcontrollers provide key functions for a wide range of applications such as motor control, advanced analog functions such as high-precision data conversion that are critical to customers, and fast time-to-market, which are limited in application development, especially when cost is limited. are key factors to consider.
The MCX W series of wireless connectivity microcontrollers provide low power narrowband connectivity, including Bluetooth low energy connectivity. An integrated low-power radio simplifies wireless connectivity for IoT devices, helping extend battery life in small, connected systems.
The MCX L series of ultra-low power microcontrollers are designed for applications with low power requirements. Compared to traditional MCUs, these devices offer industry-leading low static and dynamic power consumption, which will help significantly extend battery life.
MCX MCUs are available in a variety of popular package options, from TSSOP to BGA, ranging from 16-pin to 200-pin, to meet your various system design needs.
Comparison of the advantages of various series of MCX MCUs
Unified development ecological cooperation system
Each MCU in the MCX family is supported by a unified MCUXpresso software and tool suite. The MCUXpresso ecosystem is widely used and developer-centric, providing comprehensive, easy-to-use development tools and enabling software technologies to optimize, simplify and accelerate system development, allowing customers to focus on building their own designs and creating products that stand out.
The MCUXpresso SDK includes key application examples such as asset trackers, beacons, wireless sensors and other devices to help developers get up and running quickly. Using MCUXpresso, existing customers can easily reuse and port their code and save on their engineering investment.
Deal with Diverse Security Threats
Different application use cases have different security threat models. To meet the various needs of different applications, we have designed the MCX product portfolio with a wide range of options.
The MCX N-series high-performance microcontrollers feature an EdgeLock®️ security subsystem, including unalterable core security features. It is part of the silicon root of trust, cryptographic acceleration engine with side-channel protection, key management and device attestation. Pre-configured security and key management policies enable device manufacturers to simplify the authentication process, avoid costly mistakes and save development time.
The W-series microcontrollers feature advanced security features, including cryptographic accelerators that support secure boot, while the A-series microcontrollers offer baseline security features, including lock/unlock and readout protection.
Create the future with MCX
Leverage NXP’s scalable MCX portfolio to optimize and accelerate next-generation development projects for smart, secure edge applications. For more information on the new MCX portfolio, visit nxp.com/mcx or contact a global NXP sales representative.
author of this article
CK Phua, NXP Semiconductors Microcontroller Product Manager. CK joined Philips Semiconductors in 1993 and has held various positions in quality, applications engineering, product engineering and technical marketing. Following Philips, CK joined Freescale in 2012, and Freescale joined NXP after the merger. CK is currently the Product Manager for Microcontrollers in the Edge Processing Business Unit.