Ultra-low-power microcontroller with BLE 5.2 targets IoT

July 22, 2020 //By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Ultra-low-power microcontroller with BLE 5.2 targets IoT
The MAX32666 dual-core microcontroller from Maxim Integrated Products integrates wireless connectivity to enable designers of wirelessly connected, coin cell-operated internet of things (IoT) products to reduce bill-of-materials (BOM) costs by one-third while also saving space and battery life.

Aimed at the IoT space, this ultra-low-power dual Arm® Cortex®-M4 MCU with floating-point unit (FPU) and Bluetooth Low Energy 5.2 (BLE 5.2) extends the device’s battery life by combining robust memory, security, communications, power management and processing functions traditionally performed by multiple MCUs into a single device.

As IoT applications become more advanced, more MCUs are typically added to the system. Usually these advanced systems include a dedicated processor to handle the application, another processor acting as a sensor hub, a separate standalone BLE microcontroller to handle the wireless connectivity function, and in many cases, a power management IC (PMIC) to efficiently provide supply voltages to the MCUs. However, this approach is proving to be unsustainable for IoT applications that are growing in complexity while still demanding smaller size and longer battery life.

The MAX32666 MCU is the latest addition to the smart, function-rich DARWIN family of high-performance MCUs. In contrast to traditional architectures, this MCU reduces form factor and design footprint, enabling IoT device designers to lower BOM costs by consolidating up to three sockets found in their current designs. This dual Cortex-M4F MCU provides efficient computation of complex functions, operating at up to 96 MHz, which speeds up data processing by 50 percent over the closest competitor. To replace the need for a separate PMIC, the MAX32666 features an integrated single-inductor, multiple-output (SIMO) regulator, which extends the life for small-sized battery applications.

The MCU offers BLE 5.2, supports up to 2 Mbps of data throughput and long range (125 kbps and 500 kbps) and offers transceiver output power of +4.5 dBm programmable down to -95 dBm. It also protects applications from cybersecurity threats with trust protection unit (TPU) and big math acceleration for fast Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA). The IC’s hardware accelerators provide AES-128, -192 and -256 encryption, while TRNG seed generator and SHA-2 accelerator enhance security. It also protects IP firmware with secure bootloader.

The MAX32666 has an impressive on-board memory capacity with up to 1-MB flash memory and 560-KB of SRAM with optional Error Correcting Code (ECC) for the most robust applications, as well as multiple high-speed peripherals. It can manage more data and accommodate bigger applications without running out of code space through efficient operation – all within a best-in-class power profile.

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