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New Ultra-Low-Power ARM Microcontroller with Bluetooth

The Maxim MAX32666 is ideal for use in wearables including smart watches and earphones

Designers of wirelessly connected, coin cell-operated internet of things (IoT) products can now reduce bill-of-materials (BOM) costs by one-third while also saving space and battery life with the MAX32666 microcontroller (MCU) from Maxim Integrated (now part of Analog Devices). 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.

Click for Larger Image - New Ultra-Low-Power ARM Micro with Bluetooth from Maxim Integrated “The robust installed base of IoT devices is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12 percent per year through 2030 (from 2015), when it will reach more than 80 billion units,” said Julian Watson, principal analyst, IoT at Omdia. “The critical component for sustaining the growth rate is the continued ability to add functionality for these devices while improving efficiency so that end-users will appreciate their value and convenience. Clearly, Maxim Integrated is aiming to advance IoT ubiquity with its new family of DARWIN microcontrollers.”

The MAX32666 MCU is the latest addition to Maxim’s 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 96MHz, which speeds up data processing by 50 percent over similiar products.

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 2Mbps of data throughput and long range (125kbps and 500kbps) and offers transceiver output power of +4.5dBm programmable down to -95dBm. 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 1MB flash memory and 560KB 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.

“It’s possible to keep adding microcontrollers to any IoT application, but frequent battery replacements conflict with end-user utility and convenience,” said Kris Ardis, executive director for the Micros, Security and Software Business Unit at Maxim Integrated. “By applying the power-saving advantages of wearable technology to the broader spectrum of IoT applications, this new family of processors reduces battery replacements and improves computing performance.”

Features of the MAX32666 dual Arm® Cortex®-M4 microcontroller

  • High-Efficiency Microcontroller and Audio DSP for Wearable and Hearable Devices
    • Arm Cortex-M4 with FPU Up to 96MHz
    • Optional Second Arm Cortex-M4 with FPU Optimized for Data Processing
    • Low-Power 7.3728MHz System Clock Option
    • 1MB Flash, Organized into Dual Banks 2 x 512KB
    • 560KB (448KB ECC) SRAM; 3 x 16KB Cache
    • Optional Error Correction Code (ECC-SEC-DED) for Cache, SRAM, and Internal Flash
  • Bluetooth 5 Low Energy Radio
    • 1Mbps and 2Mbps Data Throughput
    • Long Range (125kbps and 500kbps)
    • Advertising Extension
    • Rx Sensitivity: -95dbm; Tx Power Up to +4.5dbm
    • On-Chip Matching with Single-Ended Antenna Port
  • Power Management Maximizes Operating Time for Battery Applications
    • Integrated SIMO SMPS for Coin-Cell Operation
    • Dynamic Voltage Scaling Minimizes Active Core Power Consumption
    • 27.3µA/MHz at 3.3V Executing from Cache
    • Selectable SRAM Retention in Low Power Modes with RTC Enabled
  • Multiple Peripherals for System Control
    • Three QSPI Master/Slave with Three Chip Selects Each, Three 4-Wire UARTs, Three I2C Master/Slave, Up to 50 GPIOs
    • QSPI (SPIXF) with Real-Time Flash Decryption
    • QSPI (SPIXR) RAM Interface Provides SRAM Expansion
    • 8-Input, 10-Bit Delta-Sigma ADC 7.8ksps
    • USB 2.0 HS Engine with Internal Transceiver
    • PDM Interface Supports Two Digital Microphones
    • I²S with TDM, Six 32-Bit Timers, Two High-Speed Timers, 1-Wire Master, Sixteen Pulse Train (PWM) Engines
    • Secure Digital Interface Supports SD3.0/SDIO3.0/eMMC4.51
  • Secure Valuable IP/Data with Hardware Security
    • Trust Protection Unit with MAA Supports Fast ECDSA and Modular Arithmetic
    • AES128/192/256, DES, 3DES, Hardware Accelerator
    • TRNG Seed Generator, SHA-2 Accelerator
    • Secure Bootloader

For more information on the MAX32666 dual Arm® Cortex®-M4 microcontroller, visit the Maxim Integrated website at Maxim Integrated MAX32666 product page

The Maxim Integrated website address is www.maximintegrated.com.
[Reprinted with kind permission from Maxim Integrated - Release Date 21st July, 2020]