Freescale introduced the i.MX 7 series – a new generation of power efficient and full featured applications processors based on its successful and broadly deployed i.MX platform, together with Freescale’s new companion PF3000 PMIC, for secure and power efficient end-products for the wearable computing and Internet of Things (IoT) eras.
The i.MX 7 series delivers core power efficiency of 15.7 DMIPS/mW, a new Low Power State Retention mode (LPSR) of 250 μW and the industry’s first general purpose microprocessor family to incorporate both the ARM Cortex-A7 and the ARM Cortex-M4 cores.
Freescale’s i.MX 7 series processors are ideal for a host of applications including wearables, secure point-of-sale equipment, smart home controls, industrial products and a vast array of innovative IoT solutions. The i.MX 7 series also continues Freescale’s industry leading support for the e-Reader market via integration of an advanced, fourth-generation EPD controller.
The first members of the series are the new i.MX 7Solo and i.MX 7Dual product families, which feature Cortex-A7 cores operating up to 1 GHz and a Cortex-M4 core operating up to 266 MHz. The Cortex-A7 and Cortex-M4 achieve processor core efficiency levels of 100 μW /MHz and 70 μW /MHz respectively. All of the cores can be individually power enabled to perform as needed. This performance-on-demand architecture allows the i.MX 7 series to run Linux, graphical user interfaces, wireless stacks or other high-bandwidth data transfers with one or both of the Cortex-A7 cores. When high levels of processing are not needed, the work can be transferred to the smaller, lower powered Cortex-M4, enabling the power gating of the Cortex-A7 core.
Through the use of an advanced 28nm ultra low leakage process technology and discrete power domain architecture, the LPSR mode consumes only 250 μW, representing 48 percent power savings versus competition, while supporting DDR self-refresh mode, GPIO wakeup, and memory state retention. Creating a system with power efficient processing and low power deep sleep modes enables a new tier of performance-on-demand, battery operated devices requiring smaller batteries and becoming lighter and cheaper.
High bandwidth connections are provided through a variety of interfaces such as PCIe and Dual Gigabit Ethernet with AVB support. Both of the new i.MX 7 processors support the performance and power driven range of external memories including eMMC5.0 and Low Power-DDR3, meeting higher bandwidth applications.
Exceptional security for the Internet of Tomorrow
To address increasingly stringent security requirements for Point-of-Sale and IoT applications, i.MX 7 series products integrate Elliptic Curve Cryptography technology, active tamper detection, secure boot and other hardware-enabled features that help to secure sensitive information. In addition, the i.MX 7 architecture features independently controlled and secured resource domains, which partition to isolate security threats and enable a hardware firewall.
Driving i.MX 7 power still lower: Freescale's new PF3000 PMIC
PF3000 power management IC (PMIC), developed in parallel with and optimized specifically for the i.MX 7 series, provides the highest possible overall system power efficiency. With up to four buck converters, six linear regulators, RTC supply, and coin-cell charger, the PF3000 is engineered to support all specified i.MX 7 use cases and conditions. PF3000 PMIC is a fully integrated solution enabling system-level power efficiency by optimizing power delivery not just to the processor, but also to peripherals and various types of system memory resources in an overall component solution size of less than 100mm^2. The PMIC supports one-time programmable memory for controlling startup sequence and output voltages with no external components required. Best in class light load efficiency combined with user programmable Standby, Sleep/LPSR, and Off power modes maximize the i.MX 7’s industry leading low power performance. Incorporated into multiple i.MX 7 reference designs and featuring a single price point extensible across multiple cores, operating frequencies and memory types, the PMIC also helps streamline development and lower overall bill of materials costs.
Freescale offers extensive enablement support for the i.MX 7 series and leverages the broad ARM ecosystem to enable customers to get to market faster. The i.MX 7 series is supported by the SABRE board for smart devices, which comes with the PF3000 PMIC, Wi-Fi 11ac/abgn, Bluetooth 4.1 and an SD card preinstalled with the Linux operating system. Android™ OS is also available from Freescale.
Samples of the i.MX 7Solo and i.MX 7Dual applications processors are available now with full production planned for November 2015
Source: Freescale Semiconductor