Nuvoton’s New Microprocessors Target Industrial HMI Applications


Nuvoton has announced a new microprocessor unit (MPU) targeting advanced human-machine interface (HMI) applications. 

 

The Nuvoton MA35H0 series (shown here on its evaluation board) improves processing performance for responsive HMI processing. 
 

While MPUs are not necessary for all applications—especially those requiring faster response times or small, embedded processors—MPUs provide a mid-tier computing option to solve complex problems without the power of traditional computers. This article takes a closer look at the new Nuvoton MPU and gives readers a sense of how it stacks up against other MPUs and microcontrollers.

 

The MA35H0 Hones a Focus on Computing, Not Controlling

The MA35H0 series of Nuvoton MPUs are microprocessors, not microcontrollers. While the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, microprocessors typically place a greater emphasis on computing versus controlling.

This focus can be seen in the MA35H0 series’ specs (datasheet linked). For example, the MPUs support high-resolution displays, megabit Ethernet, and various communications protocols to integrate with external peripherals easily. The devices also feature powerful computing capabilities compared to garden-variety microcontrollers, supporting a 650 MHz clock with two Arm cores.

 

Nuvoton MPUs place more emphasis on computing

Compared to microcontrollers, the Nuvoton MPUs place more emphasis on computing and processing power than peripherals, allowing them to target different applications. (Click image to enlarge)
 

Compared to a humble Arduino or other MCUs, the MA35H0 series of MPUs sports more raw computing power for more advanced applications. Even so, the devices integrate fewer peripherals on a chip, requiring more board space and BOM cost to control external components. This tradeoff makes the MPUs better for compute-heavy applications.

 

Processing for Industrial HMI

Under the hood, the MA35H0 series contains two 64/32-bit Arm Cortex-A35 cores with a clock speed of up to 650 MHz. In addition to the 32 KB per core of L1 and 512 KB of L2 cache, the MPUs include 128 MB of internal DDR SDRAM, removing the need for dedicated external memory by bringing more into the 24 mm2 package.

The MA35H0 series also supports DSP applications with built-in hardware floating point units. In terms of security, the MA35H0 supports Arm TrustZone secure boot, multiple cryptographic accelerators, and an isolated OTP memory to remove the potential for a compromised CPU to access sensitive data.

The MPUs can also support 2D graphics and video, with a resolution of up to 1280 × 800 at 60 FPS. This provides an avenue to interact with users, further improving the chip’s potential in industrial HMI applications. The MPUs are available now, along with an evaluation board for designers looking to test drive the performance of the series.

 

A Useful Middle-of-the-Road Processing Option

The new chip series offers designers a new tool when developing products that require fast and responsive human-machine interaction. While the MA35H0 is not a viable replacement for all processors, the chip series does fill an important role between embedded MCUs and full-blown computers. Because of its versatility, the MA35H0 can be used in a wide range of applications, including smart home appliances or medical devices. 

 

 

All images used courtesy of Nuvoton.



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