A new class of MCU is on the rise, which is designated by many vendors as the ultra-low-power class. Based on recent product announcements by TI, NXP, STMicroelectronics and others, the ultra-low-power class is quickly ramping up. These new MCUs represent an opportunity for 16-bit and 32-bit performance, but more within the power envelopes and price points of 8-bit MCUs. VDC believes this will hasten the departure of 8-bit architectures as well lead to new MCU device opportunities.
Ultra-low-power is quite relevant for applications such as utility metering, portable instrumentation, intelligent sensing, consumer electronics, medical devices, handheld scanners, etc. The key requirements for many of these applications is extending battery life, reducing cost, and offering capabilities for extended performance. Central to enabling these requirements is the IP processor architecture, and cores offered by ARM such as the Cortex-M0+ are making this possible.
The ARM Cortex-M0 represented ARM’s initial foray into the low-power, low footprint space, but now they have extended it further with the M0+. With a compressed pipeline and optimized memory access, the M0+ reduces energy consumption even further than its M0 brethren. At the same time, the M0+ maintains backward compatibility with the M0 architecture and upward compatibility with the Cortex-M3 and Cortex-M4. VDC believes the adoption of lower power architectures like the ARM Cortex-M0+ will continue to displace 8-bit architectures and transition systems to higher performance capabilities.