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Friday, November 01, 2019

Renesas consolidates its energy harvesting controller family

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Renesas Electronics has consolidated its energy harvesting embedded controllers into a single family.

The RE Family is based on Renesas’ proprietary SOTB (Silicon on Thin Buried Oxide) process technology, which dramatically reduces power consumption in both the active and standby states, eliminating the need for battery replacement or recharging.

An evaluation kit for the first of the family, the RE01 (formerly the R7F0E embedded controllers), was launched this week to jump start system evaluations for energy harvesting applications.

The RE01 embedded controllers are based on the Arm Cortex-M0+ core, which can operate at clock frequencies up to 64 MHz, and provide up to 1.5 MB of low-power flash memory and 256 KB of SRAM. The RE01 can operate at voltages as low as 1.62 V and the lineup includes three package versions: a 156-pin WLBGA package, a 144-pin LQFP package, and a 100-pin LQFP package. The RE01 also includes an energy harvesting control circuit, an ultra-low power 14-bit A to D converter, and a low power circuit that can rotate, enlarge, or invert graphics data.

"Energy harvesting eliminates the labour and costs associated with battery maintenance and is a key solution contributing to environmental conservation," said Hiroto Nitta, Senior Vice President, Head of SoC Business, IoT and Infrastructure Business Unit at Renesas. "I am extremely pleased that Renesas’ technology innovation with SOTB has enabled these alternative energy solutions, and with the new RE01 Evaluation Kit, Renesas will be making it possible for engineers around the world to quickly start the evaluation. We hope this will accelerate the spread of IoT equipment powered by energy harvesting."

The RE01 Evaluation Kit includes an evaluation board which features an RE01 embedded controller, an interface for the energy harvesting device and a rechargeable battery interface. The Kit also includes an Arduino-compatible interface for easy expansion and evaluation of sensor boards and a Pmod connector to expand and evaluate wireless functionality. 

There is also an ultra-low power LCD expansion board so that users can evaluate display functions faster. The Kit also contains sample code and application notes that serve as references for power management design that eliminates the need for battery maintenance, and driver software that supports CMSIS, Arm’s Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard. 

Sample code for ultra-low power A/D converters, digital filter and FFT (fast Fourier transform) routines, 2D graphics MIP LCD displays, and secure boot and secure firmware update functions for improved security are available. With these features, this kit makes it possible to adopt energy harvesting based on RE01 Group devices at the system level and will accelerate the development of equipment that does not require battery maintenance.

The kit uses the IAR Embedded Workbench for Arm which can use the high efficiency IAR C/C++ compiler, and e2 studio (note 2) which can use the free GNU compiler are available as the developmental environment.

These embedded controllers make it possible for applications to perform highly accurate sensing and data judgement by excluding noise from signal data when they are used as biological monitors or outdoor environmental sensing applications. By eliminating the need for battery maintenance in a wide range of applications, these embedded controllers will contribute to the increasingly widespread use of IoT equipment, such as wearable equipment without the inconvenience of recharging batteries, and sensing applications for homes, buildings, factories and farms, where manual changing or recharging of batteries is difficult.

Renesas will continue expanding the RE Family beyond 2020 with new members including small memory sizes featuring up to 256 KB of flash memory.

www.renesas.com/products/microcontrollers-microprocessors/re.html
www.renesas.com/products/software-tools/boards-and-kits/eval-kits/evaluation-kit-re01-1500kb.html

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