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i.MX Processor Hits 3,000 CoreMarks

November 14, 2017

Author: Mike Demler

NXP’s i.MX RT1050 is the first Cortex-M7-based chip to exceed 3,000 EEMBC CoreMarks (CM), surpassing by 50% the previous leader. The new design delivers that performance by enabling its 5CM/MHz CPU to run at a 50% higher clock frequency than its nearest competitor: as fast as 600MHz in 40nm technology.

To develop the new i.MX RT products, NXP started with its i.MX 6ULL family of single-core application processors, which are based on Cortex-A7 and sell in consumer- and industrial-grade models. The RT1050 offers the same connectivity interfaces and system-control functions as its Cortex-A predecessor. It integrates a generic 2D-graphics engine that supports alpha and chroma-key image composition, image rotation, and color-space conversion. The display controller can drive WXGA (1,366x768) LCDs.

Except for eliminating DDR support, the new processor retains the same external-memory interfaces as the 6ULL. It adds an on-chip DC-DC converter, which offers potential bill-of-materials (BOM) savings for designs that don’t use a standalone chip to power other components. But whereas microcontrollers typically employ an embedded-flash process, the RT1050 employs the same 40nm CMOS process as the i.MX 6ULL. It includes 512KB of on-chip SRAM, which is configurable as tightly coupled memory (TCM).

The company positions the RT1050 as an alternative to Cortex-A-based application processors, targeting embedded devices that sport features such as high-resolution displays while retaining the low-power and fast interrupt-response characteristics of a typical microcontroller. But because the chip can’t run a Linux operating system, it will primarily compete against more-traditional high-performance MCUs, including the STMicroelectronics STM32H7-series. These devices are well suited to consumer appliances, cameras, industrial systems, medical equipment, vending machines, and other products employing 2D graphical user interfaces.

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