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ST Accelerates Motor Control

July 30, 2019

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

STMicroelectronics is shipping new Arm-based MCUs with unique math accelerators for controlling electric motors, industrial machines, and digital power supplies. The STM32G4-series is also unusually well equipped with mixed-signal peripherals, such as analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), digital-to-analog converters (DACs), pulse-width modulators (PWMs), comparators, and op amps. Integrated flash memory, SRAM, security, and I/O interfaces round out these devices.

The CPU is a 32-bit Cortex-M4F with a floating-point unit (FPU) and memory-protection unit (MPU). Its maximum clock frequency is 170MHz, which is typical for an MCU in this class. Some models have up to 512KB of flash memory, up to 160KB of SRAM, and an extended operating-temperature range of –40º to +125ºC. They’re power efficient in active and standby modes, and they come in a variety of packages from 5mm to 14mm. Our survey of distributors found unit prices that will likely fall to the $2–$5 range for 1,000-piece volumes.

The STM32G4 primarily targets motor control, digital power supplies, industrial equipment, and test-and-measurement instruments, but it can also serve in other types of embedded systems. Even at its maximum clock speed, it typically draws only about 27mA when active and 720 nanoamps (nA) in standby while sustaining the real-time clock. Thus, it’s suited to battery-powered designs that mostly sleep as well as to line-powered systems.

Assuming that other MCUs will employ Arm’s CMSIS-DSP software library for trig functions, ST’s math accelerators should deliver superior performance in applications that frequently call those functions. The STM32G4 also has more analog peripherals, smaller packages, and lower prices than similar MCUs from other vendors.

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