Renesas Goes After Motor Control with Machine Learning Smarts, Launches the RA8T1 Microcontroller

Adding new analog features to the family's existing Arm Cortex-M85, the RA8T1 is the third entry in the growing RA8 microcontroller range.

Renesas has announced a new microcontroller line in its RA8 family, the RA8T1 — offering Arm Cortex-M85 cores with Helium on-device machine learning acceleration in a chip optimized for motor control work.

"The performance of these MCUs is critical in high-speed electric motor control that requires sophisticated algorithms and application software to run in a reliable, safe and secure manner,” says Renesas Daryl Khoo, vice president for embedded processing at Renesas. "The RA8T1 MCUs bring unprecedented CPU horsepower to the portfolio along with Helium technology that allows our customers the additional flexibility to deliver smart (AI/ML) [Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning] solutions without the need for additional hardware."

The RA8T1 launches as the third string to the RA8 bow, featuring the same Arm Cortex-M85 core, running at 480MHz, as its predecessors — and including Arm's Helium extensions, which deliver a claimed fourfold boost to on-device digital signal processing (DSP) and machine learning workloads over the company's earlier Cortex-M7 core.

Unlike its siblings, however, the RA8T1 is described by Renesas as being "optimized for motor control" — thanks to new pulse-width modulation (PWM) timing features including a three-phase complementary output, a double-buffer compare match register, and five phase counting modes, plus analog peripherals including 12-bit analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) and digital-to-analog converters (DACs) alongside high-speed comparators.

Another key feature for motor control work, Renesas says, is port output shutdown support — allowing the microcontroller to automatically shut down a motor in the event of an anomaly being detected. Communication buses include SCI, SPI, I2C/I3C, CAN/CAN-FD, Ethernet, and USB, and the parts can be specified with 1MB or 2MB of dual-bank flash memory and 1MB of static-RAM, including 512kB with Error Correction Code (ECC) support.

As is usual for Renesas' product launches, the company has demonstrated the RA8T1's capabilities in a reference design it dubs a "Winning Combination": a 20kW three-phase Power Factor Correction (PFC) inverter, which combines the RA8T1 with other Renesas parts including the RA6M3 microcontroller, the ISL1208 real-time clock, and the READ2304G op-amp.

More details on the RA8T1 are available on the Renesas website; the parts are now available to order in-channel, with prices starting at $13.47 per unit in tray quantities.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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