SparkFun Taps Renesas for Its New, High-Performance Bluetooth Low Energy Thing Plus RA6M5 Board

With an Arm Cortex-M33 core running at up to 200MHz and a total of 18MB of flash storage, the latest Feather Plus is a real powerhouse.

Gareth Halfacree
2 months agoInternet of Things / HW101

SparkFun's Thing Plus development board family grows once again with the launch of the Thing Plus RA6M5, built around the Renesas RA6M5 microcontroller — delivering high performance and a total of 18MB of flash memory, expandable via microSD card.

"We are pleased to announce our newest Thing Plus Development board," SparkFun's Chris McCarty says of the company's latest board release, "this time featuring the RA6M5 200MHz Arm Cortex-M33 module from our friends at Renesas! The SparkFun RA6M5 Thing [Plus] is a high-performance, Qwiic-enabled pocket development board perfect for real-time applications."

SparkFun's latest Thing Plus board uses the Renesas RA6M5, giving it plenty of performance for real-time tasks. (📹: SparkFun)

The Renesas RA6M5 at the heart of the board features a single 32-bit Arm Cortex-M33 core running at up to 200MHz with 512kB of static RAM (SRAM) with error correction code (ECC) support, 8kB of data flash, and 2MB of program flash memory — expanded by an additional 16MB flash module on the main board itself. 21 of the chip's general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins have been brought out to breadboard-friendly pin headers, including up to six 12-bit analog to digital (ADC) channels, up to two 12-bit digital-to-analog (DAC) outputs, up to two UARTs, and one each of SPI and I2C buses.

Elsewhere on the board is a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) radio, a two-pin JST connector for an optional lithium-polymer battery with charging and fuel gauge circuitry, a four-pin Qwiic connector for solderless expansion, and a one user-accessible button and a WS2812 RGB LED. If the 18MB of flash storage on the board isn't enough, there's also a microSD card slot for storage expansion — and a USB Type-C connector for data and power.

"While the default Arduino core might not utilize every feature," SparkFun admits of the software side of the equation, "experienced users can explore the microcontroller's full potential to create impressive applications."

The SparkFun Thing Plus RA6M5 is available to order on the SparkFun store now, priced at $49.95 before volume discounts.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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