STMicro Goes After Advanced Human-Machine Interfaces with Its New STM32U5 with Vector GPU

Boasting a GPU capable of accelerating vector drawing operations and an MJPEG decoder for video, the STM32U5 aims to beat microprocessors.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month agoHW101

STMicroelectronics has announced new model range in the STM32 microcontroller family, the STM32U5 — offering acceleration for vector graphics and "massive" static RAM (SRAM) to store them without the need for external memory chips.

The STM32U5 chips, STMicro explains, are built with graphics firmly in mind, standing out from other STM32 models through the inclusion of a generous 3MB of SRAM and 4MB of flash storage on-chip and an STMicro NeoChromVG graphics accelerator alongside an Arm Cortex-M33 core. "These are the first STM32 MCUs with hardware-accelerated vector operations," the company explains, "useful for rendering SVGs [Scalable Vector Graphics] and vector fonts."

STMicro has launched a new STM32 design, the STM32U5, which adds vector graphics and MJPEG acceleration. (📹: STMicro)

That alone would make them well-suited for human-machine interface (HMI) projects, but the new parts come with another trick up their sleeve: a hardware JPEG decoder with support for motion JPEG (MJPEG). Using this, the company explains, it's possible to display animated logos, zoomable maps, and even play back video without bogging down the microcontroller — and without having to make the move to a higher-power and more costly microprocessor.

While the parts are only now become generally available, selected STMicro partners have already begun building around them — including Riverdi. "By combining premium graphics capabilities with single-chip economies, the latest STM32 MCUs have enabled us to market a 5-inch display module with an attractive price, presenting a professional all-in-one display solution for product manufacturers to build great-looking custom user interfaces for their own designs," Riverdi's Kamil Kozłowski claims.

To prove the parts' capabilities, STMicro has announced a "Discovery Kit" which doubles as a reference design: the STM32U5G9J-DK2 Discovery Kit, built around a four-layer PCB and featuring a 5" 800×480 color TFT 24-bit RGB-connected capacitive touchscreen display. The design also includes an integrated STLINK-V3EC in-circuit debugger, for ease of software development.

According to STMicro's testing, the STM32U5 chips can run at up to 160MHz at 16µA per megahertz, and have a 200nA standby mode for maximizing battery life. At full tilt, the parts deliver benchmark results of 240 Dhrystone MIPS and 464 in the ULPMark-CoreProfile.

More information on the STM32U5 family is available on the STMicro website, with parts appearing in-channel now starting at $8.58 in 10,000-unit tray quantities; the STM32U5G9J-DK2 Discovery Kit, meanwhile, is priced at $89.

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