STMicro's STM32 Family Makes the 64-Bit Jump with New Edge AI, 3D-Capable STM32MP Parts

Retaining the STM32 name despite a shift to the 64-bit Arm Cortex-A35 core, STMicro's latest STM32 parts pack in the power.

STMicroelectronics has announced its second-generation STM32 microprocessors, promising improved performance and acceleration for edge artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning workloads — and a move to 64-bit processors cores for the first time in the range's history.

"Our embedded MPUs address the trend that’s pushing more workloads and greater demands to smart devices, often deployed at the IoT [Internet of Things] edge, for faster response and increased efficiency," says STMicro's Stephane Henry of the company's new processors.

"The new STM32MP2 devices we are announcing today," Henry continues, "extend the performance trajectory, introducing our most powerful processing engine, now adding edge AI, and supported by the STM32 ecosystem to accelerate product development."

The first surprise in the new chip range: a move to 64-bit processor cores, despite retaining the STM32 name. The STM32MP2 chips are the company's first to use the Arm Cortex-A35 core, running at speeds of up to 1.5GHz, alongside a 32-bit Arm Cortex-M33 microcontroller core running at up to 400MHz, a dedicated graphics processing unit (GPU) with 3D acceleration and support for 1080p displays, a video processing unit (VPU), and a neural processing unit (NPU) designed to accelerate on-device edge AI and machine learning work.

This NPU, STMicro claims, can deliver up to 1.35 tera-operations per second (TOPS) of compute, with workloads able to run on the Cortex-A35, Cortex-M33, GPU, VPU, or NPU cores as-required. It's not present in all models, however: only the STM32MP257, STM32MP255, and STM32MP23x chips include the AI co-processor and 3D GPU; the remainder of the range stick with one or two Cortex-A35 cores and a single Cortex-M33.

STMicro is making much of the parts' industrial qualifications: the company says the chips can run 24 hours a day for 10 years, with a junction temperature rated at -40°C to 125°C (-40°F to 257°F). The new parts also come with the promise of Security Evaluation Standard for IoT Platforms (SESIP) Level 3 certification, readying them for the US Cyber Trust Mark announced back in July last year — along with the company's recently-unveiled 32-bit STM32WBA55 and STM32WBA54 chips.

Other features of the parts include up to three gigabit Ethernet ports through the use of a two-port switch, support for Time Sensitive Networking (TSN), PCI Express Gen. 2, USB 3.0, and up to three CAN-FD buses, RGB, LVDS, and MIPI Display Serial Interface (DSI) video outputs with H.264 video acceleration on the GPU-equipped models, and a MIPI Camera Serial Interface 2 (CSI-2) input with image signal processor.

While STMicro is unveiling the parts now, however, it is not quite ready to take orders: the parts are due to enter volume production in June this year, with a development board to follow in due course. More information is available on the STMicro website.

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