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Freescale Announces Industry's Fastest Microcontrollers Built on the ARM Cortex-M Family

Freescale » Kinetis X

New, feature-packed Kinetis X series extends beyond typical MCU limits with higher performance, more memory and a best-in-class ecosystem of development support

Freescale Semiconductor is redefining the boundaries of microcontroller (MCU) performance with its new Kinetis X series - the world's fastest MCUs built on an ARM Cortex-M core. The X series extends the high end of Freescale's Kinetis 32-bit MCU portfolio with devices that provide an optimal combination of performance, memory and integrated peripherals, all backed by a vast ecosystem of development support. The Kinetis X series is ideal for designers who need additional horsepower and memory for their applications, but would prefer to retain the cost-effectiveness, ease of use and power consumption of an MCU rather than transitioning to a microprocessor solution.

Freescale: Kinetis X MCU series

The new Kinetis X series shares the same powerful ARM Cortex-M4 core (with DSP and floating point instructions) used for other Kinetis devices, but with an increased operating frequency up to 200 MHz - the fastest of any Cortex-M-class MCU. Kinetis X series internal memories include 1-4 Mbyte of flash and 0.5 Mbyte of SRAM, with multiple off-chip memory options also available for expansion headroom. In addition, the X series offers an advanced suite of connectivity, security and HMI peripherals, all accompanied by Freescale's bundled software enablement. This powerful combination of processing performance, feature integration and extensive support makes the Kinetis X series optimal for a broad range of applications, including automation, point of sale, medical instrumentation, test and measurement and systems that incorporate a human-machine interface (HMI).

Freescale: Kinetis X MCU Block Diagram
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"Our customers' processing needs are evolving at a dramatic rate as they build products that are more powerful, connected and interactive than ever before," said Geoff Lees, vice president of Freescale's Industrial and Multi-Market MCU business. "The Kinetis X series provides a level of performance, memory and feature integration not previously seen in this class of MCUs and gives our customers the design flexibility they need to stay at the forefront of their markets."

High-performance processing engine

Kinetis X series MCUs offer several hardware acceleration techniques designed to maximize system performance by freeing the core from memory access limitations and peripheral servicing constraints. These include large on-chip instruction and data caches that maximize CPU efficiency, 32 KB of tightly coupled SRAM for single-cycle access to scratchpad data and a 64-channel DMA controller that offloads general peripheral and memory servicing tasks from the CPU. The X series also includes a 64-bit AXI bus, a first in Cortex-M class MCUs, that increases concurrent data transfer capabilities from several bus masters.

Exceptional memory scalability

Kinetis X series MCUs offer 1 to 4 Mbyte of embedded flash memory and 0.5 Mbyte of ECC-enabled SRAM, providing an expansive, yet cost-effective, solution. This level of memory integration is among the highest of any MCU and provides ample headroom to accommodate even the most demanding system requirements. A flash-less version will also be available.

For further expansion, virtually any type of external memory can be addressed (including NOR and NAND flash, serial flash, SRAM, low-power DDR2 and DDR3), providing nearly unlimited options for system growth. High-performance execute in place (XIP) is possible from NOR or Quad-SPI serial flash.

A new level of integration: loaded with critical features

Connectivity, HMI and security are now ubiquitous in embedded systems, with the MCU expected to acquire, process and display a large number of system parameters securely and in real-time. Kinetis X series MCUs address these requirements with Ethernet, high-speed USB On-The-Go, CAN, IIS and serial communication interfaces, as well as cryptographic acceleration and tamper detection units.

Applications that require a graphical user interface (GUI) can select from a low-power segment LCD or graphics LCD controller. The large amount of on-chip SRAM supports graphics LCD panels of up to WQVGA resolution without the need for an external frame buffer. If required, this can easily be expanded to accommodate higher-resolution panels using external, low-cost 8-bit DRAM. For the rapid development of embedded GUIs, Freescale offers the PEG (Portable Embedded GUI) WindowBuilder suite and the complimentary, low-resource eGUI LCD driver.

Support for quick and easy development

Freescale and its partners offer extensive software and development tool support for Kinetis devices to help ease and speed application development. All Kinetis MCUs come with a powerful suite of software and tools, including Freescale's complimentary, full-featured MQX(TM) real-time operating system with integrated TCP/IP and USB stacks and support for low/no-cost graphic LCD and encryption plug-ins. Also bundled with Kinetis MCUs is the Eclipse(TM)-based CodeWarrior 10.x integrated development environment (IDE) with Processor Expert - providing a visual, automated framework to accelerate the development of complex embedded applications. Freescale continues to enable rapid evaluation and hardware prototyping with Kinetis Tower System modules and a growing range of Tower System peripheral modules, including Wi-Fi, sensing and precision analog. Kinetis MCUs also are supported by the expansive ARM ecosystem, including development tools from IAR Systems, Keil and Green Hills.

In addition, Freescale plans to introduce a software development platform before the arrival of silicon. This approach can significantly reduce customers' software development cycle time and help them meet market windows with their applications. It also will allow them to develop future versions of their products with fewer resources and investment required.


Freescale plans to provide Kinetis X series alpha samples and development tools to select customers in Q2 2012, with production quantities available in Q1 2013.

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