The Cortex M4F: Enabling next-generation real-time processing in i.MX8QM SMARC System on Module
November 05, 2019
The Cortex? M4F microcontroller plays an integral part in realizing various real-time operations of the SOM module.
iWave systems recently launched a new SMARC System on Module (SOM) based on the powerful NXP® i.MX 8QuadMax applications processors. This high performance SOM features an intelligent blend of MPUs+MCU power in a single device and integrates heterogeneous multicore 64 bit ARM® processors (Dual Cortex® [email protected] 1.8 GHz + Quad Cortex® A53 @ 1.2 GHz and Dual Cortex® -M4F @ 266 MHz), targeted for applications that demand advanced real-time processing, multi-media performance as well as in applications that requires simultaneous multi-OS operations. For more details refer to the link: i.MX8 QuadMax NXP SMARC SOM
The Cortex® M4F microcontroller plays an integral part in realizing various real-time operations of the SOM module. It is a powerful energy-efficient microcontroller core with floating-point arithmetic functionality that offers a low-latency execution environment with real-time and low-power processing capability running bare-metal code or a real-time operating system like FreeRTOS.
The Cortex® M4F microcontroller incorporates the following key features:
• A processor core.
• A Nested Vectored Interrupt Controller for low-latency interrupt processing.
• Multiple high-performance bus interfaces.
• Memory Protection Unit (MPU) & Floating Point Unit (FPU).
• LPIT (Low-power Periodic Interrupt Timer) for periodic timer services
• TPM (Timer PWM Module) for timer and PWM services
• RGPIO (Rapid General-Purpose Input/Output) for the fast pin I/O capability
• MU (Messaging Unit) for interprocessor communication
• INT MUX (Interrupt Mux) to select local interrupts routed outside of the subsystem
• SEMA42 (hardware semaphore) for HMP synchronization to shared resources
• LPI2C (Low-Power I2C) for serial communication
• LPUART (Low-Power UART) for serial communication and debug
Optimized performance and efficiency for real-time processing:
To optimize performance and increase system efficiency it is always effective to separate computation tasks between various Cortex® cores. The Cortex® A cores runs high-level OS (Linux /Android) and can be used to drive applications that demand compute-intensive graphics (2D/3D), 4K video, high speed data processing etc., while real-time applications such as sensor monitoring, data acquisition, motor control, etc., requires high degree of determinism and DSP capability which can be handled very efficiently by the RTOS running on the Cortex® M4F cores. In addition, the SOM supports simultaneous operation of multiple OS platforms that enables the cores to drive totally independent applications, for e.g. When the Cortex® A cores handle a system for HMI or an instrument cluster, the Cortex® M4F can drive the circuitry for sensor control while utilizing RPC for interprocessor communications.
High-speed data acquisition:
On applications that make use of high-speed RF synthesis (ADC conversion), the Cortex® -M4F core can be employed to acquire analog inputs at a high sample rate and offload the Cortex® A cores for instantaneous processing of the acquired data. For instance, in the case of industrial automation, where devices are often deployed in remote locations, the Cortex® -M4F core continuously monitors various sensor operations and can instantly detect any signal variations and communicates it with Cortex® A cores for instantaneous processing of the acquired data.
Intelligent power management:
In applications where the Cortex® A cores waits for communication from the Cortex® M4F cores, the system can take control of the situation and power gate the Cortex® A cores. The Cortex® A cores can go to sleep mode and can be activated either using predefined wake-up time or when there is a user-defined interrupt generated by Cortex® M4F core. While the Cortex® A core is shut down, the Cortex® M4F continues to monitor the system in low power, thereby optimizing the power intakes.
Rear-view camera application using the Cortex® M4F of i.MX8QM SMARC SOM
iWave Systems have validated the real-time performance of i.MX8QM SOM by demonstrating an application for the rear-view camera using only the Cortex® M4F of the SOM. The application demonstrates the fast boot capability of the Cortex® M4F which is interfaced with the camera sensors mounted at the rear of the vehicle. After powering on the board in just 3 secs camera application starts to run. Cortex® M4F acquires data from the camera sensors and displays the image/video on the rear-view mirror thereby aiding the users to reverse park their vehicles with ease.
Likewise, several industrial applications ranging from Automation, Drones, HMI, and High-End signage, both real-time and non-real time can be easily enabled using iWave's powerful i.MX8QM SMARC SOM platform.
With 10+ years longevity, custom SOM configuration and dedicated technical support including carrier board review, software support, etc., designers and OEMs can be assured of iWave's unwavering quality and long-term service. Our support resources include detailed hardware and software user manual, carrier board schematics, BSP package with toolchain support, reference designs, etc.,
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