Shigeo Mizugaki certainly has the background to answer questions about MCUs. The GM of Renesas’ Global MCU business unit has been involved with MCU design since joining Mitsubishi in 1980, after receiving Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Kyoto University in Japan. After working his way up from 8- to 16- and 32-bit MCU designs he was transferred to the SoC group (then called system LSI) and with the merger of Hitachi and Mitsubishi to form Renesas found himself back in the MCU business.
Fielding questions from a lunch-time audience, Mizugaki was asked when will RX take on 40nm technology and what will the clock speed be? He responded by saying that after the merger “we decided to skip 65nm and go to 40nm and we have already started development.” An important part of that development, he said, is to utilize one of the company strengths. MONOS flash. Mizugaki noted that the company has confirmed that this flash can be shrunk “not only to 40nm but to 28nm as well.”
The first 40nm RX products “will be available the middle of 2012,” he said. Flash speed will be up to 120MHZ and there is an upgrade path for RX to 240MHz.
Asked whether Renesas is considering the use of dual external bus architectures Mizugaki replied “not at this point” but added that with the plan to boost horsepower via the 40nm process that will mean increasing the capability to access more memory, not only on-chip but outside, off chip memory as well. So capability wise it will be possible but application wise,“I’m not sure at this point.”
Several questions were directed at the possibility of mixing and matching features from the various Reneasa Electronics MCU lines to create new variants. Mizugaki pointed out that unification rather than further diversification of elements was more of a priority. He revealed that “I have ordered my team to unify peripherals on the platforms “as soon as possible” and for 40nm product “I am confident we will be able to do so.”
To a question on low power applications Mizugaki said “very soon I am going to announce a new version of RX; the family name is RX 200 and it Is tailored for low power consumption and low voltage.
Another query focused on whether there are plans to put MRAM non-volatile memory on RX .Mizugaki noted that both Renesas and NEC have explored MRAM in the past and he agreed it has technological possibilities, but asked rhetorically if it was just a replacement for flash?, reminding the audience that as previously noted Renesas Electronics has shown that its current flash is scalable down to 28nm. We have not been aple to discover what might be called a “killer app” for MRAM, he said.