Microchip Unveils 64-Bit Multi-Core PIC64 Portfolio for High-Performance Edge Computing

Microchip Technology has unveiled its new PIC64 portfolio, featuring 64-bit multi-core processors tailored for high-performance edge computing.

Introduction

On July 9th, 2024, Microchip Technology made a significant stride in microcontroller (MCU) and microprocessor (MPU) technology with the launch of its new PIC64 portfolio.

First One-Stop Shop for Microcontrollers: Microchip is now the only company offering a complete range of microcontrollers (MCUs) and microprocessors (MPUs) from tiny, low-power 8-bit options all the way up to powerful 64-bit processors. This makes them a one-stop shop for developers working on various projects with different processing needs.

Powerhouse for Edge Computing: The PIC64GX specifically targets the growing field of edge computing. Here’s why it’s a big deal:

More Processing Power at the Edge: Previously, complex tasks like machine learning or advanced vision systems often relied on sending data back and forth to the cloud for processing. The PIC64GX allows these tasks to be done directly on the device itself, thanks to its multiple cores and ability to run Linux. This translates to faster processing, lower latency, and potentially even improved security by keeping sensitive data local.

Opens Doors for New Applications: With this kind of power at the edge, developers can create entirely new applications that wouldn’t have been feasible before. Imagine factory robots with real-time object recognition or autonomous vehicles making decisions based on local data analysis.

Microchip is giving developers a powerful new tool that can handle complex tasks directly on devices, opening doors for more innovative and efficient applications, particularly in the realm of edge computing.

    Technical Details of PIC64 portfolio

    Focus: High-performance edge computing applications requiring powerful on-device processing.

    Significance: Makes Microchip the first company offering a complete range of MCUs and MPUs from 8-bit to 64-bit.

    First Product: PIC64GX microprocessor with the following features:

    Architecture: 5 x 64-bit RISC-V cores (RISC-V is a royalty-free, open-source instruction set gaining traction)

    Operating System: Capable of running Linux operating systems for broader application development

    Performance: Targets compute-intensive tasks like:

    • Smart embedded vision systems (e.g., industrial automation, robotics)
    • Machine learning at the edge (analyzing data locally on devices)
    • Other features:
      • Integrated secure boot for enhanced security
      • Separate real-time and Linux modes for flexibility
      • Large L2 memory subsystem for faster data access
      • Rich set of embedded peripherals for various functionalities

    This release marks Microchip as the first single provider to offer 8-, 16-, 32-, and now 64-bit computing solutions, catering to a wide range of compute-intensive applications across industrial, automotive, communications, IoT, aerospace, and defense sectors.

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    PIC64GX: Key Features and Capabilities

    The flagship of the PIC64 series, the PIC64GX1000, stands out with its robust feature set tailored for demanding applications.

    Powered by five 64-bit RISC-V cores, including four U54 CPU cores running at up to 625 MHz with L1 and L2 caches, and an integrated E51 monitor processor, the PIC64GX1000 supports up to 32 GB of DDR4-1333 or LPDDR4-1333 memory configurations.

    Versatile Connectivity and Video Capabilities

    Designed for versatility, the PIC64GX1000 incorporates MIPI CSI-2 and HDMI 1.4 interfaces.

    It supports two MIPI CSI-2 lanes at 1 Gbps, ideal for camera and sensor connectivity, and outputs HDMI video at 720p resolution.

    The MPU also features a hardware Debayer filter and automatic white balance in its video pipeline, enhancing its utility in embedded vision applications.

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    High-Speed Interfaces and Compatibility

    Microchip emphasizes the PIC64GX family’s compatibility with its PolarFire SoC FPGA devices, ensuring flexibility throughout the product development lifecycle.

    The MPU includes essential microcontroller interfaces. It features high-speed interfaces like dual Gigabit Ethernet ports.

    PCIe Gen 2 is also integrated. These cater to diverse connectivity needs across various applications.

    Specialized Offerings: PIC64 High-Performance Spaceflight Computing (PIC64-HPSC)

    In addition to the general-purpose PIC64 series, Microchip introduced the PIC64-HPSC family tailored for autonomous aerospace applications.

    These processors not only deliver superior computing power but also integrate radiation hardening and fault tolerance features critical for space-grade applications.

    Development and Support Ecosystem

    To facilitate easy adoption, Microchip offers the PIC64GX Curiosity Evaluation Kit, priced at $150 according to Octopart.

    These kits come with comprehensive development support through Microchip’s MPLAB® Extensions for VS Code, supporting multiple embedded Linux distributions and Buildroot. Alternatively, developers can opt for Zephyr RTOS for real-time operating system requirements.

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    Availability

    Microchip anticipates the PIC64GX1000 to be available for customer sampling starting July 2024. For more information and technical specifications, visit Microchip’s dedicated 64-bit MPU webpage.

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    Conclusion

    With the introduction of the PIC64 portfolio, Microchip Technology sets a new benchmark in the microcontroller and microprocessor landscape. Microchip integrates cutting-edge RISC-V technology. It offers versatile connectivity options. Robust development support is included. Microchip aims to empower developers and innovators. They target various industries. Their goal is scalable, high-performance computing solutions.


    Editorial Team
    Editorial Team
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