MSP432â„¢ microcontrollers: Bringing high performance to low

MSP432â„¢ microcontrollers: Bringing high performance to low
MSP432 microcontrollers:
Bringing high performance to
low-power applications
Mione Plant
MSP432 MCU Product Marketing Engineer
Texas Instruments
Dung Dang
MSP432 MCU Applications Engineer
Texas Instruments
The new 32-bit MSP432 MCU platform from Texas Instruments leverages its
more than 20 years of low-power leadership and expertise to provide maximum
performance with optimal power efficiency. This MSP432 MCU platform is built
around the high performance ARM® Cortex®-M4F core, featuring DSP extensions
and an integrated floating-point engine. It is the most power-efficient processor
available today.
Texas Instruments has been a primary innovator of technology for embedded developers who are
designing low-power applications. TI’s ultra-low-power MSP430™ microcontroller (MCU) family
serves as the core in an extensive range of applications on the market today. Its 16-bit architecture
and extremely low sleep current make it ideal for battery-operated devices, especially coin cell and
energy harvesting applications.
While the market requires better power performance, it also continuously demands more functionality
from devices. The challenge many developers face today is maintaining or improving battery operating
life while simultaneously increasing a device’s capabilities. Adding to this challenge are the tightly
constrained energy limitations placed on designs. For many devices, it is not feasible to increase
battery size or capacity; this means developers need to achieve higher performance within the same
power footprint if battery life is not to be compromised.
In addition to these challenges, the market demands new product releases meet aggressive
deadlines, even though system design continues to become more complex. Developers need
a comprehensive set of hardware and software tools that enable them to extract the maximum
performance at the lowest possible power.
Finally, there needs to be room for future expansion as applications continue to integrate greater
functionality. As MCU portfolios expand to address these needs, there must be seamless portability of
both driver-level and application code across platforms.
An MCU designed for optimizing low
power and high performance
The MSP432 MCU platform also offers embedded
TI has recently expanded the low-power foundation
ecosystem solution that enables them to bring
of its MSP430 MCU platform to include higher
innovative products to market quickly. With the
performance levels without sacrificing power
addition of the MSP432 MCU platform, the MSP
budgets. Based on the 32-bit ARM® Cortex®-M4F
MCU product line now provides a complete portfolio,
core, the new MSP432 MCU platform leverages TI’s
from ultra-low power 16-bit flash and FRAM-based
low-power design expertise to provide maximum
MCUs to high performance, low power 32-bit ARM
performance with optimal energy efficiency. This
Cortex-M4F devices.
MCU is the most power-efficient Cortex-M4F-based
The MSP432 MCU platform is built around the high
platform available today1, with a ULPBench score
performance ARM Cortex-M4F core, featuring DSP
of 167.4
extensions and an integrated floating-point engine.
developers a complete silicon, software and
Based on the Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium (EEMBC) ultra-low-power benchmark (ULPBench) scores posted as of 03/24/2015.
MSP432™ microcontrollers: Bringing high performance to low-power applications
March 2015
This 48MHz core supports the full ARM instruction
• 32-bit performance: MSP432 MCUs increase
set (M0+, M3, and M4) with optimizations such as
performance by moving from 16-bit processing
advanced instructions that enable the Cortex-M4F
to 32-bits. This enables systems to perform more
core to outperform Cortex-M0+ solutions by 50
work with each instruction, whether by moving
percent based on CoreMark performance.
data twice as quickly or processing complex
MSP432 MCUs enable developers to optimize
performance without compromising their power
algorithms with fewer instructions.
• Four times the power efficiency: The MSP432
budget. MSP432 MCUs consume only 95µA/
platform, with its Cortex-M4F core, provides up
MHz in active mode and 850nA in standby mode
to twice the performance of Cortex-M3 solutions
(including RTC). This is especially important in ultra-
depending on the complexity of the application,
low-power embedded applications where leakage
while consuming only half the power. This means
current is critical to battery life, such as industrial
MSP432 MCUs can perform up to four times
and building automation, industrial sensing, industrial
the amount of work for the same power as
security panels, asset tracking and consumer
competitive Cortex-M3 solutions. MSP432 MCUs
electronics where both efficient data processing and
achieve a Coremark score of 3.41, defined by
enhanced low-power operation are essential. For
ARM as the score for an optimal implementation.
example, MSP432 MCU’s ultra-low-power LPM3
standby current as low as 850nA is well-suited
for applications like flow metering where a single
battery may have to last 20+ years in the field. It also
provides an ideal architecture for existing MSP430
MCU embedded developers looking for additional
performance, TI’s TM4C-based designers looking
for lower power or smaller-sized ARM Cortex-M4F
options, or ARM developers looking for the optimal
balance of low power and high performance.
Striking the balance between
low-power and high performance
The excellent performance and power efficiency
of MSP432 MCUs are achieved through three
dimensions of innovation: its ARM Cortex-M4F
core and MSP432 performance optimizations,
TI’s low-power DNA, and its optimized software
• Integrated signal processing: The integrated
DSP engine and floating-point core in MSP432
MCUs enable a multitude of high-performance
applications that require compute-intensive
functionality, including signal conditioning and
sensor processing. In addition, the Cortex-M4F
executes floating-point code approximately 10
times faster than the Cortex-M3.
• Standardized core: By moving to a standardized
core, MSP432 MCUs give developers more
flexibility in terms of the large ARM ecosystem and
wider variety of off-the-shelf software available.
TI has maximized the performance and efficiency
on MSP432 MCUs by incorporating numerous high
performance peripherals and features (Figure 1).
Combined, these reduce power consumption by
offering and comprehensive toolsets.
enabling the MCU to perform more work in
ARM Cortex-M4F core and MSP432
performance optimizations
• 128-bit flash buffer pre-fetch: The MSP432
fewer cycles.
MCU platform employs predictive instruction pre-
There are several key advantages the Cortex-M4F
fetching to read up to eight instructions at a time.
core brings to the MSP MCU portfolio (Figure 1):
By pre-fetching instructions, this feature reduces
the number of accesses to flash to load program
MSP432™ microcontrollers: Bringing high performance to low-power applications
March 2015
code. Because the flash has two wait states at
register bits. This simplifies and accelerates bit-
48 MHz, this in turn reduces the overall number of
based operations; rather than having to perform
wait states, thus speeding execution.
a read/modify/write sequence to change a single
• 1
MSPS ADC: This fast, 14-bit analog-to-digital
converter (ADC) provides five times the sampling
speed of the fastest MSP430 MCU, while retaining
low-power operation (only 375uA at full speed).
bit, this action can be completed with a single
write. In addition, the SRAM provides single-cycle
access at 48 MHz.
• Nested vector interrupt controller (NVIC):
With up to 32 channels for simultaneously
The NVIC uses tail-chaining to optimize the delay
sampling, MSP432 MCUs can read data quickly,
between multiple interrupts, resulting in faster
enabling the processor to minimize sampling time
interrupt switching.
and complete operations faster.
• 8
-channel DMA: By supporting eight DMA
• Advanced cryptographic accelerators:
Hardware-based AES-256 security protects data
channels, MSP432 MCUs are able to offload more
transmissions without adversely impacting power
memory transactions from the CPU. In addition,
having more channels simplifies configuration
as well as gives embedded developers greater
flexibility in how they optimize memory operations.
• B
it-banded SRAM and peripheral access:
• ROM-based drivers: The driver library
associated with MSP432 MCUs has already been
programmed into ROM. At 48 MHz, the MCU
can execute from ROM every cycle, compared to
MSP432 MCUs assign every SRAM and register
up to three cycles for flash. This results in faster
memory bit a unique 32-bit address, enabling
execution and lower power consumption without
developers direct access to individual SRAM and
consuming available code space. The driver
Figure 1: The MSP432 MCU high performance peripherals and features complement the high performance
ARM Cortex-M4F core to enable the maximum performance for low-power applications.
MSP432™ microcontrollers: Bringing high performance to low-power applications
March 2015
95 µA/MHZ
166 µA/MHz
65 µA/MHz
100 µA/MHz
70 µA
(Shut down
w/ RTC)
(Shut down w/o RTC)
850 nA
<670 nA
<100 nA
Table 1: Low-power modes on the new MSP432 MCU platform.
library source code is also provided under open-
• 90 nm process node technology: The TI-
source BSD license, providing developers with
developed 90 nm process node technology
the option to further customize to their specific
enables low-active power consumption and low-
application requirements.
leakage operation.
• S
imultaneous flash read/write: Traditionally,
• Flexible low-power modes: MSP432 MCUs
flash memory is implemented as a single bank.
support five low-power modes to enable low-
This means any erase will stall execution of
power consumption.
the application. MSP432 MCUs offer a dualbank flash. With two banks, the CPU can read/
execute in one bank while erasing in the other,
thus avoiding stalls. This is especially useful
• Fast time-to-wake: MSP432 MCUs can
switch from LPM3 to active mode in less than
10 µs, typical.
for Internet of Things (IoT) devices with limited
• Wide operating voltage range: By supporting
memory and power availability. While erasing,
a wide voltage range from 1.62 to 3.7 V, the
such as is necessary when updating firmware
MSP432 MCU platform can be scaled to match
or data logging, the device can execute at the
the particular battery in use and eliminate external
same time. By taking less time to perform these
regulation. Many MCUs also scale performance
functions, power consumption is reduced. In
with voltage; as the voltage drops, the MCU’s
addition, MSP432 MCUs also include secure
core can only operate at a reduced frequency.
memory regions to protect both code and data
This increases power consumption since the
from external attacks.
MCU must stay awake longer to perform an
MSP’s low-power DNA
MSP432 MCUs are built using the same low-power
DNA and expertise of 16-bit MSP430 MCUs to
make the most efficient core implementation. This
means power efficiency is paramount, enabling the
MSP432 MCUs to establish a new standard of
32-bit low-power and performance.
These new MSP432 MCUs have been optimized
for power in both its silicon and software
implementation (Figure 2). Several capabilities
reduce overall power consumption:
equivalent amount of work. With MSP432 MCUs,
however, the core is able to operate at full speed
at the lowest voltage. Thus, operating at a lower
voltage gives a true and full improvement in
power efficiency. Furthermore, flash can also be
accessed at 1.62V.
• Integrated LDO and DC/DC: To further increase
power efficiency and reduce design complexity
and cost, MSP432 MCUs integrate both a lowdropout regulator (LDO) and DC/DC convertor.
When the LDO is used for power regulation, the
system is capable of faster switching between
sleep and active modes. When the DC/DC
convertor is used, the system can achieve
• Setting a new power-efficiency standard
efficiency up to 95 percent. Typically, developers
Understanding the real-world power efficiency
have to choose between using either an LDO or
of an MCU early in the design process is critical.
DC/DC convertor for all use cases. By providing
Today’s developers face countless challenges
two options for power regulation, developers can
while searching for the best ultra-low-power
dynamically optimize regulation based on the
MCU for their design. Having to select among
current mode of operation. When the system is in a
multiple MCU vendors and products makes
standby mode of operation, for example, the LDO
selecting the best ultra-low-power device very
can be used to minimize wake time. For operating
challenging. The Embedded Microprocessor
modes or use cases where active current plays
Benchmark Consortium (EEMBC) ultra-low power
a larger role in power consumption, the DC/DC
benchmark (ULPBench) now provides a standard
convertor can be used.
way to compare power performance on any
• S
electable RAM retention: The low-power
MSP432 MCU platform provides individual control
With a score of 167.4 ULPMarks, the MSP432 MCU
of its eight RAM banks. This enables developers to
platform achieves the highest ULPBench score for
be able to turn off those banks that are currently
any Cortex-M3 or Cortex-M4F MCU available today.
not needed and whose data does not need to
This means it provides more performance for the
be preserved. For example, when the system is
power than any other processor of its type in the
sleeping, RAM banks used as scratch pads or to
industry, including Cortex-M0+, -M3, -M4, and -M4F
buffer data are not in use and can be turned off.
cores or other 8-, 16- and 32-bit proprietary cores.
Figure 2: MSP432 MCUs have been optimized for power in both its architecture and peripherals.
MSP432™ microcontrollers: Bringing high performance to low-power applications
March 2015
Optimized software offering and
comprehensive toolsets
While an MCU’s architecture itself may be efficient, it is
how easily developers can access this efficiency that
determines a system’s actual power consumption and
operating life. To aid developers in both simplifying
development and designing systems for power
efficiency, TI has optimized its software and tools with
power in mind.
provides a high level of visibility into application
power consumption.
• ULP Advisor™: TI has also extended its ULP
Advisor software to support the specific capabilities
of the MSP432 MCU platform. ULP Advisor is built
upon TI’s more than 20 years of ultra-low-power
expertise and offers suggestions to developers on
how to adjust application code and improve power
• R
apid prototyping: Developers can evaluate the
performance and power efficiency of MSP432 MCUs
for themselves with a LaunchPad development
kit. Priced at $12.99, this rapid prototyping kit is a
cost-effective way to experience the advantages of
the MSP432 MCU architecture firsthand. A full suite
of add-on daughter-boards called BoosterPacks –
including displays, wireless, MicroSD, and sensor
hubs, enable developers to extend their evaluation of
the MSP432 MCU platform to specific applications.
• E
nergyTrace™+ Technology: EnergyTrace+
• MSPWare™ software: In conjunction with the
launch of MSP432 MCUs, TI has released a new
version of MSPWare software. MSPWare serves as
a single-point resource of comprehensive technical
materials for accelerating MSP-based designs
(Figure 3). Materials include detailed application
notes, code examples, training and videos. To
further simplify design, MSPWare software is
available in your browser through CCS Cloud, or on
the desktop ready to use with TI’s Code Composer
Studio™, IAR’s Embedded Workbench, and Keil
technology is a powerful design tool that enables
µVision integrated development environments
developers to profile an application’s real-time
(IDEs). This also includes support for Energia.
power consumption
with an accuracy of ± 2
percent. Not only does
it evaluate overall power
efficiency, it correlates
power consumption to
the actual code that uses
the power. This enables
developers to determine
how and where power is
being consumed so they
can direct their optimization
efforts to those areas that
will yield the most gains.
EnergyTrace+ technology
is built into the LaunchPad
development platform and
Figure 3: The latest release of MSPWare supports the MSP432 MCU platform and provides a single-point
resource of comprehensive technical materials and code examples to accelerate design.
MSP432™ microcontrollers: Bringing high performance to low-power applications
March 2015
• T
I’s new Cloud Development Ecosystem enables
time and calories. To remain competitive or to
developers to run TI’s Code Composer Studio and
address new markets, a next-generation watch might
Resource Explorer from a browser. The LaunchPad
introduce heart rate monitoring, activity detection,
kit connects to the computer via a USB cable
GPS for positioning, Bluetooth® Smart for wireless
and the TI cloud website will automatically install
connectivity or a more complex display supporting
any drivers required to access the board. Demo
color or graphics. All of these require additional
applications and example code can be accessed
processing capability, which is now available through
and downloaded to development boards in just
the 32-bit MSP432 MCU platform based on the ARM
minutes for an immediate out-of-box experience.
Cortex-M4F core.
Embedded developers can now create software
in the cloud as well as access more than 20,000
sample applications online to jumpstart designs.
• A
RM Ecosystem: Developers can also speed
development using tools and design assistance
available through both the TI and ARM thirdparty ecosystems. The MSP432 MCU platform is
supported by several full-featured development
environments, ARM CMSIS software libraries,
as well as by TI RTOS, freeRTOS and Micrium
µC/OS. These real-time operating systems can help
developers maximize performance in multi-threaded
applications to reduce overall power consumption.
MSP432 MCUs also enable embedded developers
to support increasing complexity in a product line.
For example, with the emergence of the IoT, sensor
networks like those in a factory or other industrial
applications have become more complex. An
aggregator needs to be able to connect to sensors
(e.g. via Sub-1GHz connectivity) and send data up
to a centralized management panel (e.g. via WiFi). Thus the aggregator needs to support multiple
protocols, requiring more memory and performance.
Furthermore, an aggregator can add intelligence.
In this way, it processes data, evaluates it and even
makes decisions such as triggering an alarm if a
threshold is exceeded.
The architecture for an entire
product line
The 16- and 32-bit MSP MCU portfolio can support
The MSP432 MCU platform extends TI’s low-power
ideal for individual sensor nodes running on batteries.
MSP MCU portfolio, enabling applications built
The MSP432 platform provides the processing and
around 16-bit MSP430 MCUs to scale to higher
power efficiency to support an intelligent hub with
levels of performance without requiring a complete
control panel, user interface and display.
system redesign. The MSP432 MCU platform also
provides a power-optimized roadmap for existing
this entire product line. Various MSP430 MCUs are
MSP430 to MSP432 MCU porting
ARM Cortex-M developers with low power needs.
As part of the MSPWare software package,
Applications requiring a scalable portfolio
Platform Porting Guide. This guide outlines how
With MSP432 MCUs, the low-power MSP family
to port existing MSP430 MCU designs to take
of MCUs can support extended product lines or
hierarchical applications such as sensor networks.
For example, a first-generation fitness watch based
on an MSP430 MCU might have tracked exercise
developers also have access to the MSP432 MCU
advantage of MSP432 MCU’s 32-bit bus and
peripherals. This usage and porting guide suggests
areas of application code to review when migrating
to 32 bits.
MSP432™ microcontrollers: Bringing high performance to low-power applications
March 2015
1.62V – 3.7V Operation
Cortex™ M4F
48 MHz
Power & Clocking
Up to 256 KB Flash
Up to 64 KB SRAM
Driver Libraries
DMA (8 ch)
Bootstrap Loader
Programmable DCO
Low-Power OSC
Real-Time Clock
Power & Clocking
Real-time JTAG
4× 16-bit Timer/PWM/CCP
2× 32-bit GP Timers
Systick Timer
Watchdog Timer
Comms Peripherals
4× UART or SPI
4× I2C or SPI
24ch, 14-bit 1 MSPS SAR ADC
2× Analog Comparators
Voltage Reference
Temperature Sensor
Capacitive Touch I/O
Same as 16-bit MSP430 MCUs
Figure 4: Porting to the MSP432 platform from MSP430-based designs is simplified since the MSP432 MCU retains many of the key
peripherals of the MSP430 MCU’s architecture (shown in yellow)
MSP432 MCUs retain many of the key peripherals
of the MSP430 MCU architecture (Figure 4 shows
all peripherals in yellow that are the same between
the two architectures), so porting peripheral code
is greatly simplified. TI has also kept register and
low-power peripherals names consistent to enable
designs to be easily ported among the more than
450 low-power MSP MCUs.
MSP432 MCUs: low power at its best,
performance at its core.
Developers need an architecture that can scale to
higher levels of computing and analog performance
without adversely impacting power efficiency. They
also need to be able to do this while leveraging
existing MCU development investment and expertise.
As the world’s lowest power ARM Cortex-M4F MCU,
For new designs, developers can use the MSPWare
MSP432 MCUs simultaneously boost performance
driver library with its proven and production-ready
and decrease power consumption by more than
drivers to greatly speed development. For embedded
50 percent. Developers are able to leverage their
developers who have created their own register-level
existing investment and expertise in the MSP430
drivers, MSPWare encapsulates both register-level
MCU architecture to easily scale application
and library drivers. Experienced ARM developers can
performance. With its expanded development
also leverage their knowledge of ARM’s Cortex-M
ecosystem, developers can achieve seamless
Software Interface Standard (CMSIS) functions to
portability between 16-bit MSP430 and 32-bit
develop code.
MSP432 MCU designs. In addition, they can
MSP432™ microcontrollers: Bringing high performance to low-power applications
March 2015
optimize power efficiency and maximize performance
with TI’s extensive selection of easy-to-use MSP
and ARM hardware and software tools.
With the addition of MSP432 MCUs, the low-power
MSP microcontroller portfolio gives developers a
wide choice of processors, enabling developers to
optimize for low-power and high performance and
the flexibility to easily port between 16-bit and 32-bit
architectures. In addition, as the flagship device in
the MSP’s growing low-power 32-bit ARM processor
portfolio, the MSP432 MCU family will offer increasing
levels of analog and memory integration to address
new application segments.
Get started evaluating this new 32-bit low-power
MCU platform with the MSP432 LaunchPad and
MSPWare software by visiting
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