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The Importance of Scalability in Embedded Designs

July 17, 2023
Renesas Electronics’ portfolio of semiconductor solutions can meet the demand for more functionality across multiple industries.

By Mohammed Dogar
Scalability is a critical consideration in embedded designs because it ensures that the system can adapt to changing needs and requirements over time. Embedded systems are often designed to perform specific functions, such as monitoring and controlling industrial equipment, controlling home appliances or providing efficient control in factory automation applications. These systems typically have limited resources, including processing power, memory and storage. As the demand for more functionality increases, the embedded system must be able to scale up to meet these demands.

Renesas Electronics is a leading provider of advanced semiconductor solutions for a wide range of industries, including automotive, industrial, healthcare, home automation, green energy applications and many more. We offer the broadest portfolio of ultra-low-power to ultra-high-end MCUs in the market. As the leading MCU supplier in the market, we ship more than 9 million high quality devices every day (more than 3.5 billion a year), which are used to build advanced IoT, consumer, industrial, automotive and infrastructure products worldwide.

A Path to Sustainable and Innovative Product Development
The platform design approach is a strategy used in product development that involves creating a common set of components, technologies and processes that can be used across multiple products or product lines. This approach can be critical for creating sustainable and innovative products for several reasons: 

  1. Faster time-to-market. With a platform design approach, development time can be reduced because engineers can use pre-existing designs and components, reducing the need to develop new technology from scratch. This allows companies to bring products to market faster, which is crucial in today’s fast-paced business environment.
  2. Cost savings. A platform design approach can help reduce costs because it allows companies to share development costs across multiple products. By using common components and technologies, companies can save money on design, engineering and manufacturing costs. This can help increase profitability and, ultimately, lead to more sustainable business practices.
  3. Sustainability. By using a platform design approach, companies can design products that are more sustainable because the approach allows for greater efficiency in the use of resources, as components can be reused across multiple products. This can help reduce waste and decrease the overall environmental impact of product development.
  4. Innovation. The platform design approach can also promote innovation. By focusing on a common set of components and technologies, engineers can spend more time developing new and innovative features, rather than re-inventing the wheel with each new product. This can lead to more innovative products that offer greater value to customers.

Software/Hardware Compatibility and Reusability Enable Quicker Time to Revenue
Software/hardware compatibility and reusability play a significant role in reducing development time and increasing revenue streams. When software and hardware are compatible and reusable across multiple products, it becomes much easier and faster to develop new products or product variants. This can be critical in industries with short product life cycles or where time-to-market is a key factor.

Renesas has a long history of supporting the platform design approach in sustainable and innovative product development. The Renesas microcontroller familiesincluding the RA, RX, and RL78 portfoliosare designed to provide a common set of components, software drivers and related technologies that can be used across multiple products and product lines.

Renesas MCU Scalability Philosophy

Renesas offers pin-to-pin compatibility within many of its microcontroller families allowing customers to easily upgrade to a higher-performing microcontroller without having to redesign the entire board. Pin-to-pin compatibility means that the pins on the new microcontroller are in the same locations as your existing design, which makes it easier to swap out the existing MCU to the new one without having to modify the PCB layout or design.

Customers can upgrade from a lower-end to a higher-end device within the same family without having to redesign the PCB layout or change the board design. This can save time and critical resources, as it allows a quick and easy upgrade to products without having to start from scratch. Renesas also offers concentric footprint options within some of its microcontroller families. This allows customers to design a PCB layout that can accommodate multiple MCUs with different pin counts and package sizeswithout having to change the PCB designfurther enhancing pin-to-pin compatibility and making it even easier to upgrade or swap out microcontrollers.

In addition, the Renesas scalable design concept offers a common peripheral set across its MCU families, which includes key features such as ADCs, timers, clocks, connectivity such as serial interfaces, cryptographic engine, safety features, USB, Ethernet, etc. Such a common peripheral set allows engineers to easily reuse code and design across different products, leading to faster development times and cost savings. 

For example, an ADC peripheral on a Renesas RA MCU is designed to be consistent across different variants within the family, offering a common set of registers and programming interfaces. This allows engineers to leverage their existing knowledge of the ADC functionality when designing a new product using a different microcontroller family. The common peripheral concept extends to all major features within same or across other MCU portfolios. More importantly we offer a consistent programming interface and register set for these interfaces across different families, which allows engineers to easily reuse code and design across different products. 

Renesas’ commitment to software/hardware compatibility and reusability can help customers achieve quicker development times, cost savings and increased revenue streams. By providing common peripheral sets and pin-to-pin compatibility, Renesas is promoting a culture of compatibility and reusability that can benefit their customers in many ways. 

Flexible Software Package Gives you a Head Start
The Renesas Flexible Software Package (FSP) is a comprehensive software development framework that offers a range of features and benefits to help customers develop embedded systems efficiently and flexibly. The FSP provides a common set of APIs and drivers that can be used across multiple Renesas microcontroller families, making it scalable and allowing customers to reuse their code base across multiple product lines. The FSP simplifies the development process, making it faster and more efficient, and its robustness helps reduce the risk of software issues. 
The FSP is also flexible, allowing customers to customize their software for their specific needs and add their own code and features. The active community support offered by Renesas can also be invaluable for developers who are new to embedded system development or need help with specific issues. Overall, the Renesas FSP is a powerful tool that helps customers develop embedded systems efficiently and with greater flexibility.
Flexible Software Package Block Diagram

Renesas also offers an active and supportive community of developers and engineers who contribute to the FSP and share their own code and examples. The community support is an invaluable resource for customers who are new to embedded system development or who need help with specific issues. Renesas’ community support includes forums, blogs and social media channels where developers can ask questions, share their experiences and connect with others in the industry.

The community also contributes to the development of the FSP, providing feedback, suggestions and bug reports to help ensure the FSP remains robust and up-to-date. This community support is an important aspect of Renesas’ commitment to customer satisfaction and providing the tools and resources needed to develop innovative and sustainable products.

Renesas FSP is a powerful tool that helps customers to develop embedded systems more efficiently and with greater flexibility. Its scalability, simplified development process, robustness, flexibility and community support make it a valuable resource for developers working on a wide range of embedded system applications.

The path to the development of billions of smart devices is opening up and creating a new breed of smart embedded applications and business streams not previously possible. Advances in the semiconductor world put intelligent MCUs and MPUs at the core of driving this digital transformation. At Renesas, we invite you to join us on this exciting journey and help realize your vision.

Visit renesas.com/mcu to find the right MCU for your next project today.

Get more information on the Flexible Software Package at renesas.com/fsp.

Mohammed Dogar is vice president of MCU Business Development.

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