Oh great, I was hoping there would be another ARM-based processor. That’s just what the world needs. Yes, this is dripping with sarcasm, but it’s also a fact that the ARM processor space is quite crowded. If you want to enter this field, you had better have some way to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Thankfully, Renesas has been able to achieve that feat with its Synergy platform.
My opinion on the “right way” to design a system is to start with the operating system. You must ensure that you choose an OS that suits your needs. Then the other components fall into place, particularly the processor, then the tools, APIs, and so on. This is rarely the path chosen, as the processor is usually the first element that’s selected, and often for the wrong reasons (I’m already familiar with an architecture and don’t want to re-learn stuff; we’re getting a really good deal on this architecture; my boss told me I had to use this one; etc.). I find it refreshing that a hardware company is encouraging its customers to design with a “software first” mentality.
One of the beauties of the Synergy platform is that Renesas has removed a few steps in the design process by bundling an OS with the processor in a very tightly coupled nature. And then they’ve added the low-level drivers and APIs on top of that. So you start at Step 3 rather than Step 1. Hence, both time to market and total cost of ownership are improved. This is particularly true if you’re designing for the industrial or Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
The OS that’s deployed as part of the platform is ThreadX, from Express Logic, which is part of the company’s X-Ware package. The package also includes NetX middleware and NetX DUO IPV4 and IPv4/IPV6 TCP/IP stacks, the USBX USB Host/Device/OTG protocol stack, the FileX MS-DOS compatible file system, and the GUIX graphics run-time library. Interestingly, the software is being sold, maintained, and directly supported by Renesas. Hence, you only need to deal with one company, from end to end.
The Synergy S1 series is built with an ultra low-power 32 MHz ARM Cortex-M0+ core. The S3 MCU series contains a 48 MHz ARM Cortex-M4 core. And the high-end variant, the S7, is designed with a 240 MHz ARM Cortex-M4. General availability of the first products in the Renesas Synergy Platform is scheduled for Q4 CY 2015.
I believe thay have differentiated themselves.