Freescale intros Vybrid controller line, weds ARM A5 and M4 cores for an asymmetrical bang


Making good on its word, Freescale's line of Vybrid controllers is now ready for prime time multiprocessing. That asymmetrical setup, announced last October, takes the high / low approach we've seen gradually crop up in computing, pairing an ARM Cortex A5 and Cortex M4 in uneven, albeit harmonious CPU matrimony. The company's not targeting this new platform at consumers, though, as that market's already being served by the likes of NVIDIA's Tegra 3. No, this controller arrangement's headed directly for the industrial sector, where medical, point-of-sale and smart energy equipment can benefit from the cores' decreased power demands and ability for real-time control. Eager to dig deeper into this silicon platform? Then feel free to parse through the rest of the company's jargon-y release after the break.

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Freescale Vybrid controller solutions set a new standard for the design of real-time systems that need rich display and multimedia capabilities

Innovative asymmetrical-multiprocessing architecture platform seamlessly integrates ARM® Cortex™-A and Cortex™-M cores, reducing complexity and cost and increasing system security for industrial applications

SAN JOSE, Calif. (DESIGN West 2012) – March 26, 2012 – Freescale Semiconductor (NYSE: FSL) today announced its new portfolio of Vybrid controller solutions, designed to dramatically simplify development of applications that need rich human-machine interfaces (HMI) and connectivity, as well as deterministic real-time control and response capabilities. Vybrid devices are built on a unique asymmetrical-multiprocessing-architecture platform that leverages Freescale's heritage as a leader in microcontroller development and multicore design. The new Vybrid controller solutions, along with Kinetis microcontrollers and i.MX applications processors, give Freescale an unparalleled breadth of solutions based on the ARM 32-bit architecture.

Vybrid devices are ideal for applications including building/home automation and control; industrial automation; point-of-sale systems; medical devices, such as patient monitors; smart energy equipment, including energy meters and data concentrators; and appliances. They are also well-suited for many low-power and timing-critical wired and wireless network communication protocols, such as IEEE 1588, Smart Energy 2.0, low-power WiFi, Bluetooth Low Energy and power line communication, as well as other proprietary interfaces.

"We've built our new Vybrid controller solutions to address the enormous challenge of adding advanced user interfaces to applications that traditionally have been focused on real-time control," said Reza Kazerounian, senior vice president and general manager of Freescale's Automotive, Industrial & Multi-Market Solutions Group. "With the Vybrid platform, Freescale is going beyond silicon to provide a full software-hardware solution, making it easier and faster for our customers to develop systems that need rich apps in real time."

Tweet this: @Freescale announces Vybrid devices based on @ARMEmbedded for graphics rich industrial applications

A single device for rich apps in real time
Industrial systems traditionally have required multiple devices to provide graphical display and real-time control capabilities. Through its asymmetrical-multiprocessing architecture, a single Vybrid device can handle both HMI and real-time control needs, reducing the system bill of materials and complexity. The first Vybrid devices – the VF series – combine highly energy-efficient ARM® Cortex™-A5 and Cortex™-M4 cores to manage a high-level operating system (for HMI, connectivity and compute needs) and a real-time domain (for executing safe and secure real-time functions), respectively.Vybrid controller solutions utilize a software environment that is tightly coupled with the hardware, enabling simultaneous communication between the two operating systems (i.e., Linux and Freescale MQX™).

The VF series hardware implementation allows developers to easily and efficiently use the large ecosystem of code available for the ARM Cortex-A and Cortex-M cores. This ease of use makes Vybrid controller solutions a compelling option for industrial applications that require deterministic behavior, compared to other real-time processing solutions on the market today.

"Asymmetrical multicore systems are well suited to embedded applications that need real-time control and intuitive user interfaces," said Tom R. Halfhill, a senior analyst at The Linley Group and senior editor of Microprocessor Report. "Some example applications are factory automation, medical devices and home appliances. Freescale's Vybrid controller solutions are a new twist on ARM's Big.Little strategy. They integrate a Cortex-A5 applications core with a Cortex-M4 microcontroller core and add features for real-time control, communications and user interfaces. A virtual hardware model speeds up software development, which is increasingly the most time-consuming part of a design project. Vybrid devices can reduce the product's bill of materials and design cycle."

VF series features
Supporting the two ARM cores and leveraging Freescale's expertise in extreme integration, the Vybrid platform offers a host of features and connectivity options, including:
· Up to 1.5 MB on-chip SRAM with error correction code (ECC)
· DDR3/LPDDR2 controller with ECC
· Dual quad-SPI with double-data-rate capability and execute-in-place (XIP)
· NAND flash controller with ECC
· Dual Ethernet controllers with level 2 (L2) switch
· Dual USB 2.0 OTG with integrated high-speed PHY
· Dual display controllers with video/camera interface
· Real-time I/O subsystem, including pulse-width modulation (PWM), dual analog-to-digital converters (ADC) and dual digital-to-analog converters (DACs)
· OpenVG graphics processing unit (GPU)
· Multiple audio interfaces
· Secure boot with cryptography algorithm acceleration and tamper detection

Vybrid VF series devices are included in Freescale's product longevity program, with assured supply for a minimum of 10 years. For Terms and Conditions and to obtain a list of available products, visit

Comprehensive system solution
Vybrid controller solutions are supported by a powerful suite of enablement from Freescale, including the Eclipse™-based CodeWarrior integrated development environment (IDE), Processor Expert software, Freescale MQX software solutions,PEG GUI development tools and the Tower System modular development platform for rapid prototyping. Vybrid devices also are supported by the expansive ARM ecosystem, including the Green Hills MULTI™ IDE and INTEGRITY™ run-time software. This combination of Freescale and third-party enablement provides a pathway to faster design and reduced implementation headaches.

"Freescale's Vybrid controller solutions are well-suited to address the challenge of software diversity and complexity in embedded applications," said David Kleidermacher, chief technology officer for Green Hills Software. "The combination of Green Hills' scalable INTEGRITY RTOS family, Multivisor secure virtualization, TimeMachine trace debugging and optimizing compilers makes it easier for embedded developers to manage this complexity while building ever more capable electronic products."

Freescale will demonstrate a Vybrid virtual hardware platform at DESIGN West in booth #1607. This platform can be used by customers for software development to significantly reduce design cycle time and help them meet market windows with their end products.

Alpha samples of the first devices in the Vybrid VF series are planned for Q2 2012. Broad availability of samples and tools is planned for Q3 from Freescale and its distribution partners.

For more information about Vybrid controller solutions, visit