Designed to help developers obtain safety certifications, Texas Instruments (TI) announced its Hercules safety microcontroller platform for medical (and other) applications. The platform consists of three ARM Cortex-based microcontroller (MCU) families that deliver scalable performance, connectivity, memory, and safety features for applications that require a high level of reliability. Unlike many MCUs that rely heavily on software for safety capabilities, Hercules MCUs implement safeguards in hardware to maximize performance and reduce software overhead. Coupled with tools, software, and safety documentation, this functionality gives developers the headroom to differentiate their end products and speed time to market.
Features and benefits of the Hercules RM4x MCU family include frequencies up to 220 MHz based on dual ARM Cortex-R4F floating-point cores in lockstep, providing high performance for industrial automation, servo drives and medical instrumentation such as diagnostic and therapeutic equipment; support for single and double precision floating-point math to execute complex math; capable of achieving International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61508 SIL-3 safety standards; Ethernet, CAN, and USB connectivity; and up to 3 Mbytes of flash memory and 256 kbytes of RAM.
To get started quickly, developers can use the low-cost Hercules USB stick development kits or the full-featured Hercules development kits. Each kit comes with all the hardware and software required to get up and running quickly, including TI’s Code Composer Studio integrated development environment, HALCoGen peripheral configuration tool, and a Safety Demo that showcases BIST execution and error forcing modes.
Hercules microcontrollers range from $5 to $30 in quantities of 10,000. The USB stick development kit (TMDXRM48USB) is priced at $79 and the RM4x Hercules kit (TMDXRM48HDK) costs $199.