Microcontroller for IoT and embedded markets

22 September 2015

The new PIC32MZ microcontrollers from Microchip Technology integrate the MIPS M5150 CPU, Imagination’s latest Warrior M-class processor. 

PIC32 is an extremely popular family of high-performance, MIPS-based microcontrollers used in a wide range of embedded and IoT projects. 

MIPS M-class CPUs are one of the only microcontroller-class CPUs to feature full hardware virtualisation. Virtualisation is a technology that enables users to run multiple operating systems or applications on a single physical machine.

MIPS M-class CPUs implement this powerful feature from the desktop and server world into a microprocessor that is 25x-50x smaller than conventional mobile chips. In addition, a MIPS M5150 CPU can run up to seven guest operating systems in parallel, with minimum overhead on overall system performance and stability. 

This technology will help developers create new and innovative applications for wearables, IoT and other embedded markets. For example, a MIPS M-class CPU inside a smart home hub can place door and window locks in separate virtualised containers to avoid compromised security throughout the home. In addition, a separate container can handle lighting control or the connectivity stack; any change in the operation of a container would not affect the others. 

You can see this use case demonstrated in the video below on a MIPS-based development board; when the Linux-based operating system running in one virtualised container restarts, the second container controlling the motor operation continues running unaffected: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjQZTBK1trY 

There are already multiple development boards and devices in production with the new MIPS-based PIC32MZ microcontrollers and there should be practical demonstrations of this technology coming soon to consumer and industrial devices. 

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