This week’s EYE ON NPI (video) is a 1040 that is easier than filling out a 1040-EZ, but will still get you a great return on your time investment: it’s the NXP i.MX RT1040 Crossover MCU series, an ultra powerful microcontroller that is designed to make it easy to add high speed processing without a lot of work or excessive BOM costs.
The RT1040’s ease of usability and implementation stands out when we look at the details, allowing you – yes you! – to have 500 MHz+ Cortex M7 processing on a low cost two layer board, and without a separate PMIC.
We’re featuring this chip as the big sister to the Metro M7 that we’re also releasing this week, so it’s definitely an iMX party here at the ‘fruit.
The suggested way to program the i.MX NXP series is to use NXP’s IDE MCUxpresso but you can also just use the NXP SDK with the arm-gcc toolchain in a command line or other IDE.
If your application plans to use USB, we recommend checking out our TinyUSB implementation which has iMX RT10xx support. It compiles under arm-gcc as well, and includes many examples that you can build off of.
We’ve also ported our TinyUF2 second-stage USB bootloader that has mass-storage for read-write of the flash memory.
These chips are powerful and very integrated, so you don’t need separate power management chips – also known as PMIC’s – or SRAM but there are some tips and tricks to watch for about pin usage, the built in bootloader, and configuring the DC/DC converter.
This handy video from NXP has some good quickstart tips and each chip also has a suite of app notes for hardware implementation.
There’s many chips in the iMX RT family, as you move up and down you’ll be trading package size, SRAM, and peripherals, for complexity and price. The RT1040 sits nicely in the middle with 512KB of SRAM (the bigger chips are up to 1 or 2 MB), parallel TFT support, CAN bus, Ethernet, and two flexIO peripherals that can mimic various interfaces. But it doesn’t have MIPI support, or a built-in camera interface, or a second USB port. Digi-Key does stock all of the rest if you so wish!
NXP evaluation boards are fully featured and are recommended by NXP to get started. We tend to develop off the eval boards first, then use the schematics as a guideline for our own designs. While the BGA packaging is intimidating, it’s available in two sizes: 9×9 and 11×11 with the same pinout – the smaller one has 0.65mm ball pitch, and the larger one has 0.8mm pitch, which means you can fan-out on a 2-layer PCB or get roomy with a 4-layer. Other than a 3.3V power supply, a crystal and some passives, you only need a QSPI flash memory chip – we use the W25Q64 on our Metro M7 with great success.
Best of all, both versions of the NXP iMX RT1040 chips are in stock right now for immediate shipment from Digi-Key! We suggest starting with the larger MIMXRT1042XJM5B and the RT1040 EVK. Huzzah, the chip shortage is over – so order today and you’ll be blazing along with a Cortex M7 at 500 or 600 MHz by tomorrow afternoon.