Microcontroller for high-end industrial equipment - Robotics and industrial drives require technical diversity, maximum processing power, and a high level of security

03/27/2024 Know-How

Industrial plants pose numerous development challenges. To overcome them, the right microcontroller is crucial in addition to extensive up-front designs, rigorous testing, and compliance with industry standards and regulations.

When developing high-end applications – such as robotics, industrial drives, and in applications for electric vehicles – energy, performance, efficiency, and security are of paramount importance. The choice of the optimal microcontroller contributes significantly to achieving these goals. It needs to be high-quality grade, flexible, powerful, and efficient and have features that allow it to adapt to a demanding environment that is constantly changing.

The demands placed on controls in modern industrial plants are becoming increasingly complex and the volumes of data being processed are growing all the time. This poses enormous challenges for developers of such controls. Besides processing these volumes of data efficiently, the systems must also maintain the integrity of the data. The efficient management and allocation of resources within the CPU as well as the use of the internal and external memory are of great importance.

In addition, there are various real-time specifications in industrial applications. To ensure that all tasks are performed safely and securely within these periods, delays and errors must be kept to an absolute minimum. In round-the-clock production, this can be difficult to implement, for example due to regular software updates, the frequency and duration of which are not always known.

For uninterrupted operation of the entire system in an industrial environment, several key functions and integrations are required to ensure reliability, performance, and compatibility with specific application requirements. This includes using industrial-grade components that are characterized by a long service life and an extended temperature and voltage range. The microcontroller must also support the right interfaces and associated communication protocols and be compatible with a wide range of industrial software tools and libraries.

One device that meets all these criteria is Infineon’s 32-bit XMC7000 microcontroller. It is based on the Arm Cortex M7 processor core and was primarily developed for industrial purposes. As such, it is equipped with various peripherals, such as CAN-FD, TCPWM, and Gigabit Ethernet, and features for hardware security. Its low-power modes extend down to 8 µA. Thanks to its wide temperature range of –40°C to +125°C, the XMC7000 offers a high level of resistance in harsh industrial environments. To meet design requirements as precisely as possible, the XMC7000 ensures high scalability in terms of the number of processor cores and the size of the flash memory and RAM and comes with four package/pin types and 17 part number variants.

A robust local communication network is required for reliable and secure interoperability of all the important components for motor and power control, such as motors, drives, controls, and sensors. For this purpose, the XMC7000 provides standardized communication interfaces such as CAN-FD, serial communication blocks (SCB), and Ethernet interfaces. An external memory, an SDHC interface, an I2S/TDM interface, and numerous I/Os facilitate integration and communication between various devices and platforms.

In most cases, tasks such as the acquisition of sensor data or the control of external power semiconductors must be performed in real time. To meet such requirements, the XMC7000 is equipped with up to two Arm Cortex M7 cores with clock rates of up to 350 MHz, up to 8 MB Flash, and up to 1 MB SRAM. In addition, there is 256 kB of Work Flash, which, in contrast to the Code Flash, is optimized for significantly more frequent reprogramming.

Protection against cyber threats

Increasing connectivity and comprehensive data exchange in manufacturing and automation environments inevitably lead to cyber threats. Engine and power control systems are particularly vulnerable to these threats, and attacks can severely disrupt production processes and pose a great risk to sensitive data. 

Given these risks, security measures such as secure-over-the-air (SOTA) firmware upgrades and secure boot are critical when it comes to ensuring the right firmware runs securely. Fixed anchors, including encryption, access controls, and intrusion detection systems, also help protect against these threats. These functions are performed by the integrated Arm Cortex M0+, which executes these tasks in real time.

A/D converters, timers/counters, and PWMs (TCPWM) are essential components

To support applications with multi-axis drives and the synchronous sampling of analog sensor signals, the MCU has three independent ADCs with upstream multiplexers based on the principle of a successive approximation register (SAR) with the lowest latency for real-time sampling. The XMC7000 also has a high number of TCPWM blocks that can be used flexibly. For example, for driving three-phase asynchronous motors, the average voltage applied to the motor can be fine-tuned by cleverly adjusting the duty cycle of the PWM signal to achieve optimum performance and responsiveness. For this purpose, the TCPWM blocks are interconnected at hardware level and offer a variety of possibilities for parameterization. In addition, there are special PWM modules for motor control, which offer various functions, such as extended quadrature, asymmetrical PWM generation, and dead-time adjustment.

In addition, the XMC7000 has further special I/O features, referred to as smart I/Os. They can be parameterized as digital connection logic (AND, OR, XOR, and predefined lookup tables). Input signals can thus be processed without intervention of the CPU. This makes it possible, for example, to detect a certain pattern on one or more pins in the controller’s energy-saving mode and to react to it (safety circuit).

Development tools

There are many software solutions for the XMC7000 that make it easier for the user to develop motor control or energy conversion applications, for example. Infineon provides the ModusToolbox development platform for this purpose, which contains software tools and resources to simplify the design process. It can be used as a stand-alone or fully integrated version with the Eclipse-based IDE. The user-friendly device configurator enables consistent development across multiple industry-standard platforms, such as Eclipse, VS code, and IAR. In addition, ModusToolbox includes a set of development tools, libraries, and embedded runtime assets. It is available free of charge and supports many other Infineon products.

Performance, energy efficiency, and security are the main focus when developing robotic applications, industrial drives, and applications for electric vehicles.

The XMC7000 from Infineon has everything a microcontroller for industrial applications needs.

Key features of the XMC7000 

32-bit MCU 

  • as a single or dual core based on the 350 MHz Arm Cortex M7 and 100 MHz Arm Cortex M0+ for cryptography 
  • up to 8 MB Flash, up to 1 MB SRAM, and I/D cache

Voltage range: 2.7–5.5 V

Extended temperature range, up to 125°C


  • CAN FD with up to ten channels, SCB with up to eleven channels 
  • eMMC, SMIF (QSPI/HS-SPI), 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet with up to two channels
  • AD converter 
  • up to 96 channels based on three 12-bit A/D converters using the principle of a successive approximation register (SAR ADC)
  • Timer 
  • Motor control with up to 15 channels, 87-channel 16-bit TCPWM (Timer/Counter/Pulse Width Modulation), 16-channel 32-bit TCPWM
  • Timer for event generation 

Package: 100/144 and 176-pin TQFP, LFBGA-272

Demonstration of controlling a robot arm with the XMC7000: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Su1ZCZ-LtoY


For more information and a direct ordering option, please visit our e-commerce platform at www.rutronik24.com.

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