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New Gecko MCUs Combine Hardware Cryptography

Published: Dec 16,2015

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Silicon Labs has introduced two new EFM32 Gecko microcontroller (MCU) families that provide advancements in security and energy management technologies. The new Jade Gecko and Pearl Gecko MCUs combine a hardware cryptography engine, flexible low-energy modes, an on-chip dc-dc converter and scalable memory options backed by Silicon Labs’ developer-friendly Simplicity Studio tools.

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EFM32 Jade and Pearl Gecko MCUs target an array of energy-sensitive and battery-powered devices including wearable health and fitness trackers, smart door locks, point-of-sale devices, security sensors and other IoT node applications.

Jade and Pearl Gecko MCUs address the growing need to equip IoT-connected devices with the latest security technologies to thwart hackers. The new MCUs feature a hardware cryptography engine providing fast, energy-efficient, autonomous encryption and decryption for Internet security protocols such as TLS/SSL with minimal CPU intervention—and without sacrificing battery life.

The on-chip crypto-accelerator supports advanced algorithms such as AES with 128- or 256-bit keys, elliptical curve cryptography (ECC), SHA-1 and SHA-224/256. Hardware cryptography enables developers to meet evolving IoT security requirements more efficiently than with conventional software-only techniques often required by competing MCUs.

Based respectively on ARM Cortex-M3 and M4 cores, Jade and Pearl Gecko MCUs provide ample performance for connected devices while enabling developers to optimize battery life or use smaller batteries for space-constrained designs. The new MCUs feature an enhanced peripheral reflex system (PRS) that lets low-power peripherals operate autonomously while the MCU core sleeps, allowing connected devices to sleep longer, thus extending battery life.

Energy-saving low active-mode current (63 µA/MHz) enables computationally intensive tasks to execute faster. Low sleep-mode current (1.4 µA down to 30 nA) and ultra-fast wake-up/sleep transitions further minimize energy consumption.

Jade and Pearl Gecko MCUs also integrate a high-efficiency dc-dc buck converter. Offering a total current capacity of 200 mA, the on-chip converter can provide a power rail for other system components in addition to powering the MCU. This power management innovation reduces bill-of-materials (BOM) cost and board area by eliminating the need for an external dc-dc converter.


- Choice of 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 and M4 cores scaling up to 40 MHz

- On-chip hardware encryption/decryption accelerator supporting random number generator, AES, ECC and SHA technologies

- Flexible energy management system with a wide range of low-energy modes

- 12-channel peripheral reflex system (PRS) supporting autonomous interaction between peripherals down to deep sleep mode, as well as configurable logic functions

- 12-bit, 1 Msps analog-to-digital converter (ADC) capable of sampling and performing autonomous comparisons down to stop mode

- Integrated dc-dc buck converter providing a power rail for other system components

- Scalable memory options (up to 256 kB flash with 32 kB RAM)

- Independent I/O rail supporting 1.8V to 5V components

- Software-compatible with existing portfolio of 240+ EFM32 Gecko MCUs

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