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Unboxing EK-RA6M4 kit from Renesas Electronics

KamillaAliakhmet
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In this DesignSpark unboxing episode, Kamilla reviews EK-RA6M4 evaluation kit (206-4728) from Renesas Electronics, which features RA6M4 microcontroller - the latest addition to Renesas Advanced (RA) 32-bit family of MCUs.

We have also interviewed the Product Manager for this group from Renesas to discuss what differentiates the kit from other development boards available in the market and how you can easily get started with it.

Overview

The RA6M4 MCU is best suited for applications that require high-speed connectivity and security, which covers areas such as industrial applications, enhanced security and building automation. In the box, you will find the EK-RA6M4 board, micro USB device and host cables as well as Ethernet patch cable.

Renesas EK-RA6M4 board layout

MCU Native Pin Access Area

The board includes the Arm® Cortex®-M33 core RA6M4 MCU with 200 MHz of operating frequency, 1 MB Flash and 256 kB SRAM. The MCU comes in 144 pin LQFP package. You will be able to access all RA MCU interface signals and power ports through these four 40-pin male headers. This is particularly useful in case you want to prototype and test custom circuitry with the RA6M4 MCU. The MCU current measurement points and multiple clock sources are also available in this section of the board.

Special Feature Access Area

This section consists of Ethernet transceiver with Reduced Media Independent Interface (RMII) and corresponding RJ45 standard Ethernet connector as well as 32 MB Quad-SPI flash and 64 MB Octo-SPI flash for external memory expansion options.

System Control and Ecosystem Access Area

This area is very similar across all RA kits to help the designers to re-use their knowledge and experience.

You will notice that there are several options when it comes to powering the board. Both full-speed USB and debug USB connectors can be used to supply the operating voltage of 5V. There are also two test points over here that can perform the same function. The on-board LDO is used to convert 5V to 3.3V for the MCU and other peripherals.

Similarly, there are multiple debugging options available with this kit, including onboard debugging with Renesas S124 MCU through Debug USB connector, Debug In functionality with external debugging tools through 10-pin and 20-pin Cortex Debug connectors as well as Debug Out option, which allows using the on-board S124 MCU to debug any external RA MCUs.

Lastly, this area supports five most popular ecosystem expansions, consisting of two SeeedGrove® system connectors, SparkFun® Qwiic® connector, MikroElektronikaTM mikroBUS connector, two Digilent PmodTM connectors and ArduinoTM Uno R3 compatible connector.

What differentiates EK-RA6M4 kit from others?

• Superset RA6M4 device – a lot of high-speed serial connectivity and integrated security, high memory density, a large number of GPIOs

• On-board Ethernet, Octo-SPI, Quad-SPI, USB FS Host & Device

• Multiple debugging modes – eliminated the need for a standalone debugger

• Attention to small details across every aspect of the product that makes it use easy, fun, and exciting

• Quick learning curve - a set of standard features across RA kits, allows reuse of knowledge and experience

• Quick prototyping - Provides user ability to simultaneously connect several 3rd party modules to test drive the functionality relevant for their end-products

What resources are available to get started?

• Kit - user manual, quick start guide, and many example projects

• Accompanying middleware - Flexible Software Package – includes RTOS, drivers, etc.

• Accompanying development tools - e2 studio development toolchain – support for various compilers, debuggers, etc. 

If you want to learn more about the kit and download code/user manual, check out kits page here

I am an electronics engineer who is passionate about technology. In my spare time, I like travelling, blogging and learning new languages. よろしくお願いします.

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