TI Home > News Releases

News Releases

TI helps developers make the world safer with its new Hercules™ safety microcontroller platform for medical, industrial & transportation applications

New MCUs ease IEC 61508 SIL 3 and ISO 26262 ASIL-D system certification with dual floating-point ARM® Cortex™-R4F cores in lockstep, integrated diagnostics and safety documentation

Sep 6, 2011

HOUSTON, Sept. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Designed to help developers obtain safety certifications, Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NYSE: TXN) today announced its new Hercules safety microcontroller platform for medical, industrial and transportation applications. The platform consists of three ARM Cortex-based microcontroller families that deliver scalable performance, connectivity, memory and safety features for applications that require a high level of reliability. Unlike many microcontrollers that rely heavily on software for safety capabilities, Hercules microcontrollers implement safeguards in hardware to maximize performance and reduce software overhead. Coupled with robust tools, software and safety documentation, this functionality gives developers the headroom to differentiate their end products and speed time to market. For more information, visit www.ti.com/hercules-pr-lp.

To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, go to: http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/texasinstruments/39162

Hercules safety microcontrollers are rooted in TI's 20+ years of safety-critical system expertise, industry collaboration and proven hardware for the automotive market. The new Hercules RM4x family provides the highest levels of performance for broad applications, including medical and industrial. The Hercules TMS570 family addresses transportation applications and the Hercules TMS470M family cost-efficiently meets the needs of applications that require less performance.

Advanced safety features of the high-performance Hercules RM4x and TMS570 families:

The Hercules RM4x and TMS570 microcontroller families provide safety features in hardware to detect random faults and protect against systematic faults.

  • Dual ARM Cortex-R4F floating-point cores in lockstep provide the highest level of on line diagnostics
  • CPU and all bus masters include memory protection
  • Error correction code (ECC) for flash and RAM with Single Bit Error Correction and Double Bit Error Detection (SECDED) evaluated in the lockstep CPUs without performance impact
  • CPU and RAM include built-in-self-test (BIST) for detection of potential latent faults without software overhead
  • Parity on peripheral RAMs, dual analog-to-digital-converters (ADCs) and timers, as well as voltage and clock monitoring for additional diagnostic coverage
  • Intelligent Error Signaling Module allows the end application to take appropriate action based on the type of error
  • Safety manual details how to implement Hercules MCUs into safety-critical applications
  • Failure Modes, Effects and Diagnostic Analysis (FMEDA) provides the failure rate information needed to meet safety standards


Features and benefits of the Hercules RM4x MCU family:

  • Up to 220 MHz based on dual ARM Cortex-R4F floating-point cores in lockstep, providing high performance for industrial automation, servo drives and medical instrumentation such as diagnostic and therapeutic equipment
  • Supports single and double precision floating-point math to execute complex math
  • Capable of achieving International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61508 SIL-3 safety standard
  • Ethernet, CAN, and USB connectivity for networking capabilities important to safety-critical industrial automation and medical instrumentation
  • Up to 3 MB flash and 256KB RAM for feature-rich applications


Features and benefits of the Hercules TMS570 MCU family:

  • Up to 180 MHz based on dual ARM Cortex-R4F floating-point cores in lockstep, providing performance for transportation applications, such as railway, aerospace and automotive
  • Supports single and double precision floating-point math to execute complex math
  • Capable of achieving ISO 26262 ASIL-D and IEC 61508 SIL-3 safety standards and is AEC-Q100 qualified to satisfy automotive requirements
  • Operation up to 125 degrees Celsius to address transportation temperature ranges
  • Ethernet, CAN, and FlexRay™ connectivity for higher-bandwidth networking required for existing and evolving transportation applications
  • Up to 3MB flash and 256KB RAM for feature-rich applications


Features and benefits of the Hercules TMS470M MCU family:

  • Up to 80 MHz based on an ARM Cortex-M3 core provides cost-efficient performance
  • AEC-Q100 qualified to satisfy automotive requirements and support for IEC 61508 system safety requirements
  • Local Interconnect Network (LIN) and CAN support common transportation networking
  • 320 - 640KB flash and 16 – 48KB RAM address varying memory requirements

Tools and support for safety-critical development

To get started quickly, developers can use the low-cost Hercules USB Stick Development Kits or the full-featured Hercules Development Kits. Each kit comes with all the hardware and software required to get up and running quickly, including TI's Code Composer Studio™ integrated development environment, HALCoGen peripheral configuration tool and a Safety Demo that showcases BIST execution and error forcing modes.  

Pricing and availability

Hercules microcontrollers range from $5 – $30 USD at 10K unit quantities and are immediately available for order. The RM4x Hercules USB Stick Development Kit (TMDXRM48USB) is priced at $79 USD and the RM4x Hercules Development Kit (TMDXRM48HDK) is priced at $199 USD. The kits are available to order at www.ti.com/hercules-pr-es. Additional information on tool options and pricing can be found at www.ti.com/hercules-tools-pr.

TI's broad portfolio of microcontrollers (MCUs) and software

From general purpose, ultra-low power MSP430™ MCUs, to Stellaris® Cortex™-M MCUs to real-time control C2000™ MCUs, and now Hercules safety MCUs, TI offers the broadest range of microcontroller solutions. Designers can accelerate time to market by tapping into TI's complete software and hardware tools, extensive third-party offerings and technical support.

Find out more about TI's MCUs, tools and software:

About Texas Instruments

Texas Instruments semiconductor innovations help 80,000 customers unlock the possibilities of the world as it could be - smarter, safer, greener, healthier and more fun.  Our commitment to building a better future is ingrained in everything we do - from the responsible manufacturing of our semiconductors, to caring for our employees, to giving back inside our communities.  This is just the beginning of our story.  Learn more at www.ti.com.

Testimonials from Customers and Partners

"The TMS570 was chosen for both its safety and performance aspects and is our choice for future new product development."

-Stéphane Poulin, M.Sc.A., ing. Vice President, Product Development, TM4 Electrodynamic Systems

 "TTTech has selected TI's Hercules MCU for its Modular Safety Platform (MSP)  to support a number of highly demanding ISO 26262 ASIL D compliant ECU development programs. In addition, this Hercules MCU-based platform is used for industrial control applications fulfilling IEC 61508 requirements as well. We are very happy to work with TI, as we will be able to efficiently achieve our stringent safety goals over a number of programs including TÜV approvals very efficiently. Having our customers' benefit in mind, TTTech's MSP available on TI's Hercules MCUs provides a proven certifiable solution, which drastically reduces the development time for any system requiring high reliability."

-Dr. Stefan Poledna, Member of the Executive Board, TTTech Computertechnik AG.

"TI's choice of the ARM Cortex-R4 processor for its range of safety-critical Hercules microcontrollers is testimony to the processor's low power consumption, advanced design and integrated safety features, such as ECC. ARM has worked with TI to provide the requisite safety-related collateral that will accelerate product development and system certification in transportation, medical, industrial and similar applications, where we anticipate wide adoption of the ARM architecture."

- Chris Turner, Senior product marketing manager, Processor Division, ARM.

"Coupling SAFERTOS® with the TI Hercules Safety MCU platform provides an easy path to certification, not only in terms of the cost and labor savings, but also the time to launching a certified product in the market.  SAFERTOS® provides a real-time, deterministic, pre-certified embedded operating system for your safety-critical and mission-critical applications.  Using the pre-certified operating system, in conjunction with the TI Hercules Safety MCU with integrated safety features, reduces development cost by eliminating the need for customers to internally certify the operating system or write extensive MCU safety software.  This allows our customers to focus on their unique application and still utilize all of the features of the operating system and the full performance of the MCU."

-Dr. David Cowling, Managing Director of WITTENSTEIN High Integrity Systems


Stellaris is a registered trademark and Hercules, MSP430, C2000 and Code Composer Studio are trademarks of Texas Instruments Incorporated.  All registered trademarks and other trademarks belong to their respective owners.

SOURCE Texas Instruments