Taking a Look at Development with the Renesas RA 32-bit Microcontroller Family

Renesas has a long history in semiconductor products that started as a joint venture between Hitachi and Mitsubishi in 2003 which then merged with NEC Electronics in 2010. They have a strong legacy in microcontrollers and the RA series is one of their latest MCU families.

Renesas Advanced (RA) Microcontroller Family

The Renesas Advanced (RA) Family MCU series are based on 32-bit Arm® Cortex®-M cores. The MCU series have been designed on common DNA, making the products feature- and pin-compatible. This allows easy scalability and code reuse from one device to another.

(Image source: Renesas)

The three families, RA2, RA4, and RA6, offer a broad mix of performance, peripherals, power and memory. Typical applications range from user interface to IoT endpoints.

Renesas RA6 MCUs at Digi-Key

Renesas RA4 MCUs at Digi-Key

Renesas RA2 MCUs at Digi-Key

Development Tools and Support

Integrated Development Environment (IDE) choices for the RA family include Keil MDK and Renesas’ own e² studio. Compiler options include GNU and Arm Compiler version 6. Emulator choices include SEGGER J-Link and Renesas E2/E2 Lite. Flash memory programmer includes Renesas PG-FP6 and multiple third party solutions.

(Image source: Renesas)

Renesas development boards available for the RA family include the EK-RA2A1 for the RA2A1 group, EK-RA4M1 for the RA4M1 group, EK-RA6M1 for the RA6M1 group, EK-RA6M2 for the RA6M2 group and EK-RA6M3 and EK-RA6M3G (EK-RA6M3 plus graphics expansion board) for the RA6M3 group.

Flexible Software Package (FSP)

The Renesas RA Flexible Software Package (FSP) provides a quick and versatile way to build secure connected IoT devices using the Renesas RA Family of Arm microcontrollers.

(Image source: Renesas)

FSP provides production ready peripheral drivers, connectivity protocol stacks, Amazon FreeRTOS and middleware stacks to take advantage of the FSP ecosystem.

e² studio Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

The e² studio is a free Eclipse-based integrated development environment (IDE) for Renesas MCUs and covers all development processes, from downloading sample code to debugging.

(Image source: Renesas)

e² studio consists of the open-source Eclipse integrated environment framework, CDT plug-in, and various plug-ins from Renesas and partner vendors. This structure makes it easy to add or update compilers and plug-ins, making the e² studio a highly multi-functional and expandable IDE. The RA family can generate ready-to-use codes for Renesas microcontrollers through GUI including the setting of driver and middleware provided by the Flexible Software Package (FSP), pin assignments, and clocks/interrupts configuration. Additional information and download link for e² studio can be found at the Renesas site.

EK-RA6M1 Evaluation Kit

The EK-RA6M1 is a good example of the RA evaluation kits provided by Renesas and features the entry-level part for the high performance RA6 family. It is based on the R7FA6M1AD3CFP which features a 120 MHz Arm® Cortex®-M4 core with Floating Point Unit (FPU), 256 KB SRAM, 512 KB code flash and 8 KB dataflash memory.

(Image source: Renesas)

Evaluation board features include Debug on-board (SEGGER J-Link®), Debug in (SWD and JTAG), two Digilent PmodTM interfaces (SPI and UART), user LED, mechanical user button, capacitive touch user button, and MCU boot configuration jumper. Native pin access is provided by 4 x 40-pin male headers. Since the Renesas RA evaluation boards utilize SEGGER J-link for debug, they support the very useful RTT Viewer tool. With RTT (Real Time Transfer) technology it is possible to output information from the target microcontroller as well as sending input to the application at a very high speed without affecting the target’s real-time behavior.

EK-RA6M1 Eval Kit and e² studio IDE Project

The scope of the project was to do a hands-on evaluation of the Renesas e² studio development environment and EK-RA6M1 evaluation kit. The project starts off with installation of e² studio and SEGGER RTT Viewer on a Windows 10 laptop. The next phase walks through the quick start blinky project provided on the evaluation board. The second project uses the I2C interface to configure and communicate with an external PMODACL sensor board and send sensor data to RTT Viewer.

(Image source: Scheme-it)

For complete project details, see the eeWiki project “Working with the Renesas EK-RA6M1 Eval Kit and e² studio IDE. ” In summary, working with the EK and e² studio was a good experience. The tools were easy to install and connect to the EK-RA6M1 evaluation board in the development environment. The Eclipse-based code editor and project explorer are intuitive and straightforward to use.


Renesas’ RA family of MCUs combined with e² studio provides a complete platform solution when developing products for real world applications. The RA family offers a broad range of cost effective MCU options for diverse application requirements. e² studio’s capable and flexible tool suite coupled with Renesas RA evaluation kits makes a complete, easy-to-use development environment.

About this author

Image of Scott Raeker

Scott Raeker, Technical Marketing Manager at Digi-Key Electronics, has been with the company since 2006. He has over 35 years of experience in the electronics industry and holds an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Minnesota. In his spare time, Scott enjoys the outdoors of Northwest Minnesota and working on his turn-of-the-century farmhouse.

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