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Posts Tagged ‘mcu’

STMicro Releases Linux based STM32 MCU Development Tools

February 10th, 2016 2 comments

Until a few years ago, most development tools for micro-controllers were only available for Windows, but as Linux gained popularity among developers and engineers, community of developers designed development tools running in Linux, but only a few companies are providing tools that run on Linux operating systems. The good news is that STMicro has just announced the release of STM32CubeMX configurator and System Workbench for STM32, for both Linux and Windows, with Mac OS supporting coming on Q2 2016.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Developped by Ac6 embedded systems company, System Workbench for STM32 relies on Eclipse IDE, supports the ST-LINK/V2 debugging tool under Linux through an adapted version of the OpenOCD project, and can be used with various STMicro STM32 boards including Nucleo boards, Discovery kits, and other Evaluation boards.

You can give it a try by visiting OpenSTM32 Community, but for some reasons they ask you to register before accessing the installation instructions. If you already have a recent Eclipse installed, and you easily , and otherwise the best way is to use the installer (install_sw4stm32_linux_64bits-v1.3.run) that will install all required components.STM32_System_Workbench_Installation

You can then launch Eclipse that you should be installed in ~/Ac6/SystemWorkbench/eclipse.

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GigaDevice GD32 is a Faster, Software and Pin-to-pin STM32 Compatible Cortex M3 MCU

December 21st, 2015 2 comments

Las month, Olimex discovered a Chinese company called GigaDevice has made an STM32 clone called GD32 and compatible with STM32F103, but with higher core frequency (108MHz). Olimex has now posted an update after receiving a letter from GigaDevice, and trying GD32F103RBT6 MCU on their own STM32F103 boards. The company explained that GD32 was their own implementation, and claimed rights on GD32 trademarks, while Olimex discovered than GD32 was working just fine on their board having passed “all functional tests without any modifications”, and with all the same development tools and software code running fine.

Olimex_STM32_P103_GD32_MCU

Olimex STM32-P103 Board with GD32 MCU

GD32F103xx datasheet (PDF / English version) can be downloaded to find a few more details:

The GD32F103xx device incorporates the ARM Cortex-M3 32-bit processor core operating at 108 MHz frequency with Flash accesses zero wait states to obtain maximum efficiency. It provides up to 3 MB on-chip Flash memory and up to 96 KB SRAM memory. An extensive range of enhanced I/Os and peripherals connected to two APB buses. The devices offer up to three 12-bit ADCs, up to two 12-bit DACs, up to ten general-purpose 16-bit timers, two basic timers plus two PWM advanced-control timer, as well as standard and advanced communication interfaces: up to three SPIs, two I2Cs, three USARTs, two UARTs, two I2Ss, an USB 2.0 FS, a CAN and a SDIO.

The device operates from a 2.6 to 3.6 V power supply and available in –40 to +85 °C temperature range. Several power saving modes provide the flexibility for maximum optimization between wakeup latency and power consumption, an especially important consideration in low power applications.

Roger Clark also found out the board previously, and added support for GD32 to Arduino STM32. He also noticed that beside the fast clock speed, the zero wait state internal flash also provided performance improvements with GD32 delivering 64.41 VAX MIPS against 48.81 VAX  MIPS when both MCUs are clocked at the same 72 MHz frequency.

GD32 Board

GD32 Board

The tests were done on the GD32F103 board above, which can be purchased for 15 RMB (~$2.3 US) on Taobao. I also looked for GD32 board on Aliexpress, but the MCU does not appear to be very popular outside of China, and I only found one $12.75 GD32 + WiFi board. If you are based in China you have more more choice here and there with evaluation boards with LCD displays selling for 281 RMB (~$44 US) and up. You can also purchase various version of GD32 MCUs directly for $0.70 to $2.80 on Taobao.

Visit GigaDevice GD32 product page for some more details.

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$15 Microchip Curiosity Development Board Supports 8-bit PIC Microcontrollers

December 21st, 2015 No comments

I’ve just found out Microchip had introduced Curiosity development board a little while ago, in order to let students and others experiment with their 8-bit PIC DIP MCUs, and including MikroElectronika Mikrobus footprint, an interface for Microchip RN4020 module to add Bluetooth Low Energy, as well as other headers and some extra features like buttons, and a potentiometer.

Microchip_CuriosityMicrochip Curiosity board specifications:

  • MCU – PIC MCU socket for 8, 14, and 20-pin micro-controllers with PIC16F1619 pre-installed.
  • Expansion
  • USB – USB mini-B connector
  • Misc – Master Clear Reset button, potentiometer, LEDs, mTouch button, push button
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via USB
    • 9V using an external power supply (footprints only)
    • 3.3V to 5V external power supply via TP3 and TP4 pins
  • Dimensions – N/A

There are over 160 MikroElektronika Click boars on the market now, but only seven are listed with code samples for Curiosity board. Documentation includes a Quick Start Guide, product brief, and user’s manual. MPLAB Code Configurator and MPLAB X v3.05 or later can be used to program the board and develop your project, with the free graphical tools available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

MPLAB_X_IDE_Curiosity

Microchip Curiosity board normally sells for $20, but the coupon EOY2015DT will bring that down to $15 + shipping and taxes. More details can be found on the development board’s product page.

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Ambiq Micro Apollo Low Power MCUs Promise Cortex M4F Performance at Cortex M0+ Energy Efficiency

November 13th, 2015 2 comments

Ambiq_Micro_Apollo_MCUAmbiq Micro is a US company founded in 2010 that focuses on “extremely low power” semiconductors leveraging their patented Subthreshold Power Optimized Technology (SPOT) platform. Earlier this year, they announced their first low power Cortex-M4F MCU Apollo family with claims of 5 to 10 times lower power consumption compared to other micro-controllers with the same performance. According to an EETimes article, they’ve at least partially backed their claims with a live demonstration at ARM TechCon 2015.

 

Ambiq Micro Apollo MCu Block Diagram

Ambiq Micro Apollo MCu Block Diagram

Before checking out the test results, let’s have a look at the main features of Apollo MCU family:

  • 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4F processor @ up to 24 MHz, with FPU, and wake-up interrupt controller with 12 interrupts
  • Up to 512KB flash, 64-KB low-leakage RAM
  • “Rich set of timing peripherals”
  • Peripherals
    • I2C/SPI master; I2C/SPI; UART;
    • 10-bit, 13-channel, 1MS/s ADC
    • Temperature sensor with ±2°C accuracy
  • Voltage Range –  1.8 to 3.8V
  • Power Consumption:
    • active mode: 30µA/MHz (executing from Flash)
    • sleep mode (with RTC on) – 100nA
  • Packages – 64-pin BGA (4.5 x 4.5mm) with 50 GPIO, or 42-pin CSP (2.4 x 2.77mm) with 28 GPIO

One way to assess a micro-controller energy efficiency is to run EEMBC ULPBench benchmark, and Ambiq Micro Apollo MCU achieved a verified ULPMark-CP score of 377.50 points. That’s about double the score by the runner-up namely STMicro STM32L476RG MCU.

This ultra-low power consumption is made possible thanks to the SPOT platform which allows operation at lower voltages:

Ambiq Micro’s SPOT platform operates transistors at subthreshold voltages (less than 0.5V), rather than using transistors that are turned all the way “on” at 1.8V. It uses the leakage current of “off” transistors to compute in both digital and analog domains. The patented technology, implemented in an industry-standard CMOS process, has overcome the challenges of noise susceptibility, temperature sensitivity and process drift previously associated with subthreshold voltage switching.

Voltage Levels for Standard IC vs Ambiq SPOT IC

Voltage Levels for Standard IC vs Ambiq SPOT IC

Apollo MCUs are available now for $1.50 each in 10K+ volumes. Ambiq Micro has now a limited portfolio of products with only Apollo MCU and some RTC chips, but if the technology can also be applied to low power communication chips, we should see more coming.

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Intel Unveils Three New Micro-controllers for IoT: Quark D1000, Quark D2000, and Quark SE

November 6th, 2015 11 comments

Intel’s subsidiary, Wind River, has recently announced two operating systems for the Internet of things with Rocket RTOS and Pulsar Linux supported respectively by Quark MCUs, and Intel Atom processors, as well as some ARM SoCs. But it’s not the only “IoT” announcement made by Intel in the last week, as I found out via EETimes that the company also unveiled three new Quark SoCs, namely Quark D1000, and Quark D2000, and Quark SE.

Intel Quark D1000

Typical D1000 Application Block Diagram

Typical D1000 Application Block Diagram

Contrary to previous Quark processor and the upcoming D2000 and SE processors, D1000 is not compatible with x86 instructions set, and features the following:

  • 32-bit Harvard CISC CPU @ 33 MHz with single cycle barrel shifter, two cycle multiplier, multi-cycle divider, integrated 32-bit timer, programmable interrupt controller, and JTAG debugger.
  • 128-bit wide 32 kB code flash and 8 kB ROM
  • 32-bit wide 8 kB SRAM and 4 kB data flash
  • Osciallators
    • 20-33 MHz crystal oscillator for low jitter precision frequency and 4-32 MHz silicon oscillator for reduced power.
    • 32 kHz low power crystal oscillator and real-time clock
  • Peripherals and IOs
    • 19-channel 12-bit 2.4 MSps SAR ADC
    • 6x high-speed and 13x low-power comparators
    • 32-bit watchdog timer
    • 2x 32-bit general purpose timers with independent clock frequencies.
    • 24x general purpose I/O with edge detection and interrupt capability.
    • 16 Mbps SPI master and slave interfaces supporting Motorola SPI, Texas Instruments SSP and National Semiconductor Microwire formats.
    • I2C master/slave interface supporting both 100 kbps standard and 400 kbps fast modes.
    • 2x UARTs with hardware handshaking.
    • 24x ESD-protected versatile digital I/O buffers with high current drive and programmable direction, slew rate, and pull-up control.
    • 19x ESD-protected analog inputs sharing the same pins as digital I/O for fast wake up from digital or analog input signals.
  • Low Power Features
    • Sleep regimes down to 1.5 μA.
    • Wake up in as little as 2.0 μs.
    • Active regimes down to 320 μA.
    • 300 μA low quiescent current linear VR for low power sleep regimes and 50 mA buck VR for active regimes and off chip devices.
  • Power Supply Range – 1.62-3.63 V.
  • Temperature Range – -40°C to 85°C
  • Package – QFN40; 6×6 mm

Intel Quark D1000 product page is up, where you can read a shorter features summary, and access the datasheet and a user guide. Intel still publishes TDP for Quark, and it might be the first true low power Intel micro-controller with 0.025W TDP @ 33MHz, and 1.6mW configurable TDP @ 1 MHz. Intel expects D1000 MCU to target “battery-powered and line-powered sensors to provide secure, intelligent processing for wired and wireless real-world  applications at the edge”.

Intel Quark D2000

Quark D2000 Block Diagram

Quark D2000 Block Diagram

Quark D2000 has a more powerful x86 core:

  • CPU – 32-bit processor @ 32 MHz Intel Pentium x86-compatible without x87 floating point unit
  • Flash – 32 KB instruction + 8 KB data
  • RAM – 8 KB
  • Peripherals and I/Os
    • 25x independently configurable General-purpose I/O
    • 2x General-use timers
    • 2x PWM (Pulse width modulator)
    • Watchdog timer – Resolution from 8 μs to ~60 s (running at 32 Mhz)
    • Real-time clock – Sources a 32-bit counter running from 1 Hz up to 32.768 KHz
    • 2x UART 16550-compliant interfaces,  2x SPI (1 master with up to 4 devices, 1 slave), 1x I2C (master/slave)
    • 19-channel SAR ADC  (12/10/8/[email protected]/2.8/3.3 MSps); 1.8~3.6V
    • 19 analog comparators: 6 high-performance & 13 low-power
    • 2x unidirectional DMA channels
  • Security – Secure update, 8k OTP, JTAG lock, isolated SRAM regions, on-die NVM read/write access control
  • Crystal oscillators – (externally generated) 32 MHz & 32.768 KHz
  • Silicon oscillator – (internally generated) 32 MHz & 32.768 KHz
  • 4/8/16/32 MHz CPU clock generator ; Low-power compute mode w/RTC clock source
  • Voltages – PCDD: 1.8–3.63 V; AVDD: 2.0–3.63 V; IOVDD: 1.8–3.63 V; DVDD: 1.8 V +/- 10%
  • Power supply – DC-DC 2.0 V, 3.3 V
  • Temperature Range – -40 °C to +85 °C
  • Package – 40-pin QFN, 6×6 mm

Intel Quark D2000 product page provides access to a product brief, but the datasheet is only available to holders of “Intel Embedded Design Center (Intel EDC) Privileged account”. D2000 micro-controllers are expected to be used in industrial applications (smart readers), medical applications (sensor and device controllers), for display controllers in the retail space, and motor controllers in buildings.

Intel Quark SE

Quark_SE_Block_Diagram

Intel Quark SE Block Diagram

Intel Quark SE shares somes of Quark D2000 features but with extra goodies such as more memory and storage, an instruction cache, a sensor subsystem (DSP), a pattern-matching accelerator, more I/Os, etc…:

  • CPU – 32-bit processor @ 32 MHz Intel Pentium x86-compatible without x87 floating point unit, and with 8 KB instruction cache
  • Sensor subsystem – 32-bit DSP core @ 32 MHz supporting ARCv2 ISA and floating point unit, with 8 KB instruction cache, and 8 KB DCCM (Data Closely Coupled Memory)
  • Pattern-matching accelerator – 128 neurons with 128 components per neuron
  • Flash – 384 KB on-die flash: 192 KB dedicated to host processor, 192 KB dedicated to sensor system. 8 KB OTP
  • RAM – 80 KB on-die SRAM
  • Peripherals and I/Os:
    • 32x independently configurable General-purpose I/O, 16x extra GPIOs via sensor subsystem (DSP)
    • 4x General-use timers
    • Watchdog timer
    • Real-time clock – Sources a 32-bit counter running from 1 Hz up to 32.768 KHz
    • 2x UART 16550-compliant interfaces,  3x SPI (2 master with up to 4 devices, 1 slave), 4x I2C (2x master/slave, 2x master only on the DSP)
    • USB – 1.1 device-only controller
    • 2x I2S interfaces: 1x transmit interface, 1x receive interface
    • Single ADC controller in DSP: 19 single-ended inputs, 12-bit resolution
    • 19x analog comparators: 6 high-performance & 13 low-power
    • 8x unidirectional DMA channels
  • Security – 8k OTP,  JTAG lock, on-die NVM read/write access control
  • Crystal oscillators – (externally generated) 32 MHz & 32.768 KHz
  • Silicon oscillator – (internally generated) 32 MHz & 32.768 KHz
  • 4/8/16/32 MHz CPU clock generator ; Low-power compute mode w/RTC clock source
  • Power Supply – 1.8V to 3.3V
  • Temperature Range – -40 °C to +85 °C
  • Package – 144-pin BGA, 10×10 mm

Intel Quark SE product page also only has the product brief currently publicly available, and Intel targets the same applications as Intel Quark D2000.

All three platforms will be supported by Intel System Studio for Microcontrollers, an Eclipse-based suite, but I could not find much details about this tool so far, and it’s unclear if it is the same, and if not, how much it differs from Intel System Studio for IoT.

The Intel Quark D1000 MCU is available right now, while Intel Quark  D2000 will be available by the end of the year, and Intel Quark SE SoC is scheduled for H1 2016. Beside product pages on Intel website listed above, you could also find some more info on Mouser’s Quark D1000, Quark D2000, and Quark SE pages where I found some block diagrams. [Update: Quark D1000 price is $3.9 for one piece, and $2.6 per unit for 1k order on Mouser]

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Categories: Hardware, Intel Quark Tags: intel, IoT, low power, mcu, sensors, x86

Freescale Kinetis KW41Z Wireless MCU Supports Bluetooth 4.2, Zigbee, and Thread

October 14th, 2015 No comments

Freescale has unveiled a new wireless micro-controller part of their Kinetis MCU family with Kinetis KW41Z, based on an ARM Cortex M0+ core, and supporting both the latest Bluetooth 4.2 specifications, as well as a 802.15.4 radio allowing support for Zigbee and Thread.

KW41Z Block Diagram

KW41Z Block Diagram

Kinetis KW41Z main features and specifications:

  • ARM Cortex-M0+ core @ 48 MHz, with up to 512 KB Flash memory, up to 128 KB SRAM, and an integrated balun
  • Multi Protocol Radio
    • 2.4 GHz radio, Bluetooth Low Energy 4.2 compliant
    • IEEE 802.15.4-2011 standard compliant radio
    • Receiver Sensitivity (Typ.) –  BLE: -96 dBm;  802.15.4:  -102 dBm
    • Programmable Transmitter Output Power up to +4 dBm
  • I/Os – 2x I2C, 2x SPI, LPUART, TSI, CMT and GPIOs with interrupt capabilities
  • Analog modules – 16-bit ADC, 12-bit DAC, 6-bit High Speed Analog Comparator (CMP)
  • Security – AES-128 Accelerator (AESA), True Random Number Generator (TRNG)
  • Operating Voltage Ranges
    • Bypass Voltage: 1.71V to 3.6V
    • DCDC Converter Buck Configuration: 2.1V to 4.2V
    • DCDC Converter Boost Configuration: 0.9V to 1.795V
  • Power modes and consumption
    • Nine low-power modes
    • Typical Rx/Tx Current (DC/DC Enabled): 6.2/6.0 mA

KW41Z supports dual PAN, meaning that two 802.15.4 networks, or a 802.15.4 based network and a Bluetooth LE network can be accessed concurrently (although not simultaneously), which eliminates the need for multiple radios, and reduces cost.

Typical Application: Bluetooth and Thread Smart Door

Typical Application: Bluetooth and Thread Smart Door

The company can provide BLE, Thread and Zigbee PRO host stacks and profiles supported by Kinetis Software Development Kit (SDK), and several real-time operating system (RTOS) are also supported. FRDM-KW41Z development board, and a USB-KW41Z USB dongle for sniffing packed via a PC will be available for development later on, but I could not find any details about the two hardware platform at this stage.

Kinetis KW41Z will be available to select customers in Q2 2016, with general availability expected in Q3 2016.

Via EETimes

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ATT7039AU Micro-controller Features an Energy Meter Unit for Power Meters

October 5th, 2015 4 comments

About two years ago, I purchased Northwest T8 power meter, and it worked fine for about three months, but one day the top plastic broke as as unplugged it, rubber bands prolonged its life for a few more weeks, but eventually the display stopped working, and keep it in my drawer for long while, until today, when I decided to have a closer look at how it was done.

Northwest_T8_power_meter

Click to Enlarge

The PCB is called CZ-7039-B2, and the top includes the display, 4 user buttons, as well as JTAG through holes (P2) and 2.54mm header (P1) with TDO, TMS, GND and 3.3V signals, as well as a pin called P1600, but I still haven’t found out what it might be for.

ATT7039AU_Power_Meter_Board

Click to Enlarge

I’ve also taken the board out completely, to find out everything is basically handled by a single 48-pin chip called ATT7039AU.

After a Google search, I quickly found out the chip is made by Shanghai based HiTrend Technology that specializes in Energy Monitoring chips based on ARM Cortex M0 or 8051 cores, and ATT7039AU datasheet is there for anybody to download, but unfortunately it’s mostly in Chinese, except diagrams.

ATT7039AU_Energy_Meter_MCU

ATT7039A Simplified Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

The chip uses a 8051 MCU core, with I2C, serial, timers, JTAF, and interrupt services runtime, and integrates 32KB flash, and 1KB XRAM. Peripheral support include an LCD interface with 8com x 12seg or 4com x 16seg, GPIOs, IR, RTC, and of course the energy meter unit.

Energy_Nonitor_Unit

Energy Meter Unit Block Diagram

A more detailed block diagram about the energy meter unit shows 4 inputs with V1P & V1N current signal inputs, V3P & V3N voltage signal inputs, and two outputs: PF anf QF, which are apparently used for calibration, as explained in paragraphs 4.3 of the datasheet.

You’ll also find a reference schematic, a FAQ, and SDKs using ARM Keil on the product page. So there’s probably all you need to know to design your own power meter, and ATT7039A can also be easily purchased on Aliexpress for less than $5 shipped, obviously much less in larger quantities.

One potential interesting application would be a WiFi power monitor for example combining ESP8266 with ATT7039U. Although products such as Broadlink SP2 can already monitor energy usage, and send data to the cloud, which can then be accessed from a mobile app, they are not as flexible as they could be, and mine only worked a few months.

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Categories: Hardware Tags: 8051, electronics, hitrend tech, mcu, power

ARM: “Microcontrollers Are Better Because There’s No GPL”

April 30th, 2015 5 comments

[Update: ARM has pulled down the video and issued a statement]

ARM has uploaded a video today entitled “Microcontrollers for Makers” showing the benefits of using micro-controller boards instead of processor based development boards such as Raspberry Pi or ODROID-C1, and their four first points are right on target, but the last one, as mentioned by Olimex, is completely wrong, and already made several people upset.

ARM_No_GPLLet’s go through the first four points:

  • Micro-controllers are more energy efficient, so if your project is requires years on a cell-coin battery, MCUs are the way to go.
  • MCU are cheaper too, now you can even get an MCU board for $1.
  • They are smaller. The chip shown on the golf ball is Kinetis KL03
  • If you need real-time I/O, processors can’t beat micro-controller, that why people decide to connect an Arduino board to their Raspberry Pi, or products like UDOO Neo are brought to market.

And now the last point: “No GPL”, “as you can keep your source code closed”. What?

First, there’s nothing that forces you to write your application with GPL code, so you can still run and release proprietary apps on Linux. Second, running code on an MCU does not systematically mean you don’t have to care of open source licenses, as for instance, ARM’s very own mbed TLS is licensed under a dual license including GPL. Finally, if they really aim to target hobbyists in that video, most of them don’t really need to care about licenses, as long as they only use their project internally, but I think many will still want to release their source code, simply because sharing your work is the default behavior for many in the makers’ community, and GPL’ed source code or other open source code is what allowed the makers’ community to prosper and grow.

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Categories: Hardware, Video Tags: arm, gpl, mcu