Archive

Posts Tagged ‘mcu’

Ambiq Micro Introduces Ultra-Low Power Apollo 2 Cortex-M4F MCU Consuming Less than 10 μA/MHz

December 18th, 2016 1 comment

Last year Ambiq Micro unveiled their Apollo Cortex-M4F MCU with Cortex M0+ energy efficiency thanks to operation in sub-threshold voltage (< 0.5 V), and the MCU is said found in Matrix Powerwatch, a fitness tracker powered by body heat that you never need to charge. The company has recently announced a new version of the micro-controller with Apollo 2 MCU with better maximum performance thanks to a higher maximum clock speed (48 MHz vs 24 MHz), and higher efficiency (10 μA/MHz vs 30 μA/MHz @ 3.3V).

apollo-2-mcu

Apollo 2 MCU key features and specifications:

  • Ultra-low supply current
    • <10 μA/MHz executing from flash at 3.3 V
    • <10 μA/MHz executing from RAM at 3.3 V
  • ARM Cortex-M4 Processor up to 48 MHz with FPU, MMU, wake-up interrupt controller with 32 interrupts
  • Ultra-low power memory
    • Up to 1 MB of flash memory for code/data
    • Up to 256 KB of low leakage RAM for code/data
    • 16kB 1 or 2-way Associative Cache
  • Ultra-low power interface for off-chip sensors
    • 14 bit, 15-channel, up to 1.2 MS/s ADC
    • Voltage comparator
    • Temperature sensor with +/-2ºC accuracy
  • Serial peripherals – 6x I2C/SPI master,1x I2C/SPI slave,2x UART, PDM for mono and stereo audio microphone
  • Clock sources
    • 32.768 kHz XTAL oscillator
    • Low frequency RC oscillator – 1.024 kHz
    • High frequency RC oscillator – 48 MHz
    • RTC based on Ambiq’s AM08X5/18X5 families
  • Wide operating range – 1.8-3.6 V, –40 to 85°C
  • Package –  2.5 x 2.5 mm 49-pin CSP with 34 GPIO; 4.5 x 4.5 mm 64-pin BGA with 50 GPIO

The MCU promises weeks, months, and years of battery life thanks to Ambiq Micro’s patented Subthreshold Power Optimized Technology (SPOT) Platform. Apollo 2 will be suitable for battery operated devices, or even batteryless devices leveraging energy harvesting such as wireless sensors, activity and fitness trackers, consumer medical devices, smart watches, and smart home/IoT devices.

Documentation and devkits are available but you’d need to contact the company to learn more. Ambiq Micro’s Apollo 2 is currently sampling to some partners, and will be sampling more broadly in the coming months. A few more details may be found on Ambiq Micro Apollo 2’s product page.

NXP LPC Microcontrollers Roadmap for 2017 – LPC800 and LPC54000 Series

December 17th, 2016 No comments

With the acquisition of Freescale, NXP now has both Kinetis and LPC ARM Cortex M micro-controller families. The company has kept selling both so far, but it’s unclear whether they’ll keep developing new Kinetis MCU family in the future. There’s no such doubt about LPC family with the company having published a 2017 roadmap for ARM Cortex M0+ based LPC 800 series, and ARM Cortex M4 based LPC54000 series.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

LPC800 series MCUs are promoted as 8-bit MCU alternatives, and three new models are expected next year:

  • LPC84x ARM Cortex M0+ @ 30 MHz with 64KB flash, 8 to 16KB RAM available in QFN and LQFP packages.
  • LPC802 ARM Cortex M0+ @ 15 MHz with 16KB flash, 2KB RAM available in TSSOP packages
  • LPC804 ARM Cortex M0+ @ 15 MHz with 32KB flash, 4KB RAM available in QFN or TSSOP packages

There will be new models of the more powerful LPC54000 series:

  • LPC546xx ARM Cortex-M4 @ 180 MHz with 256 to 512KB flash, 16KB EEPROM, 136 to 200KB RAM available in LQFP and TBGA packages
  • LPC546xx “Flashless” ARM Cortex-M4 @ 180 MHz with 360 KB RAM available in LQFP and TBGA packages

lpcxpresso54608-board

NXP will also soon launch LPC54608 development board (OM13092) to let people evaluate the new LPC546xx MCUs.

Thanks to Nanik for the tip.

Nordic Semi Unveils nRF52840 Bluetooth 5 Ready SoC and Development Kit

December 7th, 2016 2 comments

Nordic Semiconductor nRF52xx Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz solutions are very often found in development kits and low power devices such as wearables, and it’s no surprise that the company introduced a new nRF52840 SoC supporting Bluetooth 5, the new standard promising twice the range, and four times the speed of BLE 4.x, as well as ANT, 802.15.4, 2.4GHz proprietary, and NFC connectivity.

nrf52840Nordic Semi nRF52840 key features and specifications:

  • MCU – 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4 @ 64 MHz with with FPU
  • Memory & Storage – 256 KB RAM, 1MB Flash
  • Connectivity
    • Bluetooth 5-ready multiprotocol radio
    • Bluetooth 5 data rate support: 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 500 kbps, 125 kbps
    • 104 dB link budget for Bluetooth low energy
    • -96 dBm sensitivity for Bluetooth low energy
    • Programmable output power from +8 dBm to -20 dBm
    • NFC-A tag on chip
    • Single-ended antenna output (on-chip balun)
  • I/Os
    • USB – Full-speed 12 Mbps USB controller
    • SPI up to 32 MHz
    • Quad SPI up to 32 MHz
    • PPI — Programmable peripheral interface
    • EasyDMA
    • 12 bit/200 ksps ADC
  • Security – ARM Cryptocell CC310 cryptographic accelerator, 128 bit AES/ECB/CCM/AAR coprocessor
  • Power Supply –  1.7 V to 5.5 V; individual power management for all peripherals; regulated supply for external components up to 25 mA

nRF52840 is “on-air-compatible with nRF51, nRF24L and nRF24AP Series”, and target advanced wearables, IoT, and interactive entertainment devices (remote controls / controllers).

nRF52840 Preview Development Kit - Click to Enlarge

nRF52840 Preview Development Kit – Click to Enlarge

The company has also launched nRF52840 Preview Development Kit to get started with evaluation and development.  The development board is hardware compatible with Arduino Uno Rev. 3 to allow the use of common Arduino shields, and also includes 4 LEDs and 4 buttons, all programmable by the user. It supports Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth low energy, ANT, 802.15.4 and 2.4GHz proprietary using the latest S140 SoftDevice software stack, as well as NFC thanks to an external antenna included in the kit.  The kit is compatible with Nordic Software Development Toolchain using Keil, IAR and GCC, and can be programmed & debugging with Segger J-Link OB.

Samples and the development kit are available now at an undisclosed price. You’ll find more details about the nRF52840 Bluetooth 5 SoC and development kit on the product page.

OnChip Open-V Open Source 32-bit RISC-V Processor Launched on CrowdSupply

November 23rd, 2016 8 comments

Open source hardware gives mostly full control over software and hardware, but there are different levels of openess, with some companies wrongly claiming their product to be open source hardware – with a nice accompanying logo – once they dump some source code somewhere and publish the PDF schematics, while others are doing it right with the release of schematics and PCB layout in source format, as well as software and proper documentation. However even for the latter group, the actual chips are closed source bought directly from silicon vendors or their distributors. So the good news is that you now have the opportunity to bring the meaning of open source hardware to a whole new level thanks to OnChip Open-V 32-bit  processor that is open source, and getting launched on Crowd Supply crowdfunding platform.

open-vOnChip Open-V is based on RISC-V (pronounced “risk-five”), comes with peripherals, and should be competitive against ARM Cortex M0 based micro-controllers. The MCU would also be the first RISC-V chip available on the market.

Open-V chip specifications:

  • Processor – RISC-V ISA version 2.1 @ up to 160 MHz
  • Memory – 8 KB SRAM
  • Clock – 32 KHz – 160 MHz; Two PLLs, user-tunable with muxers and frequency dividers
  • Analog Signals
    • 2x 10-bit ADC channels, each running at up to 10 MS/s
    • 2x 12-bit DAC channels
  • Timers
    • 1x general-purpose 16-bit timer
    • 1x 16-bit watch dog timer (WDT)
  • General Purpose Input/Ouput
    • 16x programmable GPIO pins
    • 2x external interrupts
  • Interfaces
    • SDIO port for example to add a micro SD slot
    • 2x SPI ports, I2C, UART
  • Programming and Testing
    • Built-in debug module for use with gdb and JTAG
    • Programmable PRBS-31/15/7 generator and checker for interconnect testing
  • 1.2 V operation
  • Package – QFN-32
Open-V vs

Open-V vs STM32L0 vs PIC32MX vs SAMD21 vs EFM32Z vs LPC812M vs MSP430F vs  ATMega-328p

You can find the complete OnChip Open-V design, including the RTL (register-transfer level) files for the CPU and peripherals, as well as the development and testing tools in Github, all released under the MIT license. The source can be used to teach silicon designs, debug and correct errors in the chip without asking the vendor, and if you plan to roll your own cut reducing costs by cutting out licensing fees.

Development Board for Open-V RISC-V MCU

Development Board for Open-V RISC-V MCU

Now most people would not be able to do much with just the MCU only, so the company will also develop an Open-V development board with the following specifications:

  • MCU – 32-pin QFN Open-V microcontroller
  • Storage – 32 KB EEPROM, microSD receptacle
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 controller + micro USB port for power and data
  • Expansion – Breadboard-compatible breakout header pins
  • Debugging – JTAG connector
  • Power – 1.2 V and 3.3 V voltage regulators
  • Dimensions: 55 mm x 30 mm

The board will be programmed with the Arduino IDE, so it should be not harder than programming any Arduino boards, or any platforms using the popular IDE.

However, getting silicon to market is an expensive endeavor, and the only way to bring prices down to to manufacture millions of units. OnChip is starting small with a first target of 70,000 chips, which still converts to a $480,000 funding target. There are several ways to help reach that goal starting with a $49 “Chip Pioneer” reward to get on of the first chips to be manufactured, but the most popular reward is likely to be Open-V development board going for $99. Shipping is free to the US and $7 to the rest of the world. You’ll also have to patient, quite understandably due to the task at hand,  as rewards are only expected to ship in April and May 2018, unless you pledge for one of the most expensive rewards giving access to early chips in May 2017.

Thanks to Nanik the tip.

ARM Introduces Secure Cortex-M23 and Cortex-M33 ARMv8-M MCU Cores, and Bluetooth 5 Cordio Radio IP for IoT Applications

October 26th, 2016 3 comments

ARM TechCon 2016 is now taking place in Santa Clara, California, USA, as ARM has made three announcements for the Internet of Things, the focus of SoftBank going forward, with two ARM Cortex-M ARMv8-M cores integrating ARM TrustZone technology, namely Cortex-M23 low power small footprint core, and Cortex-M33 core with processing power similar to Cortex-M3/M4 cores, as well as Cordio Radio IP for Bluetooth 5 and 802.15.4 connectivity.

cortex-m33-m23-vs-cortex-m3-m0

ARM Cortex-M23

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

ARM Cortex-M23, based on the ARMv8-M baseline architecture, is the smallest and most energy efficient ARM processor with TrustZone security technology,and targets embedded applications requiring both a small footprint, low power, and security. Its power consumption is low enough to be used in batteryless, energy harvesting IoT nodes, and is roughly a third of Cortex-M33 processor size, and offers more than twice its energy efficiency.

Cortex-M23 is a two-stage pipelined processor, software compatible with other processors in the Cortex-M family.

You’ll find more information on ARM Cortex-M23 product page, and related blog post.

ARM Cortex-M33

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

ARM Cortex-M33, also based on ARMv8-M architecture with Trustzone technology, is the most configurable of all Cortex-M processors, includes FPU, DSP, a co-processor interface, a Memory protection unit (MPU) for task isolation, and ARM claims it “delivers an optimal balance between performance, power, security and productivity”.

The Cortex-M33 processor has an in-order 3-stage pipeline, which reduces system power consumption, and most instructions complete in two stages, while more complex instructions require three. The core also has two AMBA5 AHB5 interfaces: C-AHB and S-AHB, which are symmetric in nature and offer identical performance of instruction and data fetches.

You can visit the products page, and ARM blog post for further details.

ARM Cordio Radio IP

arm-cordio-radio

ARM has also introduced Cordio IP which offers Bluetooth 5 or 802.15.4’s ZigBee or Thread connectivity using ARM RF or 3rd party front-end. The IP supports TSMC 40nm LP/ULP, TSMC 55nm LP/ULP and UMC 55nm ULP manufacturing processes, and three solutions are available with Cordio-B50 with Bluetooth 5 only, Cordio-E154 with 802.15.4 only, and Cordio-C50 with both Bt5 and 802.15.4.

More details can be found on that ARM community blog post.

NXP Unveils MCUXpresso Development Tools for LPC and Kinetis Microcontrollers

October 25th, 2016 No comments

After NXP bought Freescale, you had development tools for Freescale Kinetis MCUs such as Design Studio or Kenetis SDK, and others such as LPCXpresso for NXP LPC microcontrollers. The company has worked to unifying software and tools support between its ARM Cortex-M MCU families, and has now announced MCUXPresso software and tools for both NXP Kinetis and LPC MCUs.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

MCUXpresso unifies thousands of Kinetis and LPC microcontrollers under a set of compatible tools including

  • MCUXpresso SDK – Open-source software MISRA-compliant development kit (SDK) with peripherals drivers, wireless & wired connectivity stacks, middleware, real-time OS, getting started guides, API documentation, and application examples.
  • MCUXpresso IDE – Integrated development environment (IDE) for editing, compiling and debugging. It also integrates MCU-specific debugging views, code trace and profiling, multicore debugging, etc… Both free and professional edition of the IDE will be available, and LPCXpressor and previously Freescale Freedom & Tower platforms will be supported.
  • MCUXpresso config tools:
    • An SDK Builder enabling custom-built SDKs for specific MCUs or evaluation boards.
    • A graphical pins tool to assist with routing of internal signals to external pins, and generates ANSI-C source for the MCUXpresso SDK environment.
    • A clocks tool with a graphical representation of the MCU clock tree system, interactive user controls, and assistance with system fine-tuning.
    • A power estimation tool to allow application modeling and assessment of power consumption under user-defined parameters.
MCUXpresso SDK Architecture

MCUXpresso SDK Architecture

The MCUXpresso SDK and config tools will be available around the middle of next month, and beside built-in support for the MCUXpresso IDE, the SDK can also work with IAR Embedded Workbench, ARM Keil  MDK, Atollic TrueSTUDIO, SOMNIUM  DRT, and others. That’s not a bad thing since MCUXpresso IDE will only be released in March 2017.

You’ll find many more details, and download links for the SDK on MCUXpresso page.

What’s the Cheapest MCU? My Try: Holtek HT48R002 8-bit MCU Selling for $0.085

August 3rd, 2016 15 comments

Somebody asked what was the cheapest MCU available on Google+, so I thought it would be fun to find the cheapest one regardless of specifications. It turns out there an older thread with this very question on StackExchange, and at the time (2011) Microchip PIC10F200 8-bit MCU with 256B RAM in SOP-23 package was the cheapest one among the answer, and somehow the price has not changed as it’s still $0.32 per unit for 1k orders.

Holtek_HT48R002Not bad price, but back in the days when I wrote on CD and DVD players, we had some price pressure from customers, so we looked for a cheaper a microcontroller, and ended up using Holtek because of the competitive pricing. We suffered a bit during development due to incomplete documentation, but eventually did the job. Anyway, I went to Holtek website found a “cost effective I/O MCU” category, and HT48R002 appears to be the lower end. I checked the price on 1688.com, and several sellers offer it for as low as 0.56 RMB for 1k orders, which converts to about $0.085 per MCU.

Let’s look what we get for that outrageous price:

  • 8-bit RISC MCU @ 8MHz
  • 1K x 14-bit ROM (OTP)
  • 64 x 8-bit RAM data memory
  • 6x I/O including 1x external interrupt pin, and 1x 8-bit timer
  • Two oscillators –  Internal high speed RC: HIRC; Internal low speed RC: LIRC
  • Low voltage reset function
  • Operating Voltage – 2.3 to 5.5V
  • Package – 8-pin DIP/SOP

HT48R002_Block_Diagram

e-ICE + Adapter Board

e-ICE + Adapter Board

Since this MCU has an OTP (One Time Programming) memory, you’d need an ICE (In-Circuit Emulator) to develop for the micro-controller in assembly, and once you’ve debugged your code, which should not be too complex considering the available RAM and storage, you’d have the factory burn the firmware to the device before or during mass-production. More details including the instruction set can be found in the datasheet.

Do you have other candidates to claim the “cheapest MCU” crown?

Categories: Hardware Tags: holtek, mcu

Samsung JerryScript is a Lightweight Open Source JavaScript Engine for the Internet of Things

August 2nd, 2016 6 comments

In the old days, micro-controller programming was all done in assembly or C, but in recent years higher level languages, included interpreted ones such as Python and JavaScript, have made their ways into MCUs with projects such as MicroPython or Espruino (JS) often running on STMicro STM32 ARM Cortex M micro-controllers, but also other platforms such as ESP8266.

JerryScriptAs I browsed through the Embedded Linux Conference Europe 2016 schedule, I discovered that Samsung worked on it own implementation of a JavaScript engine for the Internet of Things: JerryScript. It is a full implementation of ECMAScript 5.1 standard written in C that can run on micro-controllers with less than 64KB RAM, and less than 200KB storage (160KB footprint with ARM Thumb-2 compilation).

JerryScript is comprised of two main components: Parser and Virtual Machine (VM), with the parser performing translation of input ECMAScript application into byte-code than is then executed by the Virtual Machine that performs interpretation.

 

JerryScript High Level Design

JerryScript High Level Design

Although JerryScript is designed for MCUs, and is said to be running on hundreds of thousands of smartwatches, you can easily build it and try in any machine running Linux:

You can also compile the code for full, compact or minimal implementation, use the C Api to integrate JavaScript support into your program, etc… Many more details can be found on JerryScript website and Github repository. JerryScript is also used in IoT.js framework for the Internet of Things that currently runs on Linux and NuttX RTOS platforms, as well as STM32F4-Discovery + “BB” (Beaglebone Black?) and Raspberry Pi 2, and will soon be ported to Samsung Artik 1 (MIPS), STM32F429-Discovery, STM32F411-Nucleo, and Intel Edison boards.