Freescale Announces Availability of Kinetis L Series Cortex M0+ MCU and Freedom Devkit

ARM unveiled its ultra-low power Cortex-M0+ core back in March, and Freescale and NXP also announced their plans to use this new core in some of their micro-controllers destined to power the internet of things. Yesterday at Freescale Technology Forum (FTF), Freescale announced the availability of alpha samples of its Kinetis L series. This new low power MCU family will allow existing 8-bit and 16-bit architecture to be replaced by 32-bit architecture without increasing power consumption, cost or size, and the company expects them to be used in devices such as small appliances, gaming accessories, portable medical systems, audio systems, smart meters, lighting and power control. The ARM Cortex-M0+ processor is said to consume about a third of the energy of any 8- or 16-bit processor, while delivering between two to 40 times more performance. Kinetis L series MCU  can consume as low as 50 uA/MHz in very-low-power run (VLPR) mode and can rapidly wake from a reduced power state, […]

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Getting Started with Emcraft Systems Cortex M3/M4 Starter Kits Running uCLinux

A few months ago, I wrote a post about running uCLinux on Cortex M3/M4. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to play a with Cortex M3  & M4 boards capable of running Linux, as last week, I received Emcraft Systems Freescale K70 Starter Kit together with their MicroSemi (previously known as Actel) Smartfusion SoM. Today, I’ll show some pictures of the baseboard and modules I received in the kit, and some details about the documentation and how to get started with the modules. Unboxing Pictures Here’s the baseboard with Ethernet, USB interface using USB-UART bridge connected to the UART0, JTAG connectors (P3 and P5), two push-buttons and a breadboard for easy access to unused signals (ADC, I2C, SPI, UART and GPIOs). P4 and P6 are the sockets to plug in the SoM. There is a lithium-ion battery (CR2016) at the back of the board for the RTC clock. As previously mentioned, I’ve received 2 SoMs, but I’ve just taken pictures […]

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Freescale Announces Kinetis KW20 Cortex M4 MCU with Built-in Zigbee Transceiver

Freescale announced the addition of the Kinetis KW20 to its Kinetis microcontroller portfolio. The Kinetis KW20 is based on ARMCortex-M4 core and MC13242 RF transceiver to deliver a single chip Zigbee solution for the Internet of Things and power applications such as smart energy, smart metering and building control. The company explains that their new wireless MCU family aims to “address the increased processing and memory requirements associated with future ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 and Internet Protocol specifications”. The KW20 supports dual personal area network (PAN) to enable a single device to communicate wirelessly on two ZigBee networks. This feature eliminates the need for multiple radios required to connect different home automation and smart energy networks. Kinetis KW20 wireless MCU features: ARM Cortex-M4 processor core Up to 512 KB of flash memory and 64 KB of RAM Cryptology accelerator and sophisticated tamper detect Integrated IEEE 802.15.4-compliant radio (MC13242 RF transceiver) Low power consumption Freescale will provide several tools for software development […]

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Emcraft Open Sources uCLinux and U-boot for Cortex M3 and M4 MCUs

Emcraft Systems has open sourced its ports of U-Boot and uClinux for Cortex-M3 and Cortex-M4 which are available on github at https://github.com/EmcraftSystems. This release supports the following platforms: ST Micro STM32F2 NXP LPC17XX Actel  SmartFusion Freescale Kinetis You can check the source code as follows: uCLinux: git clone git://github.com/EmcraftSystems/linux-emcraft.git U-boot: git clone git://github.com/EmcraftSystems/u-boot.git The company has also designed systems on module (SoM) with enough memory to run Linux with Cortex M3/M4 micro-controllers: Freescale Kinetis K70 SOM Actec SmartFusion SOM ST Micro STM32 SOM You might find more details on building/using u-boot or uClinux on EmCraft documentation page (especially linux-cortexm-um-1.4.1.pdf) and you may want to check EmCraft website for details on available hardware and BSP for Cortex M3/M4 solutions. Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft)Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011. www.cnx-software.com Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal, […]

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Green Hills MULTI 6.0 Compiler Improves ARM MCU Performance by up to 40%

Last week at Design West 2012, Green Hills Software announced it had achieved the highest compiler performance scores ever certified by EEMBC CoreMark and that it outperformed the nearest competing compilers by 35.5% using its MULTI 6.0 – Compiler 2012. Benchmarks were completed on 3 ARM Cortex-M4 microcontrollers: Freescale Kinetis K60 MCU @ 100 Mhz – 35.5% improvement over nearest competitor. Freescale Kinetis K70 MCU @ 120 Mhz – 29.6% improvement over nearest competitor. STMicroelectronics STM32F417IGt6 @ 168 MHz – 34.7% improvement over nearest competitor. Since apparently it’s bad marketing to name competitors in press releases, I went directly to the source (EEMBC Coremark benchmark results) to check out the results and competitors (IAR and Keil) for Kinetis K60 MCU. The first thing you may notice is that there are 2 tests per compiler / MCU combination. That’s because there 2 test configurations: Code in internal Flash – Data in internal RAM Code in internal RAM – Data in internal RAM […]

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uClinux Running on Freescale Kinetis K70 MCU (Cortex-M4) Module

Last year, I posted about Linux for Cortex M3 & M4 Micro-controllers and noted it was difficult to find cost effective Cortex-M based boards able to run uClinux or Linux (RAM being the main issue). Freescale TWR-K70F120M  is a module based on Kinetis K70 MCU (Cortex M-4) with plenty of RAM (128MB) to run Linux or uClinux. It is available for 109 USD or 179 USD with Freescale Tower system (TWR-K70F120M-KIT). Here are the key features of the module: Freescale MK70FN1M0VMJ12 Cortex-M4 MCU @ 120 MHz (Product Brief) Touch Tower Plug-in Socket General purpose Tower Plug-in (TWRPI) socket On-board JTAG debug circuit (OSJTAG) with virtual serial port 128 MB DDR2 SDRAM memory 256 MB SLC NAND flash memory Three axis accelerometer (MMA8451Q) Potentiometer Micro-SD Card slot I could not find an open source uClinux implementation for Kinetis K70, but emCraft has a Linux Board Support Package (BSP) for the Freescale TWR-K70F120M-KIT hardware platform available for 99 USD. They have just uploaded […]

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ARM Announces ARM Cortex-M0+ Core to Power the Internet of Things

ARM has just unveiled the ARM Cortex-M0+ 32-bit processor optimized to deliver ultra low-power and low-cost MCUs to power the ‘Internet of Things‘ by controlling connected intelligent sensors and smart control systems in a broad range of applications including home appliances, white goods, medical monitoring, metering, lighting and power and motor control devices. ARM claims the Cortex-M0+ consumes just 9µA/MHz on a low-cost 90nm LP process, around one third of the energy of any 8- or 16-bit processor available today, while delivering significantly higher performance (1.77 CoreMark/MHz). Beside the low power consumption, the main advantage of the Cortex-Mo+ over 8-bit and 16-bit MCUs , is that it can provide low power wireless connectivity to a variety of embedded systems such as wireless sensors. The new processor is based on Cortex-M0 processor but has been redesigned to include a few new features such as: Single-cycle IO to speed access to GPIO and peripherals Improved debug and trace capability 2-stage pipeline to […]

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Linux for Cortex M3 & M4 Microcontrollers

There are plenty of low cost Linux development boards based on Cortex A8 or A9 such as the Beaglebone, as well as some devkits based on ARM7 and ARM9 such as SAM9 development kits , but if your application is cost and/or energy sensitive you can also switch to micro-controllers using Cortex M3 or M4 based development boards such as Emcraft SmartFusion devkits. You can run a functional uCLinux system with 1MB of RAM and 1MB of flash including the TCP/IP stack. You need to use uClinux and not directly Linux, because the Cortex M3 doess not have a Memory Management Unit (MMU) and only a Memory Protection Unit (MPU). This can bring some interesting software development challenges such as (apparently random) kernel panics, the lack of fork, memory fragmentation and more. You can check out http://kernel.org/pub/linux/libs/uclibc/Glibc_vs_uClibc_Differences.txt for the main differences between uClibc and Glibc. The instructions to patch and build the Linux kernel for Cortex M3 are available at […]

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