Energy Micro EFM32 Tiny Gecko (Cortex-M3) Starter Kit Unboxing

I’ve been lucky recently, after winning a TI Piccolo controlStick last month, I’ve just received Energy Micro EFM32 Starter Kit (EFM32-TG-STK3300) based on EFM32 Tiny Gecko MCU. This development board include: EFM32 Tiny Gecko Cortex-M3 MCU 8×20 LCD A light sensor A touch slider A battery compartment SEGGER J-Link mini USB port 2 Button + 1 reset button 1 User LEDs 2 expansion ports. Lots of through holes to access the different pins of the MCU Today, I’ll just show the content of the kit and next time, I’ll post more about the things I’ve done with it. Here’s the package of the EFM32 Starter Kit. The 2 gecko eggs were not included… Actually, those are house geckos eggs which are smaller than real geckos. We’ve got those here as well, but there are very shy, whereas house geckos just run around the walls and ceilings all day. Well, it’s like Energy Micro released the Gecko board back to its …

Atmel Unveils AVR XMEGA C, tinyAVR ATtiny1634 and AVR UC3 L3/D4 MCUs

Atmel announced 14 new Atmel AVR microcontrollers divided into 4 families: AVR XMEGA C, tinyAVR ATtiny1634, AVR UC3 L3 and AVR UC3 D4. Atmel AVR XMEGA C MCUs Atmel AVR XMEGA C MCUs are 8-/16-bit general-purpose MCUs with Full-Speed USB, 12-bit ADC, up to 384 KB flash and 32 KB SRAM. They can support Atmel QTouch Library for implementation of capacitive buttons, sliders and wheels functionality. The AVR XMEGA C MCUs consume 700nA in sleep mode with RTC. There 8 new XMEGA C MCUs which target consumer, industrial and home automation applications such as thermostats with display, building and climate control, utility meters with RF and ZigBee connectivity. The smallest XMEGA C MCU (ATxmega16C4), which comes in 44-pin package and has 16KB device, is the cheapest AVR XMEGA device with USB provided by Atmel. You can find further information on Atmel AVR XMEGA C page. Atmel tinyAVR ATtiny1634 MCU Atmel tinyAVR ATtiny1634 MCU is a small-package, ultra-low power device with …

MIPS Introduces microAptiv, interAptiv and proAptiv Cores

MIPS Technologies has introduced their new Aptiv generation of microprocessor cores divided into 3 families: proAptiv, interAptiv and microAptiv. proAptiv Core (equivalent to ARM Cortex A15 DMIPS/Mhz) The proAptiv core achieves a 4.4 CoreMark/MHz score which according to MIPS is the best score reported for any licensable IP core. It also achieves 3.5 DMIPS/MHz which is abnout the same performance as ARM Cortex A15.  This core targeted at high performance applications such as smartphones, tablets, HD STB, automotive infotainment and residential gateways. proAptiv is recommended as an upgrade to MIPS32 74K/1074K cores. interAptiv Core (equivalent to ARM Cortex-R5 DMIPS/Mhz) The multi-threaded interAptiv core delivers higher CoreMark/MHz (3.2) than competing cores in similar die area and 1.7 DMIPS/MHz per core. The interAptiv is aimed at mid-range applications such as mainstream STB, digital cameras, mid-range smartphone, broadband CPE (Consumer Premise Equipment) and SATA/SSD controllers. microAptiv Core (equivalent to ARM Cortex-M3/M4 DMIPS/Mhz) The microAptiv core is targeted at low power cost sensitive applications …

Intel Roadmap to 2015 and Beyond: 5nm Technology, Merrifield Mobile Processor, Microservers and More

Intel had their annual Investor meeting day on the 10th of May 2012 in Santa Clara where we would learn a few things about what’s ahead for Intel and the semiconductor industry. Paul Otellini, Intel President and Chief Executive Officer, started the meeting by  giving some numbers about Intel results and showing opportunities existing for cloud and data center, personal computing, mobile devices and intelligent systems (for automotive, retail and communications markets). One interesting point was the tremendous growth in data Intel expects from 2,500 Exabytes per year (7 EB/day) today to 8,000 Exabytes by 2015 which the majority of the growth lead by Big data. He also boasted about Intel technology advantage. For example, Intel introduced High-K Metal Gate technology in 2007 and competitor only got it in products last year (btw Samsung Exynos 5 uses HKMG). They recently introduced Tri-gate technology and they only expect competitors to catch up within 4 years. Finally one of the slide (see …

Schematics Capture and PCB Layout in Linux with Kicad

Most schematics capture and PCB layout software run on Windows and are closed source. But if your favorite OS is Linux, there are a few open source software including Kicad and gEDA. There is also Cadsoft Eagle which can be installed in Linux with a free license for hobbyists and educational purposes, but is not open source. Today, I’ll focus on Kicad. I don’t really capture schematics, let alone layout PCBs, but I sometimes need to use this type of software to locate pins/components on the schematics and PCB and check some parts of the schematics that can affect  software. So I will mainly give an overview of Kicad and write my experience trying to import another project (Beagleboard XM) to Kicad. If you want to learn how to get started with your own project with Kicad, you might want to have a look at Teho Labs Kicad Tutorial. In Debian/Ubuntu, you can install Kicad as follows sudo apt-get install …

makeSD Script to Write Image to SD Card for Mele A1000 / AllWinner A10 Devices

Most images released for Mele A1000 (Ubuntu, Puppy Linux..) won’t fit in my SD card, and until now I had to manually partition the SD card, extract the data and copy it to the SD card. I’ve also noticed the size of the SD card slowly creeps lower overtime. I bought an SD card last week and fdisk reported 3901685760 bytes and this morning the same command reported 3898782720 bytes. That’s probably due to new bad sectors which I believe is actually normal for this type of device. The problem is that a backup of “last week” SD card done with dd might not be restored properly with dd since the SD card is now smaller. So I decided to write a shell script “makeSD.sh” that will do the following: Umount the SD card if needed Partition the SD card Copy uboot to the SD card Mount the image file and SD card partitions Copy the files between the image …

VWorks VLAB Powers Freescale Vybrid Virtual Platform

Back in March, Freescale announced their Vybrid solution featuring both a Cortex A5 processor and a Cortex M4 microcontroller, and they had prototypes running  an unnamed virtual platform in order to speed up software development and possibly have the software ready at the same time as the silicon is. Always looking to learn more, I studied and wrote about virtual hardware platforms such as Cadence Virtual System Platform, Wind River Simics Virtual  Platforms and the open source Imperas OVPsim simulator. It turns out Freescale does not use any of these solutions, but relies on VWorks VLAB instead, which still use the same standard (SystemC/TLM) as the virtual hardware solutions aforementioned. VWorks uploaded a demonstration of VLAB running a virtual platform for the Freescale Vybrid controller and showing how it can handle both ARM Cortex-A5 and Cortex-M4 cores. This demo of VLAB 1.7.0 is pretty interesting and showcases: Dual (virtual) display control: one for Cortex A5, one for Cortex M4 UART …

199 USD Seeed Studio DSO Quad Open Source Oscilloscope

The DSO (Digital Storage Oscilloscope) Quad is a pocket size 4 channel digital oscilloscope for common electronic engineering tasks based on STM32F103VCT6 ARM cortex M3 MCU with a 3″ display. It can provide 72MS/s sampling rate with integrated FPGA and high speed ADC and an internal 2MB USB disk can be used to store waveform captures, user applications and to upgrade firmware. SeeedStudio DSO Quad is not exactly a new product (June 2011), but I was not aware of this type of low cost oscilloscopes until I come across a review today. Here are the key features of this tiny oscilloscope: Pocket size and light weight Two 72MS/s analog channels, plus two digital channels Signal Generator Auto Measurement Various Triggering Option Easy waveform storage Firmware upgrade User applications Open source and technical specifications: 2x Analog channel: [CH A]  [CH B] 2x Digital channel :   [CH C]  [CH D] Vertical Scale: 20mV-10V/div (x1 probe) Vertical solution: 8 bit Input coupling: …