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Posts Tagged ‘ameba’

Google Cloud IoT Core Enters Public Beta, Various Devkits Available

September 29th, 2017 No comments

Back in May, I wrote about Allwinner R18 based Banana Pi BPI-M64 Board with Google Cloud IoT Core support, as Google unveils the new cloud service during Google I/O. However, at the time it was only available to selected partners, and Google has recently launched the public beta making their IoT device management platform available to all.

Click to Enlarge

I first learned about this through an ARM community blog post announcing availability of the ARM-based IoT Kit for Cloud IoT Core on Adafruit using Raspberry Pi 3 board,  a breadboard, and various modules that can be managed through Google services.

But that are plenty of other IoT kits or boards for Google Cloud IoT Core including:

You’ll find purchase links and documentation for each board on Google Cloud IoT Core’s IoT Kit page. Sample code specific to the RPI3 kit can also be found on Github.

Google Cloud IoT Core Architecture / Features Overview

Google IoT Core is free to use for up to 250 MB/month with no limit on the number of devices, and if you exceed this limit pricing per MB depends on data usage:

  • 250MB to 250 GB – $0.0045 per MB
  • 250GB to 5 TB – $0.0020 per MB
  • Over 5 TB – $0.00045 per MB

Realtek RTL8195AM Ameba WiFi + NFC Module Sells for $9 Shipped

August 1st, 2017 1 comment

Last year, Realtek Ameba IoT SoCs and development kits launched with boards such as Ameba Arduino, and later, the family got some buzz thanks to $2 RTL8710AF modules like Pine64 Padi IoT stamp, which looked competitive priced against ESP8266 SoC, and featuring an ARM Cortex-M3 core. Back to 2017, ESP8266 appears to still be the preferred platform for makers, and the community around Reatek Ameba processor is relatively small, but maybe the solutions are being integrated into commercial products rather than hobbyists project. Today, as I browsed the web, I noticed that are also some Realtek RTL8195AM module with WiFi, and NFC starting with an “Realtek Ameba-RTL8195AM WiFi & NFC Module” I first found on DFrobot for $15 per unit, but after spending a bit more time searching, I ended finding what looks like the same model for $8.99 including shipping on IC Station.

RTL8195AM module (MJIOT-AMB-02) specifications:

  • SoC – Realtek RTL8195AM ARM Cortex-M3 processor @ 166 MHz with 1MB ROM,2MB SDRAM,512KB SRAM
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n 1×1 Wi-Fi up to 150 Mbps via u.FL antenna connector, NFC read/write
  • Interfaces via half-holes:
    • 10/100M Ethernet MII/ RMII/RGMII interface
    • 1x USB OTG
    • SDIO device/SD card controller
    • Up to 30x GPIO
    • 2x SPI master-slave, 3x UART (2x HS-UART, 1x log UART), 2x I2C, 4x PWM
    • 2x I2S/PCM
    • 2x ADC, 1x DAC
  • Security – Hardware SSL engine in Realtek SoC
  • Power Supply – 3.0V~3.3V
  • Dimensions – 24 x 19mm
  • Temperature range – -20℃~+85℃

The module can be programmed with the Arduino IDE and Micropython, and you can have access to the SDK via Ameba IoT website. For evaulation, you may consider to order the module with breakout board instead going for $9.74 shipped.

The module appears to be manufactured by Shenzhen Minjun IOT Technology, and you’ll find more technical details and information about the module on the product page. Other RTL8195AM modules include CC&C WM-8195AM, and Rayson WFM-250, none of which appear to support NFC.

Realtek RTL8710BN ARM Cortex M4 WiFi MCU, MJIOT-AMB-03 Module & Board, and Ameba 4.0a SDK

May 14th, 2017 5 comments

We’ve already covered Realtek Ameba ARM Cortex M3 WiSoC several times with their RTL8710AF, RTL8711AM and RT8195AM solutions, but the company has now a new “Ameba Z series” relying on an ARM Cortex M4 core starting with RTL8711BN MCU.

RTL8710BN specifications as listed on Realtek website:

  • CPU – ARM Cortex-M4(F) up to 125MHz with FPU (TBC)
  • Memory – 256KB embedded SRAM
  • Storage – 512KB embedded ROM, external flash interface; XIP (eXecut In Place) support
  • Wi-Fi
    • 2.4GHz 1T1R 802.11b/g/n up to 150Mbps; 20MHz and 40MHz
    • WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPS support
  • Security engine – MD5, SHA-1, SHA2-256, DES, 3DES, AES
  • Peripheral Interfaces
    • SDIO Slave
    • 2x UART
    • SPI interface (Master/Slave)
    • 2x I2C interface
    • ADC for voltage management
    • 5x PWM
    • Up to 17x GPIOs
  • Package – QFN-32; 5 x 5 mm

AFAIK, other Ameba MCUs do not support XIP, but RTL8710BN and this lowers memory requirements since code can be executed from storage.

RTL8710BN Board (MJIOT-AMB-03-DEBUG)

MJIOT-AMB-03 module – pictured at the top of this post – is the first module based on RTL8710BN, supports up to 128 MB external flash, and includes a PCB antenna, and an u.FL connector. Power consumption is said to be 2.5 mA during operation, and 70 uA during sleep (@ 3.3V?). The module can be made to interface with cloud services such as Ailink, Joylink, QQlink, Hilink, Gagent, and Weichat. You can find a longer list of hardware parameters here.

The module can also be found on MJIOT-AMB-03-DEBUG, a breadboard-friendly board with a micro USB port, two buttons, and a JTAG/SWD header. The module used to be sold for $1.98 and the board for $5 on eBay, but the listings have expired. However, some RTL8710BN items are still for sale on Taobao with a 5 CNY ($0.725) adapter board for MJIOT-AMB-03 module, 13.30 CNY ($1.93) for the module itself, and 30 CNY ($4.35) for the development board. Shipping (to China) adds 8 CNY ($1.15).

However, you can’t do much with an SDK, and kisste, who has been deeply involved in Ameba solutions (see VGA on RTL8710), found out that this module requires a newer Ameba SDK, and that Ameba SDK 4.0A without NDA had just been released with support for RTL8710BN / Ameba Z series MCU and mbedTLS.

RTL8710BN Module (MJIOT-AMB-03 Pinout Diagram

$8.80 RAK CREATOR Pro Ameba RTL8711AM WiFi IoT Board Comes with 2MB SDRAM, Up to 64MB SPI Flash

May 11th, 2017 10 comments

Realtek Ameba is a family of WiFi ARM Cortex M3 micro-controllers for IoT applications, and RTL8710AF got some buzz last year, as modules would sell as low as $2, hereby competing with ESP8266 in terms of price. While the solution was interesting, the community activity around the solution has been slow as ESP8266 already have the community and software support. Other Realtek RTL8195AM and RTL8711AM processors offer much more memory, but at the time, price was not as attractive with Ameba Arduino board based on RTL8195AM selling for $25. But there’s now a new Arduino compatible board made by ShenzhenRAK Wireless Technology (RAK) that comes with RTL8711AM processor with 1MB ROM, 2MB SDRAM, 512KB SRAM, and up to 64MB SPI flash, and sells for just $8.80 + shipping on Aliexpress.

CREATOR Pro (Wiskey) board specifications:

  • WiFi Module – RAK473 with Realtek RTL8711AM ARM Cortex M3 MCU @ 166 MHz, 1MB ROM, 2MB SDRAM, 512KB SRAM
  • External Storage – Up to 64MB SPI flash (unclear how much is installed by default if any).
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi 1×1 with PCB antenna on module, up to 400 ~ 500 meters range
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for power and programming
  • Expansion – Arduino UNO compatible header with I2C, digital IO, Analog inputs, UART, GPIOs, 3.3V, 5V, and GND
  • Debugging – JTAG/SWD header
  • Misc – WPS, Easyconfig, N/R, T/R and reset buttons; configuration jumpers
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port.

The board can be programmed with a fork the Arduino IDE called CREATER IDE. There is a lot of documentation available in the Wiki and download section, but only for RAK473 module. I did not find much specific to WisKey or CREATOR board even in their github account. In case you have questions, they have a support center / forum in English. The company also explains that due to memory constraints in RTL8710AF processor, you have to choose between web server, SSL, MQTT or MDNS functions, while RTL8711AM can run all four simultaneously thanks to the 2MB SDRAM. Other hardware differences are shown in the table below.

RAK473 module itself is sold for $5 + shipping in single unit. RAKWireless is also doing all sorts of other WiFi, LoRa, and WiFi video/camera modules, as well as some other Wiskey boards. You may want to check their website for details.

Via RTL8710 Forum.

RTL8710 Ameba Arduino Development Board and Ameba Arduino v2.0.0 SDK Released

January 20th, 2017 1 comment

We’ve already seen a NodeMCU lookalike board called RTLDuino based on Realtek RTL8710AF ARM Cortex M3 WiSoC earlier this month, that can be programmed with a community supported Arduino port also called rtlduino via a JLink SWD debugger, but now Realtek has just launched Ameba RTL8710 Arduino board, and released Ameba Arduino v2.0.0 SDK which brings official Arduino support to RTL8710AF platforms.

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There appears to be two versions of the development kit: RTLDUINO_PRO_V1.0 and REALTEK-AMEBA_RTL8710_V2.0, but based on the user manual they seem to be identical, and as you can see from the above picture, it includes a baseboard and the aforementioned RTLDuino board.

RTL8710 Ameba Arduino HDK key features:

  • SoC – Realtek RTL8710AF ARM Cortex-M3 MCU @ 83 MHz with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, hardware SSL engine connected to the baseboard via:
    1. RTLDuino board through female header
    2. B&T RTL-00 module soldered on module footprint
  • USB – 2x micro USB ports, CON2 used for power and Arduino programming, CON1 used for DAP programming (TBC)
  • Expansion – Arduino UNO headers with GPIOs, power signals, 2x UART, SPI, I2C, and 4x PWM
  • Debug Headers – 4-pin Mbed connector, 10-pin Jlink connector, 4-pin for serial console
  • Misc – T/R & n/R buttons maybe to select programming mode?, reset and test buttons

Pinout Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The documentation in English is still work in progress, but Realtek already released a getting started guide to program the board with Arduino IDE 1.6.5 or later. The guide only mentions Windows, so it’s unclear whether Linux is supported for now, but the steps are pretty simple:

  1. Install mbed serial drivers
  2. Install Ameba board packages in Arduino IDE
  3. Connect the board via USB to your computer, and select Ameba RTL8710 board in Arduino IDE
  4. Use Blink program to blink an LED connected to GPIO 13.
  5. Profit!

Ameba RTL8710 & Arduino IDE – Click to Enlarge

I understand you may not even need to use RTL8710 Ameba Arduino SDK for this if you have a board with the latest firmware. If not, you may need to update the firmware, but there’s no documentation about this, and it’s unclear whether this can be done via the RTLDUINO / AMEBA_RTL8710 baseboard, or a separate JLINK SWD debugger is needed.

The SDK has been released on Ameba IoT China website, and will soon be on Ameba IoT (English) website. The hardware development kit can be purchased for NT$ 630.0 in Taiwan, and 150 CNY (~$22) on Taobao. If you live outside of China, you could use a Taobao agent to ship to your country, or probably better, wait until Realtek gets a worldwide distributor. [Update: The board (pre-order) sells on Seeed Studio for $19.90]

Pine64 Unveils $2 PADI IoT Stamp WiFi IoT Module with FreeRTOS SDK, Upcoming ARM mbed 5.0 Support

September 12th, 2016 12 comments

Realtek RTL8710 WiFi IoT modules came out as potential competitors to ESP8266 modules last month, with similar features. an ARM Cortex M3, and a pricing as low as $2 in quantities. However, documentation is often in Chinese only, and based on my experience with an RTL8710AF module limited to AT commands set for now. Software and documentation are likely to improve a lot however, as Pine64, the makers of Pine A64 boards, are about to launch their own “PADI IoT Stamp” RTL8710AF module for just $1.99 in any quantities.

padi-iot-stampPADI IoT Stamp specifications:

  • SoC – Realtek RTL8710AF ARM Cortex-M3 @ 83 MHz with 1MB ROM, 512KB RAM, and 1MB flash
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi @ 2.4 GHz – 2.5 GHz (2400 MHz – 2483.5 MHz) with PCB antenna; Station / SoftAP / SoftAP + Station modes;
  • Expansion headers – 22 half-holes with
    • Up to 1x SPI @ 41.5 Mbps max
    • Up to 3x UART with 2x up to 4Mbps, 1x @ 38400 bps
    • Up to 4x PWM
    • Up to 1x I2C @ 3.4 Mbps max
    • Up to 19 GPIOs including 10 supporting interrupts
  • Power Supply – 3.0 to 3.6V (3.3V recommended)
  • Power Consumption – 87 mA typ. @ 3.3V using 802.11b 11 Mbps, +17 dBm; 0.9 mA light sleep; 10 uA deep sleep; More details on Section 6 of the datasheet.
  • Dimensions – 24 x 16 mm
  • Temperature range – -20 ℃ ~ 85 ℃

If the hardware looks familiar, it’s because it also most the same as B&T RTL-00 module. However, I’ve been told it might not be 100% compatible, so mixing firmware for different modules may potentially brick them. The module can be programmed and debugged using IAR, openOCD, and/or J-Link, and it supports firmware updates via UART, OTA, and JTAG. Currently, the company provides a download link to Ameba Standard SDK based on FreeRTOS and LWIP, but ARM mbed 5.0 support is planned in the coming months. [Update:Ameba RTL8710AF SDK ver v3.5a GCC ver 1.0.0- without NDA has been uploaded recently] Configuration can be done through AT Commands, Cloud Server, or Android / iOS mobile app.

PADI IoT Stamp Pinout Diagram

PADI IoT Stamp Pinout Diagram – Click to Enlarge

You’ll find documentation in English and tools on PADI IoT Stamp product page, including the datasheet, a guide start guide with AT commands, Ameba SDK 3.4b3, and some tools and drivers for the serial console. The module will officially launch on September 14th, and you’ll be able to purchase it for $1.99 plus shipping. The company is also working on a breadboard-friendly NodeMCU like board featuring PADI IoT Stamp, but I don’t have further info about this board at this stage.

In somewhat other news, some people submitted both RTL8710AF and RTL8711AF processors to a X-Ray machine, and while the latter has more features such as NFC support, it appears both SoCs look exactly the same under X-Ray, so RTL8710AF might actually have the exact same features, but they are just disabled.

Development Resources for Realtek “Ameba” RTL8710, RTL8711, and RTL8195 WiFi SoCs

August 1st, 2016 22 comments

We were made aware of a potential ARM based ESP8266 competitor last week with Realtek RTL8710 WiFi modules selling for about $3.5 shipped per unit, and under $2 per unit for larger orders (100+ pieces). Hardware is good, but for a platform to be successful, or even just useful, you also need software support. So I started doing some research into IoT-Tech BBS and asked ICStation for an “SDK” for the module they sold.

802.11 nxn with NFC RTL8710 Module

RTL8710 single band 802.11n (1×1) and NFC Tag Solution block diagram

I ended up on this forum post providing an “Realtek RTL8710 SDK” via Baidu (password: brwp), which turned out to be about the same as the Google Drive link provided by ICStation, and only contain minimal documents, as well as cracked Windows IAR Embedded Workshop and JLink tools. There are also some more technical details in Chinese only in another forum post, and well as B&T RTL8710 module datasheet (PDF).

However, if you don’t read Chinese that’s pretty challenging, and you may not want to use cracked software for development. I’ve soon come to the conclusion that RTL8710 was part of Realtek “Ameba” family also including RTL8711AF/AM and RTL8195AF, with the latter used in Ameba Arduino IoT board ($25), and supported by Ameba IoT community, where you’ll find both a “Standard SDK” and an “Arduino SDK” with several documents to get started.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The comparison table above shows that RTL8195AM and RTL8711AM support 2MB SDRAM + 512KB SRAM, while RTL8711AF & RTL8710AF only support 512KB SRAM. The not-so-good news here is that the Arduino SDK currently relies on the 2MB SDRAM lacking in the cheaper versions of the chips, and that’s the reason given by Realtek for the lack of implementation on RTL8710/RTL8711. The good news is that Realtek confirmed that the “Standard SDK” based on FreeRTOS and LWIP supports RTL8195, RTL8711 and RTL8710 processors.

Ameba_SDK_Architecture

Ameba SDK Software Architecture

You can freely download the standard SDK after registration on Ameba IoT community website, and you’ll find source code (component folder), documentation, sample code (project folder) and tools for Windows, as well as Android and iOS configuration apps (source + apk binary).

Realtek_Ameba_SDKYou may have noticed that the SDK name ends with “without NDA” which unfortunately means some documents – such as RTL8710 datasheet – are not publicly available at this time. However, Realtek has noticed the interest raised by their low cost WiSoCs, and hopefully the company will decide to become more open, at least for RTL8710/8711 to allow the community to fully leverage WiFi IoT modules based on Realtek low cost wireless processors.

Ameba IoT community appears to focus on their Realtek RTL8195AM based Ameba Arduino board right now, but you can always try to get more details or help in their forums. Alternatively, “dpape” has very recently created RTL8710 forums, and #rtl8710 IRC channel where interested developers and users can share ideas and more information about Realtek RTL8710/RTL8711 solutions.

$25 Ameba Arduino IoT Board Powered by Realtek RTL8195AM MCU Supports WiFi and NFC

June 29th, 2016 1 comment

Ameba Arduino is another development board for the Internet of Things, but beside WiFi connectivity, it also includes an NFC tag, and can support Ethernet via Arduino compatible headers. The brain of the board is Realtek RTL8195AM ARM Cortex M3 MCU that includes WiFi connectivity, hardware SSL, SRAM, and flash.

Realtek_IoT_Development_Board

Ameba Arduino Specifications:

  • MCU – Realtek RTL8195AM ARM Cortex M3 @  up to 166MHz with 512KB SRAM, 1MB ROM, WiFi connectivity, hardware SSL engine
  • Memory – 2MB SDRAM
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n 1T1R with PCB antenna and external antenna connector, NFC tag with read/write Function, 10/100M Ethernet via expansion headers
  • USB – 1x micro USB OTG port, 1x micro USB host port
  • Expansion Headers
    • SDIO Device/SD card controller
    • Up to 30x GPIOs
    • 2x SPI interfaces supporting master and slave modes
    • 3x UART interfaces including 2 HS-UART and one log UART
    • 4x I2C Interfaces supporting master and slave mode
    • 2x I2S/PCM interfaces supporting master and slave mode
    • 4x PWM interfaces
    • 2x ADC interfaces, 1x DAC interface
  • Debugging – micro USB for CMSIS-DAP debugger, UART console, and JTAG
  • Misc – DAP update, DAP reset, and Ameba reset buttons
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port

    Pinout Diagram - Click to Enlarge

    Pinout Diagram – Click to Enlarge

A sensor board with motion sensors (9-axis), a temperature and humidity sensor, a proximity sensor, a pressure sensor, an hear rate sensor, and a buzzer is also mentioned in the documentation, but I could not find pictures or more much details about this extension board.

You’ll need a (Windows) PC, a micro USB to USB cable, an RS-232 to UART board, and optionally a JTAG cable to work with the board.

Beside programming with the Arduino IDE, the company also provides an mbed + FreeRTOS SDK for more flexibility.

Ameba_mbed_SDKMore technical details, including detailed tutorials, can be found on Amebaiot.com, and the Ameba Arduino board can be purchased on eBay for $24.99 + shipping.