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Energy Micro Launches EFM32 Wonder Gecko Cortex M4 MCUs and Starter Kit

May 13th, 2013 No comments

EnergyMicro_EFM32_Wonder_GeckoAfter having announced EFM32 Wonder Gecko MCU family in February, Energy Micro has just officially launched their new family of high performance, low power MCUs. These micro-controllers come with an ARM Cortex-M4 CPU with floating-point unit (FPU) and DSP instruction set that helps reduce the processing time of your application in active mode. All MCUs come with 32KB SRAM, and between 64 to 256KB flash.

Energy Micro expects their new chips to be used in applications such as gas metering, energy metering, water metering, smart metering, alarm and security systems, health and fitness applications, and industrial and home automation. One key advantage of this new MCU family is the implementation of TSMC’s eLL (Extreme Low Leakage) technology that dramatically reduces power consumption at high temperatures.

Wonder Gecko Blog Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

Wonder Gecko Blog Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

There top of range MCUs (EFM32WG995FXXX) feature the following specifications:

  • ARM Cortex-M4 CPU platform @ up to 48 MHz with DSP instruction support and floating-point unit, and memory protection unit
  • Memory – 32KB RAM, 64/128/256KB Flash
  • Flexible Energy Management System:
    • 20 nA @ 3 V Shutoff Mode
    • 0.4μA @ 3 V Shufoff Mode with RTC
    • 0.65 μA @ 3 V Stop Mode, including Power-on Reset, Brown-out Detector, RAM and CPU retention
    • 0.95 μA @ 3 V Deep Sleep Mode, including RTC with 32.768 kHz oscillator, Power-on Reset, Brown-out Detector, RAM and CPU retention
    • 67 μA/MHz @ 3 V Sleep Mode
    • 230 μA/MHz @ 3 V Run Mode, with code executed from flash
  • 93 General Purpose I/O pins
  • 12 Channel DMA Controller
  • 12 Channel Peripheral Reflex System (PRS) for autonomous inter-peripheral signaling
  • Hardware AES with 128/256-bit keys in 54/75 cycles
  • Timers/Counters – 4× 16-bit Timer/Counter, 4×3 Compare/Capture/PWM channels, Dead-Time Insertion on TIMER0, 16-bit Low Energy Timer, 1× 24-bit Real-Time Counter,  1× 32-bit Real-Time Counter, 3× 16/8-bit Pulse Counter, and Watchdog Timer with dedicated RC oscillator @ 50 nA
  • Integrated LCD Controller for up to 8×36 segments
  • Backup Power Domain
  • External Bus Interface for up to 4× 4×256 MB of external memory mapped space
  • Communication interfaces:
    • 3× Universal Synchronous/Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter (UART/SPI/SmartCard (ISO 7816)/IrDA/I2S)
    • 2× Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter
    • 2×Low Energy UART
    • 2×I2C Interface with SMBus support
    • Universal Serial Bus (USB) with Host & OTG support
  • Ultra low power precision analog peripherals
    • 12-bit 1 Msamples/s Analog to Digital Converter
    • 12-bit 500 ksamples/s Digital to Analog Converter
    • 2× Analog Comparator
    • 3× Operational Amplifier (6.1 MHz GBW, Rail-to-rail, Programmable Gain)
    • Supply Voltage Comparator
  • Low Energy Sensor Interface (LESENSE)
  • Power-on Reset and Brown-Out Detector
  • Debug Interfaces
    • 2-pin Serial Wire Debug interface (1-pin Serial Wire Viewer)
    • Embedded Trace Module v3.5 (ETM)
  • Pre-Programmed Serial Bootloader
  • Temperature range – -40 to 85 ºC
  • Single power supply – 1.85 to 3.8 V
  • BGA120 package (for EFM32WG995FXXX), other members of Wonder Gecko family comes in BGA112, QFP100, QFP64, and QFN64 packages

You can watch the promo video below for a short introduction of EFM32 Wonder Gecko MCUs, particularly showing the low power consumption at high temperature compared to standard solutions, and the better processing performance thanks to DSP instructions and FPU unit.

The company also provides a starter kit (EFM32WG-STK3800) featuring EFM32WG990F256 MCU (256 KB Flash/32 KB RAM) with the following key features:

  • Wonder_Gecko_Starter_KitAdvanced Energy Monitoring v2
  • Real-time energy and power profiling
  • Backup Capacitor for RTC mode
  • USB interface for Host/Device/OTG
  • LESENSE demo ready
  • Light, LC and touch sensors
  • SEGGER J-Link debugger

As with other EFM32 Gecko MCUs development can be done with Simplicity Studio, a small program working in both Windows, and with some limitations, Linux, that downloads documentation, datasheets, and sample code, and install debugging tools helping measuring power consumption, uploading firmware to the target, and diverse design tools to help with code creation.

Both the Wonder MCUs and the Starter Kit ($84) are available now, and can be purchased from DigiKey. You can get up to 2 BGA or QFP samples free of charge for your evaluation (company address only). Further information is available on Energy Micro’s Wonder Gecko page.

Keil RTX RTOS is Now Available for Energy Micro EFM32 MCUs

April 12th, 2013 No comments

Keil_RTX_RTOS_TicklessEnergy Micro has recently announced the availability of the Keil RTX real-time operating system (RTOS) as part of its Simplicity Studio tool suite. The Keil RTX has been optimized for ARM Cortex-M processors to provide flexible scheduling and high-speed operation, and has been improved to enable an ultra-low power, deep-sleep mode between tasks.

Energy Micro has implemented a tickless mode in Keil RTX. This mode allows the EFM32 Cortex M3 MCUs to wake up only when needed, either at a scheduled time or on an interrupt event. This results in much lower power consumption in sleep mode compared to other SysTick implementations.

The video below shows the difference between SYSTICK mode where the system consumes about 2.7mA in active mode, and 830 uA in sleep mode to the new tickless mode where the MCU still consume the same amount of energy in Active mode, but only 1uA in sleep mode, or in other words, an 830x improvement in power consumption.

ARM Keil RTX RTOS is available for free (as in beer), and is also provided with full source code under a BSD license that is free of charge even for commercial usage. The Keil RTX implements the RTOS API of the ARM Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard (CMSIS). Windows users can download this RTOS via Simplicity Studio software suite, however it can’t be retrieved from Simplicity Studio in Linux (or I missed it), but you can still download the source code, documentation and samples from Energy Micro in a zip file.

Via Embedded.com

Open Source Time Machine #2 – Build A Complete Watch Yourself

April 11th, 2013 1 comment

There are already some watches such as Texas Instruments ez430-Crhonos and MetaWatch that are used as development platform and let you develop software yourself. Some hardware documentation is usually provided as well, but Energy Micro forums’ member hairykiwi is trying to go a bit further. He created a watch based on EFM32 Cortex M3 MCU and already released the KiCad schematics and gerber files, with 3D printer files and firmware source code to be released once they are ready. The project is called “Open source Time Machine #2” (OTM2).

OTM2_Watch

Early Prototype of OTM2 Watch with 3D Printed Case

The project makes use of the following components and features:

  • EFM32LG332F256 – Energy Micro Cortex M3 Leopard Gecko MCU with 256KB flash and 32KB SRAM
  • A 128×128 pixel (23.2 x23.2mm visible area) ultra low power Memory LCD from Sharp Microelectronics,
  • Recharge and programming via Micro USB connector. JTAG programming is also available.
  • 150mAh Li-Po Battery + on-board battery fuel gauge IC.
  • Vibratory Motor.
  • Piezo Electric diaphragm.
  • ADXL362 / ADXL346 accelerometer.
  • Five miniature right-angle tact switch buttons
  • Provision for a LED based planar light-guide type back light (utilizing a 0.4mm high right-angle Avago ChipLED and laser engraved light guide.

The watch may be improved at a later stage with the addition of Bluetooth LE, ANT+, GPS, etc…

He has just assembled the first PCB as of last week, and it looks pretty neat.

OTM2_PCB_Display_Battery

There are no videos of the watch yet, especially since the device may not have booted yet, but if you want to see what the display is capable of, you can watch the video below with the Sharp display and an EFM32 devkit.

This open source hardware project is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and, will be open source firmware, probably released under the GNU Lesser General Public License v3.0.

Schematics and gerber files are available in the project’s github repository, and others files (3D parts & source code) will be available as the project progresses. There are a few more pictures, and a lot more explanations about the assembly in the forum post.

ARM MCU Development in Linux with Energy Micro’s Simplicity Studio, Eclipse, and CodeSourcery Toolchain

January 31st, 2013 7 comments

Quite a few months ago, I received an Energy Micro EFM32 Tiny Gecko Starter Kit, but I haven’t done much with it. But recently I saw a tweet from EnergyMicro about Simplicity Studio supports for Ubuntu, and I know it can be problematic to find proper tools for ARM MCU development in Linux, so I decided to give it a try. The first part is about Simplicity Studio, and energyAwareTools which are specific to Energy Micro, but the second part deals with setting up Eclipse and CodeSourcery ARM toolchain for MCU development which should be reusable for other MCUs from vendors such as Texas Instruments, NXP and STMicro. I’ve used a PC running Ubuntu 12.04 64-bit with the instructions below.

Installing Simplicity Studio and energyAwareTools in Ubuntu

Simplicity Studio is part of the 4 steps of the getting started guide with EFM32 MCUs. It has been available for Linux for a few months, here’s how to install it in a terminal window:

  • Create a directory where you want to install the tools, e.g.:
  • Download and extract Symplicity Studio for Linux (This will create energymicro directory automatically):
  • Run Simplicity Studio:

That’s it. It’s very easy and it worked “out of the box” for me.

Simplicity Studio Ubuntu

Then click on Add/Remove to install the required documentation,  firmware and samples. I went the “brutal” way and just installed everything. It just took 15 minutes.

Energy Micro tools are not integrated (yet) with Simplicity Studio for Linux, but you can download the latest version on Energy Micro download page.

I first used the current stable version of the tools (eACommander, eAProfiler and eADesigner), and then installed the latest beta (2.72) for energyAwareCommander:

Since the binaries are build for Linux 32-bit, you may have to install a few i386 packages such as:

Don’t try to install “libicu48:i386” even if you see a warning, this will mess up your system. First I did not pay attention, blindly answered “Y”, and it removed 991MB from my installation include libreoffice, gimp and unity support…).

To be able to access the USB device as a standard user, you need to add a file for udev, and change some permissions:

Restart your system. And you can try energyAware Commander:

energyAware Commander in Ubuntu

It can connect via J-Link, and detect the board but trying to update the firmware resulted in the error “Failed when asking kit to reset”. I’ve also tried to run the demos without success. Anyhow, let’s move to the next step that is building our own app in Linux, and run them on the target.

Installation Eclipse in Ubuntu for Energy Micro Gecko Starter Kits

I knew I wanted to use an IDE in Linux to build and debugging the code, but among the list of third party tools listed on Energy Micro website, I was not too sure where to go. Luckily, somebody asked for the “Recommended IDE on Ubuntu” on Energy Micro forums, and the answer seems to be Eclipse + CodeSourcery ARM EABI toolchain. There’s also an application note to do just that for Windows, and I’ll use that to write  instructions for Ubuntu or other Linux distributions.

First download and install Sourcery CodeBench Lite for ARM EABI and eclipse:

wget https://sourcery.mentor.com/GNUToolchain/package10926/public/arm-none-eabi/arm-2012.09-63-arm-none-eabi-i686-pc-linux-gnu.tar.bz2
tar xjvf arm-2012.09-63-arm-none-eabi-i686-pc-linux-gnu.tar.bz2 -C ~/bin
sudo apt-get install eclipse

Now start eclipse, and install some plugins by going to “Help->Install New Software”, and add http://download.eclipse.org/releases/indigo to “Work With field”. Then browse to “Mobile and Device Development”, and select “C/C++ GDB Hardware Debugging”. Press the Next > button, and follow the instructions.

Eclipse GDB Hardware Debugging

Repeat the same instructions with http://embsysregview.sourceforge.net/update to install Embsys Regview (Optional, and I haven’t tried it yet).

We can now start a new project using some sample code. I’ve tested it with blink and lightsense samples, and write the steps with blink sample below.

First go to File->New->Project-C/C++->C Project, and click Browser to navigate to blink sample project we’ve downloaded with Simplicity Studio (the path is energymicro/kits/EFM32TG_STK3300/examples/blink for my starter kit). Select Empty Project and “Linux GCC”, and click Finish.
Energymicro_Eclipse_Blink_Project
Then click on Project->Properties, and do the following modifications:

  • C/C++ Build: Modify build directory to ${workspace_loc:/blink/codesourcery}.
  • C/C++ Build->Discovery Options: Uncheck the Automatic discovery of paths and symbols checkbox.
  • C/C++ Build->Settings: Check the GNU Elf Parser checkbox.

Click the OK button. In blink/codesourcery, copy Makefile.bli

nk to Makefile, and change LINUXCS to the path you’ve installed CodeSourcery toolchain, e.g.:

We can now build the code. Select Project->Build Project, and within a few second you should see the build is successful in the Console tab.

Let’s configure the debugger. First run J-Link gdb server in a terminal window:

In Eclipse, click on Run->Debug Configuration, Highlight GDB Hardware Debugging, right-click to select New, and do the following modifications:

  • Main tab: Click the Select other… link on the bottom where it says Using GDB (DSF) Hardware Debugging Launcher and select the Standard GDB Hardware Debugging Launcher instead, and apply by clicking the OK button.EnergyMicro_Eclipse_Debug_Configuration
  • Debugger tab: Enter the full path to arm-none-eabi-gdb in the GDB command field. (e.g. /home/jaufranc/bin/arm-2012.09/bin/arm-none-eabi-gdb)
  • Debugger tab: Make sure  Use remote target is checked, with Generic TCP/IP JTAG Device and localhost as Host name, and set 2331 as Port number.
  • Startup tab: In the Initialization Commands text box, enter:
    set tdesc filename target-m3.xml
    mon speed 4000
    mon endian little
    mon flash download = 1
    mon flash device = EFM32TG840F32
    mon reset 1
  • Startup tab: Check the Set breakpoint at: checkbox in the Runtime Options frame, and write main in the textbox.
  • Common tab: Check Debug checkbox in the Display in favorites menu frame.

Now click on Debug in the same Debug Configuration Window to start the program, the Eclipse display should change to Debug mode as shown below.

Eclipe Ubuntu Energy Micro Blink Debug

Eclipse Debug Window In Ubuntu with “Blink” Sample Running in Energy Micro Starter Kit (Click to Enlarge)

Now click on Resume (or press F8) to run the program (the USER LED should blink on the board), or add breakpoints, monitor variables as needed.

199 Euros “Energy Harvesting Solution To Go” Kit with Energy Micro Cortex M3 Starter Kit

November 2nd, 2012 No comments

If you’re interesting in battery less ultra low power applications, Energy Micro, Linear Technology and Würth Elektronik have announced an energy harvesting development platform early last month. The “Energy Harvesting Solution To Go” Kit is composed of an Energy Micro Giant Gecko (Cortex M3) Starter Kit and an energy harvesting board that is capable of getting enough solar, thermal, piezoelectric or electromagnetic energy to power the MCU board.

Energy Harvesting Board

The power connector shown above connects directly to the Giant Gecko Starter Kit board to provide power. Although there are 4 energy harvesters on the board, only one power source can be selected at a time via jumpers. Several power sources can be selected by using diodes. The board The energy harvesting board offers two integrated energy sources:

  • A solar cell (32mm x 50mm)
  • A thermo-generator (40mm x 40mm).

And 2 other external energy sources can be added to the board via connectors.

Würth Elektronik provides a user’s manual,  schematics  (PDF) and design Files (Gerber data and bill of material) for  Linear Technology multi-source energy harvester board.

The Giant Gecko Starter Kit (EFM32GG-STK3700) used in this development platform comes with an ARM Cortex M3 @ 48MHz, (1024KB Flash + 128KB RAM on Chip), 32 MB NAND Flash, 1 USB port, 160-segment LCD display, 2 programmable buttons, a touch slider, an ambient light sensor and an inductive-capacitive metal sensor.

The energy harvesting board is said to be compatible with all other starter kits of the EFM32 family.

The video below shows an unboxing of the kit, how the MCU and energy harvesting boards are connected, and a demo of the included solar and thermal power sources.

The “Energy Harvesting Solution To Go” Kit is available for 199 Euros (inc. VAT and shipping to Germany) from Würth Elektronik website. For those who already have a EFM32 starter kit, the energy harvesting board does not appear to be sold separately.

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

May 16th, 2012 No comments

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.

Energy Micro 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 natural environment instead of freezing in Norway, where the company is located :).

Back to the starter kit, let’s open the package and see what inside the box.

Content of EFM32-TG-STK3300 package

Energy Micro EFM32 Starter Kit: Board, CD, USB cable and Quick Start Guide (Click to Enlarge)

The package contains the EFM32 Tiny Gecko board (that’s a relief), a USB A to USB mini B cable, a CD with IAR Embedded workbench for ARM, Kickstart edition and a Quick Start Guide as expected. Energy Micro must like me, because they also included a cool gecko keyring and a pack of 8 EFM32 chewing gums.

The Quick Start Guide just list the content of the package and tells you to go to www.energymicro/simplicity to get started with the Starter Kit. More on that in an upcoming post.

Let’s have a look at the board a little bit closer.

Energy Micro EFM32 Tiny Gecko Board (Click to Enlarge)

On the left, we’ve got the mini USB/J-Link port at the top, the battery compartment and the switch, in the middle, there is the LCD and the MCU and on the right of the board, the expansion header, the light sensor, 2 buttons, the LED and the touch slider. You’ll also notice the through holes at the top and bottom of the board.

There are no components at the back of the board.

Energy Micro EFM32 Tiny Gecko Board (Back)

If you are interested in this board, you can go to Energy Micro EFM32 Tiny Gecko Starter Kit page for more information and links to buy it (70 USD). There is no documentation included in the package, so you need to download and install Simplicity then download and access the documentation there.

SCUBAPRO-UWATEC Meridian Dive Computer Powered by EFM32 Gecko Cortex M3 MCU

May 9th, 2012 No comments

SCUBAPRO-UWATEC and Energy Micro have unveiled the SCUBAPRO Meridian dive computer powered by Energy Micro EFM32 Gecko MCU. Meridian is a sophisticated dive computer in a watch design, powered by a CR2032 lithium battery.

EnergyMicro Cortex M3 Dive Watch

SCUBAPRO UWATEC Meridian Dive Watch

The companies claim the Meridian is the world’s first 32-bit dive watch-computer. It can operate at depths of up to 120 meters, incorporates an advanced diving algorithm, performs multi-gas decompression and features an heart rate monitor that enables adaptive workload calculations.

The watch computer can be used both during diving, configured to display a variety of dive information including depth, dive time, decompression status and water temperature, and above the surface where it handles remaining desaturation time, no-fly time. Its built-in thermometer and altimeter can also be used for mountain treks.

The MCU used in the Meridian is the Energy Micro EFM32G890 Gecko, a 32MHz 32-bit MCU based on ARM Cortex-M3 consuming 180µA/MHz is active mode and less than 1 µA in sleep modes. The Meridian features a sealed 316L stainless steel housing and sapphire glass. It operates in three modes – Apnea, Scuba or Gauge – and can store over 50 hours of diving data which can be downloaded, edited and reviewed on a personal computer via the LogTRAK software available for Windows and Mac.

The Meridian dive computer is available now for 649 USD.

You can find more information on Scubapro Meridian page.

Energy Micro Unveils 2 New Gecko Cortex M3 Starter Kits: EFM32LG-STK3600 and EFM32GG-STK3700

April 24th, 2012 3 comments

Energy Micro introduced two starter kits (STK) for complex battery-powered products such as portable health and fitness devices and smart accessories:

  • EFM32LG-STK3600 – Based on the EFM32LG990F256 MCU (Cortex M3 ) with 256KB on-chip flash and 32KB RAM.
  • EFM32GG-STK3700 – Based on the EFM32GG990F1024 MCU (Cortex M3 ) with 1MB on-chip Flash and 128KB RAM

Both the Leopard Gecko and Giant Gecko MCU can directly control a TFT display and feature a USB driver that supports the Host, Device and On-the-Go (OTG) protocols.

Energy Micro 32-Bit Cortex M3 Development Kit

Energy Micro EFM32GG-3700 Starter Kit

The new STKs are also equipped with light, metal and touch sensors which allow designers to work with the LESENSE Low Energy Sensor interface allowing passive sensing of 16 sensors without host CPU intervention.

The hardware feature set is completed by a USB plug, 32MB on-board NAND Flash, LCD and a variety of LEDs and push-buttons.

The two EFM32 starter kits includes debugging support with a  full SEGGER J-Link, the enhanced version of Energy Micro’s real-time current probe and the energyAware profiler. The Advanced Energy Monitoring system (AEM) ensures that current data can be viewed with improved accuracy and 100 times faster than earlier versions, eliminating the need to connect external instruments to find current drains.

You can watch the video introduction of the new devkit.

Software can be developed with Simplicity Studio, a free EFM32 development software suite which includes the latest documentation, examples, software and drivers.

The EFM32GG-STK3700 and EFM32LG-STK3600 starter kits are available now for 79 USD each and can be purchased via one of Energy Micro distributors (e.g. Digikey, Mouser…).

You can find more information on EFM32GG-STK3700 and EFM32LG-STK3600 pages.