Archive

Posts Tagged ‘freertos’
Orange Pi Development Boards

$1 RDA5981 WiFi IoT Arm Cortex-M4 SoC is Designed for Smart Home Devices, Smart Speakers

January 11th, 2018 9 comments

RDA Microelectronics processors are found in a few cheap smart and not-so-smart phones, as well as the even cheaper Orange Pi i96 board. But the company does not only design cellular chips, but their portfolio also includes solutions for the Internet of Things and TV & radio tuners.

RDA5981 is a WiFi IoT chip specifically designed for smart home & audio application, such as smart speakers, and it’s found in devices running Baidu DuerOS, the Chinese equivalent of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. The company explains it can be widely used in televisions, set-top boxes, smart appliances, wireless monitors, and other products.

RDA5981A Block Diagram

RDA5981 A/B/C processor specifications:

  • CPU – Arm Cortex-M4 @ up to 160 MHz with integrated MPU and mbed uvisor
  • System Memory  – Up to 448 KB SRAM for network stack and application, external PSRAM interface
  • Storage – Up to 32Mbit SPI flash
  • Connectivity
    • WiFi
      • 2.4 Ghz 802.11b/g/n WiFi up to 150 Mbps with 20/40 MHz bandwidth
      • WPA, WPA2, WEP, TKIP,CCMP security
      • STA, softAP, P2P, STA+softAp, STA+P2P modes
      • A-MPDU, A-MSDU, HT-BA
    • TCP/IP stack with SSL (TLS?)
  • Host Interfaces – SPI / UART (AT command set) / USB2.0
  • Peripherals – GPIO, 2x UART, 2x I2S, 1x I2C, 8x PWM, 4x SPI, 1x SDMMC, 1x USB2, 2x ADC
  • Security – Hardware crypto accelerator AES/RSA, true random number generator (TRNG), and CRC accelerator
  • Misc – Watchdog, 16×16 bits eFuse configuration
  • Package – 5×5mm2 QFN package, 0.4mm pitch QFN-40

The company provides support for FreeRTOS and mbedOS5.1 for the chip. You could get a very basic datasheet from the company’s product page, but if you don’t want to leave your contact details, there’s even more information on Electrodragon Wiki.

The features looks interesting and could become a competitor to Realtek RTL8710AF or even Espressif ESP8266, especially Electrodragon sells their RDA5981X1 WiFi module based on RDA5981A for just $1.92 plus shipping.

Specifications for the module:

  • SoC – RDA5981A with 8Mbit internal flash, 288+160 KB RAM
  • 24 castellated pin exposing
    • Up to 16 free GPIOs
    • 2x UART up to 4Mbit, 3x ADC, 1x USB, 1x I2C, I2S in, I2S out, 1x SPI, up to 4x PWM, etc… (Pins are multiplex with up to 6 different function per pin)
    • VCC (3.0 to 3.5V), GND
    • Reset
  • Dimensions – 17.60 x 15.50 mm

The module also comes with a red breakout board (with 2.54mm pitch) included in the price. The company says RDA5981A IC itself sells for around $1 with price obviously depending on quantity.They also mention the SoC still have bugs without expanding. The board can be programming with AT commands or using mBed as explained in the Wiki linked above.

RDA5981A “Arduino” Development Board

There’s also an RDA5981 board with Arduino header, which I could only find on Taobao for under $50. Somebody also setup a new Github account with more information, and beside the RDA5981A/B/C models listed in the datasheet,  there seems to be an RDA5981AM chip as well. All RDA5981 variants are shown to be suitable for smart home, but RDA5981C can also be used for smart speakers and WiFi toys, maybe because it comes with 32 Mbit SPI flash? We’ll have to see how things evolve, and whether the solution will gain traction.

Via Olimex

Amazon FreeRTOS Released for NXP, Texas Instruments, STMicro, and (soon) Microchip Microcontrollers

December 2nd, 2017 7 comments

FreeRTOS is an open source real-time operating system for microcontrollers released under an MIT license, and when it comes to adoption in embedded systems it’s right there near the top with embedded Linux according to Aspencore 2017 embedded markets study. For example, some Espressif SDKs for ESP8266 or ESP32 are based on FreeRTOS, and so is Mediatek LinkIt Development Platform for RTOS.

The recently announced Amazon FreeRTOS (a:FreeRTOS) leverages the open source operating systems, and extends it with with libraries that enable local and AWS cloud connectivity, security, and soon over-the-air updates. a:FreeRTOS is free of charge, open source, and available today.

Click to Enlarge

In order to get started, you’ll have a choice of 4 hardware platforms:

  • STMicro STM32L4 Discovery Kit IoT Node (B-L475E-IOT01A) powered by STM32L475 ARM Cortex-M4 MCU with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, RF (868 / 915 MHz), and NFC connectivity, plenty of sensors

Click to Enlarge

  • Texas Instruments SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3220SF LaunchPad development kit (CC3220SF-LAUNCHXL) with  CC3220SF single-chip WiFi microcontroller (MCU) with 1MB Flash, 256KB of RAM.

Click to Enlarge

  • Microchip Curiosity PIC32MZ EF Development Board (Amazon FreeRTOS support coming soon) powered by PIC32MZ EF MCU (415 DMIPS) with 2 MB Flash, 512 KB RAM, integrated FPU, crypto accelerator, and connectivity via an on-board 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi module, and two MikroBUS connector for add-on boards.

Click to Enlarge

If you don’t own any of those boards, or don’t plan to purchase one, but still would like to play with a:FreeRTOS you could run the Windows Simulator instead.

Once we’ve selected our hardware platform (or simulator), we can access Amazon FreeRTOS console to configure and download the FreeRTOS kernel and software libraries for our application.  Development of the application is done though the tools provided for the board for example TI Code Composer Studio, STM32 System Workbench, IAR Embedded Workbench, or Visual Studio Community Edition.

Click to Enlarge

Amazon FreeRTOS is free as in speech and free as in beer, with the source code and links to documentation available in Github. Amazon will make money when you utilize AWS services such as AWS IoT Core, data transfer, or AWS Greengrass. The price list of AWS services that may be charged (if enabled) while using Amazon FreeRTOS can be found here.

Think Silicon Ultra Low Power NEMA GPUs are Designed for Wearables and IoT Applications

May 8th, 2017 1 comment

When you have to purchase a wearable device, let’s say a smartwatch or fitness tracker, you have to make trade offs between user interface and battery life. For example, a fitness tracker such as Xiaomi Mi Band 2 will last about 2 weeks per charge with a limited display, while Android smartwatches with a much better interface need to be recharged every 1 or 2 days. Think Silicon aims to improve battery life of the devices with nicer user interfaces thanks to their ultra-low power NEMA 2D, 3D, and GP GPU that can be integrated into SoCs with ARM Cortex-M and Cortex-A cores.

Nema|t 3D GPU Block Diagram

The company has three family of GPUs:

  • NEMA|p pico 2D GPU with one core
    • 4bpp framebuffer, 6bpp texture with/out alpha
    • Fill Rate – 1pixel/cycle
    • Silicon Area – 0.07 mm2 with 28nm process
    • Power Consumption – leakage power GPU consumption of 0.06mW; with compression (TSFSc): 0.03 mW
  • NEMA|t tiny 2D & 3D GPU with one to 4 cores
    • 4bpp framebuffer, 6bpp texture with/out alpha
    • OpenGL ES support
    • Can render a 420×420 3D UI @ 80 MHz
    • Fill Rate – 1-4pixel/cycle; up to 1,600 MPixel/s for the quad core version  @ 400 MHz
    • Silicon Area – 0.1 to 0.25 mm2 with 28nm process
    • Power Consumption – leakage power GPU consumption of 0.07mW; with proprietary compression technology (TSFBc, TSTXc): 0.03 mW
  • NEMA|s GPGPU with one to four cores
    • Supports Network On Chip (NoC) interconnect for clusters with each cluster supporting up to four cores, and each core handling up to 128 threads
    • Fill Rate – 1pixel/cycle
    • Silicon Area and Power Consumption – TBA, as Nema|s is only implemented via FPGA for now

NEMA|s GPU

The first two models are available right now, while the third is still in development. The company is also working on the fourth family with NEMA|ts “tiny small” GPU, but no details have been provided.

Provided the website is up-to-date, NEMA|p 2D GPU is supported in FreeRTOS V8.0.1 and Linux kernel 3.x, while NEMA|t can be used in Linux 3.x and Android 4.x. The company also provides a software library in ANSI C, as well as DirectFB and Qt support.

I found out about the NEMA through a Charbax video at Mobile World Congress 2017.


Think Silicon GPUs are said to be already used in Microchip and Dialog MCUs, and Sequant recently announced an “LTE for IoT System-on-Chip” with a NEMA|p 2D/2.5D GPU. The demo in the video above also shows an Ambiq Micro board connected to an FPGA implementation of one of their GPUs. You’ll find more information on Think Silicon website.

Compulab IOT-GATE-iMX7 is an NXP i.MX7 IoT Gateway for Industrial Applications

February 28th, 2017 2 comments

CompuLab has introduced IOT-GATE-iMX7 compact fanless IoT gateway and industrial controller built around the company’s CL-SOM-iMX7 system-on-module, and offering Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G and Zigbee connectivity.Compulab IOT-GATE-iMX7 gateway specifications:

Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

  • SoC –  NXP i.MX 7 dual ARM Cortex-A7 processor @ up to 1GHz with ARM Cortex-M4 core @ 200Mhz, 2D graphics engine
  • System Memory – Up to 2GB DDR3L-1066
  • Storage – Up to 32GB on-board eMMC + micro-SD socket
  • Connectivity
    • Dual Gigabit Ethernet
    • Dual band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
    • Bluetooth 4.1 BLE
    • Optional 3G cellular module via mini PCie socket
    • Optional ZigBee NXP JN5168 module
  • Display – DVI up to 1920×1080 using a HDMI connector
  • Audio – 3.5mm jacks for stereo line out, stereo line in
  • USB – 4x USB2.0 host ports, type-A connectors
  • Serial – 1x RS485 / RS422 port, RJ11 connector; 1x RS232 port, ultra-mini serial connector; 1x serial console via UART-to-USB bridge, micro-USB connector
  • Expansion
    • mini-PCIe socket, full-size
    • embedded I/O header with up to 1x UART, 1x SPI, 1x I2C, 12x GPIO
  • Power Supply – Unregulated 8V to 24V via power barrel; support for PoE (powered device)
  • Dimensions – 108 x 83 x 24 mm ( Aluminum housing)
  • Temperature Range – -40C to 85°C

IOT-GATE-iMX7 ships with Debian Linux pre-loaded, and the company can provide a full Linux Board Support Package (BSP) with Linux kernel 4.1.15, Yocto Project file-system and U-Boot boot-loader. The gateway also supports run mainline Linux, upstream Yocto Project and FreeRTOS BSP.

 

Click to Enlarge

In case you’d rather provide your own enclosure the SBC-IOT-iMX7 single board computer is also available. Both the gateway and SBC have a 10-year availability.

IOT-GATE-iMX7 price starts at $107 for volume orders, and SBC-IOT-iMX7 at $85. You’ll find more details, including pricing for options, on IOT-GATE-iMX7 product page.

Mediatek MT2533D is a Bluetooth 4.2 SiP for Smart Headphones & Hands-Free Systems

January 9th, 2017 3 comments

There used to be a time when most products were based on a general purpose MCU or processor that you would interface to over chips like audio codecs, memory chips, flash storage, etc…, but in order to cut costs, application specific SoCs have become quite common over the year, so we’ve had mobile application processors for several years already, but more recently we got “wearables” SoCs and “Smart Home” SoCs, and Mediatek has launched MT2533D “headphone” SiP (System-in-Package) combining a Cortex-M4 MCU, 4MB PSRAM, an audio codec, and a dual mode Bluetooth subsystem.

mt2533-block-diagramMediatek MT2533D specifications:

  • MCU –  ARM Cortex-M4 @ up to 208MHz with 32KB L1 cache, FPU, MPU, AES 128/192/256 crypto engine and TRNG
  • Memory – 160kB SRAMs, 4MB pseudo SRAM
  • Storage – 4MB flash
  • Wireless Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.2 dual mode (classic and low energy)
  • Audio
    • AAC/SBC for Bluetooth audio
    • CVSD/mSBC for Bluetooth speech
    • PCM playback: 8-48kHz sample rate
    • PCM record: 8kHz and 16kHz sample rate
    • Dual-mic noise suppression and acoustic echo cancellation
  • Display
    • Hardware 2D accelerator
    • DBI serial interface up to 320×320 @ 30 fps
    • 1-lane MIPI DSI interface up to 480×320 @ 30 fps
  • Camera – Mediatek camera serial interface up to VGA resolution @ 30 fps with YUV422 or RGB565
  • Other Peripherals
    • USB 2.0
    • 3x UARTs, 3x I2Cs
    • 6x PWMs, 4x SPI masters, SPI slave
    • I2S
    • SDIO v2.0
    • 5-channel ADC
    • Up to 38 GPIOs
  • Package – 172-ball TFBGA with 0.4mm pitch
  • Dimensions – 6.2 x 5.8 x 1.05 mm
  • Ambient temperature – -40°C to 85°C

There are interfaces for small displays and low resolution cameras, as well as a fair amount of I/Os, so it could certainly be use for audio applications outside of simple headphones, not matter how “smart” they may be.

One interesting part is that I did not get the news from MediaTek, but instead MediaTek Labs, Mediatek’s Internet of Things (IoT) developer program, and MT2533 is supported by the MediaTek LinkIt Development Platform for RTOS based on FreeRTOS. That means the SiP will be available to makers, and not only large companies, and development and debugging can be done in ARM Keil μVision, IAR Embedded Workbench and GCC like other LinkIt platforms. A development board or, like Mediatek calls it, an HDK (Hardware Development Kit), based on MT2533D could also be launched in the near future.

However Mediatek Labs only mentioned that MT2533D will be available to device makers in Q1 2017, and the developer documentation and tools will be released in Q3 2017, so we will have to wait for a while before being able to play with the platform. More details can be found on MT2533D product page.

Meet NXP i.MX8 Processor Families: i.MX 8 for High performance, i.MX 8M for Audio/Video & i.MX 8X for Low Power

October 6th, 2016 4 comments

Freescale and then NXP have been talking about i.MX8 processors for several years, and this spring unveiled i.MX 8 Multisensory Enablement Kit without giving much details about the processor except it would include both Cortex A72 & A53 cores. But NXP put out a press release yesterday about “Multisensory Automotive eCockpit Platform to Advance Multimedia Experiences in Future Cars” which appears to be the same news but with different words, except the content of the PR has more interesting bits such as:

The new family, which is based on up to six 64-bit ARMv8-A technology processor cores and includes a HiFi 4 DSP, LPDDR4 and DDR4 memory support as well as dual Gigabit Ethernet with audio video bridging (AVB) capability, is designed to advance automotive dashboard graphics such as instrument clusters, infotainment visuals, heads-up displays, rear-seat screens and more. Capable of driving four HD screens with independent content or a 4K screen, the new devices introduced today include:

  • i.MX 8QuadMax which integrates two ARM Cortex®-A72 cores, four Cortex-A53 cores, two Cortex-M4F cores and two GC7000XS/VX GPUs
  • i.MX 8QuadPlus which integrates one ARM Cortex-A72 core, four Cortex-A53 cores, two Cortex-M4F cores and two GC7000LiteXS/VX GPUs
  • i.MX 8Quad which integrates four Cortex-A53 cores, two Cortex-M4F cores and two GC7000LiteXS/VX GPUs
Click to Enlarge - Source NXP and EETimes

Click to Enlarge – Source NXP and EETimes

Hmm… SoCs with two identical GPUs? That’s because automotive applications often require multiple operating systems running on a single processor, with maybe one part handling the “infotainment” screen, and another taking care of the dashboard, which has to be 100% stable. This is usually handled by a software hypervisor but i.MX 8 processors can do this mostly using hardware virtualization, and does not require safety critical and non-safety critical software to share the same part of the hardware.

The new processors currently support for Android, Linux, FreeRTOS, QNX, Green Hills, and Dornerworks XEN, multiple temperature grades including automotive AEC-Q100 grade 3 (-40° to 125° C Tj), industrial (-40° to 105° C Tj), and consumer (-20° to 105° C Tj), and are fully supported on NXP’s 10 and 15-year Longevity Program. You’ll find a few more details about NXP i.MX8 processors slated to go into mass production in Q1 2017 on the product page.

However, while searching for more details about i.MX 8, I’ve come across a PDF file dated July 15, 2016 (File has now been removed), revealing more i.MX8 processor families are on the way with i.MX 8M series for audio/video applications with 4K VP9/H.265 and HDR support, and i.MX 8X series based on  ARM Cortex A35 / M4 cores for low power applications.

NXP i.MX 8M Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

[Post updated on January 27, 2017 to remove 2 slides with i.MX 8X references upon NXP request, since the processor has not been released yet].

The document also informs us that two more i.MX 8 processors are planned with i.MX 8Dual and i.MX 8DualLite dual core Cortex A53 SoCs.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

But let’s go back to i.MX 8M series with four SKUs namely 8M Quad Video, 8M Dual Video, 8M Quad Audio, and 8M Solo Audio.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

All features one, two or four Cortex A53 cores, a real-time Cortex M4 cores, 1080p to 4K video support, 20 channels audio, USB 2.0 or 3.0 interfaces, and DTS and Dolby Atmos support. The processors will be used in streaming media clients, networked speakers, soundbars or AV receivers, or some embedded clients in consumer or industrial sectors.

NXP i.MX 8X series should first include 3 SKUs: i.MX 8QuadXPlus, i.MX 8DualXPlus, and i.MX 8DualX all powered by one to four ARM Cortex A35 cores and supporting up to 3 displays. The processors will target display and audio applications, 3D graphic display clusters, telematics and V2X (Vehicle to everything) applications.

NXP i.MX 8X is not listed on NXP website yet, but I’d assume they’d go to mass production sometimes in 2017, when they may have become Qualcomm i.MX 8 processors… More details can now be found on NXP i.MX 8 series product page for both i.MX 8 and i.MX 8M processors.

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.

Explore M3 Board based on NXP LPC1768 Cortex M3 MCU Comes with Lots of Tutorials (Crowdfunding)

September 12th, 2016 No comments

Explore M3 is an ARM Cortex M3 development board powered by a micro USB port, with plenty of I/Os, Arduino compatible, and the developers have also written many tutorials to help people getting started as fast and easily as possible. A starter kit with cables and sensors is also available with the board.

explore-m3

Specifications:

  • MCU – NXP LPC1768 ARM Cortex M3 @ up to 100MHz with 512KB flash, 64KB RAM,
  • USB – 1x micro USB 2.0 OTG port for programming and power
  • Expansion Headers – 2x 20-pin male headers + 8-pin unpopulated header with 38x GPIOs, 4x UARTs, 2x CAN, 2x SPI, 2x I2C, 6x PWM, 5x ADC, 1x DAC, 2x interrupt pins, I2S audio, and power signal
  • Debugging – JTAG/SWD Debug connector
  • Misc – USB boot and reset buttons
  • Dimensions – 55mm x 25mm

The hardware is somewhat similar to mbed LPC1768 board but with a few more I/Os. The breadboard friendly board can be programmed with the Arduino IDE, but you can also go “bare metal” using ARM-GCC and Ellipse, or other tool chains like Keil or Co-IDE. Alternatively, the board also support FreeRTOS real-time OS. You can find close to 50 tutorials for all three programming options on ExplorerEmbedded Wiki, and some source code is also available on Github.

explore-m3-pinoutExplorer M3 developers are now raising funds via CrowdSupply to help reducing price for mass production. A $19 pledge should get your the board, but for bare metal programming you may want to add $20 for SODA SWD debug adapter, if you don’t already have your own programmer, and the starter kit goes for $49 with various other accessories. Shipping is free, and delivery is planned for mid November.