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Posts Tagged ‘mcu’

Octo SPI / HyperBus Interface is Designed for High Speed Serial Flash, RAM, and MCP

November 25th, 2017 6 comments

So far, if you needed high speed storage with low pin count in your MCU based board, you could use QSPI (Quad SPI) NOR flash, but earlier this month I wrote about STM32L4+ MCU family, which added two Octo SPI interfaces.

I had never heard about Octo SPI previously. Those two interfaces can be used with single, dual, quad, or octal SPI compatible serial flash or RAM, and  support a frequency of up to 86 MHz for Octal SPI memories in STM32L4+ MCU.

STMicro OctoSPI interface also supports Cypress/Spansion Hyperbus mode to connect to HyperFlash or HyperRAM chip, or even HyperFlash + HyperRAM Multi-Chip packages (MCP), and variable or fixed external memory latency as defined by the Hyperbus protocol specification. The latter reveals Hyperbus supports performance up to 400 MB/s (provided the controller support 200 MHz), and relies on either 11 bus signals using 3.0V I/O (Single-ended clock CK), or 12 bus signals using 1.8V I/Os (differential clock CK, CK#).

HyperBus vs Parallel vs QSPI NOR Flash – Read Speed

The chart above compared the performance of an actual HyperFlash (333 MB/s) against other NOR flash with legacy parallel interfaces (Async, Page and ADP Burst) and QSPI (It’s written SPI, but they mean SQPI @ 80 MB/s).

HyberBus vs QSPI vs Parallel NOR Flash – Pin Count

Pin count had to increase from 6 for QSPI to 11/12 for HyberBus, but it’s still low compared to parallel interfaces.

Cypress HyperFlash NOR flash memories have capacities of 128 to 512 Mbit, and throughput of up to 333 MB/s for 1.8V versions, and 200MB/s for 3V versions. The MCP chips come with either 256 or 512 Mbit HyperFlash, and 64Mbit HyperRAM with 1.8V or 3.0V versions in a FBGA-24 package measuring 8 x 6 x 1 mm.

ISSI also sells HyperFlash storage chips (128 to 512 Mbit), and Macronix International (MXIC) has something similar with their OctaBus memory interface and OctaFlash some of which support up to 250 MHz (500MB), and offers a large capacity from 64Mbit to 2Gbit. The press release in 2016 also mentions OctaRAM, and OctaMCP chips, but product pages are not available for the last two, maybe because another company, JSC, launched OctaRAM with 64-bit and 128-bit density. All those products use the same 12-pin interface, but it’s unclear whether they are compatible, and OctaBus specifications are nowhere to be found.

On the MCU side of the equation, beside STM32L4+, we’ll unsurprisingly find some Cypress solutions with FM4 Cortex-M4 micro-controllers, and Traveo Cortex-R5 MCUs, and the recently announced NXP i.MX RT Cortex M7 crossover processors also support it, and i.MX RT1050 Evaluation Kit even includes 512 Mbit Hyperflash. Renesas Car H3 processor also supports HyperBus interface, and they fitted Hyperflash on at least one of their automotive development board.

STMicro Introduces Ultra-efficient STM32L4+ Series MCUs with Better Performance, Chrom-GRC Graphics Controller

November 16th, 2017 3 comments

STMicroelectronics has announced an upgrade to their STM32L4 series Cortex-M4 micro-controllers with STM32L4+ series upping the maximum frequency from 80 MHz to 120 MHz delivering up to 150 DMIPS (233 ULPMark-CP) , and ultra low power consumption as long as 33 nA in shutdown mode without RTC.

The new family also adds Chrom-GRC graphics controller (GFXMMU) that can handle both circular and square TFT LCD displays together with a MIPI DSI interface and displayer controller, making it ideal for wearables, Chrom-ART 2D accelerator for better graphics performance, two Octo SPI interfaces, and more memory (640KB max) and storage (up to 2MB flash).

STM32L4+ Block Diagram (Parts in Red Show New/Updated Features vs STM32L4)

If you want to know all differences between STM32L4 and STM32L4+, and/or learn how to use peripherals, STMicro has setup a nice free STM32L4+ online training page, which allow you to do just that either by downloading PDF documents, or following e-Presentations with slides and audio.

STM32L4+ appears to have the same power modes as STM32L4, except that it can turn SRAM3 on or off in STOP 2 mode.

Click to Enlarge

STM32L4+ series are available in different lines: STM32L4R5/S5, STM32L4R7/S7 (with TFT interface) and STM32L4R9/S9 (with MIPI‐DSI and with TFT interface) with details provided in the table below.

STM32L4+ series are software compatible with STM32L4 series, and mostly (but not entirely) pin-to-pin compatible.  Developers can use the same STM32 tools such as ST-Link and STM32CubeL4 embedded software, and three development board have been launched to get started with the new MCUs:

  • For headless development – NUCLEO-L4R5ZI STM32 Nucleo-144 development board with STM32L4R5ZI MCU. Supports Arduino, ST Zio and morpho connectivity ($19)

  • For wearables with round display – 32L4R9IDISCOVERY Discovery kit with STM32L4R9AI MCU ($89)

  • More complete kit with both a 4.3″ LCD TFT display and a 1.2″ MIPI DSI round LCD display – STM32L4R9I-EVAL Evaluation board with STM32L4R9AI MCU ($320)

STMicro STM32L4+ devices are already in production with price starting at $6.52 for orders of 10,000 pieces. Visit the product page for more information.

Via Time4EE

Texas Instruments MSP430 Value Line Sensing MCUs Sell for 25 Cents and Up

November 13th, 2017 2 comments

Texas Instruments MSP430 16-bit mixed signal microcontroller has been around since at least 2004, and the last time I played with the MCU was with eZ430-Chronos wireless watch development kit in 2011.

Over the years, the company has added more parts to  its MSP430 MCU portfolio, and they recently added two new MSP430 Value Line Sensing MCUs that offer up to 25 functions (timers, I/Os, reset controller, EEPROM…) for as low as 25 cents, as well as a new MSP430FR2433 LaunchPad development kit .

Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

MSP430FR2000 and MSP430FR2100 MCUs have the same features set, except for the memory (512 vs 1024 bytes):

  • 16-Bit RISC Architecture up to 16 MHz
  • Memory / Storage
    • MSP430FR2000 (new) – 0.5KB of Program Ferroelectric RAM (FRAM) + 512 Bytes of RAM
    • MSP430FR2100 (new) – 1KB of Program FRAM + 512 Bytes of RAM
    • MSP430FR2111 – 3.75KB of Program FRAM + 1KB of RAM
    • MSP430FR2110 –  2KB of Program FRAM + 1KB of RAM
  • Supply Voltage Range – 1.8 V to 3.6 V
  • Low-Power Modes (at 3 V)
    • Active Mode: 120 µA/MHz
    • Standby
      • LPM3.5 With VLO: 1 µA
      • Real-Time Clock (RTC) Counter (LPM3.5 With 32768-Hz Crystal): 1 µA
    • Shutdown (LPM4.5): 34 nA Without SVS
  • Analog
    • 8-Channel 10-Bit Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC) with integrated temperature sensor, internal 1.5-V Reference, sample-and-hold 200 ksps
    • Enhanced Comparator (eCOMP) with integrated 6-Bit DAC as Reference Voltage
  • Digital Peripherals
    • 1x 16-Bit Timer With Three Capture/Compare Registers (Timer_B3)
    • 1x 16-Bit Counter-Only RTC Counter
    • 16-Bit Cyclic Redundancy Checker (CRC)
  • Serial Communications – Enhanced USCI A (eUSCI_A) Supports UART, IrDA, and SPI
  • Clock System (CS)
    • On-Chip 32-kHz RC Oscillator (REFO)
    • On-Chip 16-MHz Digitally Controlled Oscillator (DCO) With Frequency-Locked Loop (FLL)
    • On-Chip Very-Low-Frequency 10-kHz Oscillator (VLO)
    • On-Chip High-Frequency Modulation Oscillator (MODOSC)
    • External 32-kHz Crystal Oscillator (LFXT)
    • Programmable MCLK Prescalar of 1 to 128
    • SMCLK Derived From MCLK With Programmable Prescalar of 1, 2, 4, or 8
  • General Input/Output and Pin Functionality
    • 12x I/Os on 16-Pin Package
    • 8x Interrupt Pins (4 Pins of P1 and 4 Pins of P2) Can Wake MCU From LPMs
    • All I/Os are Capacitive Touch I/Os
  • Package Options – 16-Pin TSSOP (PW16); 24-pin VQFN (RLL)

The MCUs can be programmed with free development tools such as Code Composer Studio IDE or Cloud IDE, as well as third party solutions like IAR Embedded Workbench Kickstart. TI has also launched a new MSP430FR2433 LaunchPad development kit based on MSP430FR2433 also part of MSP430 Value Line Sensing MCUs, but with more memory (4KB SRAM) and storage (16KB FRAM).

Click to Enlarge

The board includes EnergyTrace++ Technology available for ultra-low-power debugging, 20-pin LaunchPad kit standard leveraging the BoosterPack ecosystem, an on-board eZ-FET debug probe, and 2 buttons and 2 LEDs for user interaction.

MSP430FR2000 and MSP430FR2100 sells for respectively $0.29 and $0.39 in 1,000-unit quantities, and the former price drops to 25 cents in higher volumes. MSP430FR2433 LaunchPad development kit (MSP-EXP430FR2433) is sold for $4.30 with coupon code NewMSP430LP until the end of the year, after which the price will be $9.90.

Giveaway Week – Nextion Enhanced 7″ Capacitive Display

November 4th, 2017 146 comments

My Nextion Enhanced NX8048K070 display will soon find a new home. The 7″ display comes with a capacitive touchscreen, an enclosure, and can work in standalone mode thanks to a built-in processor and a 8-pin FPC connector for I/Os, or connected to a micro-controller through a UART interface.

Click to Enlarge

I did a mini review of the display, mostly showing a teardown, and how to use Nextion Display Editor Windows-only tool to design your own user interface. The GPIOs are not really convenient to use with the required flat cable, and the company did not send me their $5 IO board, which would have made things easier. Learning curve may be a little sharper than needed as I’ve not found the Windows software to be very user-friendly, and documentation could be improved too.

Click to Enlarge

I’ll give the display with enclosure, micro USB power board, and UART cable as shown on the first photo.

To enter the draw simply leave a comment below. Other rules are as follows:

  • Only one entry per contest. I will filter out entries with the same IP and/or email address.
  • Contests are open for 48 hours starting at 10am (Bangkok time) every day. Comments will be closed after 48 hours.
  • Winners will be selected with random.org, and announced in the comments section of each giveaway.
  • I’ll contact the winner by email, and I’ll expect an answer within 24 hours, or I’ll pick another winner.
  • Shipping
    • $15 for registered airmail small packet for oversea shipping payable via Paypal within 48 hours once the contest (for a given product) is complete.
    • If Paypal is not available in your country, you can still play, and I’ll cover the cost of sending the parcel by Sea and Land (SAL) without registration if you win.
  • I’ll post all 10 prizes at the same time, around the 8th of November
  • I’ll make sure we have 10 different winners, so if you have already won a device during this giveaway week, I’ll draw another person.

If you don’t end up being the winner, but are still interested in the solution, Nextion Enhanced 7″ display can be purchased for $88 with resistive touch and $108 with capacitive touch.

NXP i.MX RT Series Crossover Embedded Processor is Based on an ARM Cortex-M7 Core @ 600 MHz

August 17th, 2017 3 comments

Microcontrollers (MCUs) provide real-time processing, low power, low cost, and plenty of I/Os, but with security and user interface requirements of recent embedded devices, the processing power may be a limitation, and embedded systems designers may have to use an application processor instead gaining performance, but losing some of the benefits of MCUs. The bridge the gap between performance and usability, NXP has launched i.MX RT series of Crossover Embedded Processor which uses the powerful ARM Cortex-M7 MCU core clocked at up to 600 MHz, a frequency partially made possible by eliminating on-chip flash memory.

Block Diagram

The first member of the family is NXP i.MX RT1050 with the following key features and specifications:

  • MCU Core – ARM Cortex-M7 @ up to 600 MHz; 3015 CoreMark / 1284 DMIPS
  • Memory – Up to 512KB SRAM/TCM (Tighly Coupled Memory) with response time as low as 20 ns
  • Storage – 96KB RAM; interfaces: NAND, eMMC, QuadSPI/HyperBus NOR flash, Parallel NOR flash
  • GPU – 2D graphics acceleration engine with resize, SCS, overlay, rotation functions
  • Display I/F – 24-bit LCD display controller supporting up to 800×480 resolution
  • Camera I/F – 8-/16-bit parallel camera sensor interface
  • Audio I/F – 3x I2S, S/PDIF Tx/Rx
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet with IEEE 1588 support, interfaces for WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee and Thread
  • Other Peripherals
    • 2x USB 2.0 OTG with PHY
    • 8x UART, 4x I2C, 4x SPI
    • GPIOs
    • 2x CAN bus
    • 8×8 keypad
    • Dual 20-ch ADC, 4x ACMP
  • System Control – eDMA, 4x Watchdog timers, 6x GP timers, 4x Quadrature ENC, 4x QuadTimer, 4x FlexPWM, IOMUX
  • Security – Cipher & RNG, secure RTC, eFuse, HAB
  • Power
    • Integrated DC-DC converter
    • Low power mode at 24 MHz
  • Package – 10×10 BGA package with 0.65mm pitch

The company claims i.MX RT processor provide twice the performance &  power efficiency, half the cost, and allows for faster development time. NXP also explains the BoM cost is reduced due to the high integration of the solution, and the embedded processor can be used in 4-layer PCB designs.

Click to Enlarge

Software development for the i.MX RT crossover processor can be done with MCU tools like MCUXpression, IAR and Keil, and it also supports FreeRTOS, and ARM mbed.  There’s an evaluation kit, but no details were provided.

Target applications include audio Subsystem such as professional microphones & guitar pedals, consumer products like smart appliances, cameras, LCDs, home and building automation,  IoT gateways, industrial computing designs such as PLCs, factory automation, test and measurement, HMI control, and motor control and power conversion, for example for 3D printers, thermal printers, UAV, robotic vacuum cleaners, etc…

NXP i.MX RT1050 processor is sampling now, with broad availability expected for October 2017, and pricing starting at less than $3.00 per unit for 10k orders. More information can be found on the product page.

Thanks to Lucas for the tip.

Categories: FreeRTOS, Hardware, NXP i.MX Tags: cortex-m7, mbed, mcu, nxp

Microchip SAM D5x and SAM E5x ARM Cortex-M4 Micro-Controllers Launched with Optional Ethernet and CAN Bus

August 2nd, 2017 No comments

Microchip has just introduced two new families of micro-controllers based on ARM Cortex-M4F with SAM D5x and SAM E5x series sporting up to 1 MB of dual-panel flash and 256 KB of SRAM both with ECC support. Both families also support QSPI flash with XIP (eXecute In Place) support, features an SD card controller and a capacitive touch controller, with SAM E5x family also adding support for two CAN-FD ports and Ethernet.

Microchip SAM A5x/E5x key features and specifications:

  • MCU Core – ARM Cortex-M4F core running at 120 MHz with single precision Floating Point Unit (FPU)
  • Memory – Internal memory architecture with user configurable Tightly Coupled Memory, System memory, Memory Protection Unit and 4KB Combined I-cache and D-cache; up to 256KB ECC SRAM, up to 1MB ECC flash
  • Storage I/F – Quad Serial Peripheral Interface(QSPI) with Execute in Place (XIP) Support
  • Peripherals
    • Up to 2x Secure Digital Host Controller (SDHC)
    • Peripheral Touch Controller (PTC) supporting up to 256 channels of capacitive touch
    • Full speed USB with embedded Host/device
    • Dual 1Msps 12-bit ADCs up to 32 channels with offset  and gain error compensation.
    • Dual 1Msps, 12-bit DAC and analog comparator
    • Up to 8x Serial communication (SERCOM) ports configurable as UART/USART, ISO 7816, SPI or I2C
    • SAM E5x series only:
      • 10/100M Ethernet MAC with IEEE1588 (E53/E54)
      • Dual Bosch CAN-FD 1.0 Controller (E51/E54)
  • Security – Symmetric (AES) and Asymmetric(ECC) Encryption, Public Key Exchange Support (PUKCC), TRNG and SHA- based memory integrity checker
  • Power Modes – Supports 5 Low power modes with 65µA/MHz Active Power Performance
  • Packages – 48 to 128-pin package options
  • Temperature Range – -40°C to 85°C

Some SAMD5x SKUs are pin-to-pin compatible ARM Cortex M0+ based SAMD2X MCU, so you can easily upgrade existing design with a more powerful MCU core. There only one main “sub-family” with SAMD5x: SAMD51, but SAME5x has three sub-families depending on Ethernet and CAN options:

  • SAME51 – 2x CAN-FD
  • SAME53 – Ethernet MAC
  • SAME54 – 2x CAN-FD and Ethernet MAC

Click to Enlarge

Microchip has used the higher end version of SAME54 processor in SAM E54 Xplained Pro Evaluation Kit in order to help customer kick-start development as soon as possible. Key features for ATSAME54-XPRO board:

  • MCU – Microchip ATSAME54P20A microcontroller
  • Storage – 256 Mbit QSPI Flash, SD/SDIO card connector, AT24MAC402 serial EEPROM with EUI-48 MAC address
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet (RJ45) via KSZ8091RNA PHY
  • USB – micro USB interface, host, and device
  • Expansion
    • Parallel Capture Controller header (ArduCAM compatible)
    • CAN connector
    • Three Xplained Pro extension headers
  • Debugging
    • 10-pin Cortex Debug Connector with SWD
    • 20-pin Cortex Debug + ETM Connector with SWD and four bit trace
    • Embedded Debugger
    • Embedded current measurement circuitry (XAM)
  • Security – Microchip ATECC508 CryptoAuthentication device
  • Misc – 1x reset button, 1x programmable button, 1x QTouch PTC button, 1x yellow user LED, backup super capacitor, 32.768 kHz & 12 MHz crystals
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port

The board and all Atmel SAMD5x / E5x processor are supported by Atmel Studio 7 IDE, and Atmel START online tool to configure peripherals and software.

Microchip SAM D5x and SAM E5x are in available in volume production, with pricing starting at $2.43 for 10K orders. SAM E54 Xplained Pro Evaluation Kit is available for $84.99. Adafruit is also working on – likely cheaper –  SAMD51 based Feather M4 and Metro M4 boards that will support Arduino (See github for current code).

More details can be found on SAM D and SAM E MCU product pages.

STMicro Introduces 20 Cents STM8S001J3 8-Bit MCU in 8-Pin Package

August 1st, 2017 4 comments

STMicro has launched a new 8-bit micro-controller that sells for $0.20 per unit in 10k quantities, a price not too far from the one of cheapest MCU, especially considering it comes with flash. STM8S001J3 is also the first STM8 MCU offered in 8-pin package (SO8N), and should compete with some of the Microchip Attiny or PIC12F series micro-controllers.

STM8S001J3 specifications:

  • Core – 16 MHz advanced STM8 core with Harvard architecture and 3-stage pipeline,extended instruction set
  • System Memory – 1 Kbyte RAM
  • Storage
    • 8 Kbytes Flash memory; data retention 20 years at 55 °C after 100 cycles
    • 128-byte true data EEPROM; endurance up to 100 k write/erase cycles
  • Clock, reset and supply management
    • 2.95 V to 5.5 V operating voltage
    • Flexible clock control, 3 master clock sources: external clock input; internal, user-trimmable 16 MHz RC; internal low-power 128 kHz RC
    • Clock security system with clock monitor
    • Power management – Low-power modes (wait, active-halt, halt); switch-off peripheral clocks individually; permanently active, low-consumption power-on and power-down reset
  • Interrupt management – Nested interrupt controller with 32 interrupts; up to 5 external interrupts
  • Timers
    • Advanced control timer: 16-bit, 2 CAPCOM channels, 2 outputs, dead-time insertion and flexible synchronization
    • 16-bit general purpose timer, with 3 CAPCOM channels (IC, OC or PWM)
    • 8-bit basic timer with 8-bit prescaler
    • Auto wakeup timer
    • Window and independent watchdog timers
  • Communications interfaces
    • UART, SmartCard, IrDA, LIN master mode
    • SPI unidirectional interface up to 8 Mbit/s (master simplex mode, slave receiver only)
    • I2C interface up to 400 Kbit/s
  • Analog to digital converter (ADC) – 10-bit ADC, ± 1 LSB ADC with up to 3 multiplexed channels, scan mode and analog watchdog
  • I/Os – Up to 5 I/Os including 4 high-sink outputs
  • Debugging / Programming – Embedded single-wire interface module (SWIM) for fast on-chip programming and non-intrusive debugging

STMicro STM8S Family

STM8S001J3 can be programmed with free (of charge) development tools such as Cosmic compiler, STM8CubeMX, Standard Peripheral Library and STVD IDE. You’ll find those tools, hardware and software documentation and way to purchase samples in the product page.

Thanks to Miklos for the tip

Categories: Hardware, STMICRO STM8 Tags: mcu, stmicro

EtaCore ARM Cortex M3 Core Operates at Low Voltage (0.25V and up) for Higher Power Efficiency

July 14th, 2017 1 comment

We’ve previously seen Ambiq Micro offering Apollo ARM Cortex M4F MCU with Cortex M0+ energy efficiency, and later the upgraded Apollo 2 MCU with even lower power consumption and better performance. The company can achieve such efficiency thanks to low sub-thresold operating voltage in the 0 to 0.5V range. Another startup – Eta Compute – is now offering another low voltage solution with their EtaCore ARM Cortex M3 IP, and other IP blocks operating at low voltage (0.25 to 1.2V).

Eta Compute claims a “10x improvement in power efficiency over any alternative”, and battery life of over 10 years on a CR2032 coin cell. Their website does not provide that many details about the core and development tools, but still mentions the following:

  • The only commercially available self-timed technology supporting dynamic voltage scaling (DVS) that is insensitive to process variations, inaccurate device models, and path delay variations
  • Includes M0+ and M3 ARM cores scaling 0.3 to 1.2 volt operation with additional low voltage logic support functions such as RTC, AES, and DSP
  • Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) sensor interface consuming less than 5uW for the most power constrained applications
  • Efficient power management device that supports dynamic voltage scaling down to 0.25V with greater than 80% efficiency
  • Encryption and Decryption, signal processing, and real time clocks are other examples of Eta Compute IP supported by DVS, Eta Compute’s technology can be implemented in any standard foundry process with no modifications to the process. This allows ease of adoption of any IP and delivers robust, process and delay insensitive operation. The company’s IP is portable to technology nodes at any foundry simplifying the manufacturing process.

Eta Compute further explains that they developed delay insensitive asynchronous logic (DIAL) design IP for maximum power efficiency allowing small batteries and energy harvesting – such as solar, thermal, vibration, or RF energy harvesting- to power the design.

The company does not appear to make MCU themselves, but they provide EtaCore IP for other companies to design and manufacture MCU based on their solutions. To allow for an evaluation of their solutions, they designed EtaCore ARM Cortex M3 reference design which includes sensors for ambient light, temperature, humidity and pressure, is powered by a half-inch square solar cell, and optionally support LoRaWAN components. The reference design measures 8.9 x 3.8 cm, and can be programmed with Eclipse, Keil and Linux debug and development environments.