Evaluation samples of STMicroelectronics’ STM32F446 range of MCUs are now available. These devices feature ARM Cortex-M4 based processing units with compact 256 or 512 KB on-chip Flash options and 128KB RAM with built-in memory-extension interfaces, extended connectivity and communication capabilities.
The MCUs use ST’s proprietary ART Accelerator, smart architecture, advanced Flash technology and an embedded ARM Cortex-M4 core to achieve a performance of 225 DMIPS and 608 CoreMark at 180 MHz executing from embedded Flash.
The interface capabilities allow simultaneous communication via multiple interfaces which cater for interactive industrial, scientific, medical, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications, while the advanced process technology, together with dynamic voltage scaling, extensive clock gating and flexible sleep modes offer significant power savings.
The STM32F446 from STMicroelectronics - [Link]
by Danny Mavromatis:
There are a lot of little details you need to think about when taking a project from PoC (proof-of-concept) to production. Most projects today have some form of onboard microprocessor and require you to flash your custom bootloader and/or program code onto it at some point. There are many ways this can be accomplished but the most common method is using an ICP (in-circuit programmer) connected to a 6-pin ICP header somewhere on the PCB. […]
Tag-Connect! I can’t remember exactly how I found out about this neat little connector, but I’ve been using it for a while and it’s actually very useful in a production environment. They provide the footprint for many of the popular PCB design programs so placing it is very straight forward. Pretty much just swap out the traditional header for the new tiny Tag-Connect version and you’re pretty much done.
Tag-Connect: The ICP Connector That Saves PCB Space & Cost Less - [Link]
Toshiba Corporation today announced that it has developed the world’s first 15-nanometer (nm) process technology, which will apply to 2-bit-per-cell 128-gigabit (16 gigabytes) NAND flash memories. Mass production with the new technology will start at the end of April at Fab 5 Yokkaichi Operations, Toshiba’s NAND flash fabrication facility (fab), replacing second generation 19 nm process technology, Toshiba’s previous flagship process. The second stage of Fab 5 is currently under construction, and the new technology will also be deployed there.
Toshiba starts mass production of world’s first 15nm NAND flash memories - [Link]
At the CES 2014 held in Las Vegas Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich’s introduced a PC built into an SD card-sized casing called the Edison. It uses Intel’s Quark chip which was launched last year and is seen as Intel’s answer to the rapidly emerging wearable and ‘Internet of Things’ market.
The Quark is a 22nm low-power dual-core x86 processor that Intel also use in their Galileo (Arduino compatible) development board which they introduced last year. In the Edison this processor chip is combined with some LPDDR2 and Flash memory. Connectivity is catered for by the built-in Bluetooth 4.0 Smart and Wi-Fi capability. The Edison’s SD card format is also used by the Anglo-American startup Electric Imp, which has been offering an SD card-sized, ARM based device for almost a year. The Imp is available as a slot-in SD card or solder-on form but lacks Bluetooth Smart for device-to-device connectivity. It uses its Wi-Fi capability to connect code running on the card to web or app-based user interfaces using the company’s Imp cloud servers. [via]
Honey, I Shrunk the PC - [Link]
By Gina Roos,
Widespread adoption of cameras in smartphones and other mobile devices, together with consumer expectations for higher quality, sharper images are driving the need for simpler designs, smaller sizes, and lower component counts, particularly as many smartphones move to integrate front- and back-facing cameras.
Mobile phone cameras will increase from approximately 1.6 billion units in 2011 to more than 2.2 billion units in 2015, representing 92 percent of mobile phones worldwide, according to Gartner Inc. The market research firm also found that an additional 15 percent of phones would have two cameras to take portrait photos or to enable video chat.
New LED Photo Flash Drivers for Smartphone Cameras Improve Image Quality - [Link]
Taiwan-based Macronix has found a solution for a weakness in flash memory fadeout. A limitation of flash memory is simply that eventually it cannot be used; the more cells in the memory chips are erased, the less useful to store data. The write-erase cycles degrade insulation; eventually the cell fails. “Flash wears out after being programmed and erased about 10,000 times,” said the IEEE Spectrum. Engineers at Macronix have a solution that moves flash memory over to a new life. They propose a “self-healing” NAND flash memory solution that can survive over 100 million cycles.
“Self-healing” NAND flash memory - [Link]
This programmer supports: ST Micro M25(E), ST Micro M45(E), Macronix MX25L, Atmel AT25FS, Atmel AT25DF, Atmel AT25F, Amic A25LxxP, Amic A25Lxxx, Eon EN25(B/D/F/P) read only, Winbond W25X, Winbond W25Q (OTP), SST SST25(LV/VF)xx, SST SST25VFxxxB, Spansion S25FL and ESMT F25L.
vane @ tehnikservice.net gives out 2 x free PCBs for his SPI Flash programmer. Please leave a comment on this post and we will select two random winners to give out the PCBs.
SPI Flash Programmer V2 - [Link]
Richard Comerford writes:
More than ever, cameras are becoming a part of the personal and business devices we carry in our pockets. While the light levels at which today’s photographic image sensors can work is extremely low, having flash lighting means users can capture greater detail at faster speeds. And to be sure that flash systems do not consume a lot of the power budget of these battery-run portable electronics, designers have turned to using LEDs as the light source, rather than the traditional xenon tube.
A broad array of devices is available today for driving LEDs as flash devices. Many can deliver high current so that LEDs can be driven to maximum output. However, the increased efficacy of today’s LEDs – meaning they can deliver more light from less current – means that drivers can also focus on reducing current drain on batteries.
Five Solutions for Driving LED Flash in Mobile Devices - [Link]
This is interesting. Researchers are trying to improve Flash memory density and retention time by using graphene structures. From IEEE Spectrum: [via]
Nanotechnology has a somewhat infamous relationship with flash memory. It has usually taken on the role as its adversary, such as in the case of Nantero or IBM’s Millipede project, and walked away with less than encouraging results.
So I was interested to see that researchers were using graphene as a platform for flash memory that appears to outperform other flash memory structures. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Researchers from UCLA, IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center, Samsung Electronics, Aerospace Corporation, and the University of Queensland, team led by Kang Wang have recently published in ACS Nano an article entitled “Graphene Flash Memory” that demonstrates that graphene may have what it takes to outperform current flash memory technology.
As I have suggested in my post from last week, researchers are not breaking their backs trying to overcome graphene’s lack of band gap as much now as they are instead looking for ways to exploit its intrinsic strengths.
In this case, the researchers were trying to take advantage of graphene’s high density of states, high work function, and atomic thinness.
Graphene-based Flash Memory - [Link]