Hardware category

Open-V, The Open Source RISC-V 32bit Microcontroller

Open source has finally arrived to microcontrollers. Based on RISC-V instruction set, a group of doctoral students at the Universidad Industrial de Santander in Colombia have been working on an open source 32-bit chip called “Open-V“.

Onchip, the startup of the research team, is focusing on integrated systems and is aiming to build the first system-on-chip designed in Colombia. The team aims to contribute to the growth of the open source community by developing an equivalent of commercial microcontrollers implemented with an ARM M0 core.

The Open-V is a 2x2mm chip that hosts built-in peripherals which any modern microcontroller could have. Currently, it has ADC, DAC, SPI, I2C, UART, GPIO, PWM, and timer peripherals designed and tested in real silicon. Other peripherals, such as USB 2, USB3, internal NVRAM and/or EEPROM, and a convolutional neural network (CNN) are under development.

Open-V Chip Specifications

  • Package: QFN-32
  • Processor RISC-V ISA version 2.1 with 1.2 V operation
  • Memory: 8 KB SRAM
  • Clock: 32 KHz – 160 MHz, Two PLLs, user-tunable with muxers and frequency dividers
  • True Random Number Generator: 400 KiB/s
  • Analog Signals: Two 10-bit ADC channels, each running at up to 10 MS/s, and two 12-bit DAC channels
  • Timers: One general-purpose 16-bit timer, and one 16-bit watch dog timer (WDT)
  • General Purpose Input/Ouput: 16 programmable GPIO pins with two external interrupts
  • Interfaces: SDIO port (e.g., microSD), two SPI ports, I2C, UART
  • Programming and Testing
    • Built-in debug module for use with gdb and JTAG
    • Programmable PRBS-31/15/7 generator and checker for interconnect testing
    • Compatible with the Arduino IDE

RISC-V is a new open instruction set architecture (ISA) designed to support architecture research and education. RISC-V is fully available to public and has advantages such as a smaller footprint size, support for highly-parallel multi-core implementations, variable-length instructions to support an optional dense instruction, ease of implementation in hardware, and energy efficiency.

Open-V core provides compatibility with Arduino, so it is possible to benefit from its rich resources. Also when finish preparing the first patch, demos and tutorials will be released showing how Open-V can be used with the Arduino and other resources.

The Open-V microcontroller uses several portions of the Advanced Microcontroller Bus Architecture (AMBA) open standard for on-chip interconnection. This makes any Open-V functional block, such as the core or any of the peripherals, easy to incorporate into existing chip designs that also use AMBA. We hope this will motivate other silicon companies to release RISC-V-based microcontrollers using the peripherals they’ve already developed and tested with ARM-based cores.
We think buses are so important, we even wrote a paper about them for IEEE LASCAS 2016.

Open-V Development Board Specifications

Onchip team are also developing a fully assembled development board for their Open-V. It is a 55 mm x 30 mm board that features everything you need to get start developing with the Open-V microcontroller, include:

  • USB 2.0 controller
  • 1.2 V and 3.3 V voltage regulators
  • Clock reference
  • Breadboard-compatible breakout header pins
  • microSD receptacle
  • Micro USB connector (power and data)
  • JTAG connector
  • 32 KB EEPROM
  • 32-pin QFN Open-V microcontroller

Compared with ARM M0+ microcontrollers, power and area simulations show that a RISC-V architecture can provide similar performance. This table demonstrates a comparison between Open-V and some other chipsets.

OnChip Open-V microcontroller designs are fully open sourced, including the register-transfer level (RTL) files for the CPU and all peripherals and the development and testing tools they use. All resources are available at their GitHub account under the MIT license.

We think open source integrated circuit (IC) design will give the semiconductor industry the reboot it needs to get out of the deep innovation rut dug by the entrenched players. Just like open source software ushered in the last two decades of software innovation, open source silicon will unleash a flood of hardware innovation. The Open-V microcontroller is one concrete step in that direction.

A crowdfunding campaign with $400k goal has been launched to support manufacturing of Open-V. The chip is available for $49 and the development board for $99. There are also many options and offers.

Embedded Cryptography For Internet Of Things Security

As Internet of Things (IoT) devices are optimized for lower power consumption and affordability, most of them have poor computing resources. As consequence, these devices are more vulnerable to hacking attacks. The good news is there are several options for using cryptography to make it difficult for hackers to gain access to IoT devices of your smart connected home.

Cheap IoT devices that have little protection or no protection at all can be hacked to flood websites with high traffic and shut the servers down. As “things” are increasingly getting connected to the “internet”, chances are that hackers may have the water or electricity shut off, security system disabled, and even worse – they can cause loss of human life by attacking medical devices.

So, what is the solution? Well, the answer is, “Authentication and Encryption using embedded cryptography”. Now we shall discuss these methods of securing IoT devices from cyber attacks.

Secured Internet Of Things
Secured Internet Of Things

Authentication

For the IoT, authentication works in both directions. An IoT device ensures that it is interacting with an authorized gateway and cloud service, and the cloud service (remote server), in turn, verifies it is working with an authentic IoT node. Only when both the sender and the receiver are sure that they’re dealing with “real” client/server, they proceed further and exchange confidential information. This authentication is done by using a hashing algorithm and shared secret keys to generate a tag known as a message authentication code (MAC). This MAC address is compared with a locally stored address.

Now, it’s clear that effectiveness of the authentication process depends on the strength of the MAC, and the MAC address itself depends on the strength of the hashing algorithm, the length of the key used, and whether the key is shared secretly and stored securely. The current state-of-the-art hashing algorithm for cryptographic purposes is SHA-256 with 256-bit keys. That means if the key is unknown, it will take 2^256 attempts to crack it.

The generated key must be shared over a secure channel to prohibit hackers from cracking it by sniffing the packets. The key can also be shared over an insecure channel using Diffie–Hellman key exchange method. Another important task is to store the key securely. It’s highly recommended not to store the key in the same place along with other application data.

Encryption

AES is the accepted encryption method to encrypt and decrypt messages using digital keys. Symmetric key cryptography uses the same key to encrypt and decrypt the message. So it’s vital to keep the key secret. Asymmetric key cryptography uses the combination of a shared, public key and a private key which is kept secret locally. Asymmetric key cryptography is more useful and safer to use over insecure channels. But, this method is too much computationally expensive. That means it requires more computing resources to deal with asymmetric key cryptography.

Symmetric key encryption
Symmetric key encryption

A typical IoT device may not have enough computational strength to encrypt and decrypt all the data with asymmetric key cryptography. Rather this method can be used to create a secure channel only for sharing symmetric keys that encrypt/decrypt all messages.

To make the data exchange more secure, dedicated authentication chips and cryptographic co-processors can be used. This technique makes embedded systems more power efficient and in the long run, it’s the best thing to do.

ULINKplus, A Debug Adapter With Power Measurment

While building an ultra-low power application, sensitive hardware and software validation is required to reach system and long battery life. Testing will need an interaction with the tested parts, like simulating input pins of the target application.

These difficulties could be solved with ARM’s new debug adapter “ULINKplus“. It connects the target system with the PC through USB port using a 10-pin Cortex Debug connector. Its power measurement technology allows developers to program, debug, and analyze their applications and their power consumption.

Main features of ULINKplus are:

  • Integrated power measurement synchronized to event tracing which makes it easy to optimize the overall energy envelope of a system.
  • Isolated JTAG/serial-wire connection to the target hardware is essential for testing applications such as motor control, power converters, or systems with sensitive analog processing.
  • Additional test I/O pins are accessible from the debugger and debug scripts to interact with the target and control automated test stands.

ULINKplus, together with MDK, provides extended on-the-fly debug capabilities for Cortex-M devices. You can control the processor, set breakpoints, and read/write memory contents, all while the processor is running at full speed. High-Speed data trace enables you to analyze detailed program behavior.

In addition to downloading programs to your target hardware, you will be able to examine memory and registers, single-step through programs and insert multiple breakpoints, to run programs in real-time, program Flash memory, and to connect to running targets (hot-plugging).

Live data from power measurement

ULINKplus offers a high speed connections that reach 50 Mbit/s for data and event trace for Cortex-M, 20 MHz JTAG clock speed, and 3 MBytes/s high-speed memory read/write.

ULINKplus technical specifications:

  • Compact case 62 x 44 x 11 mm (dust-protected)
  • JTAG/SWD: 20 MHz JTAG clock, 50 MHz serial-wire trace, 10-pin Cortex debug connector, 1 kV isolation
  • Memory access 3 MB/sec, serial-wire trace up to 50 Mbit/sec
  • Power measurement: 2 x 16-bit A/D, 400 KSamples/sec, 3-pin connector, 1 kV isolation
  • Test I/O: 9 digital in/out, 4 analog in, 1 analog out, 3.3 V switchable output voltage (11-pin connector)
  • Debug connection: USB2.0 (to host PC), CMSIS-DAP protocol

According to ARM, ULINKplus will be available from this month.

ZeroPhone, A Raspberry Pi-Based Open Source Smartphone

Raspberry Pi is one of the most helpful innovations in the hardware industry. It has helped beginners and children learn programming and allowed the makers to develop powerful and cheap DIY projects. “ZeroPhone” is a new DIY smartphone that is built based on Raspberry Pi and cost about only $50.

ZeroPhone is an open source, Linux-powered smartphone, that has no carrier locks, bloated apps, or data mining. It is user-friendly and will have the typical features of a phone, but with more advanced features. It also can be modified and repaired easily.

The phone is built using widely available components, and its open source hardware and software  will give you as much control over your phone as possible.

ZeroPhone can be used for calling and SMS, SSH, pen testing, and experimenting in addition to all basic functions like calendar, phonebook, music player, and web browser. As it is a linux-based phone, you can run ARM compatible programs. SDK will be provided so you can then develop your own apps.

Features & Specifications

  • Based on Raspberry Pi Zero, ESP8266 and Arduino
  • Has Wi-Fi, HDMI, full-size USB and a 3.5 mm jack (Bluetooth as an option)
  • 2G GSM connectivity (3G coming soon)
  • 128 x 64 1.3” OLED screen
  • GSM/Wi-Fi/microphone hardware switch option
  • RGB LED and vibromotor
  • Uses of Extension Ports:
    • IR receiver/transmitter
    • Additional displays and buttons
    • 5 MP / 8 MP Pi Camera
    • Extended batteries
    • Various sensors, both analog and digital
    • Wireless radios for IoT
    • GPS, Ethernet and MicroSD expansion
    • …and much more.

The OS of ZerPhone is Raspbian Linux, which is currently based on Debian Jessie. This is because it is suitable for all functions, and will still be upgradable in the future. The user interface (controlling screen and buttons) is written in Python.

Compared with other open-source phones, ZeroPhone, as the maker said, is the only one uses affordable parts which are available on eBay, and its software will be always updated if the phone’s development will stop.

To make your ZeroPhone you will need:

  • Pi Zero
  • SIM800 modules
  • ESP8266-12E
  • Two-layer PCBs (two 4x10cm boards, one 4x6cm board)
  • ATMega328P
  • LCD screen
  • Battery
  • TP4056 battery charger
  • Buttons for keypad
  • 2.54 headers

More details about this project is available on its hackaday page, in addition to the project description and frequently asked questions.

Printed Two-Dimensional Transistors

Researchers from AMBER (Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research) and Trinity College (Dublin), together with the TU Delft have succeeded in producing printed transistors, which are made solely from two-dimensional nano materials. These materials have characteristics with much promise and, importantly, can also be produced very cheaply. Possible applications for this procedure are food packaging with a digital countdown timer for the use-by date, wine labels which will show when the contents is at the optimal drinking temperature, security for bank notes and perhaps even flexible solar cells.

The researchers, under the leadership of professors Jonathan Coleman and Georg Duesberg, have used standard printing techniques to combine nano sheets of graphene, which are used as electrodes, with two other nano materials (tungsten diselenide and boron nitride) that function as channel and separator. The result is functional transistor made from nano sheets using only printing technology.


Two-dimensional transistors, as such, are not new – they have already been manufactured using a chemical deposition from the vapor phase. A significant disadvantage of this and other existing methods is their high cost. In comparison, printed electronics is based around printable molecules formed from carbon compounds, which can easily and cheaply be turned into a usable ink.

The material of the printed electronics comprises a large number of nano sheets of different sizes (which are sometimes also called ‘flakes’). During the printing process these are layered in a random pattern. The consequence of this is that the printed material is somewhat unstable and the performance has some limitations.

The transistors printed this way are a first important step towards printed 2D-structures made from a single nano sheet. This would dramatically improve the performance of printed electronics. This is the subject of current research at the TU Delft.

Jonathan Coleman from Trinity College is a partner of Graphene flagship, an EU initiative that in the next 10 years has to stimulate new technologies and innovation.

Source: Elektor

ARM CoreSight SoC-600, The Future of Debug

Debugging is an important part of the design process that is necessary to identify and fix errors. Over the decades, debug tools had evolved providing easier and simpler solutions. Today, ARM introduces CoreSight SoC-600 as the next-generation debug and trace tool that speeds up finding the root of the problem, with less iterations and lower risks.

Addressing the requirements of the increasingly connected world characterized by faster product-development cycles, this new technology offers debug and trace over functional interfaces such as USB, PCIe or wireless, reducing the need for hardware debug probes while increasing data throughput.

Key benefits include:

  • Debug access available and accessible throughout the product lifecycle, from production and manufacture, to remote access in the field
  • Remote debug access (e.g. via Ethernet or wirelessly)
  • Increased data bandwidth for improved system visibility
  • Multiple debug agents can simultaneously access debug memory space (e.g. for concurrent external and self-hosted access)
  • Interface peripherals (such as USB and PCIe) share a common access to APs, together with any existing JTAG DP or resident software
  • Self-hosted, cross CPU debug access

CoreSight SoC-600 comes with a new Debug Access Port (DAP) architecture. It introduces standard APB connectivity between Debug Port (DP) and Access Port (AP), making it possible to have multiple DPs connected to multiple APs.

CoreSight SoC-600 also includes an enhanced Embedded Trace Router (ETR) functionality. In additional to removing the need for a separate Trace Memory Controller (TMC) license, enhancements to the Embedded Trace Router (ETR) configuration make it possible to supply a trace interface with four times the amount of bandwidth previously possible.

There are two approaches to host the link protocol when building a CoreSight SoC-600-based system:

  1. Protocol on dedicated CPU: this approach comes at a cost of additional dedicated resources, however, it is the least intrusive approach and provides bare metal debug capabilities.
  2. Protocol on main CPU: this approach does not require additional hardware, yet it is invasive and relies on CPU not being halted.

For further information and details about SoC-600 you can visit the official page, and the official article on ARM website.

3D Gaming With Raspberry Pi & ExaGear

ExaGear is a virtual machine that implements virtual x86 Linux container on ARM and allows you to run Intel x86 applications directly on ARM. With this software by Eltechs you can run Intel x86 application on your ARM-based Mini PC simultaneously with common native applications.  It is like QEMU but 5 times faster! You can even run Windows applications on your ARM Mini PC if you install Wine.

ExaGear is user friendly software with transparent operation so you don’t notice a difference between running x86 applications on x86-based or ARM-based platform. Use your favorite applications on ARM-based devices and overcome platform compatibility.

In 2014 ExaGear Desktop was launched to allow running PC games on ARM-based devices (Raspberry Pi, Odroid etc.). ExaGear Desktop is an emulator too but dramatically differs from other emulators with its performance. ExaGear Desktop provides very low slowdown – 1.3 times instead of 50-100 times for other kind of emulators! It enabled to run such games as Arcanum, Disciples II, Fallout , Might And Magic VI,Pharaoh and Cleopatra, Stronghold Crusader, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, Caesar 3 and many others on Raspberry Pi! You can learn how to set up these games from this article

However, there was one important issue. ExaGear Desktop didn’t support hardware graphics acceleration. That mean that games which actively use 3D were terrible laggy.

But amazing things happened!  A new version of ExaGear Desktop – ExaGear Desktop 2.0 is fully supporting 3D graphics acceleration on Raspberry Pi 2 and Raspberry Pi 3!

Check this video that run Counter Strike and Diablo II on Raspberry Pi:

More games are going to be added gradually and you can also suggest on the team your favorites. The team solved this problem after the OpenGL library was adapted into Raspberry Pi architecture, so they could develop some OpenGL calls to the hardware in order to solve the problem of 3D graphics.

This option is only available at Raspberry Pi since it is the only development board that uses OpenGL. You can learn more about this new era of gaming from this article and get ExaGear from here.

 

Arrow’s New FPGA-Based IoT Maker Board

Arrow Electronics has introduced a new FPGA IoT Maker Board designed for end-to-end application development and optimised for cost. The Arrow MAX1000 board can be installed directly into a custom application or integrated on to a completely separate board.

It has been created for start-ups, universities or established equipment manufacturers who want a flexible, low cost FPGA platform for development, and the distributor can also supply customised variants.

At the heart of the maker board is a compact (11x11mm) Intel MAX10 FPGA with 8000 logic elements. This single chip includes integrated flash memory, a 1Msps 12bit ADC for analogue signals and a 3.3V power supply. Other features include embedded SRAM, DSP blocks, instant-on within milliseconds, and the ability to implement Intel’s NIOS II soft core embedded processor to perform microcontroller tasks. The board is equipped with an integrated Arrow USB-Blaster that enables the FPGA to be programmed directly from a PC and debugged using the free of charge Intel Quartus Prime Lite software.

The MAX1000’s power can be supplied as 5V from the USB port or via a separate pin. An Enpirion DC/DC converter with integrated coil then generates the 3.3V supply used on board. A MEMS oscillator provides the clock supply for the FPGA and the USB bridge. The low power, 3-axis acceleration sensor – also based on MEMS technology, can be used for position and motion detection, which are often required in IoT applications. External SDRAM can be used for storage of application data or as memory for the NIOS II processor.

Visit Arrow Electronics at www.arrow.com

Source: eeDesign Europe

Scout ESC, A New Tank Controller Board By Open Panzer

Open Panzer Project is an attempt to create open source versions of all electronics used in RC tanks today, with professional quality and features. The goal of this project is to expand the hoppy and to improve everyone’s experience of RC tanking corner, which will speed-up its growing.

Open Panzer recently developed the Scout ESC board, a dual brushed-motor speed controller that accepts both standard RC inputs or logic-level serial commands. It features an ATmega328 that can be programmed with the Arduino IDE through standard FTDI cable.

The Scout ESC operates at ultrasonic frequencies, at voltages up to 16 volts, and is rated at 10 amps continuous per channel, but the addition of a fan can increase the current capacity. The Scout has its own onboard fan controller that can drive any standard 12 volt 2-pin PC case fan. An onboard thermistor also allows the processor to monitor the board temperature.

The Scout is 65mm x 47mm board that is perfect for controlling even the heaviest 1/16th scale RC tanks. It is compatible with the Open Panzer Tank Control Board, so no additional setup is required.

Scout ESC specification:

  • Input voltage: 6 – 16 volts
  • Operating current:
    • 10 amps per channel continuous without fan
    • 20 amps peak
  • Motor PWM: 21 kHz
  • RC Inputs: Standard 1000-2000 uS pulse width (1500 uS = motor stopped)
  • Serial Input: 38400 baud; 8 data bits, no parity, one stop bit; TTL level (5v max)
  • Dimensions (L x W): 2.6″ x 1.9″ / 65mm x 47mm
  • Mounting holes: 1.57″ / 40mm (use 4-40 or 3mm screws)

As it is an open source project, you can get Scout board files, schematics, and bill of materials from the website, and the firmware and libraries from the github repository. The Open Panzer wiki has more information about the project, and the Open Panzer Community is open for everyone for discussion.

Call for Makers: Hackaday Prize for Social Impact Projects

In patnership with Digi-Key, Supply Frame and Microship, Hackaday is calling for the curious, the creative, and the determined who are working to create social change in order to transform the world using their hardware and programming knowledge in addition to scientific, design, and mechanical abilities. This contest by Hackaday will encourage people innovate projects that can impact in people lives.

All you have to do is designing an impactful project that suits you, or collaborate with a team to do it. You can create things like reliable utensils for the disabled, a way for denizens to find clean drinking water in rural villages, refreshable braille displays for image text and a smart home to build a sustainable community. Or go beyond that and create something that has never been seen before. The purpose of the contest is to encourage participants to develop solutions to address technology issues facing humanity today.

With the global collaboration behind this contest, the total prizes will reach $250,000 and they will be divided as following: $120,000 goes to top 120 finalists ($1,000 each), $50,000 Grand Prize, $30,000 Best Product Prize, $20,000 2nd Place, $15,000 3rd Place, $10,000 4th Place and finally a$5,000 5th Place.

The first stage of the Contest will consist of five (5) Challenge Rounds. Participants may enter the Contest during any of the Challenge Rounds. Up to twenty (20) entries from each Challenge Round will be chosen to advance to the final round. Participants must complete the requirements for at least one (1) Challenge Round to be eligible for the final round. An entry may be submitted to any or all of the Challenge Rounds as long as it meets the requirements for each Challenge Round in which it is submitted. All submissions must be in English and must comply with any specified requirements.

Challenge Round 1: (Get Started: Design Your Concept.)

Entry period begins 7:01 a.m. P.D.T on March 20, 2017 and closes 7:00 a.m. P.D.T on May 1, 2017. This round is for showcasing your idea, hacks and logs and presenting the problem and how will your project solve it.

Challenge Round 2: (Internet of Useful Things :: IuT ! IoT)

Entry period begins 7:01 a.m. P.D.T on May 1, 2017 and closes 7:00 a.m. P.D.T on June 12, 2017.
Let’s take Internet of Things and make it practical for everyday life. Internet of Useful Things projects showcase a way to build a better tomorrow with the data you track and analyzeChallenge

Round 3: (Wheels, Wings and Walkers)

Entry period begins 7:01 a.m. P.D.T on June 12, 2017 and closes 7:00 a.m. P.D.T on July 24, 2017. This round is for building things that move, so the objective of the project is movement and support for things that help move humanity forward.

Challenge Round 4: (Assistive Technology)

Entry period begins 7:01 a.m. P.D.T on July 24, 2017 and closes 7:00 a.m. P.D.T on September 4, 2017.  Assistive technology projects ensure a better quality of life for the disabled and enhance learning, working, and daily living.

Challenge Round 5: (Anything Goes)

Entry period begins 7:01 a.m. P.D.T on September 4, 2017 and closes 7:00 a.m. P.D.T on October 16, 2017. No reservation, no theme, no topic. it is up to you to build on your idea that resonates with you and encompasses the spirit of making. Build whatever you think would benefit humans and the world we live in.

Best Product

To be eligible for Best Product the product must not have received more than $2,000,000 in funding within the life of the product. The sum of the product’s dimensions (width + height + depth) must total 36 inches (91.44 centimeters) or less. Best Product Final Round. By 1:50 p.m. P.D.T. on October 21, 2017

It’s time to leverage your talent and find solutions to address a problem facing humanity today. With a new technical design challenge every 6 weeks, you are expanding the frontiers of knowledge and engineering.

In order to bootstrap your project before completing your final application of this contest, Hackaday now gives you the chance to participate in a public voting and win up to $200. Just start your entry to get access to this.
Check the rules of the contest to make sure that your country is eligible to apply. Also check this page to know more details about the contest.