Tag Archives: Mcu

STM32 Arduino compatible board

@ instructables.com build an alternative board to Arduino using STM 32 series of mcus.

We love the Arduino board and it’s prototyping platform . It makes the complete prototyping process smooth and enjoying with the help of it’s add on such as Arduino IDE and a huge community support.But sooner or later you will find that the specifications provided by the arduino boards is not enough . And then the problem arises about which board should we use so that our desires are fulfilled.Also How easy is to use a non arduino board . After a good research I found that the STM 32 is perfect fit.

STM32 Arduino compatible board – [Link]

Are Today’s MCUs Overdesigned? A Research Team Has The Answer

MCUs are called microcontrollers because they embed a CPU, memory and I/O units in one package. Apparently, today’s MCUs are full of peripherals and in most cases they are not used in the application, and from an engineering point of view this is a waste of money and energy, but on the other hand, for developers and consumers it’s about programmability and flexibility.

Rakesh Kumar a University of Illinois electrical and computer engineering professor and John Sartori a University of Minnesota assistant professor tried to prove that processors are overdesigned for most applications.

Kumar and his colleagues did 15 ordinary MCU applications using openMSP430 microcontroller with bare metal and RTOS approach (both are tested in their study). Surprisingly, the results showed that all of these applications needed no more than 60 percent of the gates. Therefore, smaller MCUs can be used (cheaper and less power consuming). As stated by Sartori, “a lot of logic that can be completely eliminated, and the software still works perfectly”.

Bespoke Processor research results
Image courtesy by: University of Illinois/ACM

In the image above the analysis of unused gates for two applications: Interpolation FIR filter and Scrambled Interpolation FIR. The red dots are the used gates and gray ones are the not used ones.

The research team called the optimum MCU the “Bespoke Processor”, and described the process “like a black box. Input the app, and it outputs the processor design.” says Kumar.

Source: IEEE Spectrum

Breadboard Friendly ATTiny85

Chris @ chris3d.com build his own Attiny85 board:

 The modularity of Arduinos is great, but after playing with them for a year or so, I wanted to start building things that needed a little more integration. I also wanted to design the components and programming around the actual controller I’d be using. So, I decided to start by building a small breadboard friendly ATTiny85.

Breadboard Friendly ATTiny85  – [Link]

What is Embedded FPGA — Known as eFPGA

Today’s market requirements change faster than the typical development time for a new device or the ability of designers of SoCs to know. To solve this problem, FPGAs/MCUs are used so developers can change the configuration/firmware later.

As known, MCU IP is static and you can’t change the silicon design (RTL design) after fabrication. FPGA chips are used to overcome this limitation but the FPGA high cost is a concern compared to the price of the MCUs. From this point a new technology called Embedded FPGA (eFPGA) was invented. This technology can give the flexibility of allowing SoCs to be customized post-production with no high expenses.

Image courtesy of FlexLogic

The idea behind eFPGA is to embed the FPGA core to SoCs without the other components of typical FPGA chips such as: surrounding ring of GPIO,SERDES, and PHYs. This core can be customized in a post-production stage with no need to change the RTL design and manufacturing the chips again.

Image courtesy of QuickLogic

One of eFPGA use cases is an always-on sensor hub for sensor data acquisition. In this use case, the eFPGA can be used to run sensor hub at a very low power level, while the main CPU is hibernated until relevant data is available. eFPGA has other useful uses such as ,and not limited to: software reconfigurable I/O pin multiplexing and Customize GPIO and Serial Interfaces in software.

Moreover, eFPGA is expected to have a brilliant future and to be adapted widely according to the CEO of Flex Logix Technologies in an article published on Circuit Cellar magazine. That’s because of increasing mask cost: approximately $1 million for 40 nm, $2 million for 28 nm, and $4 million for 16 nm, and the need for constantly changing in standards and protocols besides application of AI and machine learning algorithms.

For more information about eFPGA, please refer to this article: Make SoCs flexible with embedded FPGA.

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.

Cheap ARM Cortex-m0 MCU Printed on Plastic Costs as low as 0.01$

Flexible electronics is one of the emerging technologies with the rise of connected things in IoT age. This increases the need of low cost electronics to use.

Photo Courtesy of PragmatiIC

PragmatIC the specialized company in low cost flexible electronics wants to enable trillions of “smart objects” to sense and communicate with their environment, but the problem is: to turn ordinary objects —like clothing, documents, or packaging of consumer goods— into smart objects, the price needed for this is far below the cheapest silicon chip. Moreover, the thickness of silicon represents another obstacle to integrate electronics seamlessly into products. The PragmatIC’s approach tries to solve these problems.

Photo Courtesy of PragmatiIC

Pragmatic print electronics on a piece of 10-µm-thick plastic which is thinner than a human hair.

PING (Printed Intelligent NFC Game cards and packaging) and a bottle with illuminating brand are examples of use cases of Pragmatic solution.

Back to the title of this news, PlasticARM is the new project started 2 years earlier in collaboration with ARM to implement a fully functional 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 MCU on 10-µm-thick flexible plastic.

Image Source: Charbax

Charbax from ARMDevices.net made an interview with the CEO, Scott, during IDTechEx Show. Scott said that the last version of PlasticARM is printed on 1 square CM area and the next version will have the half size.

Cris —a VP Technology in ARM— holding Plastic ARM. Image Source: Charbax’s interview

Source: ARMdevices

FPGAs For MCU Guys

by Max Maxfield @ eeweb.com:

A little while ago, it struck me that I was getting tired of explaining what FPGAs are and how they work their magic to those of my chums who — thus far — have worked only with microcontrollers (MCUs), so I decided to write a three-part mini-series of articles to offer as an introduction.

FPGAs For MCU Guys – [Link]

AT88CK490, A New Atmel CryptoAuthentication USB Dongle Evaluation Kit

Atmel had produced a new USB evaluation kit “AT88CK490” to evaluate the performance and applicability of the Atmel Family of CryptoAuthentication devices. The kit contains three devices; ATSHA204, ATAES132, and ATECC108.

AT88CK490 Kit devices are based on Atmel AT90USB1287 microcontroller which provides a convenient USB 2.0 interface allowing users to understand and experiment with the CryptoAuthentication devices. Developers can use the provided 5-pin interface at the end of the board and can be used to monitor the I2C protocol.

This kit gives engineers, developers, and decision makers a tool to understand the device architecture and its usages for product authentication, confidential file protection, performing two-factor logons, or preventing software piracy.

CryptoAuthentication USB Dongle Kit Features

  • Atmel ATAES132A CryptoAuthentication IC: I2C Address (0xA0)
  • Atmel ATSHA204A CryptoAuthentication IC: I
  • 2C Address (0xC8)
  • Atmel ATECC108A CryptoAuthentication IC: I2C Address (0xC0) – AT88CK490 Only
  • Atmel ATECC508A CryptoAuthentication IC: I
  • 2C Address (0xC0) – AT88CK590 Only
  • Atmel AT90USB1287AVR
    • 128KB of In-system Programmable Flash
    • 4KB EEPROM
    • 8KB Internal SRAM
  • USB 2.0 Full Speed Device
  • Power LED (Red)
  • Three Status LEDs (Blue)

Atmel CryptoAuthentication is a crypto element device family with ultra-secure hardware-based key storage. It is used to ensure that the product and its accessories are original and are not counterfeited. CryptoAuthentication devices support modern cryptographic standards. They are cost-effective, require only a single GPIO, use very little power, operate over a wide voltage range, and work with any MCU.

The AT88CK490 evaluation kit has been designed to work with the Atmel CryptoAuthentication Evaluation Studio (ACES) configuration environment GUI. The complete source code for the Atmel AVR® is available, along with a schematic, a bill of materials, and Gerber files.

SimpleLink MCU platform Launched By TI For Scalable Product Development

Texas Instruments has announced the SimpleLink MCU platform, which is transforming the pace of product proliferation by uniting a robust set of hardware, software and tools under a single development environment.

The SimpleLink MCU platform offers a new software development kits (SDKs) based on a shared foundation of drivers, frameworks and libraries to enable scalability with 100% code reuse, which will reduce design time and allow makers to invest once and leverage across multiple products.

Developers will be able to choose from any of the 32-bit wired and wireless ARM-based MCU devices, making their products easily adapted to changing design or application requirements.

Features of SimpleLink SDK:

  • 100 percent code compatibility across SimpleLink MCU portfolio
  • TI Drivers offers standardized set of functional APIs for integrated peripherals
  • Integrated TI-RTOS, a robust, intelligent kernel for complete, out-of-the-box development
  • POSIX-compatible APIs offer flexible OS/kernels support
  • Encryption-enabled security features
  • IoT stacks and plugins to add functionality to your design

At the same time, TI also announced a new generation of Wi-Fi chips and modules, the SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3220 wireless MCU and CC3120 wireless network processor.

The CC3220 features a 80MHz Cortex-M4 application processor, with 256k of RAM and 1Mbyte of flash, and a network processor with a hardware crypto engine. While the CC3220 supports Wi-Fi, the range will be extended in the coming months with devices supporting Bluetooth Low Energy and sub GHz communications, as well as a Bluetooth LE/sub GHz dual band part.

“Developers need to ask what needs to be protected, what they are protecting against and what are the exposure points. The CC3220 provides more than 25 security enablers to handle such aspects as key management and code protection.” Mattias Lange, general manager of embedded connectivity solutions, noted.

The SimpleLink platform delivers the most security features, along with the broadest connectivity protocol support and advanced analog integration, combined with the industry’s lowest power wireless MCUs. Bringing together all of TI’s low-power, connected ARM MCUs, including MSP432™ devices, the platform offers:

  • Bluetooth® low energy: CC2640R2F and CC2640R2F-Q1 wireless MCUs
  • Dual-band (Sub-1 GHz and Bluetooth low energy): CC1350 wireless MCU
  • Host MCU: MSP432 MCU
  • Sub-1 GHz: CC1310 wireless MCU
  • Wi-Fi: CC3220 wireless MCU, CC3120 wireless network processor

The CC3220 wireless MCU LaunchPad development kit [CC3220SF-LAUNCHXL] is available for $49.99 and the CC3120 wireless network processor BoosterPack plug-in module [CC3120BOOST] is available for $29.99. The CC3220 will be priced at $4.99 in 1,000-unit quantities.

SimpleLink Microcontrollers and Network Processors

You can learn more details and discover all SimpleLink processors, development kits and tools at the official website.

2 Digit Kitchen Timer 00-99 Seconds or 00-99 Minutes

The projects shown here is a 2 Digit 00-99 Seconds or 00-99 Minutes Countdown kitchen timer based on PIC16F1825 micro-controller. The timer is useful in various applications like Cooking, Sports, Industrial, Sleeping. On board switches provided to set the time and start, a jumper to select the mode 99 Seconds or 99 Minutes. TTL output directly drives the Buzzer.


  • Supply 5V DC
  • Timer 0-99 Seconds Or 0-99 Minutes
  • On Board Power LED
  • On Board Output LED
  • Jumper J1 Mode Selection Open Seconds, Closed Minutes
  • 2 Digit 0.5Inch 7 Segment Display
  • Tact Switch for Time Set & Start
  • Output 5V TTL Direct Drive Buzzer

2 Digit Kitchen Timer 00-99 Seconds or 00-99 Minutes – [Link]