Over the last few years we have seen an explosive growth in both the number and complexity microcontrollers. One that is standing out from the others is the ARM® Cortex™-M family. Although a relatively new family in the microcontroller world it has an impressive pedigree and inherited many architectural attributes for the tried and true ARM7TDMI, but that is where the similarities end. ARM has taken the family well beyond the old ARM7TDMI days. With single cycle MAC in the Cortex-M3 and the DSP and Single Precision Floating Point in the Cortex-M4, theses parts are suitable for many applications that may have been served by dedicated devices in years past. Adding to the core features of the Cortex-M family, ARM’s silicon Partners have implemented a wealth of peripherals in their devices, from the standard SPI, I2C, CAN to Ethernet, USB Host, OTG and much more. This diverse base of devices, many of which will be on display at the ARM Technology Conference (ARM Techcon) next week, now offers the developer a suitable microcontroller for almost all applications.
An important point to keep in mind is that this rise in sophisticated hardware also calls for more and more complex software. For many applications the need to communicate over Ethernet or read a file from a flash file system over USB port is almost considered a standard feature of many embedded applications. Since these communication stacks and file systems are standards, there isn’t much room for the developer to add value in writing their own stack or developing from open source resources. With ever-shorter project deadlines, developing your own would take time away from development on the core competency of your product. There are alternatives, such as solutions available from third-party providers, but software designers need to carefully assess tradeoffs.
At the upcoming ARM Technology Conference in Santa Clara, I’ll be discussion options for software development in the session “Software Design for Cortex-M Microcontroller (class number ATC-166).” In this session I’ll analyze how hardware and software standards reduce the development and maintenance costs of an embedded application. It also gives insight into the wide range of applications for Cortex-M profile processors, which range from ultra-low power and cost sensitive designs to high performance applications with extensive communication stacks.
Traditionally developers of small, embedded applications have had to write virtually all the code that runs on the microcontroller. Typically, this is in the form of interrupt handlers with a main background-scheduling loop. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this, it does rather miss the last few decades of advancement in program structure and design. Now, for the first time, with the introduction of 32-bit ARM Cortex-M-based microcontrollers we have low-cost, high-performance devices with increasingly large amounts of internal SRAM and Flash memory. This makes it possible to use more advanced software development techniques. Introducing a Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) or real-time executive into your project development is an important step in the right direction. With an RTOS, all the functional blocks of your design are developed as tasks, which are then scheduled by RTX. This forces a detailed design analysis and consideration of the final program structure at the beginning of the development. Each of the program tasks can be developed, debugged, and tested in isolation before integration into the full system. Each RTOS task is then easier to maintain, document, and reuse. However, using an RTOS is only half the story. Increasingly, customers want products that are more complex in shorter and shorter time. While microcontrollers with suitable peripherals are available, the challenge is to develop applications without spending months writing the low-level driver code.
The Keil Real-Time Library (RL-ARM) is a collection of easy-to-use middleware components that are designed to work across many different microcontrollers. This allows you to learn the software once and then use it multiple times. The RL-ARM middleware integrates into the Keil Microcontroller Development Kit (MDK-ARM).
Sound interesting? At the ARM Techcon next week I will also be discussing the key areas you should consider when choosing a RTOS or other middleware components, using the Keil ARM Real-Time Library as an illustrative example. The session is titled, “Middleware: an ARM® Perspective (class number ATC-144).” Topics covered are TCP/IP networking USB host, USB Device, Flash File Systems and CAN networking. I hope you can join me.
Ken Havens, Marketing Manager, ARM, is a experienced marketing and sales professional with a rich history that includes the development, implementation and execution of marketing programs. Program activities have included print, web, presentation, labs and lecture. Successfully completed several contract negotiations balancing risk with business opportunity. Managed assets to improve metrics on return on working capitol (ROWC) and return on investment (ROI) metrics. Directly managed technical, sales and marketing teams growing not only the business but, also their contribution level to the corporation.
Possesses extensive experience in engineering of new product, innovative marketing programs and working with sales teams across the globe. Experienced in all aspects of design from concept development, defining design requirements, to prototyping, troubleshooting, hardware/software integration, production, marketing as well as procurement and training. Experience in these areas provides a unique perspective to effectively communicate across regional and cultural barriers
Shortlink to this post: http://bit.ly/b64YNz
0 Comments On This Entry
Please log in above to add a comment or register for an account
Search My Blog
Computex Taipei and Cortex-A12 - a winning combination
on Jun 04 2013 10:13 AM
ARM Scratches with Raspberry Pi and A-mazes at The Big Bang Fair 2013
on Mar 20 2013 08:51 PM
ARM Partnership, Ecosystem and Social Media
on Dec 03 2012 06:18 PM
on Nov 21 2012 02:28 PM
ARM TechCon 2012 Day 2- Great Keynotes, Samsung Innovation, and Cadence on Cortex-M0
on Nov 02 2012 10:36 AM