What’s not so clear is that while this trend is all well and good for the seasoned 32-bit developer, the humble 8- and 16-bit guy who since time immemorial has trusted his pay cheque to a simple, low-power, low-cost, no-fuss MCU, is still in many cases, reluctant to change. And who can blame him – the thought of a bloated BOM cost, sky-rocketing run currents and a prolonged development cycle littered with stacks and stacks of…well…stacks and other strange software bits n’ pieces is enough to send shivers down his peripheral bus. After all, he likes his go home early days too.
Well fear no more Mr. Entry-level System Developer for the times they are a changin’….You see, ARM Cortex-M series processors have truly come of age and with their latest headline-grabber, the ARM Cortex-M0+ (a.k.a., the world’s lowest power processor), the fine folks at ARM and Freescale have gone to great lengths to ensure that you feel right at home in your new 32-bit surroundings. It’s 100% compatible with its predecessor – the ARM Cortex-M0 – and a direct subset of the ARM Cortex-M3 and Cortex-M4 processors, the ARM Cortex-M0+ sets new standards in energy efficiency and brings enhanced performance, ease-of-use, development and debug features. The result is a processor that maintains the familiar look and feel that you’ve become accustomed to, but one that helps to free entry-level designs from the limitations of traditional 8- and16-bit MCUs.
“But that’s just the core, what about the MCU?”
Again, there is no need to fear. Freescale has sharpened its pencil there, too. The Kinetis L Series is the first Kinetis family to feature the ARM Cortex-M0+ core but the core itself is just the tip of the iceberg. A mouthwatering selection of power-savvy peripherals including precision analog, connectivity and HMI, combined with boatloads of memory and pin-count choices ensure that your design, and the folks in the marketing department, won’t go without. Last, but by no means least, is the Freescale-supplied development tool bundle aka ‘enablement’ bundle. “A dev board and a debugger right?” well, back in the olden days yes, but in the modern world of Kinetis MCUs it’s a whole different animal. But don’t be put off by the fancy terminology. It’s simply the Freescale CodeWarrior IDE, MQX™ RTOS and associated middleware, plus of course the support of the large ecosystem. “And how will all of this enable my design?” Well, your development cycle will be easier, faster and cheaper and the end result will be an infinitely more capable design. Not forgetting that you’ll have one trusted MCU supplier who you can turn to when the MCU/IDE/RTOS learning curve gets too steep. Who knows, the substantial development savings incurred may even inspire your purchasing manager to increase your next design budget…then again, maybe not.
“So when can I get my hands on it?” I hear you ask. With alpha samples due in the coming months it won’t be long. But before then we’ll demo it at DESIGN West in San Jose, California in late March. If you’re in the area, come along and wet your appetite or even join one of our on-site training sessions and meet the ARM and Freescale experts behind this silicon sensation. If your accounts department won’t authorize a trip to San Jose, then you can of course look out for a video of the demo coming to a website near you.
And so if I may, I’d like to end where I began, on the subject of flight.
A young boy is walking on a farm when he finds an egg, which he thinks is a chicken’s egg because that’s the only kind of egg he has ever seen. So, he puts it in with the chickens but really it’s a golden eagle egg. The golden eagle hatches out and because he’s surrounded by chickens he thinks he’s a chicken and begins to peck around the farmyard all day long. One day when he’s out walking with the other chickens, he looks up into the sky to see the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen – a golden eagle.
“That’s a golden eagle,” comes the reply.
“I’d love to be a golden eagle,” he says.
“You’re a chicken mate, so just get on with it’,” says the chicken.
“Has this marketing guy’s logic been corrupted?” you’re no doubt asking. Not quite. The moral of this seemingly irrelevant tale is that if entry-level system developers are happy to remain within the boundaries of 8- and 16-bit MCUs, then their design potential will forever remain limited. If, on the other hand, they are willing to try new 32-bit Kinetis L Series MCUs then they will gain access to an abundance of new design possibilities that will enable a smarter, smaller, more energy-efficient embedded application that delivers greater developer and end-customer value. It’s a simple choice really. If you’re happy to remain with the chickens that’s fine. If however, you want your application to soar, climb aboard. Hopefully we’ll see you up there.
Guest Partner Blogger:
ARM welcomes its wealth of Partners in the ARM Connected Community (CC) to submit guest blogs to be published on our multiple community blogs. If interested in participating please submit email inquiries to Tell.Us@arm.com.
The ARM Connected Community (CC) is an extensive ecosystem covering all aspects of ARM processor-based design, from chip implementation through to system and device design. The CC provides a platform for collaborative innovation, with multiple types of forums for members to work with one another, and with customers, to solve industry challenges, all with the purpose of enabling designers to focus on differentiating features and an accelerated time-to-market for ARM powered solutions.
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