Arm Cortex M23-Based MCUs Feature FreeRTOS Kernel Support

Nuvoton Technology has announced that it is demonstrating the capability of FreeRTOS kernel support with the NuMicro M2351 Series. According to the company, the M2351 is one of the first Arm Cortex-M23 based MCUs that has a preconfigured example that embedded developers can use to run FreeRTOS on the officially supported Armv8-M architecture. Amazon Web Services (AWS) released the latest FreeRTOS kernel that includes a preconfigured example project for the Nuvoton NuMaker-PFM-M2351 evaluation board (shown).
At the beginning of 2019, the M2351 Series had achieved with Arm PSA (Platform System Architecture) Level 1 Certified and PSA Functional Certification. PSA Certified enables device makers to achieve the security required for their use cases through three progressive levels of security assurance, each requiring increasingly rigorous hardware and software evaluation, which are assigned by analyzing the use case threat vectors.

In achieving Arm PSA Functional API Certification, Nuvoton better enables ecosystem software compatibility to PSA standards, independent of hardware platforms. It’s highly configurable to suit target applications on constrained devices. As a very early Armv8-M architecture-based microcontroller vendor, Nuvoton has accumulated several IoT use cases covering a lot of devices connected to the internet with the M2351 Series.

Nuvoton Technology | www.nuvoton.com

IDE for ST’s STM32Cube MCU Ecosystem Available for Free

STMicroelectronics (ST) is offering a free all-in-one STM32 development tool now as part of its STM32Cube software ecosystem. The STM32CubeIDE leverages ST’s 2017 acquisition of embedded-development-tool vendor Atollic. It is offered under industry-standard open license terms and adds dedicated STM32-specific features to simplify and accelerate STM32 MCU-based embedded designs. These include the STM32CubeMX tool for configuring the MCU and managing the project build.
The STM32Cube ecosystem boasts downloads of STM32CubeMX currently averaging more than 250,000 per year, according to ST. The complete STM32Cube ecosystem also contains the STM32CubeProgrammer for MCU programming and STM32CubeMonitor series for monitoring application behavior, as well as individual MCU-specific embedded software packages. The STM32CubeIDE is available now and is free to download from www.st.com/stm32cubeide

STMicroelectronics | www.st.com

 

Dev Tools Extend Transportation Safety Standards Coverage

IAR Systems has updated the functional safety editions of the leading embedded development toolchain IAR Embedded Workbench with new functional safety certificates. The new certificates add the standard EN 50657:2017 “Railways Applications – Rolling stock applications – Software on Board Rolling Stock” as well as a later revision of the “Road vehicles – Functional safety” standard called ISO 26262:2018.

Functional safety is one of the most important features in many embedded systems and companies must consider development tools as an integral part of the system certification, says IAR Systems. The proof of compliance for the tools increases cost and time of development. To solve this problem, IAR Systems provides certified versions of the complete compiler and debugger toolchain IAR Embedded Workbench for Arm, Renesas RX, Renesas RL78 and Renesas RH850.

The build chains of IAR Embedded Workbench for Arm, RX, RL78 and RH850 have been tested and approved according to the requirements on support tools put forth in the international umbrella standard for functional safety IEC 61508, the standard for automotive safety-related systems ISO 26262, and the the European railway standard EN 50128 and EN 50657. For Arm, RX and RL78, the certification also covers IEC 62304, defining the life cycle requirements for medical device software.

The quality assurance measures applied by IAR Systems and the included Safety Manual allow application developers to use the tools in safety-related software development for each Safety Integrity Level (SIL) according to IEC 61508 and each Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) of ISO 26262. IAR Embedded Workbench is certified by TÜV SÜD.

IAR Embedded Workbench provides a complete IDE including the IAR C/C++ Compiler and the C-SPY Debugger. The code analysis tools C-RUN® and C-STAT® add static and runtime analysis, enabling complete code control through the entire development cycle. Thanks to the complete integration of the tools in the IAR Embedded Workbench IDE, developers get up and running quickly with the analysis.

IAR Systems also offers a Functional Safety Support and Update Agreement with guaranteed support for the sold version for the longevity of the contract. In addition to prioritized technical support, the agreement includes access to validated service packs and regular reports of known deviations and problems.

IAR Systems | www.iar.com

 

Infineon and TTTech Team Up for Automated Driving Solution

Infineon Technologies and TTTech Auto have released the second generation of their fully integrated automotive-grade safety solution for automated driving use cases. It is based on Infineon’s AURIX TC397XM microcontroller and TTTech Auto’s MotionWise safety software platform. It delivers full support and scalability for level 2+ solutions up to the advanced levels 4 and 5 of automated driving. It helps embedded systems developers achieve faster time-to-market, improved software integration and validation thus reducing overall cost.

The first generation of Infineon’s AURIX microcontroller and TTTech Auto’s safety software platform MotionWise are integral part of zFAS, Audi’s centerpiece for piloted driving, that premiered in the Audi A8. TTTech Auto optimized its series-proven product MotionWise for the new and even more powerful second generation of Infineon’s AURIX microcontroller called TC397XM. The MotionWise safety software platform and underlying hardware are powerful enough to match the requirements of up to level 5 automated driving functions.

Residing on an ASIL-D safety hardware, the second generation of the solution is optimized for safety-critical applications. It is offering an increased ISO 26262 ASIL-D computing performance capability, a richer set of peripherals and advanced security measures. MotionWise enables fail-operational performance, freedom from interference and safety by design with highest ASIL levels for the whole platform. Each application hosted by MotionWise will run encapsulated from its peers, resulting in a safe environment where applications with different safety and real-time requirements can coexist and interact. This allows for seamless integration of applications.

Both companies gained extensive experience through close collaboration with key automotive industry players in long-term series production projects. As a key-component in more than 25 car models with production start since 2017, the first generation of this solution creates valuable synergies for series production. Several customers have already evaluated the second generation of this software/hardware combination and decided to use it in their ADAS series production programs with start of production in 2019.

Infineon Technologies | www.infineon.com

TTTech Auto | www.tttech-auto.com

 

Control and Comms Solutions Enhance Drone Designs

Synched in the Sky

There’s no slowing down the pace of commercial drone innovation. Helping system developers keep pace, technology vendors provide a wide range of communications and control products to improve the capabilities of both drone designs and the infrastructure supporting drones.

By Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

Commercial drones continue be among the most dynamic segments of embedded system design today. The sophistication of commercial/civilian drone technologies are advancing faster than most people could have imagined just a few years ago. Feeding those needs, chip, module and software vendors of all sizes have been creating new solutions to help drone system developers create new drone products and get to market quickly.

While drone technology encompasses several areas—from processing to video to power—here we’re focusing on communication and control solutions for drone system designs. Commercial drones rely on advanced wireless communications technologies for both control and for streaming captured video from drone-based cameras. Meanwhile, a variety of solutions have emerged for aspects of drone control, such as autonomous flight management and IoT-style integration of drones into powerful IoT networks.

Small Size, Long Range

Datalink modules are an important technology for drone communication. It’s a tricky mix to be able to provide long-range communication with a drone, and still keep it to a small solution that’s easy to embed on a commercial drone. With just that in mind, Airborne Innovations offers its Picoradio OEM, the company’s latest miniature OEM product based on the pDDL (Digital Data Link) from Microhard Systems. The board is a full-featured pico-miniature advanced datalink module geared at demanding miniature long range drone applications (Figure 1).

Figure 1
The Picoradio OEM board is a full-featured pico-miniature advanced datalink module geared for demanding miniature, long-range drone applications.

With the Picoradio advanced single link system, you can perform three functions in one: HD video capable data rates, autopilot command/control and manual control with the company’s add-on SBUS passthrough module. Delivering a high-power, long-range broadband COFDM link, the board provides a variety of features in a tiny 17.6 g board that measures 40 mm × 40 mm × 10 mm.

Picoradio OEM’s 1 W COFDM RF output has a typical range of 5 miles with very basic antennas—much longer range is possible using high gain antennas, RF amplifiers, tracking antennas and so on. Output power is software selectable from 7 dBm to 30 dBm in 1 dBm steps. The dual Ethernet ports can be used as Ethernet bridge ports or separate LAN segments. Two transparent serial ports are provided—one is switchable RS-232/3.3V TTL, one is TTL only.

The board features wide input range efficient buck-boost operation. Inputs of 8  V to 58 V is supported at full output power, and 5 V to 58 V with limitations. Auxiliary power output is 12 V at 2 A typical or up to 12 V at 5 A (with input voltage limitations). These specs make it capable of powering cameras, gimbals and so on from wide input range battery power. Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) is possible using separate power and data lines.

According to the company, the first revision of this board was highly successful and functional. The new version uses the 2.4 GHz unlicensed band at up to 1 W RF output. This is not a Wi-Fi radio, but rather uses a superior Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (COFDM) modulation which is optimized for drone use. The default version has no encryption, and it can be exported outside the US. 128-bit encryption is available for some customers but has export restrictions. 256-bit encryption is available to domestic users.

Digital Data Link

Aside from the one used in Airborne Innovations’ board, Microhard Systems offers a variety of DDL solutions. Among its newest of these products is its pMDDL5824 module, a dual-frequency 5.8 GHz and 2.4 GHz MIMO(2X2) digital data link. The module is a miniature OEM, high power, 2X2 MIMO wireless OEM solution (Figure 2). This dual- frequency solution allows software selectable operation in the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz frequency bands. The DDL uses maximal ratio combining (MRC), maximal likelihood (ML) decoding and low-density parity check (LDPC) to achieve robust RF performance.

Figure 2
The pMDDL5824 module is a dual- frequency 5.8 GHz and 2.4 GHz MIMO(2X2) digital data link in a miniature, wireless OEM module solution.

According to the company, the miniature, lightweight and robust design allows the pMDDL5824 to be well suited for size sensitive applications like commercial drones. The high-speed, long-range capabilities of the pMDDL5824 allow for high-quality wireless video and telemetry communications. The device provides up to 25 Mbps IPERF throughput at 8 MHz channel (-78 dBm) and up to 2 Mbps IPERF throughput at 8 MHz channel ( -102 dBm). It provides dual 10/100 Ethernet Ports (LAN/WAN) and supports point-to-point, point-to-multipoint and mesh (future) networks. It has Master, Remote and Relay operating modes and an adjustable total transmit power (up to 1 W). Interfacing to the unit can be done through local console, telnet and by web browser.

Video Modem for Drones

It goes without saying that one the most common forms of data that drones need to transmit is video captured by the drone. The company Amimon has solutions to provide here. As a developer and provider of ICs and complete solutions for the wireless High-Definition audio-video market, they target markets beyond just drones, but its technology is very well suited for drones.

According to the company, its video modem solution utilizes both MIMO and OFDM technologies, combined with Joint Source Channel Coding (JSCC) capability to transmit Full-HD 1080p60 video resolution over a bandwidth of 40 MHz or 20 MHz. Amimon’s latest 3rd generation baseband ICs allow for the delivery of 4K wireless video in high quality, while still maintaining zero latency (<1 ms) capabilities.

The multiple inputs and multiple outputs, or MIMO, is the term used for multiple antennas at both the transmitter and receiver to improve communication bandwidth and performance. MIMO technology offers a significant increase in data throughput and link robustness without additional bandwidth or increased transmit power. It achieves this by spreading the same total transmit power over the antennas to achieve an array gain that improves the spectral efficiency—more bits per second per hertz of bandwidth—or to achieve a diversity gain that improves the link reliability (reduced fading). Because of these properties, MIMO is an important part of modern wireless communication standards, such as 4G, 3GPP Long Term Evolution (LTE) and WiMAX.

Traditional wireless video compression systems use source-channel separation method, which leads to modular system design allowing independent optimization of source and channel coders. For its part, Amimon uses Joint-Source-Channel-Coding or JSCC approach. This approach enables a far better utilization of the channel capacity and handles better channel interference. Traditional systems transmit packetized information at a rate that is below the worst-case channel capacity to avoid high bit error rate (BER) and frequent retry operations. The traditional communication methods using H.264 or H.265 compression are prone to errors and thus uses buffering to ensure retransition of data when the BER exceed a certain level. They also use error correction overhead equality applied to all the transmitted bits unrelated to their visual importance. The use of JSCC eliminates these limitations.

Figure 3
Amimon’s CONNEX product line includes a variety of wireless link products. Shown here is CONNEX Mini.

Amimon productizes its video modem technology in several ways, including its CONNEX line of wireless video modems for the drone market (Figure 3). Its embedded solution is called CONNEX Embedded, designed to enable drome system designers to embed a wireless HD link into their systems with simple integration effort. The CONNEX Embedded provides a small-size, low-weight transmitter that can reach varied ranges and can be configured based on application needs. The unit is available in different configurations enabling uncompressed HD video with zero delay, Data Down/Uplink for control, standard HDMI output interfaces, SDK for controlling the link parameters and software management tools for users and operators.

Drone Control App

Just as the computing inside drones has grown more sophisticated, so too have the methods used to remote control commercial drones. An example along those lines is the Pilot app made by DroneSense. Pilot lets users control their drone using a tablet. Users can download ground control station software directly onto a tablet and then plug the tablet into the drone remote and begin flying manually, or pre-plan autonomous flights for an upcoming mission.

Users can use Pliot’s autonomous flight planning functions to create a low-altitude orbit or undertake 2D/3D mapping (Figure 4). The can fly the drone fly manually to achieve a variety of tactical objectives, all while having a complete view of telemetry, video feeds and other relevant flight data. The app’s mapping engine enables drone pilots to clearly visualize all drones collaborating in an operation, helping to prevent redundancies or collisions. They can use chat functionality to enhance communications. It lets users view multiple live video feeds of various types, including thermal.

Figure 4
The Pilot app lets users control their drone using a tablet. Users can use the app’s autonomous flight planning functions to create a low-altitude orbit or undertake 2D/3D mapping.

Another feature of Pilot is that it is drone agnostic. Users can train once on the Pilot app, and use it on whatever drone is best-suited to each mission. Whether it is a fixed-wing or a quadcopter, the pilot interface remains the same—no additional training is required for different types or brands of drones. Users can just pick the drone and sensor required to accomplish their goals and fly. No hardware configuration required.
Users of the Pilot app can upload customized checklists from DroneSense’s AirBase software into the Pilot app, ensuring pilots follow established pre-flight procedures.

Users can create and implement post-flight checklists, such as proper handling of any captured media. It allows you to enforce compliance with user policies and procedures, thereby minimizing risk and making sure assets are always handled properly. The Pilot app lets users bring in feeds from various sensor packages, such as a thermal imager, and see the output directly in the app. They can collect and view the data in the Pilot app (and DroneSense’s OpsCenter) from numerous sources for even greater situational awareness. The app’s flexible architecture allows for integration with third-party systems that may exist in a user’s organization.

Drones as IOT Edge Nodes

In many ways a commercial drone can be thought of as an IoT device. IoT implementations are comprised of edge devices with sensors, a cloud infrastructure and some sort of network or gateway linkng the edge with the cloud. SlantRange, a specialist in remote sensing and analytics systems for agriculture, made just such a drone-IoT connection in October with a new partnership with Microsoft. The deal combines Microsoft’s latest IoT connectivity and cloud analytics with SlantRange’s edge-computing capabilities into an integrated product offering for implementation developers operating large-scale drone programs in agriculture.

SlantRange has patented technologies for aerial crop inspections and introduced analytical methods that deliver valuable agronomic data within minutes of collection, anywhere in the world, using low-power edge-computing devices. Microsoft’s Azure IoT Edge is a fully managed service that delivers cloud intelligence locally by deploying and running artificial intelligence (AI), Azure services and custom logic directly on cross-platform IoT devices.

Figure 5
Through the addition of Azure IoT Edge, SlantRange’s platform provides a secure, scalable and fully integrated solution to deploy new cloud computing capabilities on top of SlantRange’s existing edge-computing architecture.

SlantRange’s current products can do data analytics conducted completely offline, without the need for an Internet connection. Through the addition of Azure IoT Edge, the new platform provides a secure, scalable and fully integrated solution to deploy new cloud-computing capabilities on top of SlantRange’s existing edge-computing architecture (Figure 5). Their edge-based solutions can now be complimented by cloud-based services to seamlessly ingest, manage and analyze data from large networks of distributed sensors. Custom analytics as well as automated machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms can be deployed both in the cloud and at the edge to create new data insights for a variety of stakeholders within an agriculture enterprise.

SDK for Drone Control

The giant chip manufacturer Qualcomm has a foothold in the drone market on both the developer side and the end product side. For drone control, the company offers its Qualcomm Navigator software development kit (SDK). Qualcomm Navigator is an autonomous, vision-supported flight controller SDK with related modules and tools. It features multiple different flight modes with varying levels of sophistication, it is engineered to provide stable and aggressive flight for a host of applications. It includes several built-in sensor calibration procedures as well as automatic flight logging and real-time introspection tools along with post-processing, log parsing capabilities.

The SDK supports various flight modes, from manual (for expert pilots) to assisted modes (for novice pilots). The tool fuses the machine vision SDK’s VISLAM for stable flight and DFS for visual obstacle avoidance. Meanwhile, Wi-Fi-based flight control can be done using the drone controller app. The SDK enables C API’s to get telemetry and control the flight path.

Navigator is comprised of multiple libraries, executables and configuration files. The core flight controller runs on the aDSP, and other components run on the applications processor and GPU. Navigator provides a low-level C API for applications to interact with the flight controller. Supported interactions include accessing telemetry data such as battery voltage, status of sensors and current flight mode. It also supports sending remote control (RC)-style or velocity-style commands to the flight controller. With Navigator you can also send RPM or PWM commands directly to the ESCs and initiate sensor calibration procedures.

Complete Drone Solution

Most of the leading microcontroller vendors market their technologies toward drone designs in some way or another. Among the more direct of these efforts is from Infineon Technologies, offering development kits and design resources. The company provides a complete system solution that includes all essential semiconductors for drones. These Infineon products include its AURIX and XMC controllers, its iMotion motor controller, its IMU (inertial measurement units) and its XENSIV sensors line that includes pressure, radar, magnetic sensors and more.

Figure 6
This complete multicopter XMC4500 demoboard is built around an Infineon XMC4500 Arm CortexM4 32-bit MCU. IR2301 drivers, low-voltage MOSFETs and the MPU9250 Invensense IMU provide the additional units that make up the drone’s electronic powertrain, motor control and flight sensing functional blocks.

Among Infineon’s drone design offerings is a complete multicopter XMC4500 demoboard (Figure 6). At the heart of the board is the flight controller, which is built around an Infineon XMC4500 Arm CortexM4 32-bit MCU. IR2301 drivers, low-voltage MOSFETs and the MPU9250 Invensense IMU provide the additional units that make up the electronic powertrain, motor control and flight sensing functional blocks.

There’s no doubt that today’s quad-copter- style commercial drones wouldn’t be possible without today’s high levels of chip integration. But even as developers push for more autonomous operations and AI aboard drones, they will also be need to send and receive control and video data to and from drones. Embedded control and communication technologies will continue to play a major role is these efforts. Later this year, in July, Circuit Cellar will take a closer look at the video and embedded camera sides of drone system design.

Airborne Innovations | www.airborneinnovations.com

Amimon | www.amimon.com

DroneSense | www.dronesense.com

Infineon Technologies | www.infineon.com

SlantRange | www.slantrange.com

Qualcomm Technologies | www.qualcomm.com

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Three Firms Team Up for Industrial IoT Security Effort

IAR Systems, Secure Thingz and Renesas Electronics have announced their collaboration to secure Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications. As part of this collaboration, the companies will develop new solutions that combine IAR Systems’ software development technology, Secure Thingz’ expertise in advanced IoT security, and Renesas Electronics’ secure semiconductor technologies.

Security is an inherent risk when it comes to connected devices. In the Industrial IoT, incoming threats and system vulnerabilities can result in life-threatening or high-risk situations. Therefore, embedded applications in this area require very strong features for security and reliability. To meet these requirements, Secure Thingz’ Embedded Trust, which is a security development environment that leverages the IAR Embedded Workbench IDE from IAR Systems, will support Renesas microcontrollers (MCUs) when Embedded Trust is launched to the broader market in 2019. This new hardware and software solution will enable organizations to secure their systems, intellectual property (IP) and data.

“Despite legislation and new security standards mandating greater protection, the news stories of hacking, theft and counterfeiting still persist. It is now a question of when, and not if, you will be compromised,” says Haydn Povey, CEO, Secure Thingz. “At Secure Thingz, we are collaborating with trusted industry friends to secure the connected world and inhibit these compromises. The collaboration between Secure Thingz, IAR Systems and Renesas will help organizations conquer the security challenges of today and tomorrow.”

“To really deliver on the promise of the IoT, embedded applications will need to include security from start, both in hardware and software,” says Stefan Skarin, CEO, IAR Systems. “IAR Systems’ long-standing collaboration with Renesas has resulted in a number of successful activities and solutions. Now with connected IoT devices all around us and ongoing security threats, we as suppliers need to help our customers in the best way we can. IAR Systems and Secure Thingz are working together to make superior security available for all, and we are pleased to have Renesas with us on this journey.”

“With increased connectivity come greater security risks, and the growing number of connected industrial devices requires a stronger focus on security from the early stages of chip design to protect both the silicon solution and the application from potential security issues,” says Yoshikazu Yokota, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Industrial Solution Business Unit, Renesas Electronics Corporation. “For the past 30 years, our collaboration with IAR Systems has introduced reliable and high-performance solutions that have enabled the creation of innovative embedded designs, and with the addition of Secure Thingz moving forward, we are poised to support the next generation of Industrial IoT design with the security it needs.”

IAR Systems | www.iar.com

Secure Thingz | www.securethingz.com

Renesas Electronics | www.renesas.com

 

 

MCU Tool Update Eases Multicore Automotive Control Development

Renesas Electronics has announced an update to its Embedded Target for RH850 Multicore model-based development environment for multicore MCUs for automotive control applications. The update supports development of systems with multirate control (multiple control periods), which is now common in systems such as engine and body control systems. This model-based development environment has become practical even in software development scenarios for multicore MCUs, and can reduce the increasingly complex software development burdens especially in control system development of self-driving cars.
Renesas’ earlier RH850 multicore model-based development environment automatically allocated software to the multiple cores and although verifying performance was possible, in complex systems that included multirate control, it was necessary to implement everything manually, including the RTOS and device drivers. Now there’s ever-increasing requirements to boost engine and vehicle performance, and at the same time shorten product development time. By making this development environment support multirate control, it is possible to directly generate the multicore software code from the multirate control model. This has made it possible to evaluate the execution performance in simulation.

Not only does this allow execution performance to be estimated from the earliest stages of software development, this also makes it easy to feed back the verification results into the model itself. This enables the completeness of the system development to be improved early on in the process, and the burden of developing the ever-larger scale, and increasingly complex, software systems can be significantly reduced. Renesas is accelerating the practical utility of model-based development environments in software development for multicore processors and is leading the evolution of green electric vehicles as proposed in the Renesas autonomy concept.

Control functions development requires multirate control, such as intake/exhaust period in engine control, the period of fuel injection and ignition, and the period with which the car’s status is verified. These are all different periods. By applying the technology that generates RH850 multicore code from the Simulink control mode to multirate control, it has become possible to directly generate multicore code, even from models that include multiple periods, such as engine control.

Renesas also provides as an option for the Integrated Development Environment CS+ for the RH850, a cycle precision simulator that can measure time with a precision on par with that of actual systems. By using this option, it is possible to estimate the execution performance of a model of the multicore MCU at the early stages of software development. This can significantly reduce the software development period.

The JMAAB (Japan MBD Automotive Advisory Board), an organization that promotes model-based development for automotive control systems, recommends several control models from the JMAAB Control Modeling Guidelines. Of those, Renesas is providing in this update the Simulink® Scheduler Block, which conforms to type (alpha) which provides a scheduler layer in the upper layer. This makes it possible to follow the multirate single-task method without an OS, express the core specifications and synchronization in the Simulink model, and automatically generate multicore code for the RH850 to implement deterministic operations.

Along with advances in the degree of electronic control in today’s cars, integration is also progressing in the ECUs (electronic control units), which are comparatively small-scale systems. By supporting multirate control, making it easier to operate small-scale systems with different control periods with a multicore microcontroller, it is now possible to verify the operation of a whole ECU that integrates multiple systems.

The updated model-based development environment is planned to support Renesas’ RH850/P1H-C MCU that includes two cores by this fall, and also support for the RH850/E2x Series of MCUs that include up to six cores is in the planning. In addition, Renesas plans to deploy this development environment to the entire Renesas autonomy Platform, including the “R-Car” Family of SoCs.

Renesas is also continuing to work to further improve the efficiency of model-based software development, including model-based parallelization tools from partner companies and strengthening of related multirate control support execution performance estimation including the operating system. Moving forward, Renesas plans to apply the model-based design expertise fostered in its automotive development efforts in the continually growing RX Family in the industrial area which is seeing continued increases in both complexity and scale.

Renesas Electronics | www.renesas.com

MCU/MPUs Target Next-Gen Electric and Autonomous Vehicles

NXP Semiconductors  has announced a new family of high-performance safe microprocessors to control vehicle dynamics in next-generation electric and autonomous vehicles. The new NXP S32S microprocessors will manage the systems that accelerate, brake and steer vehicles safely, whether under the direct control of a driver or an autonomous vehicle’s control.

NXP is addressing the needs of carmakers developing future autonomous and hybrid electric vehicles with newly available 800 MHz MCU/MPUs. The first of the new S32 product lines, the S32S microprocessor offers the highest performance ASIL D capability available today, according to NXP.
The NXP S32S processors use an array of the new Arm Cortex-R52 cores, which integrate the highest level of safety features of any Arm processor. The array offers four fully independent ASIL D capable processing paths to support parallel safe computing. In addition, the S32S architecture supports a new “fail availability” capability allowing the device to continue to operate after detecting and isolating a failure—a critical capability for future autonomous applications.

NXP has partnered with OpenSynergy to develop a fully featured, real-time hypervisor supporting the NXP S32S products. OpenSynergy’s COQOS Micro SDK is one of the first hypervisor platforms that takes advantage of the Arm Cortex-R52’s special hardware features. It enables the integration of multiple real-time operating systems onto microcontrollers requiring high levels of safety (up to ISO26262 ASIL D). Multiple vendor independent OS/stacks can also run on a single microcontroller. COQOS Micro SDK provides secure, safe and fast context switching ahead of today’s software-only solutions in traditional microcontrollers.

NXP Seimconductors | www.nxp.com

Firms Collaborate on 3D Surround View System for Cars

Renesas Electronics and Magna, a mobility technology company and one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, have teamed up to accelerate the mass adoption of advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) features with a new cost-efficient 3D surround view system designed for entry- and mid-range vehicles.
The 3D surround view system adopts Renesas’ high-performance, low-power system-on-chip (SoC) optimized for smart camera and surround view systems. By enabling 3D surround view safety capabilities, the new system helps automakers to deliver safer and more advanced vehicles to a larger number of car consumers, contributing to a safer vehicle society.

Magna’s 3D surround view system is a vehicle camera system that provides a 360-degree panoramic view to assist drivers when parking or performing low speed operations. Drivers can adjust the view of their surroundings with a simple-to-use interface, while object detection alerts drivers about obstacles in their path. The system provides drivers a realistic 360-degree view of their environment, a significant upgrade to the bird’s-eye view offered by existing parking assist systems. The ready-to-use system minimizes integration time and development costs, making the system an easy, cost-efficient option for automakers.

Several automakers have already expressed strong interest in the technology, including a European automaker, which will be the first to integrate the 3D surround view system into a future vehicle.

Renesas Electronics | www.renesas.com

MCUs Eye Closed-Loop Control Applications

Microchip Technology has introduced the new PIC18 Q10 and ATtiny1607 families, featuring multiple intelligent Core Independent Peripherals (CIPs) that simplify development and enable quick response time to system events. Advancements in the architecture of PIC and AVR 8-bit microcontrollers (MCUs) have optimized the devices for implementing closed-loop control, enabling systems to offload the Central Processing Unit (CPU) to manage more tasks and save power.

Well suited for applications that use closed-loop control, a key advantage of using the PIC18 Q10 and ATtiny1607 MCUs are the CIPs that independently manage tasks and reduce the amount of processing required from the CPU. System designers can also save time and simplify design efforts with the hardware-based CIPs, which significantly reduce the amount of software required to write and validate. Both families have features for functional safety and operate up to 5 V, increasing noise immunity and providing compatibility with the majority of analog output and digital sensors.

Offered in a compact 3 mm x 3 mm 20-pin QFN package, the new ATtiny1607 family is optimized for space-constrained closed-loop control systems such as handheld power tools and remote controls. In addition to the integrated high-speed Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC) that provides faster conversion of analog signals resulting in deterministic system response, the devices provide improved oscillator accuracy, allowing designers to reduce external components and save costs.

Among CIPs in the PIC18 Q10 family are the Complementary Waveform Generator (CWG) peripheral, which simplifies complex switching designs, and an integrated Analog-to-Digital Converter with Computation (ADC2) that performs advanced calculations and filtering of data in hardware without any intervention from the core. CIPs such as these allow the CPU to execute more complex tasks, such as Human Machine Interface (HMI) controls, and remain in a low-power mode to conserve power until processing is required.

All PIC18 Q10 products are supported by MPLAB Code Configurator (MCC), a free software plug-in that provides a graphical interface to easily configure peripherals and functions. MCC is incorporated into Microchip’s downloadable MPLAB X Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and the cloud-based MPLAB Xpress IDE, eliminating the need to download software. The Curiosity High Pin Count (HPC) development board (DM164136), a fully-integrated, feature-rich rapid prototyping board, can also be used to start development with these MCUs.

Rapid prototyping with the ATtiny1607 family is supported by ATmega4809 Xplained Pro (ATmega4809-XPRO) evaluation kit. The USB-powered kit features touch buttons, LEDs and extension headers for quick setup as well as an on-board programmer/debugger that seamlessly integrates with the Atmel Studio 7 Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and Atmel START, a free online tool to configure peripherals and software that accelerates development.

The PIC18 Q10 and ATtiny1607 are available today for sampling and in volume production. Pricing for the PIC18 Q10 family starts at $0.77 each in 10,000-unit quantities, and pricing for the ATtiny1607 family starts at $0.56 each in 10,000-unit quantities.

Microchip Technology | www.microchip.com

Low-Power MCUs Extend Battery Life for Wearables

Maxim Integrated Products has introduced the ultra-low power MAX32660 and MAX32652 microcontrollers. These MCUs are based on the ARM Cortex-M4 with FPU processor and provide designers the means to develop advanced applications under restrictive power constraints. Maxim’s family of DARWIN MCUs combine its wearable-grade power technology with the biggest embedded memories in their class and advanced embedded security.

Memory, size, power consumption, and processing power are critical features for engineers designing more complex algorithms for smarter IoT applications. According to Maxim, existing solutions today offer two extremes—they either have decent power consumption but limited processing and memory capabilities, or they have higher power consumption with more powerful processors and more memory.
The MAX32660 (shown) offers designers access to enough memory to run some advanced algorithms and manage sensors (256 KB flash and 96 KB SRAM). They also offer excellent power performance (down to 50µW/MHz), small size (1.6 mm x 1.6 mm in WLP package) and a cost-effective price point. Engineers can now build more intelligent sensors and systems that are smaller and lower in cost, while also providing a longer battery life.

As IoT devices become more intelligent, they start requiring more memory and additional embedded processors which can each be very expensive and power hungry. The MAX32652 offers an alternative for designers who can benefit from the low power consumption of an embedded microcontroller with the capabilities of a higher powered applications processor.

With 3 MB flash and 1 MB SRAM integrated on-chip and running up to 120 MHz, the MAX32652 offers a highly-integrated solution for IoT devices that strive to do more processing and provide more intelligence. Integrated high-speed peripherals such as high-speed USB 2.0, secure digital (SD) card controller, a thin-film transistor (TFT) display, and a complete security engine position the MAX32652 as the low-power brain for advanced IoT devices. With the added capability to run from external memories over HyperBus or XcellaBus, the MAX32652 can be designed to do even more tomorrow, providing designers a future-proof memory architecture and anticipating the increasing demands of smart devices.

The MAX32660 and MAX32652 are both available at Maxim’s website and select authorized distributors. MAX32660EVKIT# and MAX32652EVKIT# evaluation kits are also both available at Maxim’s website.

Maxim Integrated | www.maximintegrated.com

Software Speeds Safety Certification for STM32-Based Systems

STMicroelectronics has announced new free software for its STM32 microcontrollers. The functional-safety design package cuts complexity and IEC 61508 safety-certification costs for STM32-based safety critical applications. This resource is created for designers of STM32-based devices in the field of industrial controls, robots, sensors, medical, or transportation, which must be certified up to Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 2 or 3 of the recognized safety standard IEC 61508. ST’s STM32 SIL Functional-Safety Design Package simplifies system development and certification.

The SIL Functional-Safety Design Package comprises documentation and the X-CUBE-STL, a software Self-Test Library certified to IEC 61508 SIL3. The package is initially available for the STM32F0 series. ST will continue to introduce equivalent packages for all other series in the STM32 family throughout 2018 and 2019. There are currently more than 800 STM32 microcontroller variants.

ST’s STM32 SIL Functional Safety Design Package contains full documentation to support development of STM32-based embedded systems to meet IEC 61508 requirements for functional safety. The documentation comprises safety manuals that detail all applicable safety requirements, or conditions of use, with implementation guidelines to help developers certify their products to SIL 2 or SIL 3 in accordance with IEC 61508. Also included are the mandatory Failure-Modes Effects Analysis (FMEA), containing the detailed list of microcontroller failure modes and related mitigation measures, and Failure-Mode Effects and Diagnostics Analysis (FMEDA), which gives a static snapshot reporting IEC 61508 failure rates, computed at both the microcontroller and basic functions detail levels.

The software self-test library, X-CUBE-STL, is a software-based diagnostic suite for detecting random hardware failures in STM32 safety-critical core components comprising the CPU, SRAM, and Flash memory. The Diagnostic Coverage is verified by state-of-the-art ST proprietary fault injection methodology. Integrated with the familiar and proven STM32Cube workflow, it is application-independent thereby allowing use with any user application, and is delivered as compiler-agnostic object code.

TÜV Rheinland, a leading international certification institute for functional safety certification to relevant international standards, has positively assessed X-CUBE-STL-F0 according to the functional safety standard IEC 61508:2010. Detailed information of the certificate will be soon available on www.fs-products.com. Swiss-based sensor manufacturer Contrinex is the first to use ST’s Functional-Safety Design Package to certify safety products based on STM32F0 microcontrollers.

The Functional-Safety Design Package for STM32F0 microcontrollers is available from www.st.com, free of charge, subject to Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with ST. Equivalent packages for other STM32 series will be introduced throughout 2018 and 2019.

 

STMicroelectronics | www.st.com

Linux and Coming Full Circle

Input Voltage

–Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

JeffHeadShot

In terms of technology, the line between embedded computing and IT/desktop computing has always been a moving target. Certainty the computing power in small embedded devices today have vastly more compute muscle than even a server of 15 years ago. While there’s many ways to look at that phenomena, it’s interesting to look at it through the lens of Linux. The quick rise in the popularity of Linux in the 90s happened on the server/IT side pretty much simultaneously with the embrace of Linux in the embedded market.

I’ve talked before in this column about the embedded Linux start-up bubble of the late 90s. That’s when a number of start-ups emerged as “embedded Linux” companies. It was a new business model for our industry, because Linux is a free, open-source OS. As a result, these companies didn’t sell Linux, but rather provided services to help customers create and support implementations of open-source Linux. This market disruption spurred the established embedded RTOS vendors to push back. Like most embedded technology journalists back then, I loved having a conflict to cover. There were spirited debates on the “Linux vs. RTOS topic” on conference panels and in articles of time—and I enjoyed participating in both.

It’s amusing to me to remember that Wind River at the time was the most vocal anti-Linux voice of the day. Fast forward to today and there’s a double irony. Most of those embedded Linux startups are long gone. And yet, most major OS vendors offer full-blown embedded Linux support alongside their RTOS offerings. In fact, in a research report released in January by VDC Research, Wind River was named as the market leader in the global embedded software market for both its RTOS and commercial Linux segments.

According the VDC report, global unit shipments of IoT and embedded OSs, including free/non-commercial OSs, will grow to reach 11.1 billion units by 2021, driven primarily by ECU-targeted RTOS shipments in the automotive market, and free Linux installs on higher-resource systems. After accounting for systems with no OS, bare-metal OS, or an in-house developed OS, the total yearly units shipped will grow beyond 17 billion units in 2021 according to the report. VDC research findings also predict that unit growth will be driven primarily by free and low-cost operating systems such as Amazon FreeRTOS, Express Logic ThreadX and Mentor Graphics Nucleus on constrained devices, along with free, open source Linux distributions for resource-rich embedded systems.

Shifting gears, let me indulge myself by talking about some recent Circuit Cellar news—though still on the Linux theme. Circuit Cellar has formed a strategic partnership with LinuxGizmos.com. LinuxGizmos is a well-establish, trusted website that provides up-to-the-minute, detailed and insightful coverage of the latest developer- and maker-friendly, embedded oriented chips, modules, boards, small systems and IoT devices—and the software technologies that make them tick. As its name in implies, LinuxGizmos features coverage of open source, high-level operating systems including Linux and its derivatives (such as Android), as well as lower-level software platforms such as OpenWRT and FreeRTOS.

LinuxGizmos.com was founded by Rick Lehrbaum—but that’s only the latest of his accolades. I know Rick from way back when I first started writing about embedded computing in 1990. Most people in the embedded computing industry remember him as the “Father of PC/104.” Rick co-founded Ampro Computers in 1983 (now part of ADLINK), authored the PC/104 standard and founded the PC/104 Consortium in 1991, created LinuxDevices.com in 1999 and guided the formation of the Embedded Linux Consortium in 2000. In 2003, he launched LinuxGizmos.com to fill the void created when LinuxDevices was retired by Quinstreet Media.

Bringing things full circle, Rick says he’s long been a fan of Circuit Cellar, and even wrote a series of articles about PC/104 technology for it in the late 90s. I’m thrilled to be teaming up with LinuxGizmos.com and am looking forward to combing our strengths to better serve you.

This appears in the April (333) issue of Circuit Cellar magazine

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MCUs Offer Capacitive Touch and Proximity Sensing

Bringing capacitive-sensing capabilities to cost-sensitive applications, Texas Instruments (TI) has announced an expansion of its MSP430 microcontroller (MCU) family with capacitive touch technology. Developers can use the new MSP430FR2512 and MSP430FR2522 MCUs with integrated capacitive touch to add as many as 16 buttons as well as proximity sensing capability to industrial systems, home automation systems, appliances, power tools, home entertainment, personal audio applications and more.

New MSP430 microcontrollers with capacitive touch technology provide a solution to applications exposed to electromagnetic disturbances, oil, water and grease. The MSP430FR2512 and MSP430FR2522 MCUs deliver International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61000-4-6-certified capacitive sensing MCU-based solutions for applications exposed to electromagnetic disturbances, oil, water and grease. According to TI, the new MCUs offer five times lower power consumption than the competition, supporting proximity sensing and touch through glass, plastic and metal overlays.

TI’s CapTIvate technology adds the benefits of capacitive touch and proximity sensing to applications such as access control panels, cooktops, wireless speakers and power tools. Developers can quickly evaluate capacitive sensing for their applications with the new BOOSTXL-CAPKEYPAD BoosterPack plug-in module that is compatible with the CapTIvate programmer board (CAPTIVATE-PGMR) or TI LaunchPad development kits. The BoosterPack module joins a portfolio of MCUs, easy-to-use tools, software, reference designs and documentation in the CapTIvate Design Center and online CapTIvate technology guide. In addition, developers can find answers and support in the TI E2E Community to speed development with CapTIvate technology.

Production quantities of the MSP430FR2512 and MSP430FR2522 MCUs are available in a 20-pin very thin quad flat no lead (VQFN) package and a 16-pin thin shrink small outline package (TSSOP) starting at $0.69 in 1,000-unit quantities. The CapTIvate BoosterPack plug-in module (BOOSTXL-CAPKEYPAD) is available for $29.99.

Texas Instruments| www.ti.com

Circuit Cellar and LinuxGizmos.com Form Strategic Partnership

Partnership offers an expanded technical resource for embedded and IoT device developers and enthusiasts

Today Circuit Cellar is announcing a strategic partnership with LinuxGizmos.com to offer an expanded resource of information and know-how on embedded electronics technology for developers, makers, students and educators, early adopters, product strategists, and technical decision makers with a keen interest in emerging embedded and IoT technologies.

The new partnership combines Circuit Cellar’s uniquely in depth, “down-to-the-bits” technical articles with LinuxGizmos.com’s up-to-the-minute, detailed, and insightful coverage of the latest developer-  and maker-friendly, embedded oriented chips, modules, boards, small systems, and IoT devices, and the software technologies that make them tick. Additionally, as its name implies, LinuxGizmos.com’s coverage frequently highlights open source, high-level operating systems including Linux and its derivatives (e.g. Android), as well as lower-level software platforms such as OpenWRT and FreeRTOS.

Circuit Cellar is one of the electronics industry’s most highly technical information resources for professional engineers, academics, and other specialists involved in the design and development of embedded processor- and microcontroller-based systems across a broad range of applications. It gets right down to the bits and bytes and lines of code, at a level its readers revel in. Circuit Cellar is a trusted brand engaging readers every day on its website, each week with its newsletter, and each month through Circuit Cellar magazine’s print and digital formats.

LinuxGizmos.com is a free-to-use website that publishes daily news and analysis on the hardware, software, protocols, and standards used in new and innovative embedded, mobile, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.  The site is lauded for its detailed and insightful, timely coverage of newly introduced single board computers (SBCs), computer-on-modules (COMs), system-on-chips (SoCs), and small form factor (SFF) systems, along with their software platforms.

“The synergies between LinuxGizmos and Circuit Cellar are great and I’m excited to see the benefits of this partnership passed on to our combined audience,” said Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief, Circuit Cellar. “LinuxGizmos.com has the kind of rich, detail-oriented structure that I’m a fan of. Over the many years I’ve been following the site, I’ve relied on it as an important information resource, and its integrity has always impressed me.”

“I’ve been a fan of Circuit Cellar magazine since it was first launched, and wrote a series of articles for it in the late 90s about PC/104 embedded modules,” added Rick Lehrbaum, founder and Editor-in-Chief of LinuxGizmos.com. “I’m thrilled to see LinuxGizmos become associated with one of the computing industry’s pioneering publications.”

“I see this partnership as a perfect way to enhance both the Circuit Cellar and LinuxGizmos brands as key information platforms,” stated KC Prescott, President, KCK Media Corp. “In this era where there’s so much compelling technology innovation happening in the industry, our combined strengths will help inform and inspire embedded systems developers.”

Read Announcement on LinuxGizmos.com here:

Circuit Cellar and LinuxGizmos.com join forces