8-pin Device Brings 32-bit MCUs Capabilities to Simple Applications

STMicroelectronics has announced four STM32 MCUs that now available in an 8-pin package, enabling simple embedded projects to leverage 32-bit performance and flexibility in a compact and cost-effective outline. The four new STM32G0 devices deliver a combination of 8-pin economy with a 64 MHz Arm Cortex-M0+ CPU giving 59 DMIPS, up to 8 KB RAM and 32 KB flash on-chip, and high-performing peripherals including a 2.5 Msps ADC, high-resolution timer and a high-speed SPI.

With flexible mapping of I/O pins and internal MCU functions, designers can upgrade end-product functionality without trading board real-estate or bill-of-materials costs. The stability of the internal oscillator, which is accurate to ±1% over wide temperature and voltage ranges, also saves external clock components.

Benefiting from the low-power design features of the STM32 MCU family, the 8-pin STM32G0 devices can be used in energy-conscious applications governed by battery-capacity limits, eco-design legislation, or market expectations such as appliance energy ratings. The new MCUs also ease future scalability through the features available across the STM32G0 series, which offers up to 100 package pins, up to 512 KB flash, additional high-performance analog peripherals, and cyber-protection features.

The new 8-pin STM32G0 MCUs are available now in 6mm x 4.9mm SO8N, from $0.31 for 1000-piece orders of the STM32G030J6 Value Line MCU. The 8-pin Discovery kit STM32G0316-DISCO, available for $9.90, eases developers’ lives with quick and affordable evaluation. STM32G031J6, STM32G031J4, and STM32G041J6 Access Line MCUs are also available in SO8N, offering additional functionality including a hardware AES acceleration, Securable Memory Area enabling secure boot or firmware update, extra timers and 96-bit unique device ID.

STMicroelectronics | www.st.com

Functional Safety Tools Support STMicros’ 8-bit STM8 MCUs

IAR Systems has further extended its tools offering for safety-related software development by launching a certified version of its development tools for STM8 MCUs. STMicroelectronics’ 8-bit STM8 MCUs are used for automotive and other industrial applications where reliability and cost effectiveness are important. The functional safety edition of IAR Embedded Workbench for STM8 is certified by TÜV SÜD according to the requirements of IEC 61508, the international umbrella standard for functional safety, as well as ISO 26262, which is used for automotive safety-related systems.

In addition, the certification covers the international standard IEC 62304, which specifies life cycle requirements for the development of medical software and software within medical devices, and the European railway standards EN 50128 and EN 50657.
Functional safety is one of the most important features in embedded systems. To ensure functional safety and meet high-integrity standards, developers need to provide extensive justification for selecting a particular development tool, unless the tool is already certified, says IAR Systems. The proof of compliance for the tools increases cost and time of development. To solve this problem, IAR Systems provides functional safety editions of the complete C/C++ compiler and debugger toolchain IAR Embedded Workbench.

The quality assurance measures applied by IAR Systems and the included Safety Manual allow customers to use IAR Embedded Workbench in safety-related software development without further tool qualification. The certification has been proceeded by a thorough assessment of how IAR Systems develops, tests and supports its software, and validates the quality of IAR Systems’ entire development process, as well as the delivered software.

The functional safety edition of IAR Embedded Workbench for STM8 includes a functional safety certificate, a safety report from TÜV SÜD and a Safety Manual. With the certified tools, IAR Systems provides a Functional Safety Support and Update Agreement with guaranteed support for the sold version for the longevity of the contract. Along with prioritized technical support, the agreement includes access to validated service packs and regular reports of known deviations and problems. In addition to STM8, IAR Systems offers functional safety tools for other architectures including Arm.

IAR Systems | www.iar.com

 

November Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The November issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is out soon! Energy harvesting technology, panel PCs, analog ICs in industrial systems, drone design, mesh networks, MQTT, current loop devices and more—this 84-page magazine mixes together a tasty spread of embedded electronics articles for your reading pleasure.

Not a Circuit Cellar subscriber?  Don’t be left out! Sign up today:

 

Here’s a sneak preview of November 2019 Circuit Cellar:

TECH FOR THE IoT AND CONNECTED SYSTEMS

Energy Harvesting Approaches
By Jeff Child
While many edge devices—particularly in IoT applications—-often need to run off of extremely low power, having an ability to harvest their own power is an even better scenario. Long-battery life is one thing, but not having to replace batteries at all is even better. In this article, Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, looks at the latest technology and product trends in energy harvesting for the IoT.

MQ Telemetry Transport (Part 2)
By Jeff Bachiochi
In Part 1 Jeff described the MQTT protocol and how it can be used by an MQTT server to keep all of your IoT projects tied together and managed from a centralized server running a program like Mosquitto on a local PC. He presented a simple project connecting two IoT nodes together via communications with the server. In Part, Jeff looks at modifying systems he uses to monitor his neighborhood well system and his weather station for integration into the MQTT server.

Self Organizing Wi-Fi Mesh Network
By Daniel Weber and Michaelangelo Rodriguez
Gone are the days when networking embedded devices was a big deal. Today, such devices can be linked in powerful mesh networks over wireless protocols. In this article, learn how these two Cornell students use Microchip PIC32 MCUs and Espressif’s ESP8266 Wi-Fi module to create a mesh network of wirelessly connected devices. The mesh network is able to configure itself and requires no manual intervention to connect the nodes.

Bluetooth-Enabled ECG Monitor
By Brian Millier
Brian has done project articles in the past using Cypress Semiconductor’s PSoC MCUs, including his most recent story about his variable frequency drive project he built using the SoC5LP MCU. This month he explores the latest offering from this MCU family, the PSoC6 5LP MCU. In this project article, Brian selects the Cypress’s CY8CPROTO-063-BLE to build a Bluetooth-enabled ECG monitor.

INDUSTRIAL SYSTEMS AND PROCESS CONTROL

Analog ICs for Industrial Systems
By Jeff Child
Analog and mixed-signal ICs play important roles in industrial automation and process control applications. These system applications depend heavily on innovations in amplifiers, data converters, sensor solutions and more. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child explores the latest technology trends and product developments in these areas.

Product Focus: Panel PCs
By Jeff Child
Panel PCs are a category of display systems that are meant to be mounted on a factory wall or on the side of an industrial machine. And rather than simply being a display, panel PCs embed complete single board computing functionality, providing a complete embedded solution. This Product Focus section updates readers on these technology trends and provides a product gallery of representative panel PCs.

4-20 mA Current Loop Devices and SBCs
By Derek Hildreth
In this article, Technologic Systems’ Derek Hildreth helps you gain deeper understanding of 4-20 mA current loop devices and process control systems. He looks at some history, explains why things are the way they are, looks at simple example components of a process control system (sensor, transmitter, receiver) and works through a practical example with working code.

RESOURCES FOR ENGINEERS

Designing Manufacturing Test Systems
By Nishant Mittal
Manufacturing tests are arguably the most important aspect in any kind of hardware design company, be it small or big. Quality is a factor which no company or individual wants to compromise because quality defines the product and ultimately is the main thing which retains a customer. In this article, Xilinx’s Nishant Mittal discusses various techniques to manage quality, cost and corner case catching scenarios in a manufacturing test environment of a board fabrication house.

Multi-Scale Electronic Flute
By Trisha Ray, Parth Bhatt and Qing Yu
Musical instruments such as the piano allow musicians to play in different scales on the same instrument. In contrast, flutes are designed for one scale only. This means a flute player must own an additional flute for every additional scale they want to play in. Learn how these three Cornell students built an PIC32 MCU-based electronic flute that reduces the need for owning multiple flutes by incorporating two buttons that allow a flute player to change the scale and octave.


… AND MORE FROM OUR EXPERT COLUMNISTS

Embedded System Security: Live from Las Vegas
By Colin O’Flynn
This month, Colin summarizes some interesting presentations from the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, NV—along with an extra bonus event. This will help you keep up-to-date with some of the latest embedded attacks, including execute only memory attacks, fault injection on embedded devices, 4G cellular modems and FPGA bitstream hacking.

Semiconductor Fundamentals (Part 3)
By George Novacek
In Part 2, George discussed devices built with one P-N junction, appropriately named diodes. In this article, he considers devices with more junctions. He starts with two and looks at the ubiquitous, three-terminal bipolar junction transistor, or BJT for short. George looks at the math, science and circuitry of these devices.

 

 

Low Power, Secure Boot MCUs are Designed for IoT Implementations

Nuvoton Technology has launched a new low power, robust security M261/M262/M263 series MCU designed for IoT applications. It is based on an Arm Cortex-M23 secure core for Armv8-M architecture, running up to 64 MHz with 512 KB flash in dual bank mode supporting Over-The-Air (OTA) Firmware update and 96 KB SRAM.

The MCUs’ power consumption in the normal run is down to 45 μA/MHz in DC-DC mode. It implements a secure boot function and hardware crypto acceleration to achieve high security of IoT devices. For IoT connectivity and sensors, the MCU integrates SDHC 2.0, USB 2.0 FS OTG, CAN Bus 2.0B and a 3.76 MSPS ADC for sensing data from sensor devices. Two types of evaluation boards, NuMaker-IoT-M263 (shown) and NuMaker-M263KI, are available for the MCUs.
The M261/M262/M263 series is downward compatible with Nuvoton Arm Cortex-M0 microcontrollers. The low supply voltage ranges from 1.8 V to 3.6 V and operating temperature ranges from -40℃ to 105℃. The MCU series provides multiple power modes for different operating scenarios, integrating RTC with independent VBAT to support low power mode. The power consumption in normal run mode is 97 μA/MHz (LDO mode) and 45 μA/MHz (DC-DC mode). Standby power-down current is down to 2.8 μA and Deep power-down current is less than 2 μA. The low power, low supply voltage, and fast wake-up (9 μs from Fast-wakeup Power-down mode) features make M261/M262/M263 series suitable for battery-powered IoT applications.

The robust security functions include secure boot function to ensure that a device boots using only trusted software through a series of digital signature authentication processes. The M261/M262/M263 series integrates complete hardware crypto engines such as AES 256/192/128, DES/3-DES, SHA, ECC, and True Random Number Generator (TRNG). Furthermore, it provides 4-region programable eXecute-Only-Memory (XOM) to secure critical program codes and up to six tamper detection pins against outer physical attack, which significantly improves the product security.

The M261/M262/M263 series is equipped with plenty of peripherals such as Timers, Watchdog Timers, RTC, PDMA, External Bus Interface (EBI), LPUART, Universal Serial Control Interface (USCI), Qual SPI (QSPI), SPI/I²S, I2C, Smart Card Interface (ISO-7816-3), GPIOs, and up to 24 channels of PWM. Those peripherals make it highly suitable for connecting comprehensive external modules. It integrates one set of Secure Digital Host Controllers (SDHC) compliant with SD Memory Card Specification Version 2.0, achieving a transfer rate of 200 Mbps at 3.3V and 50 MHz operations.

The SD card for fast data storage is therefore available. For high performance analog front-end circuit blocks, it integrates up to a 16-channel 12-bit 3.76 MSPS SAR ADC, two 12-bit 1 MSPS voltage type DAC, two rail-to-rail analog comparator (ACMP), temperature sensor, low voltage reset (LVR), and brown-out detector (BOD) to enhance product performance and reduce both external components and form factor.

NuMicro M261/ M262 / M263 series consists of three series:

  • NuMicro M261 series – suitable for classic IoT node devices and wireless communication modules applications
  • NuMicro M262 USB 2.0 FS OTG series – integrating 1 set of USB 2.0 FS OTG interface (crystal-less design), suitable for connecting USB host/device for data transfer
  • NuMicro M263 USB/CAN series – integrating 1 set of CAN Bus 2.0B and 1 set of USB 2.0 FS OTG interface (crystal-less design), suitable for industrial and automotive applications requiring CAN Bus for data communication.

The NuMicro M261/M262/M263 series provides 9 product part numbers. The package types include QFN33 (5mm x 5mm), LQFP64 (7mm x 7mm), and LQFP128 (14mm x 14mm). Pin compatibility in the same package makes optimizing product features and performance easy.

Two types of evaluation boards, NuMaker-IoT-M263 and NuMaker-M263KI, are available for selecting the suitable development environment to speed-up product design based on the NuMicro M261/M262/M263 series. NuMaker-IoT-M263 board is a new platform focusing on IoT products design, it integrates 9-axis sensor, environmental sensor, and popular wireless communication modules including Bluetooth module, Wi-Fi module, and LoRa module. A 2G/3G/4G-LTE/NB-IoT module with GPS function is available for purchase. With the IoT software package provided by Nuvoton, connecting the cloud of Arm Pelion, Amazon AWS, and Ali-Cloud is hazard-free. And the development of IoT products can be completed quickly.

The Nu-Link debugger is available for evaluation and product development. Third-Party IDEs such as Keil MDK, IAR EWARM, and NuEclipse IDE with GNU GCC compilers are also supported.

Nuvoton Technology | www.nuvoton.com

Dual-Core Arm Cortex-M-Based Chip Breaks MCU GHz Barrier

NXP Semiconductors has announced the i.MX RT1170 family of crossover MCUs that combines high performance, reliability and high levels of integration for use in industrial, IoT and automotive applications. NXP claims the i.MX RT1170 family is a technology breakthrough with MCUs that run up to 1 GHz while maintaining low-power efficiency. To achieve an optimal balance of power, performance, and cost-effective integration, the solution uses advanced 28 nm FD-SOI technology, making NXP the first company to build MCUs in this advanced technology node.

The i.MX RT1170 MCU features include: a dual-core architecture with the Arm Cortex-M7 core running up to 1 GHz and Cortex-M4 running up to 400 MHz, 2D vector graphics core, NXP’s pixel processing pipeline (PxP) 2D graphics accelerator, and EdgeLock 400A, the Company’s advanced embedded security technology. The MCU s architected to deliver a record-setting 12ns interrupt response time, 6468 CoreMark score and 2974 DMIPS while executing from on-chip memory. The new crossover MCU integrates up to 2 MB of on-chip SRAM, including 512 KB that can be configured as TCM with Error Code Correction (ECC) for Cortex-M7 use, and 256 KB of TCM with ECC for Cortex-M4 use.

The i.MX RT1170 dual-core system pairs a high-performance core and a power-efficient core with independent power domains of operation, enabling developers to run applications in parallel or reduce power consumption by turning off individual cores as necessary. For example, the energy-efficient Cortex-M4 core can be dedicated to time-critical control applications, such as sensor hub and motor control, while the main core runs more complex applications. Additionally, its dual-core system can run ML applications in parallel, such as face recognition with natural language processing to create human-like user interactivity.

For edge compute applications, the GHz Cortex-M7 core significantly enhances performance for ML, edge inference for voice, vision and gesture recognition, natural language understanding, data analytics, and digital signal processing (DSP) functions. The combination of GHz performance and high density of on-chip memory speeds up face recognition inference time by up to 5x compared to the today’s fastest MCUs in the market, in addition to having processing bandwidth to improve accuracy and immunity against spoofing. The GHz core is also exceptionally efficient in executing computationally demanding voice recognition, including audio pre-processing (echo cancellation, noise suppression, beamforming, and barge-in) for improved cognition.

The i.MX RT1170 family incorporates NXP’s EdgeLock 400A embedded security sub-system, that includes High Assurance Boot (HAB) – NXP’s version of secure boot, secure key storage, SRAM-based PUF (physically unclonable function), high performance crypto accelerators for AES-128/256, Elliptical Curve Cryptography, RSA-4096 encryption algorithms, hashing acceleration for SHA-256/512, in addition to tamper detection. The i.MX RT1170 MCU also features in-line encryption engine (IEE) and on-the-fly decryption engines (OTFAD) to address the challenge of protecting the confidentiality of data stored in internal and external memories with no latency impact. The IEE is designed to encrypt and decrypt on-chip SRAM and external SRAM/PSRAM/DRAM, while OTFAD operates on external serial and parallel flash memories.

As the industry’s first MCU to integrate a 2D vector graphics core with support for Open VG 1.1 API, the i.MX RT1170 family enables the development of attractive user interfaces at low power by off-loading intensive graphics rendering to the GPU. The GHz core also brings 720p displays at 60fps refresh and 1080p HD screens at 30fps to create immersive visual experiences. The complementary combination of a GPU and high-performance core can be especially useful for smart home, industrial and automotive cockpit applications.

NXP’s i.MX RT Crossover MCUs are supported by NXP’s MCUXpresso Software and Tools – a common toolkit designed for MCUs to significantly reduce development effort, time and cost by providing high-quality tools that work together seamlessly and in conjunction with the larger Arm Cortex-M ecosystem. Customers can develop machine learning applications for i.MX RT crossover MCUs using NXP’s eIQ machine learning software development environment. 

NXP Semiconductors | www.nxp.com

 

MCU Development Solution Targets Industrial Network Designs

Renesas Electronics has announced its RX72M Industrial Network Solution, designed to accelerate the development of industrial slave equipment using the RX72M Group of 32-bit industrial Ethernet MCUs. The new RX72M solution includes an evaluation board, an operating system, middleware, and a sample software that supports approximately 70 percent of the communications protocols used in industrial network applications.
This enables users to immediately launch slave equipment development, such as motor control blocks for compact industrial robots, PLC (programmable logic controller) devices, and remote I/O systems. The sample software includes: EtherCAT, PROFINET RT, Ethernet/IP, Modbus TCP, and OPC UA, as industrial Ethernet software, and PROFIBUS DP, Modbus, RTU/ASCII, CAN open and DeviceNet, as Field Bus communication software.

Renesas has confirmed conformance testing for the three major protocols—EtherCAT, PROFINET RT, and Ethernet/IP—which represents the global industrial Ethernet market. This allows developers to reduce the overall development time—including development, evaluation, and verification steps—by as much as six months, accelerating their time to market, according to Renesas.

Industrial network protocols differ extensively between countries and regions, and industrial network equipment deploying globally must support a wide range of protocols. The RX72M solution includes major protocols used in each region, allowing users to evaluate industrial network connectivity equipment immediately. Customers can focus on their own application development efforts, while strengthening their competitive edge for global product deployments.

With the new RX72M solution, Renesas provides sample software and will collaborate with partners providing sales and support mass production protocols to support customers’ transition from development to mass production.

The Renesas RX72M Industrial Network Solution provides the following items:

  • Evaluation board, including RX72M MCU
  • RX72M drivers
  • OS (µITRON) and TCP IP middleware sample programs
  • Industrial network protocol sample programs
  • CS+ and e2 studio integrated development environment (IDE)
  • Application notes

Sale and support for OS, middleware, and industrial networks from partner companies

The RX72M Industrial Network Solution will be available for customers in Japan by December 2019 with OS, middleware, industrial networks support from Renesas’ partner companies. Global access will be available by October 2020.

Renesas Electronics | www.renesas.com

Secure 240 MHz MCU Provides Wi-Fi and 43 GPIOs

Espressif Systems has announced the ESP32-S2, a truly secure, highly integrated, low-power, Wi-Fi microcontroller SoC supporting Wi-Fi HT40 and having 43 GPIOs. Based on an Xtensa single-core 32-bit LX7 processor, it can be clocked at up to 240 MHz. With state-of-the-art power management and RF performance, IO capabilities and security features, ESP32-S2 is well suited for a wide variety of IoT or connectivity-based applications, including smart home and wearables.

With an integrated 240 MHz Xtensa core, ESP32-S2 is sufficient for building the most demanding connected devices without requiring external MCUs. Users can leverage Espressif’s mature and production-ready software development framework (ESP-IDF).

ESP32-S2 supports fine-resolution power-control through a selection of clock frequency, duty cycle, Wi-Fi operating modes and individual power control of its internal components. When Wi-Fi is enabled, the chip automatically powers on or off the RF transceiver only when needed, thereby reducing the overall power consumption of the system. ULP co-processor with less than 5 uA idle mode and 24 uA at 1% duty-cycle current consumption. Improved Wi-Fi-connected and MCU-idle-mode power consumption.

Features:

  • CPU and Memory
    • Xtensa single-core 32-bit LX7 microcontroller
    • 7-stage pipeline
    • Clock frequency of up to 240 MHz
    • Ultra-low-power co-processor
    • 320 kB SRAM, 128 kB ROM, 16 KB RTC memory
    • External SPIRAM (128 MB total) support
    • Up to 1 GB of external flash support
    • Separate instruction and data cache
  • Connectivity
    • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
    • 1×1 transmit and receive
    • HT40 support with data rate up to 150 Mbps
    • Support for TCP/IP networking, ESP-MESH networking, TLS 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2 and other networking protocols over Wi-Fi
    • Support Time-of-Flight (TOF) measurements with normal Wi-Fi packets
  • IO Peripherals
    • 43 programmable GPIOs
    • 14 capacitive touch sensing IOs
    • Standard peripherals including SPI, I2C, I2S, UART, ADC/DAC and PWM
    • LCD (8-bit parallel RGB/8080/6800) interface and also support for 16/24-bit parallel
    • Camera interface supports 8 or 16-bit DVP image sensor, with clock frequency of up to 40 MHz
    • Full speed USB OTG support
  • Security
    • RSA-3072-based trusted application boot
    • AES256-XTS-based flash encryption to protect sensitive data at rest
    • 4096-bit eFUSE memory with 2048 bits available for application
    • Digital signature peripheral for secure storage of private keys and generation of RSA signatures

Engineering Samples of ESP32-S2 beta will be available in June 2020.

Espressif Systems | www.espressif.com

 

Reusable Solderless Robotics Kit Features SimpleLink MCU

Texas Instruments (TI) has introduced the newest addition to the TI Robotics System Learning Kit (TI-RSLK) family, the TI-RSLK MAX, a low-cost robotics kit and curriculum that is simple to build, code and test. Designed for the university classroom, the solderless assembly allows students to have their own fully functioning embedded system built in under 15 minutes. Classrooms that may not have access to soldering equipment benefit from the solderless, hands-on kit and curriculum that can be reused year after year.

Designed for the university classroom, the TI-RSLK MAX is a low-cost robotics kit and curriculum that is simple to build, code and test.

TI launched the TI-RSLK series last year to help universities across the globe keep students engaged from their first day of class until graduation with hands-on, customizable options for learning embedded systems design. The TI-RSLK MAX completes all tasks and robotic challenges covered in the previous TI-RSLK Maze Edition kit, such as solving a maze, line following and avoiding obstacles. It also provides a user-friendly assembly of the various sub-systems, speeding up the building and testing of the robot.

The new kit includes TI’s SimpleLink MSP432P401R microcontroller (MCU) LaunchPad Development Kit, easy-to-connect sensors, and a versatile chassis board that turns the robot into a mobile learning platform. Through accompanying core and supplemental curriculum, students learn how to integrate their hardware and software knowledge to build and test a system. For advanced learning, wireless communication and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities can be added to the TI-RSLK MAX to remotely control the robot or even establish robot-to robot communication.

The TI-RSLK MAX is available for purchase for US$109 from the TI Store and includes the SimpleLink MSP432P401R MCU LaunchPad Development Kit, as well as all additional components required for assembly. To expand kit functionality and learning paths, optional accessories are available for purchase. Further information about the TI-RSLK can found at www.ti.com/rslk

Texas Instruments | www.ti.com

 

RX65N MCU-Based Cloud Kit Eases Connecting IoT Devices to AWS

Renesas Electronics has announced the Renesas RX65N Cloud Kit featuring onboard Wi-Fi, environmental, light and inertial sensors and support for Amazon FreeRTOS connected to Amazon Web Services (AWS). The kit gives embedded designers a fast start and secure connection to AWS. Using Renesas’ e2 studio Integrated Development Environment (IDE), IoT applications are easily created by configuring Amazon FreeRTOS, all the necessary drivers, and the network stack and component libraries.

Based on the Renesas RX65N MCU, the RX65N Cloud Kit provides an evaluation and prototyping environment, enabling embedded designers to create secure end-to-end IoT cloud solutions for sensor-based endpoint equipment. Employing Renesas’ browser-based software, users can visualize their sensor data using a smart device cloud dashboard to monitor a wide range of applications including networked smart meters, building, office and industrial automation systems, as well as home appliances.

Renesas’ 32-bit RX65N MCUs offer dual bank flash for secure and easy program updating via the network, as well as remote over-the-air (OTA) firmware updates. Having dual bank flash integrated on the RX65N MCUs enables both BGO (Back Ground Operation) and SWAP functions, making it easier for system and network control manufacturers to securely and reliably execute in-the-field firmware updates. The MCUs also include Trusted Secure IP (TSIP) as part of their built-in hardware security engine. The TSIP driver uses strong encryption key management with hardware accelerators—AES, 3DES, SHA, RSA and TRNG—as well as a protected boot code flash area to securely boot customers’ IoT devices.

Key Features of RX65N Cloud Kit:

  • RX65N R5F565NEDDFP 32-bit, 120 MHz MCU Target Board with 2 MB code flash memory and 640 KB SRAM
  • Pmod Module with Silex SX-ULPGN Wi-Fi communications
  • Cloud Option Board with two USB ports for serial communications and debugging, and three sensors for sampling and sending measurement data to the cloud:
    • Renesas ISL29035 digital light sensor for ambient/infrared light measurement
    • Bosch BMI160 MEMS sensor for 3-axis acceleration and gyroscopic measurement
    • Bosch BME680 MEMS sensor for gas, temperature, humidity, and pressure measurements
  • Renesas e2 studio IDE allows designers to develop IoT applications with powerful features:
    • Create the latest Amazon FreeRTOS project from GitHub directory and immediately build it
    • Set up Amazon FreeRTOS network stack (TCP/IP, Wi-Fi, MQTT) and component libraries, like Device Shadow, without requiring detailed knowledge
    • Embed additional functions (based on Amazon FreeRTOS) such as USB and file-system on the IoT endpoint device

The RX65N Cloud Kit is available now from Renesas Electronics’ worldwide distributors with a recommended resale price of $50.00 USD.

Renesas Electronics | www.renesas.com

Assortment of Tech Solutions Enable the Smart Home

IoT-Leveraged Living Spaces

From preventive maintenance for appliances to voice-controlled lighting, the subsystems that comprise a modern Smart Home continue to evolve. Providing the building blocks for these implementations, IC vendors are keeping pace with specialized MCUs, sensors platforms and embedded software to meet diverse requirements.

By Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

The evolution of Smart Homes is about more than pure convenience. Smart Home technologies are leveraging IoT concepts to improve energy efficiency and security, thanks to intelligent, connected devices. The topic encompasses things like power-saving motor control systems, predictive maintenance, cloud-based voice assistance, remote monitoring and more.

Clearly the market is an attractive one. According to the latest Smart Home Device Database from market research firm IHS Markit, the global Smart Home market is forecast to grow by nearly a factor of five to reach more than $192 billion in 2023, up from $41 billion in 2018 (Figure 1). The report says that the fastest-growing device types in the market include lighting, smart speakers and connected major home appliances.

Figure 1
According to research from IHS Markit, the global Smart Home market is forecast to grow by nearly a factor of five to reach more than $192 billion in 2023, up from $41 billion in 2018.

While it’s impossible to cover all the bases of Smart Home technology in a single article, here we’ll examine the microcontrollers (MCUs), analog ICs and special function chips that MCU vendors are developing to address Smart Home system designs.

Aware Appliances

An important piece of Smart Home technology is the idea of outfitting major home appliances with sophisticated maintenance features. With that in mind, in January Renesas Electronics launched its Failure Detection e-AI Solution for motor-equipped home appliances, featuring the Renesas RX66T 32-bit MCU. This solution with embedded AI (e-AI) enables failure detection of home appliances—such as refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines—due to motor abnormality (Figure 2).

Figure 2
The Failure Detection e-AI Solution with embedded AI (e-AI) enables failure detection of home appliances—such as refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines—due to motor abnormality.

Property data showing the motor’s current or rotation rate status can be used directly for abnormality detection, making it possible to implement both motor control and e-AI–based abnormality detection with a single MCU. Using the RX66T eliminates the need for additional sensors, thereby reducing a customer’s bill of materials (BOM) cost.

When a home appliance malfunctions, the motor operation typically appears abnormal when running and being monitored for fault detection in real-time. By implementing e-AI-based motor control-based detection, the failure detection results can be applied not only to trigger alarms when a fault occurs, but also for preventive maintenance. For example, e-AI can estimate when repairs and maintenance should be performed, and it can identify the fault locations. This capability provides home appliance manufacturers the means to boost maintenance operations efficiency and improve product safety by adding functionality that predicts faults before they occur in their products.

The solution uses the Renesas Motor Control Evaluation System and an RX66T CPU card. This hardware is combined with a set of sample program files that run on the RX66T MCU as well as a GUI tool that enables collecting and analyzing property data indicating motor states. In order to detect faults, it is necessary to learn the characteristics of the normal state. Using the GUI tool, system engineers can immediately begin developing AI learning and optimized fault detection functionality. Once the AI models are developed, the e-AI development environment (composed of an e-AI Translator, e-AI Checker and e-AI Importer) can be easily used to import the learned AI models into the RX66T. …

Read the full article in the October 351 issue of Circuit Cellar
(Full article word count: 3115 words; Figure count: 9 Figures).

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Note: We’ve made the October 2017 issue of Circuit Cellar available as a free sample issue. In it, you’ll find a rich variety of the kinds of articles and information that exemplify a typical issue of the current magazine.

Debug Tool Adds Hypervisor Level Tracing Capability

Lauterbach has announced that Hypervisor trace capability is now available for Arm Cortex-A and NXP QorIQ. Hypervisor tracing, which also means multicore tracing, requires high bandwidths from the off-chip tracing interface. The TRACE32 debug tool can now be used to trace all components in a Hypervisor based embedded system, as well as debug them.

A Hypervisor is a low-level piece of code, or operating system that allows multiple ‘guest’ operating systems to run on a single piece of physical hardware. Each guest operating system is partitioned and is unaware of the existence of the Hypervisor or the other guest operating systems which share the system with it. Hypervisors are increasingly used in embedded systems, for example in the cockpit of a car: applications that are under the control of an AUTOSAR real-time operating system run in parallel to the infotainment managed by a rich OS such as Linux.

Program flow and data trace are very important items in the embedded engineer’s toolbox. They allow a developer to see the path that has been taken through the code and to step backwards from an error or exception to see the root cause. Tracing from multiple cores allows a developer to easily see the interaction between software executing on disparate processors and readily identify bottlenecks, logic bombs or other errors that may only show up at runtime. Trace filters at task or virtual machine level allow developers to reduce the amount of trace generation to show only areas of interest in the system.

Program flow trace can be timestamped, allowing a picture of how long or how frequently something is executed to be built up. From this data it is also possible to determine code coverage metrics to satisfy the demands of safety certification for embedded systems.

Lauterbach | www.lauterbach.com

 

The Laser Harp

A Twist on Modern Instruments

Normally, you’d think that taking the strings out of a harp would be a downgrade. But in this article, Cornell student Alex Hatzis presents a system that does just that—replacing the harp strings with red lasers. Phototransistors are used to detect when the beams are intercepted by a person’s hand playing the harp, and some convincing real-time sound synthesis helps to create a new, high tech instrument.

By Alex Hatzis

My lab partner, Glenna Zhang, and I had the opportunity to work together on a few final projects during our time studying electrical and computer engineering at Cornell University. Even though those projects varied wildly in both design and complexity, we always tried to tie-in one thematic constant, something for which we both share a passion: music. The application of technology has already given way to a number of new ways to produce music. The unique sound of the electric guitar would not be possible without its amplifier, and computer synthesizers can replicate most instruments with remarkable accuracy, or can be used to produce entirely new sounds. Despite these advancements, we both feel that there is plenty of untapped potential for technology to change how we produce music. Our final project for the course “ECE 4760: Designing with Microcontrollers,” is now dubbed the “Laser Harp,” and it is one such attempt to tap into that potential [1].

Anyone equally interested in the world of technology and music will probably realize that our project is not the first device to be called a “laser harp.” While researching the idea, we found that laser harps already take on several different forms. The most common is a single unit placed on the ground that beams several coplanar, outward-fanning lasers toward the sky.

Our idea took closer inspiration from a display at a local museum, the Ithaca Sciencenter, which featured a traditional harp frame without any strings [2]. However, if you ran your hand through the middle, sounds would play as if the strings were still present. Our project was our own take on this example. At the highest level, our harp can be broken into a few different subcomponents: the laser emitter and receiver subsystem, the string control/sound synthesis subsystem and the physical harp frame.

Figure 1
Block diagram of harp subsystems

Our laser harp is extremely intuitive to use. A block diagram of the harp subsystems is shown in Figure 1. When powered on, the eight laser pointers built into the top of the frame illuminate. They emit visible red light, but the beams themselves are not visible without the use of a fog machine or something similar. The harp is small enough to rest comfortably

Figure 2
Finalized harp frame

in one’s lap (Figure 2). This is how we designed it to be played—instead of resting on the floor like a typical full-size harp. Each of the lasers is carefully aligned to point at its own dedicated phototransistor circuit, which allows us to tell whether or not the corresponding laser pointer is currently shining on it. These lasers represent the strings of the harp.

In the current implementation, each of the eight “strings” corresponds to one of the notes in a C major scale. By running your hand through the harp, the laser beams are intercepted, and the phototransistor circuits register this. The control system interprets which strings are being plucked, and produces the correct waveform to be played through a speaker connected externally to the harp using a standard 3.5 mm aux cable. The sounds produced have been designed to closely replicate plucked strings, and the result is quite pleasing to hear. …

Read the full article in the October 351 issue of Circuit Cellar
(Full article word count: 4503 words; Figure count: 13 Figures).

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October Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The October issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is out next week! Smart Home technologies, Smart Farming, antenna arrays, rugged SBCs and COMs—this 84-page publication gathers up a great selection of embedded electronics articles for your reading pleasure.

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Here’s a sneak preview of October 2019 Circuit Cellar:

TECHNOLOGIES FOR A CONNECTED WORLD

Smart Home Technologies
By Jeff Child
The evolution of Smart Homes is about more than pure convenience. Smart Home technologies are leveraging IoT concepts to improve energy efficiency and security, thanks to intelligent, connected devices. The topic encompasses things like power-saving motor control systems, predictive maintenance, cloud-based voice assistance, remote monitoring and more. In this article, Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child examines the MCU and analog ICs that are serving the needs Smart Home system developers.

MQ Telemetry Transport
By Jeff Bachiochi
Better known by the acronym MQTT, this lightweight messaging protocol is designed to minimize network bandwidth and device resource requirements. In this article, Jeff sets out to use MQTT via a cloud setup that he can do locally. For this, he turns to Eclipse Mosquitto, an open source message broker that implements the MQTT protocol. Jeff steps through the nitty gritty details of his implementation.

LoRa (Part 1)
By Bob Japenga
In this new article series, Bob discusses LoRa—the Long Range spread spectrum modulation technique that promises to solve a number of the key issues in fulfilling the wireless IoT requirements. In Part 1, Bob starts with an introduction to LoRa, looking at what it is, what are its limitations and how those limitations affect how we use this technology.

Smart Farming Device Gives Plants a Voice
By Andrei Florian
Smart Farming has many aspects, and among these the agriculture side. In this project article, Andrei discusses SmartAgro, a device that combines field autonomy with ease of use, allowing farmers to give their plants a “voice.” It lets you visualize the temperature, soil humidity, UV radiation and more wherever you are, in real time and take action when it is most needed—whether that means turning on an irrigation system or preparing for cultivation.

 
RESOURCES FOR ENGINEERS

Product Focus: Rugged SBCs
By Jeff Child
Single board computers are used in such a broad sweep of applications—some that must operate in harsh environmental conditions. Rugged SBCs offer a variety of attributes to serve such needs, including extended temperature range, high shock and vibration resilience and even high humidity protection. This Product Focus section updates readers on this technology trend and provides a product album of representative rugged SBCs.

An Intro to Antenna Arrays
By Robert Lacoste
As an expert in RF technology, Robert has deep knowledge about antennas. And in this era of IoT, his expertise more relevant than ever. That’s because every wireless device has some kind of antenna and these antennas are often the root cause of engineering headaches. With that in mind, in this article Robert discusses the math, technology and design issues that are basic to antenna arrays.

Using Digital Potentiometers
By Stuart Ball
A digital potentiometer probably can’t be considered the most glamorous of electronic components. But it is easy to use and versatile. In this article, Stuart digs into the uses, advantages and disadvantages of the digital potentiometer, including how they contrast to mechanical potentiometers.

Semiconductor Fundamentals (Part 2)
By George Novacek
In Part 1 George examined the basic structures that make semiconductors work. But a lot more needs to be said about diodes, which are a key element of semiconductors. In Part 2, George dives deeper, this time looking at the current flow, depletion layer and electron physics that are involved in diode operations. He covers various types of diodes and the details of their operations.

A Hardware Random Number Generator
By Devlin Gualtieri
Men first walked on the Moon fifty years ago. On the same week as that historic event, Dev divided his time between watching the event on television and building a unique desktop novelty circuit, a random digit generator. This circuit used a Nixie tube for display and a handful of TTL integrated circuits to implement a linear feedback shift register. In this article, Dev updates his original design using the CMOS digital circuits available today and a 7-segment LED display. He also presents an improved version that uses a Microchip PIC MCU.


MICRCONTROLLERS DO IT ALL

Application-Specific MCUs
By Jeff Child
In contrast to microprocessors, microcontrollers tend to be used for specific applications. But even among MCUs, there’s distinct difference between general purpose MCUs and MCUs that are designed for very specific application segments, or even sub-segments. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child examines this class of MCUs that target everything from factory automation to appliance control.

The Laser Harp
By Alex Hatzis
Normally, you’d think that taking the strings out of a harp would be a downgrade. But in this article, Cornell student Alex Hatzis presents a system that does just that—replacing the harp strings with red lasers. Phototransistors are used to detect when the beams are intercepted by a person’s hand playing the harp, and some convincing real-time sound synthesis helps to create a new, high tech instrument.

 

 

 

MCU-based Solution Enables Offline Facial Recognition

NXP Semiconductors has unveiled what it claims is world’s first MCU-based solution for adding offline face and expression recognition capabilities to smart home, commercial and industrial devices. Built on NXP’s latest crossover MCU, the i.MX RT106F, running FreeRTOS, the new MCU-based face recognition solution enables original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to quickly, easily and inexpensively incorporate face, expression and emotion recognition into a diverse range of IoT products.

The i.MX RT106F leverages NXP’s OASIS face processing engine and uses a neural network to perform face detection, recognition and anti-spoofing, without the need for cloud connectivity. OEMs can take advantage of NXP’s hardware and software-based platform to offer advanced human machine interface (HMI) capabilities that can anticipate and personalize the end user’s experience with smart edge devices such as smart appliances, thermostats, lighting, alarms and power tools.

The MCU-based face recognition solution bundles everything required to implement accurate, low latency face and expression recognition using an ultra-small form factor that fits into existing applications. The self-contained platform includes production ready pre-certified hardware and software tools, and NXP’s fully integrated OASIS face processing engine for face and expression recognition with camera and display drivers. In addition to creating the easiest path to adding these capabilities to MCU-based devices, the all-inclusive offering clears away any need for specialized expertise, supply chains or logistics.

NXP is now engaging with OEMs to provide early access to the evaluation and development kit for this solution, and broad market availability is expected to begin in Q1 2020. More information can be found at www.nxp.com/mcu-face-recognition

NXP Semiconductors www.nxp.com

Arm-Based MCU Embeds Dual ADCs and Camera Interface

Nuvoton Technology has announced a new member of its NuMicro M480 series, the M483KGCAE2A with dual ADCs and a camera interface. The M483KGCAE2A MCU is based on an Arm Cortex-M4F core with DSP instructions and FPU. The device runs up to 192 MHz and provides two independent 12-bit, 5 MSPS ADCs for simultaneous data sampling in motor control applications, a camera interface with 1-bit luminance calculation for fast image recognition and three sets of CAN Bus 2.0B interfaces for robust industrial communication. Along with the MCU, Nuvoton has released its NuMaker-M483KG development board (shown) to support development based on the M483KGCAE2A.
The two independent high-speed ADCs offer up to 24 channels with the quadrature encoder interface (QEI) and up to 16-channels of 192 MHz PWM. The M483KGCAE2A is able to obtain position feedback from mechanical devices, which realize the precise control of 3-phase servo moto. Multiple channels of ADC are also applied on multiple data sensing in power system applications including UPS and PDU. The MCU can meet IEC-60730 requirements for Class B security.

The camera interface supports CCIR656 and CCIR601 video transmission and provides hardware 1-bit luminance calculation to reduce the usage of SRAM. With the digital pattern recognition algorithm, M483KGCAE2A can recognize patterns shown in images. This makes it well suited for smart water meter, smart electricity meter or license plate number identification applications. M483KGCAE2A is equipped with three sets of CAN Bus 2.0B interfaces, the robust vehicle bus standard, connecting up to three of same types or different types of CAN devices. M483KGCAE2A works as a CAN bridge and allows a flexible network topology design.

M483KGCAE2A runs up to 192 MHz, providing 256 KB Flash memory and 128 KB SRAM. The embedded flash memory supports an eXecute-Only Memory (XOM) feature for securing the sensitive data or algorithms. The SRAM supports full or partial content retention in standby mode for reducing the power usage. When running at 192 MHz, the dynamic power consumption can be down to 130 μA/MHz; whereas in power-down mode, the power consumption of RTC with independent VBAT can be less than 500 nA.

In terms of system integrity, M483KGCAE2A support Secure Boot feature to protect the content in flash memory from malicious attack. With the Secure Boot functionality, M483KGCAE2A will verify the content of flash memory during every boot-up process. M483KGCAE2A also supports AES-256 and true random number generator for data encryption/decryption. Furthermore, M483KGCAE2A provides up to 6 tamper detection pins for system protection, 96-bit chip unique identification (UID), and 128-bit unique customer identification (UCID).

M483KGCAE2A supports 1.8 V to 3.6V  operating voltage, -40°C to 105°C operating temperature, 5 V-tolerant I/O pins and up to 3 kV ESD. Communication interfaces comprise USB full-speed OTG, 8 sets of 17 Mbps low-power UART, 1 sets of 3.4 MHz Smart Cards, 3 sets of 3.4 Mbps I²C, 2 set of 48 MB/s Quad-SPI, 3 sets of composite SPI/I²S running up to 96 Mbps or 192 kHz/16-bit I²S, 1 set of 192 kHz/32-bit I²S, and 1 set of SDIO. Integrated analog circuits include 12-bit 1 MSPS DAC and two comparators.

NuMaker-M483KG supports Arduino module and provides FreeRTOS and Arm Mbed OS with reference program including interface drivers, libraries, and sample programs. Nuvoton also provides emWin, the GUI software library for an embedded system, to easily and quickly develop and design fluent yet high quality human machine interface.

Nuvoton provides versatile hardware and software development tools, such as Nu-Link/Nu-Link-Pro programmer, which supports advanced debug function, PinConfig software for multi-function pin configuration, PinView software for monitoring pin status in real time, BSP driver and sample codes. IDE supports Keil MDK, IAR EWARM and NuEclipse (GCC), which can debug, trace and analyze your program on the development board. The new NuMicro M480 series provides several packages including QEN33, LQFP48, LQFP64 and LQFP128

Nuvoton Technology | www.nuvoton.com