The ARM Cortex M architecture has many features which are underused, probably simply because engineers are not aware of it. SWO (Single Wire Output) is a single trace pin of the ARM Cortex-M CoreSight debug block. trace pin uses the ITM (Instruction Trace Macrocell) on ARM Cortex. It provides a serial output channel, at a high speed higher than the usual UART, because it is clocked at half or a quarter of the core clock frequency, depending on the core and implementation.
As such, it is an ideal high speed output channel to send text or data to the host. This is how it is usually used, but what is unknown to many: it can be used in a bidirectional way with the help of the debugger.
The topic of this article: how to redirect standard I/O like printf() or scanf() using the SWO ITM console: means both sending *and* receiving data over the SWO debug channel: that way I can use it as a kind of UART with a single pin only.
I’m now in the middle of the university fall semester exam season with writing exams and grading student work, and the same time the new semester courses need to be prepared. With the global silicon and board shortage, this will be again a challenge to equip all the labs with the needed infrastructure. The good thing is that there is no shortage on software and tools side of the infrastructure: NXP released last week their new flagship Eclipse based IDE: the MCUXpresso IDE 11.5.0. Time to check it out for the upcoming lectures and classes….
Spoiler Alert: It has a new view for FreeRTOS lovers, plus new features for energy/power measurements!
I’m using debug probes on a daily base. They have to be functional, and I value functionality over aesthetics. For cost reasons many debug probe vendors either only provide a bare PCB without enclosure, or the enclosure is made of simple plastic enclosure.
That’s OK. But when I received my NXP MCU-Link Pro debug probe, I wanted to add an enclosure for it: Not only to add protection,but to have it look cool too :-).
After the release of the NXP MCU-Link debug probe, there have been hints in the Eclipse based MCUXpresso IDE that there must be another one coming. And indeed: another and more powerful debug probe is now available: the MCU-Link Pro. It is not only a debug probe but a power/energy measurement tool too, including an extra LPC804 mikrocontroller which can be used for all kind of things, like automation or scripting.
One of the most frustrating part developing embedded applications is if the debug connection fails somehow: with all the different factors like operating system, virtual machines, USB ports and hubs, debug probe and firmware a ‘connection failed’ is my nightmare. And this is probably the most frustrating parts for my students (and myself!)
The NXP MCU-Link is a powerful $10 debug probe for ARM Cortex-M devices and works with the NXP LinkServer for debugging. The LinkServer does not an implement a gdb server, so it limits its usage e.g. for scripting or command line debugging. But as MCU-Link is also a CMSIS-DAP compatible debug probe, I can use it with OpenOCD which is open source and implements a GDB server. This article shows how I can use it with the MCU-Link.