Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core with TrustZone® – DSP Acceleration 1

If you ask your colleagues about ARM Cortex® M33 core, they’ll most likely remember that the ARMv8-M architecture adds the (optional!) TrustZone® security extension. But one, overlooked but significant new feature in ARMv8-M is the new coprocessor interface.

ARMv8-M adds many new features to the core architecture, including Co-processor interface

With the LPC55S69 microcontroller, NXP decided to add an extremely powerful DSP Accelerator onto this coprocessor interface, named PowerQuad. In this week’s video series I’m investigating the PowerQuad, and the functions that it provides.

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Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core with TrustZone® – In-System Programming Tutorial

This week I’m back to the normal ‘Tutorial’ format with a look at the In-System Programming feature in the boot ROM of the LPC55S69. I’ll use the NXP-provided command-line program blhost and interface with the ROM to erase the flash and download simple LED blinky programs.

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Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core with TrustZone® – Trusted Execution Environment tutorial

When we are learning about TrustZone® it does not take long to recognise that it is the security attributes for memory that define memory regions to be Secure, Non-Secure or Non-Secure Callable. This week’s video shows how the Cortex® M33 core with TrustZone® extension can test the security attributes for every read, write and execute from memory (without impacting performance). And how the security attributes are set with the Trusted Execution Environment configuration tool inside MCUXpresso IDE.

Trusted Execution Environment configuration tool in MCUXpresso IDE
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Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core with TrustZone® – running TrustZone® example projects in MCUXpresso IDE

Last week I wrote about why we need the TrustZone® security extension for ARMv8-M. There are software use-cases where it can be very helpful to partition the software into 2 separate worlds, secure and non-secure. TrustZone® acts as the gatekeeper between these two worlds and manages how the core transitions between the worlds. The ARMv8-M architecture introduces two new States for the core – secure and non-secure. Cortex® M33 core (and M23 core also) is implemented to ARMv8-M standard and of course supports the two new states.

ARMv8-M architecture introduces 2 states for the core – secure and Non-secure
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Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 Core with TrustZone® – What is TrustZone® anyway?

After the Getting Started material from the previous weeks, today we are ready to investigate TrustZone®. We all remember TrustZone® – it is that magic piece of embedded IP that miraculously solves all of our IOT security problems – right? It’s true that TrustZone® is an embedded component related to security, but not in the way that you think.

Non-trusted software can dump out our keys to a cloud server hosted by malign third-party

Before we get stuck into all the fancy technical details, let us at first stop and think about some of the challenges that we face with embedded systems, and what can be done about them. This week I simply address the topic: What is TrustZone® and Why do we need it??

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Stack Canaries with GCC: Checking for Stack Overflow at Runtime

Stack overflows are probably the number 1 enemy of embedded applications: a call to a a printf() monster likely will use too much stack space, resulting in overwritten memory and crashing applications. But stack memory is limited and expensive on these devices, so you don’t want to spend too much space for it. But for sure not to little too. Or bad things will happen.

The Eclipse based MCUXpresso IDE has a ‘Heap and Stack Usage’ view which can be used to monitor the stack usage and shows that a stack overflow happened:

Heap and Stack Usage

Heap and Stack Usage

But this is using the help of the debugger: how to catch stack overflows at runtime without the need of a debugger? There is an option in the GNU gcc compiler to help with this kind of situation, even if it was not originally intended for something different. Continue reading

NXP MCUXpresso IDE 11.0.1 available

NXP has released an update of the Eclipse based V11 IDE. This is right on time for the new semester starting mid of September where this IDE will be used in several labs.

MCUXpresso IDE V11.0.1

MCUXpresso IDE V11.0.1

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DIY Stepper Motor Clock with NXP LPC845-BRK

This project is about building a stepper motor clock around the NXP LPC845-BRK board. The design is using a combination of 3D printed and laser cut parts and costs below $15.

Stepper Clock Acrylic Face White Hands

Stepper Clock Acrylic Face White Hands

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Tutorial: How to Optimize Code and RAM Size

It is great if vendors provide a starting point for my own projects. A working ‘blinky’ is always a great starter. Convenience always has a price, and with a ‘blinky’ it is that the code size for just ‘toggling a GPIO pin’ is exaggerated. For a device with a tiny amount of RAM and FLASH this can be concerning: will my application ever fit to that device if a ‘blinky’ takes that much? Don’t worry: a blinky (or any other project) can be easily trimmed down.

Binky on NXP LPC845-BRK Board

Binky on NXP LPC845-BRK Board

I use a ‘blinky’ project here just as an example: the trimming tips can apply to any other kind of projects too.

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Visualizing Global Variables while Target is Running with Eclipse and MCUXpresso IDE

By default, Eclipse provides ‘stop-mode-debugging’: in order to inspect the target code and data, I have to stop the target. But with the right extensions as present in the Eclipse based MCUXpresso IDE, it is possible to inspect the target even while it is running.

Graphing Variables

Graphing Variables

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Black Magic Open Source Debug Probe for ARM with Eclipse and GDB

The ‘Black Magic Probe’ (or in short: BMP) is a very small and open source JTAG/SWD debug probe with a build-in GDB Server. I saw that probe referenced in different places, so I thought I try it out with a few of my NXP LPC and Kinetis boards:

BMP with LPC and Kinetis Boards

BMP with LPC and Kinetis Boards

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New NXP MCUXpresso Eclipse IDE v11.0

A few days ago NXP has released a new version of their Eclipse IDE flagship: the MCUXpresso IDE v11.0.

NXP MCUXpresso IDE V11.0.0

NXP MCUXpresso IDE V11.0.0

The previous v10.3.1 was released back in Feb 2019, and the 11.0 now in June this year matches up with the Fall university semester. I appreciate that the releases are about every 6 months, so this gives me time to use it in my university lecture material and lab work. I had the weekend for trying it out, and I’m very pleased.

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MCUXpresso Eclipse IDE Mouse Tips & Tricks

In a modern development workflow both command-line and a graphical user interface has its place. On the GUI side, Eclipse is famous that it offers many different ways to accomplish something which is great. But sometimes I continue to use an old habit or way because I have missed that there is a newer and better way, and the MCUXpresso Eclipse IDE is no exception to that. In this article I show a few ways how to use the mouse even more productive.

Project Settings

Project Settings

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Internal and External Debug Options for the NXP LPC55S69-EVK Board

The LPC55S69-EVK board comes on-board debug probe. The board includes the LPC4322JET100 device which acts like NXP LPC-Link2 debug probe:

LPC4322JET100 on LPC55S69-EVK

LPC4322JET100 on LPC55S69-EVK

But it is easily possible to use the board with an external debug probe or re-program the onboard one as a SEGGER J-Link debug probe.

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First Steps with the LPC55S69-EVK (Dual-Core ARM Cortex-M33 with Trustzone)

For the long Easter weekend I have organized a new toy: the NXP LPC55S69-EVK board: a dual ARM Cortex-M33 running at 100 MHz with ARM TrustZone:

LPC55S69 Microcontroller

LPC55S69 Microcontroller

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Tutorial: MCUXpresso SDK with Linux, Part 2: Commandline Debugging with GDB

In “Tutorial: MCUXpresso SDK with Linux, Part 1: Installation and Build with Maked” I used cmake and make to build the SDK application. In this part I’m going to use the command line gdb to debug the application on the board.

Cross-Debugging with GDB

Cross-Debugging with GDB

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Be aware: Floating Point Operations on ARM Cortex-M4F

My mantra is *not* to use any floating point data types in embedded applications, or at least to avoid them whenever possible: for most applications they are not necessary and can be replaced by fixed point operations. Not only floating point operations have numerical problems, they can lead to performance problems as in the following (simplified) example:

#define NOF  64
static uint32_t samples[NOF];
static float Fsamples[NOF];
float fZeroCurrent = 8.0;

static void ProcessSamples(void) {
  int i;

  for (i=0; i < NOF; i++) {
    Fsamples[i] = samples[i]*3.3/4096.0 - fZeroCurrent;
  }
}

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Remote Debugging with USB based JTAG/SWD Debug Probes

For some projects it is not possible to have the device under debug available on my desk: the board might be in another room, on another site or in a place where physical access is not possible or even dangerous. In that case an IP-based debug probe (see Debugging ARM Cores with IP based Debug Probes and Eclipse) is very useful: as long as I can access its IP address, that works fine. It is an excellent solution even if the board is moving or rotating: hook it up to a WLAN access point and I still can use it as it would be on my desk.

But what if I have a debug probe only connected to USB? This article shows how to turn a USB debug probe into a IP-based debug solution: that way I can easily debug a board from remote, connected to the network:

IP Based Debugging with USB Debug Probe

IP Based Debugging with USB Debug Probe

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Tutorial: Blinky with the NXP LPC845-BRK Board

The NXP LPC845-BRK board is a sub-$6 breadboard friendly development board with an ARM Cortex-M0+ on it. This tutorial is about developing a ‘blinky’ on it using MCUXpresso.

Binky on NXP LPC845-BRK Board

Binky on NXP LPC845-BRK Board

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