Is Developing for ARM more difficult than for other Architectures?

I believe in ‘life-long-learning’. With this I continue to learn and discover new things every day. I’m writing tutorials to give something back to the community from which I have learned so much.

On top of this, I receive emails on a nearly daily basis, asking for help. Many articles have the origin in such requests or questions. I prefer questions or comments in a public forum, because that way I feel all others can benefit from it. Last week Alessandro contacted me with this:

“Hi Erich,

I hope this find you well! I’m starting to using ARM processors, but I find them quite complicated on the configuration side. I started in the past with PIC micro (PIC16) with asm, and I found them quite straightforward to be configured (clock, IO, peripherals, …). Then I moved myself on C language, and on PIC18 without any big issues.

Now I would really like join the ARM community, I see that these processors are what I’ve always looking for, on energy, calc power, peripherals, and FINALLY on IDE (editor, toolchain and utilities)… AMAZING!!!”

The topic is about how to start learning developing for ARM. Alessandro agreed to make this public, so I thought this might be a good topic for an article?

Firmware

Firmware

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Embedded World Nürnberg 2017 Impressions: MCUXpresso, Hexiwear, NTAG, LPC800-DIP and Alan Hawse

This year I managed to attend the Embedded World in Nürnberg/Germany after missing the 2016 show. And 2017 has been a blast! With more than 1000 exhibitors and >30’000 visitors it was huge! There were too many exciting things, so I just pick a few: NXP demonstrated the new MCUXpresso Software and Tools with a new Eclipse Neon based IDE, lots of IoT and Hexiwear, the tiny LPC800-DIP board, and I have met Alan Hawse in person!

Impresson from the Show (embeddedworld 2017)

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NXP MCUXpresso Software and Tools with Clocks Tool

About a year ago, on December 7th 2015, Freescale and NXP have announced the completion of their merger.  Now it is Qualcomm which wants to acquire NXP? It looks like these mergers are happening faster and faster. The reality is that merging products take more time than anticipated, and nearly one year later I can see the outcome of what comes out of the marriage between Freescale and NXP or between Kinetis and LPC: NXP has announced the MCUXpresso software and tools for Kinetis and LPC microcontroller:

Introducing MCUXpresso

Introducing MCUXpresso (Source: NXP video)

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NXP Pins Tool: Understanding Data for Offline Usage

I’m using the NXP Pins tool (see “Tutorial: Muxing with the New NXP Pins Tool“) now in several projects, and I think it is time to share a few tips and tricks.

Pins Tool

Pins Tool

So join me on a journey through the internals of the NXP Pins tool :-).

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NXP Pins Tool: Clock Gates and Controlling the Bits

With the NXP Pins Tool (see “Tutorial: Muxing with the New NXP Pins Tool“) I can configure and mux (multiplex) the microcontroller pins. What is really powerful and what might not be so obvious at the first sight is that it gives me deep control over every register bit and setting. For example I have below the PTB1 (Port B, pin 1) muxed as GPIO (General Purpose I/O):

PTB1 Muxed with Pins Tool

PTB1 Muxed with Pins Tool

But it only generates this:

void BOARD_InitPins(void) {
  CLOCK_EnableClock(kCLOCK_PortB);                           /* Port B Clock Gate Control: Clock enabled */

  PORT_SetPinMux(PORTB, PIN1_IDX, kPORT_MuxAsGpio);          /* PORTB1 (pin 54) is configured as PTB1 */
}

So what about all the other bits and pieces? Continue reading

Tutorial: Muxing with the New NXP Pins Tool

I don’t know if it is the same for you. But for me, configuring the pins on these new ARM microcontroller is a challenge: Most pins can do multiple functions, such as be used as I²C, UART or GPIO pins.

Configuring the pins ‘by hand’ is difficult, error-prone and usually the first thing I need to do for a new project/device. NXP developed a new tool for this task and previewed it at FTF 2016. It is available now both as web (online) and desktop (locally installed) tool. At FTF it was possible to play with an engineering release: time to get my hands on the public release :-). And as more and more student projects will start using that tool for their boards, I better have a tutorial for it :-).

Desktop Version of Pins Tool

Desktop Version of Pins Tool

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