Are WLCSP the Solution during Silicon Shortage?

If you are in the electronics or microcontroller business: you very well know the problems with chip and silicon availability. What was supposed to last maybe for a few months starting with COVID-19 is still a problem in 2022: chips are not available or the price has skyrocket.

Cost-effective usage of NXP LPC804 with WLCSP20 Package

We at the Lucerne University are using NXP Kinetis micro controllers which seem to be affected by the silicon shortage somewhat more than any other devices? When looking that the usual sources, it was clear some are still available, but in a rather exotic WLCSP package. So the question is: can it be useful?

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Choosing GNU Compiler Optimizations

Tool chains like the GNU compiler collection (gcc) have a plethora of options. The probably most important ones are the ones which tell the compiler how to optimize the code. Running out of code space, or the application is not performing well? Then have a look at the compiler optimization levels!

However, which one to select can be a difficult choice. And the result might very well depend on the application and coding style too. So I’ll give you some hints and guidance with an autonomous robot application we use at the Lucerne University for research and education.

INTRO Sumo Robot
INTRO Sumo Robot
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Silicon Shortage and Semihosting with NXP MCUXpresso SDK on FRDM-KE02Z

The silicon shortage is still going on. While the NXP Kinetis KE devices might not be my first choice, they still seem to be available, in at least in lower quantities. This has been recognized by others, as I’m getting more and more questions and requests for the KE and KV family. This is why I un-dusted my old FRDM-KE02Z to be used with the latest MCUXpresso SDK and IDE.

FRDM-KE02Z Board

And in case you want to use that board or device with semihosting, I have you covered.

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MCUXpresso IDE 11.5.0

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….

NXP MCUXpresso IDE Version 11.5.0

Spoiler Alert: It has a new view for FreeRTOS lovers, plus new features for energy/power measurements!

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Spilling the Beans: storage class and linkage in C, including static locals

In Spilling the Beans: C/C++ Header Files, I touched on interfaces and the difference between external and internal linkage. This article has a focus on internal linkage with using the static keyword in C.

Photo by Markus Spiske on

So this might be a programming language refresher, in case you are clear about the difference between declaration and definition, or if you are wondering about internal or external linkage in C.

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New “MCU-Link Pro”: Debug Probe with Energy Measurement

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.

NXP MCU-Link Pro
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Spilling the Beans: volatile Qualifier

It is interesting to see that some aspects (mostly unintended) can stimulate lots of good and fruitful discussions. So this happened with “Spilling the Beans: Endless Loops” (recommended to read 🙂 where using (or not using) volatile for inline assembly created thoughts which warrant an article on that subject.

The volatile qualifier in C/C++ is misunderstood by many programmers, or wrongly used.

Photo by Tara Winstead on

Still, ‘volatile’ is very useful if you know what it means for the compiler and what is good use of it.

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Debug Firmware Switching for the LPC4322

In “Freelink LPC4322JET100 based Debug Circuit on NXP i.MX RT1064-EVK Board” I described how to change the factory firmware from OpenSDA to the LPC-Link2 one.

Debug Circuit on i.MX RT1064
Debug Circuit on i.MX RT1064

Now it is possible to use a Segger J-Link firmware too, or to switch back to the factory default one.

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