Implementing FreeRTOS Performance Counters on ARM Cortex-M

When using an RTOS like FreeRTOS, sooner or later you have to ask the question: how much time is spent in each task? The Eclipse based MCUXpresso IDE has a nice view showing exactly this kind of information:

FreeRTOS Runtime Information

FreeRTOS Runtime Information

For FreeRTOS (or that Task List view) to show that very useful information, the developer has to provide a helping hand so the RTOS can collect this information. This article shows how this can be done on an ARM Cortex-M.

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DIY ‘Meta Clock’ with 24 Analog Clocks

Human since 1982 claims

“Human since 1982 have the copyright to works displaying digital time using a grid arrangement of analog clocks…”

I’m not a lawyer, but without obligations (imho) I have removed the content.

Thanks for understanding,

Erich

Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core – Dual Core debug tutorial

In last week’s blog I explained that the LPC55S69 microcontroller from NXP has two Cortex® M33 cores, named core0 and core1. There was a lot of theory, and so this week I put it all into practice and show you how to debug 2 cores with MCUXpresso IDE.

Multicore Debugging Interface in MCUXpresso IDE showing 2 different projects
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Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core – NXP LPC55S69 has *two* M33 cores.

Throughout this series I’ve been using the LPC55S69 microcontroller from NXP as a platform to investigate the ARM Cortex® M33 core. NXP designed the LPC55S69 with two Cortex M33 cores and so this week I’m investigating these in more detail.

You’ll remember that when ARM launch a processor core it will have a number of optional features. This is shown very clearly on the LPC55S69. The 150 MHz primary core – cpu0 – is a full implementation of Cortex® M33 and includes the optional components FPU, MPU, DSP, ITM and the TrustZone® features.

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Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core – DSP Acceleration 3 (PowerQuad FFT Tutorial)

I’ve always felt that the Fourier Transform (and in particular the embedded implementation Fast Fourier Transform) is the GOAT* of the DSP algorithms. The ability to convert a time-domain signal into a frequency-domain signal is invaluable in applications as diverse as audio processing, medical electrocardiographs (ECGs) and speech recognition.

So this week I’ll show you how to use the Transform engine in the PowerQuad on LPC55S69 to calculate a 512-point FFT. All of the difficult steps are very easily managed and the PowerQuad does all of the very heavy lifting.

Data from PowerQuad – 512-point real FFT on 400 Hz input signal with 1200 Hz harmonic
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Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core – DSP Acceleration 2 (PowerQuad Matrix Engine Tutorial)

Last week I showed you how to use the Coprocessor interface of PowerQuad to calculate (mostly) unary functions. As an example the natural logarithm ln(x) takes just one operand, whilst the floating divide in PowerQuad requires two operands (x1)/(x2). PowerQuad is very efficient accelerating these functions, requiring just 6 clock cycles for the ln(x) and 6 clock cycles for the float (x1)/(x2). In comparison the single-precision floating point unit in Cortex® M4F and M33F requires 13 clock cycles to perform the same float divide.

But there are two ‘sides’ to the PowerQuad:

  • The Coprocessor interface, using ARMv8-M coprocessor instructions;
  • The AHB bus interface, where we address PowerQuad as a peripheral.

So this week… operating the PowerQuad as a peripheral. I’ll show you how to use the PowerQuad SDK driver in MCUXpresso in a new project, and use the Matrix Engine in the PowerQuad to solve simultaneous equations.

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World Stepper Clock with NXP LPC845

I really love clocks. I think this is I am living here in Switzerland. Beside of that: clock projects are just fun :-). After I have completed a single clock using stepper motors (see “DIY Stepper Motor Clock with NXP LPC845-BRK“), I wanted to build a special one which is able to show up to four different time zones: Below an example with London (UK), New York (USA), Beijing (China) and Lucerne (Switzerland):

Stepper Clock

Stepper Clock

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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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Open Source LittlevGL GUI Library on Adafruit Touch LCDs with NXP LPC55S69-EVK

The NXP LPC55S69-EVK is a versatile board. In this article I show how it can be used with Adafruit TFT LCD boards, both with resistive and capacitive touch. For the software I’m using the open source LittlevGL GUI.

LPC55S69-EVK with Adafruit Touch LCD

LPC55S69-EVK with Adafruit Touch LCD

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

Last week I investigated the In-System Programming feature in the boot ROM of the LPC55S69. Using the command-line program blhost I was able to erase the flash and download simple LED blinky programs. Of course, the functions that erase and program the flash are present in the boot ROM.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could call those program and erase functions from our own software running on the LPC55S69?

Of course, we can. This is the NXP feature In-Application Programming, and this week I’ll show you how to interface to the Flash Driver in the boot ROM from software. Since the program and erase functions are running from ROM, this avoids the normal considerations about using flash for non-volatile storage.

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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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TrustZone® vs HeartBleed

During my research about the TrustZone® security extension over the last weeks I’ve had the HeartBleed exploit from 2014 in my mind. How would TrustZone® help us manage that type of ‘no bounds check’ exploit? Of course, TrustZone® was first widely available when NXP introduced the Cortex® M33 family LPC55S69 in 1Q2019 and wasn’t available back in 2014, but I wanted to put it to the test.

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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® – transition from non-secure to secure world

You might purchase a Cortex® M33 microcontroller with TrustZone® where the supplier has installed a secure ROM. Or you might be an IOT developer using LPC55S69 in your own application where you have partitioned the code into secure and non-secure partitions. At some point with Cortex® M33 core with the TrustZone® security extension you’ll want to transition from non-secure into the secure world. Or (put more elegantly), you’ll want to call one of the secure functions supported when the Cortex® M33 core is in the Secure state.

That’s the topic for this week’s video.

How will you know what secure functions are available? And what parameters are necessary to call these functions? You’ll be provided with a header file veneer_table.h and a secure object library named project_name_CMSE_lib.o. Together these 2 modules describe everything that you need to know to call a secure function and transition from the Non-Secure to the Secure state.

Just two objects – *.o and *.h define resources available in the Secure world
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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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Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core with TrustZone® – Using the Clocks Config Tool

Clocks. I’ve always found the clock setting of a microcontroller one of the hardest things to get right during my embedded career. If I re-use the clocks setup from the development board it is easy. But if the development board runs from a crystal and I want to use the free-running internal clock, or if I change to a different frequency crystal (and keep the same PLL output frequency) it always gets difficult. To be honest I’ve developed some projects early in my career and never been 100% certain at what frequency the core, flash and peripherals are running.

That’s not good.

The Config Tools within the MCUXpresso brand have greatly simplified setting up the pins, clocks, peripherals (and next week – Trusted Execution Environment 🙂 ) on NXP microcontrollers. So I’m going to quickly show you how to set up 3 different clock arrangements, and output the main clock to an output pin named CLK_OUT.

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Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core with TrustZone® – Using the Pins Config Tool

Well let’s face it, modern microcontrollers are complicated. The User Manual for the LPC55S69 has 1148 pages (Rev 1.3) and that does not include any of the electrical characteristics – see the Datasheet (129 pages) nor does it include the details around the core or instruction set (see ARM documentation) . So there is a lot of technical information to read, and don’t get me started on the pin multiplexing… Well actually, do get me started on the pin multiplexing because that is my focus this week.

This week I turned my attention to writing a very simple example project in MCUXpresso IDE to run on the ARM Cortex® M33 core inside the LPC55S69. As in previous weeks I am again using the LPC55S69-EVK from NXP. My plan is to use this board every week but I have learned recently a few details about a new ultra-low-cost board. It’s going to be AMAZING and I’ll share more details with you when I can.

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Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core with TrustZone® – Setting up your environment and creating your first project with MCUXpresso IDE

This is the second of my 17-part video tutorial series investigating the ARM Cortex® M33 core with TrustZone® security extension. My preferred platform for this investigation is the LPC55S69 from NXP, and of course it is necessary to have a development board and IDE. So I’m using the LPC55S69-EVK with NXP’s MCUXpresso IDE and the MCUXpresso Software Development Kit (SDK).

This week the video is really low on theory, but high on practical, step-by-step information to get started with these tools. Maybe you are similar to me, and make the same mistake every time?? I get the self-assembly furniture home from the store, or open the box containing the new development board and just get started. At some point it doesn’t work properly and that’s the time I must read the supporting information.

Well, with this video I show you beginning-to-end in just over 10 minutes, and you won’t need to refer to any other material.

During the video I show you the following steps:

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Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core with TrustZone® – Unboxing and Getting Started

Hi, I’m Mark from embeddedpro® in the United Kingdom and Erich’s allowed me to be a guest blogger here on mcuoneclipse. At many industry events, trade shows and conferences I’ve seen and given presentations about TrustZone®, but have not found tutorials or practical information online.

So I’m creating a 17 part video tutorial series (it will be published weekly here) investigating the ARM Cortex® M33 core with the TrustZone® security extension. Each week from now until the end-of-year holidays I will let you know what I’ve found out with a blog here, and a video blog on youtube. My friends at NXP have given me a LPC55S69-EVK board as the basis for my experiments:

LPC55S69-EVK (linked from nxp.com)

This is my first quick post showing the unboxing of the LPC55S69-EVK and the out-of-box experience.

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