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ARM mbed OS Gets Energy Friendly with Gecko Technology from Silicon Labs

Silicon Labs announced broad support for ARM® mbed™ OS within the energy-friendly EFM32® Gecko MCU portfolio based on ARM Cortex®-M processors. Silicon Labs’ Giant Gecko, Happy Gecko, Leopard Gecko and Wonder Gecko MCUs running mbed OS along with mbed power management application programming interfaces (APIs) provide best-in-class energy efficiency, design simplicity and security technology for embedded developers creating battery-operated, ARM-based connected devices for the IoT.
Silicon Labs is demonstrating its mbed-supported development platform in the ... Read more Read more

Win a Microchip Motor Control Starter Kit with mTouch Sensing Demonstration Board!!

The MPLAB® Starter Kit for PIC24F (DM240015) Intelligent Integrated Analog is a comprehensive development kit featuring the PIC24F “GC” family of 16-bit microcontrollers. This family features advanced integrated analog which reduces BOM cost, lowers noise, and has faster throughput.
The board demonstrates these features of the PIC24 FJ128GC010 Microcontroller: direct LCD drive, 16-bit Sigma-Delta ADC, 12-bit Pipeline ADC, 10-bit DAC, Op-Amps, CTMU, DMA, USB, and XLP low power consumption.
EP&Dee is offering its readers the chance to win a Microchip Motor Control Starter Kit with mTouch Sensing Demonstration Board. The Motor Control Starter Kit with mTouch Sensing is a complete hardware and software tool suite for evaluating Microchip’s ultra-low cost Motor Control Family dsPIC DSCs. It contains a single board with a BLDC motor, capacitive-touch sliders and a built-in debugger.
The 2” × 5” demo board Motor Control Starter Kit with mTouch Sensing has a compact design and includes features such as: a very low cost 16-bit Motor Control DSC (dsPIC33FJ16MC102), on-board In-Circuit programming / debug via USB, an on board 3-phase BLDC motor, 15v, 2.6A On Board Drive Circuit with pads for user supplied motor, Capacitive Touch Slider for Speed Control with LED indicators and it is powered via 9V power supply.

For the chance to win a Motor Control Starter Kit with mTouch Sensing Demonstration Board, log onto: and enter your details in the entry form.
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Win a Microchip Curiosity Development Board!

EP&Dee is giving you the chance to win a Microchip Curiosity Development Board (DM164137)! This board is a cost-effective, fully integrated 8-bit development platform targeted at first-time users, makers and those seeking a feature-rich, rapid prototyping board.
Designed from the ground-up to take full advantage of Microchip’s MPLAB X integrated development environment, the Curiosity Development Board includes an integrated programmer/debugger, and requires no additional hardware to get started. The Curiosity Development Board supports all low-voltage, programming-enabled 8-bit PIC® MCUs from 8 to 20 pins. Curiosity is the perfect platform to harness the power of modern 8-bit PIC Microcontrollers. Its layout and external connections offer unparalleled access to the Core Independent Peripherals (CIPs) available on many newer 8-bit PIC MCUs. These CIPs enable the user to integrate various system functions onto a single MCU, simplifying the design and keeping system power consumption and BOM cost low.
Out of the box, the development board offers several options for user interface - including physical switches, an mTouch capacitive button, and an on-board potentiometer. A full complement of accessory boards is available via the MikroElectronika Mikrobus interface footprint. In addition, Bluetooth Low Energy communication can easily be added using an available Microchip RN4020 module.

For the chance to win a Curiosity Development Board from Microchip, please visit: and enter your details in the entry form.
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Indoor tracking with Beacons. Beacons Can Be Used for Industrial Purposes Too.

Since Apple launched the iBeacon last year many specialists have worked on the basis that the tiny transmitters will change our lives completely. Because unlike GPS and cellular mobile phone tracking beacons can locate a position within decimeters - even inside a building. They open up countless application scenarios. Now Nordic Semiconductor has also launched a beacon solution.

Bernd Hantsche,
Marketing Director Wireless,
Rutronik Elektronische Bauelemente GmbH

In the industrial environment, beacons can be used for applications such as time and position capture, to identify machine operation, including usage capture, or to protect valuable machinery, devices, and materials against theft. If a user requires some operating instructions or a fitter needs an error report, the beacon can supply these too. The tiny transmitters are also used to prevent driverless forklift trucks from colliding.
Beacons operate on the transceiver principle: as the name suggests, the beacons take on the role of transmitter. If a receiver, such as a smart phone, a customer-specific hand-held device, or a forklift truck fitted with the corresponding Nordic chip, moves into the sensor’s range, it is able to identify the ID and signal strength of the transmitter.
The beacon simply sends its identity to the smartphone, enabling the data associated with it to be taken from the Cloud via an app or a direct service. The ID can be used to trigger actions that the smart phone then executes. For example, it might open an Internet page, a datasheet or form, or perhaps play a video.
For example, a beacon in a fork lift truck can send its ID to an employee’s smart phone or handheld device. This sends the ID on to the server where there is a setting to state whether the employee is authorized to use the fork lift. The server will release the fork lift for use only if he is. At the same time a record is made - accurate to the second - of who has used the fork lift.

Reference design for iOS7 and Android
Apple set the basis of the technology. The manufacturer implemented the relevant functions into iOS7 on the basis of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) standard. Nordic Semiconductor recently presented a reference design for Bluetooth Smart Beacons. The kit consists of a complete hardware and software solution which, together with the Nordic nRFBeacon App, enables a full range of Beacon applications. These may either use Apple’s iBeacon TM standard or be based on a proprietary specification based on Bluetooth Smart. The Bluetooth Smart Beacon Kit is based on the current market leader, the multi-protocol nRF51822 Bluetooth Smart and 2.4GHz-SoC from Nordic.
The kit contains a beacon which, with a diameter of 20mm, is hardly bigger than the CR1632 button cell battery attached to its rear, supplying the beacon with power for months on end. The relevant “nRF Beacon App” is available for free download in the Google Play Store on Android, while the app for Apple devices is available for manual download on the Nordic Website under The beacon is then immediately ready for operation. The preinstalled setup is an art gallery scenario. Developers can modify this quickly and easily to make the smartphone display, for example, the operating instructions for a machine instead of details on celebrated paintings. The firmware is available from Nordic in source code form. This makes it possible to construct sample scenarios quickly and easily so that product ideas can be tested. The over-the-air device firmware upgrade service (OTA-DFU) for the nRF51822 allows for updates to the beacon firmware even while in the field. The new version 7.0 of the S110 SoftDevice also enables OTA to make flexible firmware upgrades, something that is not possible on the alternative, static ROM/OTP-based ULP wireless SoCs. So upgrades to stacks and application firmware for the nRF51822 and nRF51422 SoCs can be carried out quickly and easily via the device’s own wireless connection. The OTA-DFU function enables full upgrades to applications as well as protocol stacks and is not restricted to partial upgrades and troubleshooting.
To determine distance, Nordic’s beacon technology uses the S110 SoftDevice Proximity Service by Nordic. This uses the Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI) values of the nRF51822 transceiver. The RSSI level differs according to the model of smartphone, but despite this the Smart Beacon kit’s tuning function ensures even performance.
The beacon also scores with its low production costs, low energy consumption and a transmission range of several meters. The wide distribution of Bluetooth Low Energy means that it will be used increasingly in many different areas.

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The nRF51822 - flexible multi-talent
The nRF51822 is an extremely flexible multi-protocol SoC, designed especially for Bluetooth Low Energy and 2.4 GHz ultra low power wireless applications. It is based on a 32-bit ARM® CortexTM M0 CPU with 256kB or 128kB flash and 16 kB RAM memory. The integral 2.4GHz transceiver supports both Bluetooth Low Energy and 2.4GHz operation. When actively transmitting the energy-saving nRF51822 requires only 5.5mA. With its fast data transfer and idle and sleep modes, overall energy consumption is very low. A single power source is sufficient, and developers can choose between a linear single chip voltage regulator (1.8-3.6V), a direct mode (1.8V) and a DC/DC-Buck/Boost converter (2.1-3.6V). During operation this converter can be dynamically controlled, peak current strengths are below 10mA (3V).

At Nordic the free Bluetooth Low Energy Protocol for operation in the role of the peripheral communications side is called S110 and as binary it occupies only around 80kB of the memory. At 40kB or 170kB the other flash memories are available for the actual application. Thanks to 31 integrated GPIOs, which are individually assigned to different pins, as well as PWM, ADC and other features, an additional microcontroller is superfluous. This saves space, money and energy.

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The Birth of Synergy: Revolutionary New Path to Faster Embedded MCU System

When Renesas engineers first began to consider how they would package MCU-based solutions for the Internet-of-Things (IoT) market, they looked closely at the unique challenges this opportunity presented. In applications ranging from factory floor automation to home automation, the opportunities appeared endless.

Author: Graeme Clark, Manager, MCU/MPU Solution Marketing, Renesas Electronics Europe

Clearly developers who could deliver their product to market first would gain a significant advantage, so any solution that shortens development times would offer a powerful advantage. Renesas explored this topic across industries and noticed the profile of their traditional MCU customer was changing. Customers’ engineering teams often came to Renesas, the world’s leading MCU manufacturer, looking to implement a specific requirement. Once the hardware was defined, they would pass the solution onto their software team to develop the application. Generally, hardware designers drove the MCU selection process.
As the IoT market began to emerge, however, roles were changing. The more Renesas interacted with its customers, the more it became clear that software was dominating the MCU requirements. Software developers were now playing a larger role in defining the end solution and what type of MCU would best fit their system requirements.
So the Renesas team wrestled with how to address this new reality. What were the key values driving customers and how would their priorities impact MCU selection? Clearly any solution targeted at the huge IoT market would have to take into account the increasing importance of the software engineer’s point of view.
At the same time other trends are escalating the pressure on design teams. Increasingly companies are outsourcing all but the core engineering functions and a growing number of firms are finding they can no longer develop new technologies as they have done in the past.
Developers are now increasingly willing to move from in-house development and use external resource and off-the-shelf components. It’s a time-consuming and costly approach to use standard MCU’s and then research, license, integrate, test, and maintain a RTOS, stacks, middleware, and libraries from multiple software vendors. What if they could get everything form one source – their MCU silicon vendor?
To source software from a silicon vendor, developers need assurances. How long will the silicon vendor supply and support the software? Will there be a long term commitment to maintain, upgrade and support the software? Developers generally equate commercial quality with longevity. If the silicon vendor was willing to sell its software as a high quality commercial product, would that assure embedded system developers?
From the developer’s standpoint sourcing the software from an MCU supplier offers numerous advantages. Large silicon vendors have the resources to support the development and maintenance of software over long periods of time.
As the silicon manufacturer has a large customer base, the software will be proven over a very large number of customers.
Since the silicon vendor only makes money when products go into production, it has the same interest in accelerating the development cycle. Finally, the silicon manufacturer has a vested interest in maintaining software quality because the success of its software is directly tied to its ability to continue selling MCUs.
Renesas wondered what if designers could re-invent the development cycle, so more of their time is spent focusing on the truly innovative aspects of their solution?
What if MCU suppliers like Renesas could reduce the amount of time designers spent on the basic core system and, instead, allow developers to increase the amount of time they could spend on application code? What would this new product development cycle look like?
In the traditional development cycle designers must grapple with continual updates and constantly changing roadmaps for their RTOS, stacks and tools. What if the MCU supplier offered a platform that took care of the integration of new updates so developers could shrink that portion of their development cycle and spent more time innovating? And what if the MCU supplier offered and supported that software as a high quality commercial product, with APIs that would allow the developer to simply build his or her own applications on top?
Ultimately, those questions led to the development of the Renesas Synergy™ Platform, an integrated hardware and software solution optimized for embedded and IoT applications.
The Renesas Synergy Platform consists of five main elements: Software, MCUs, Tools and Kits, Solutions, and the Gallery.
The Renesas Synergy platform comprises of a suite of qualified and verified embedded software, tested to commercial standards and compatible with the Renesas Synergy MCUs. The “Qualified” Renesas Synergy software components are not only optimized and integrated for the Synergy MCUs, they are also rigorously tested for both performance and reliability and is warranted by Renesas to operate as specified in the Industry’s first software datasheet. This is a specification of function and performance that also includes parametric data against which the software is warranted to operate, where appropriate some software components also undergo industry standard compliance testing.
The core software components come in the Renesas Synergy Software Package (SSP). Provided with each Renesas Synergy MCU, the SSP supplies the software components needed for all of the basic core system functions essential in embedded applications.
Renesas engineers selected a premium quality RTOS, Express Logic’s ThreadX® as a basis for the SSP, added middleware components from Express Logic’s X-Ware™, and integrated them with MCU device-specific software components including device drivers, middleware, libraries, and a flexible application framework with an API.
The SSP blends the RTOS, middleware and libraries with the low level peripheral functions through a specific framework using an API. This allows the application to access peripherals as easy-to-use, feature-oriented functions.
The framework automatically takes care of the details of the RTOS integration. Since the drivers abstract hardware registers by using logically defined values, the API and parameters are consistent across the different series within the Renesas Synergy MCU family. This approach allows the developer to build solutions without spending time learning detailed MCU hardware specifications, specific register definitions, or ThreadX® specifics.
Additional software components may be added to the SSP in the future as Qualified Software Add-ons (QSAs). These components may be developed by Renesas and are qualified with the same rigorous standards used for the SSP.
Software components developed by 3rd party developers and integrated into the platform are “verified” to work with the Renesas Synergy Platform and are named VSA, or Verified Software Add-on components (VSA’s). These VSA components have been tested for functionality and compatibility with the SSP and are approved by Renesas.
The device foundation for the Renesas Synergy Platform is a family of compatible and scalable 32-bit MCUs based on ARM® Cortex®-M CPU cores. Renesas Synergy MCUs were designed from scratch with no legacy requirements, compatibility and scalability were designed in from the start.
Every member of the Renesas Synergy MCU family has the same or similar peripherals to minimize the learning curve and maximize re-use of software and offer pin compatibility in every package. Scalability means that peripheral capabilities scale from lower to higher and higher to lower while keeping the same register footprint.
The Renesas Synergy MCU family begins with the S1 series, an ultra-low-power MCU based on a 32 MHz Cortex-M0+ core. Three additional members of the Renesas Synergy MCU family, the S3, S5 and S7 series, use Cortex®-M4 cores to support operating frequencies that currently range up to 240 MHz.
Renesas’ S3 series MCUs are currently based on a 48 MHz Cortex®-M4 core and serves applications that demand higher levels of integration than the Cortex® M0+-based S1 series.
The S5 series MCUs targets more complex IoT applications using a Cortex-M4 core running at 120 MHz, while the Renesas’ S7 series combines a 240 MHz Cortex®-M4 core with a wide array of high-speed peripherals. The entire MCU family offers significant amounts of memory on-chip up to an industry-leading 4 MB of code flash and 640 KB of SRAM on the S7 series.
To address the design challenges inherent in the majority of industrial and IoT applications, the Renesas Synergy Platform offers developers a wide array of options to boost security, safety and communications capabilities.
The security functions available on Renesas Synergy MCUs enable developers to protect data on the MCU, ensure authenticity of data, and achieve secure product lifetime management. The security peripherals and software libraries support symmetric/ asymmetric cryptography as well as secure key generation and storage to provide a full set of secure services including secure boot and over-the-air firmware updates. Each MCU also supports a long list of safety functions in hardware to support critical applications.
IoT applications require extensive communications capabilities and Synergy MCU’s can offer features such as dual Ethernet with IEEE-1588 synchronization, high-speed USB, plus many serial interfaces on chip including UART, I2C, SPI, IrDA, QSPI, I2S, SDHC/MMC and CAN. For applications closer to the network edge, virtually every Renesas Synergy MCU has an array of analogue interfaces including ADC’s, DAC’s, comparators, as well as a suite of timing functions for motor and industrial control applications.
To speed development Renesas engineers have added a number of productivity enhancements to the Renesas Synergy Platform’s supporting tool ecosystem. Renesas Synergy MCUs will be supported by e2 studio, the Eclipse-based Integrated Development Environment (IDE) from Renesas.
Adding new, solution-oriented components, such as the ability to view the source code of the entire SSP while debugging, Renesas engineers transformed the environment and e2 studio into a true Integrated Solution Development Environment (ISDE).
Developers who want to accelerate their development cycle and take the guesswork out of using a wide variety of technologies in their own industrial and IoT end-products can do so using the Renesas Synergy Platform’s wide array of development kits and design examples.
Finally, providing a one-stop shop for all the Renesas software components, the Renesas Synergy Gallery allows users access to all Renesas Synergy Software components and in future will allow enhanced features such as cloud services and the ability to download apps directly to Renesas synergy MCU’s.
The fast-moving industrial and IoT markets are forcing developers to re-evaluate their traditional approach to product development. Today’s embedded designs are simply too complex to develop in a step-by-step fashion. The market demands a faster response and shorter time-to-market, as provided by Renesas Synergy ■

Renesas Electronics Europe
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element14’s Sudden Impact challenge comes to a close

element14’s Sudden Impact Wearable Design Challenge has finally come to a close, following months of design and innovation. When we first launched this programme in October 2014, we set out to challenge our online community of more than 350,000 design engineers and technology enthusiasts to find out how wearables can provide crucial, real-time insights to prevent serious injuries in contact sports.

By:Dianne Kibbey,
Global Head of Community,

The wearable health market is presently at a crucial stage, with more than 250,000 health-related devices shipping over the next five years alone, according to one report from IHS.

In recent years, revelations about the long-term effects of concussion-related injuries have caused many observers to question whether heavy-contact sports such as American football will survive, as NFL in particular has come under fire for
concealing the severity of such issues for
far too long.
Therefore, with support from Analog Devices, Tektronix and Electrolube,
element14 equipped 12 finalists with the technology needed to create solutions that could potentially be used on athletic fields across the world.
Each completed design was thoroughly tested by the School of Computing, Creative Technology and Engineering at Leeds Beckett University.
They considered each design’s effectiveness, durability, replicability and – most importantly – the ability to provide coaches, athletes and medical professionals with critical diagnostic information before it’s too late.
After much consideration, element14 and Leeds Beckett chose US-based Cosmin Iorga as the winner.
Cosmin’s ‘wearable impact and health monitor’ features a helmet unit that measures impacts upon a player’s head, body temperature, tilt, and global positioning, for use in a variety of sports. Miniaturised brainwave measurement technology and an electrocardiogram chest module wirelessly send alerts about the player’s brain and heart activity to an Android smartphone app, which can be used by coaches on the sidelines to remotely monitor the wellbeing of athletes.

Over the course of this challenge, we looked at how Cosmin and the other participants tackled design challenges including: measuring vital statistics, conforming to medical guidelines, managing power and wirelessly relaying data in real time.

Ravi Butani of India took home runner-up honours for his real-time player monitoring system. Other notable entries that were tested and praised by the Leeds team for their advanced techniques included:

• Real-time coach and athlete monitoring system from US-based Austin Horning
• Sudden impact helmet and uniform sensor system by Dragan Knezevic in Serbia
• Helmet-mounted ski monitor from Hendrik Lipka in Germany
• Helmet-mounted trauma monitor and heart reactor by Douglas Wong from Canada

We’re proud to have taken the lead on an initiative that athletes and consumers alike want to see addressed. However, for all of the progress these individuals made there is still work to be done. Of the 3,500 adults surveyed worldwide in our “Engineering a Connected World” study, 68 percent believe that healthcare technology should remain technology development’s top priority.

We believe the electronics industry can play a critical role in empowering engineers to accelerate the pace at which they help develop technology that the population at large values.

For more information on the 12 challengers and the inventive solutions they built to improve sports safety, visit
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Every day is “Prime Day” for hot-selling Kinetis MCUs

July 15 is behind us. If you are like me, you had that day marked on your calendar ever since Amazon first announced their one-day shopping event that promised to include more deals than Black Friday. As expected, many of the deals that Amazon offered were around electronic devices – things like robot vacuum cleaners, wearables, tablets and
toys. Hopefully, while you were busy filling your cart with bargains, you also remembered to think about the technology that drives these cool electronics devices, microcontrollers, of course! From an ultra-low power MCU designed into a smart watch to a high-performance MCU designed into your home automation system – the Kinetis MCU portfolio consists of multiple series of products powering the next greatest innovations.

Kinetis K series is based on the ARM® Cortex®-M4 core and designed for scalability, performance efficiency, integration, connectivity, communications, HMI and security. Kinetis K series MCUs offer industry-leading low-power and significant BOM savings through smart on-chip integration. Target applications are things like gaming consoles, medical devices and home controls.

Kinetis L series is based on the ARM Cortex-M0+ core. These ultra low-power, ultra small scale MCUs are super easy to use with leading scalability and integration. They’re ideal for Internet of Things (IoT) edge nodes and other battery-powered devices like wearables and portable devices.

Kinetis E series is also based on the ARM Cortex-M0+ core and is designed for applications that require high robustness to EMC/ESD, and/or full 5V IO capability.
Target applications include appliances, DC fans, and BLDC motors.
The truth is the electronics market is extremely cost competitive. The prices we saw during Prime Day reflected just how cost-competitive electronic devices can be. As MCUs are the brains inside these smart products, it only makes sense that the MCUs be as cost competitive as possible. Which is why Freescale had its own version of Prime Day, recently lowering the prices (MSRP) of hundreds of Kinetis MCUs that now start as low as just $0.39 (USD) for 10Ku quantities.

Membership not required
To buy Kinetis MCUs, you do not need to be a member of a particular club or group. Students, hobbyists, and customers alike can purchase Kinetis MCUs online at or through any authorized Freescale distributor. And you don’t have to rush, as our updated pricing is more than just a one-day marketing ploy. Most folks will also want join our Kinetis MCU community to access the latest information and general support.

Not sure where to start?
Check out the entire Kinetis MCU portfolio at While you won’t see words like “lightning deals” or fancy icons to show where prices have been slashed, you can still shop with confidence knowing that pricing was adjusted on more than 500 of our most popular Kinetis devices – making the Kinetis MCU portfolio even more competitive than ever before. So, if you are familiar with Kinetis MCUs but thought that it was out of your design price range before – now is the time to have another look. And if you are new to Kinetis, there is no better time to jump into your design ■

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