Preview: Cortex M4 Dev Kits
Over the last year or so I’ve acquired six ARM Cortex-M4 boards; I have some experiments planed for them, and hope to be able to do some write ups this fall.Â Here’s a chart highlighting some of their key specifications (of course, these boards can do a lot more, such as SPI and I2C communications).
|LM4F120 LP||TM4C1294 LP||NucleoF401||STM32F4 Discovery||Micro Python||Pixy|
|MCU||LM4F120||TM4C1294||STM32 F401RE||Â STM32 F407VBT6||Â STM32 F405RG||LPC4330|
|MHz||Â 80||Â 120||Â 84||Â 168||Â 168||204|
|SRAM||Â 32K||Â 256K||Â 96K||Â 192K||Â 192K||264K|
|Flash||Â 256K||Â 1024K||Â 512K||Â 1024K||Â 1024K||1024K|
|Debug||Â Yes||Â Yes||Â Yes||Â Yes||Â No||No|
|USB||Â Yes||Â Yes||Â Yes||Â Yes||Â Yes||Yes|
|Ethernet||Â No||Â Yes||Â No||Â No||Â No||No|
|microSD||Â No||Â No||Â No||Â No||Â Yes||No|
|Headers||1 Booster Pack XL||Â 2 Booster Pack XL||Arduino Uno R3 plus STM Morpho||STMF4 Discovery Headers||Micro Python skins (planned)||None|
|Frame workÂ||Energia, eLua (beta)||Energia, eLua (beta)||mbed||eLua (beta)||Micro Python||Pixy vision|
Notes on the Chart
- Debug means built-in debug support over USB, JTAG connector, or similar.
- USB support varies; for example, some boards include USB OTG support.
- eLua support is probably usable, but not very polished, on the various platforms, but that’s a guess because I haven’t tried itÂ yet.
- Energia is a Wiring-based IDE and framework for Launch Pads that’s very similar to Arduino.
- Prices are approximate.
- My apologies if the chart is hard to read; I haven’t had time to update my theme to allow for wider charts.
Stellaris LM4F120 LaunchPad (Tiva TM4C123G LaunchPad)
The LM4F120 LaunchPad is no longer available; however, theÂ Tiva TM4C123G LaunchPad is very similar (it does have a few improvements).
I bought this board when it first come out, since TI had a special offer (around $5 IIRC).
I bought one of this when it first came out because I’ve been waiting for a successor to the Stellaris LM3S9Bxx MCUs (which had on-chip PHY and plenty of SRAM).Â Yes, I do love to buy boards before I have time to play with them…
At EE Live! 2014 these LaunchPads were the top tool swap choice.Â (At the TI tool swap, TI gives you a new TIÂ dev board in exchange for an old, non-TI board).
I wasn’t planning on picking up one of these,Â but I managed to snag a free one at EE Live! 2014 from the STÂ booth.Â It’s definitelyÂ a very impressive boardÂ for the price
I wanted a STM32F4 board with Ethernet, and had a hard time choosing between the STM4F Discovery with Base Board (which adds Ethernet and more) or the Olimex STM32-E407 (which has Olimex UEXT connectors).Â I went the STM32F4 Discovery routeÂ because it seems to have better software support.
I backed the MicroPython Kickstarter project primarily because I like the Python language (and have used it on production machines), and was curious to see how much of Python’s goodness could be packed into a MCU.Â As you can see, it’s a pretty tiny board.
The base Kickstarter price was about $40; when it becomes available to all, the price will probably be a bit higher.
The Pixy is primarily a machine vision system, designed to track objects and work well with Arduinos and similar systems.Â However, it could be used as a pretty powerful embedded board.
I backed the Pixy because I like machine vision (I also own 5 smart cameras), I’ve wanted to play with the NXP LPC43xx MCU at the heart of the Pixy, and because I remember the Charmed Labs guys from their Nintendo hack days.
The base Kickstart price was $59; it’s currently available on Amazon for $69.