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H/WExpo is a two day Hardware Developers' Conference taking place at Cambourne, near Cambridge on the 27th and 28th April.  There will be a lot of content that I think will be of interest to the ARM community.  Alongside this event will be the more established UK Device Developers' Conference, an event for developers of embedded and realtime software. Again, a lot of this content should be of interest to engineers and computer scientists working with ARM devices.


cambridge conference small.jpg

This event is Free to attend for engineers and computer scientists working in this field. Some workshops are also free, and some have a modest price.


The ARM based workshops, presentations include...


How to Optimise Your ARM Cortex-M Code and Build Better Embedded Systems Faster - This 2 hour workshop will explain all of the Cortex-M debug Coresight bits and show how they can be used to debug/analyse an embedded system.


Developments in the ARM Cortex-M Processor Family - The last 12 months have been an important time for the ARM cortex-M processor family with the introduction of the Cortex-M7 processor and announcement of the ARMv8-M Architecture. Just over a year ago ARM announced the Cortex-M7, a step change is processor performance for small microcontrollers.


Other topics include developing Safety Critical Systems, implementing CapTouch interfaces, getting the most out of JTAG boundary scan, developing GUI's, getting started on Embedded Linux...


Please can you pass on this information if you have any friends or colleagues that you think might be interested in attending.


Thanks, kind regards

Richard Blackburn

Conference Manager


  • Several reporters including Rob Triggs from Android Authority highlight the release of ARM’s 28nm processor optimization pack for its Cortex-A53 and A7 processors, quoting ARM’s Will Abbey as stating, “Together, UMC and ARM are delivering a comprehensive 28nm platform including POP IP for two of the most successful ARM processor cores. This will enable optimized SoC implementations and keep pace with innovations in mobile, IoT and embedded markets.”
  • Several reporters including Rexly Peñaflorida from Tom’s Hardware highlight the release of Roccat’s ARM-based Ryos MK FX keyboard which includes custom lighting modes, noting, “The MK FX is powered by two 32-bit ARM Cortex processors and has 2 MB of flash memory to store your custom lighting and programming configurations.”
  • Tom Austin-Morgan from New Electronics reports on Renesas’ safety solutions for autonomous vehicles, sharing, “Renesas Electronics has developed hardware fault detection and prediction technologies for functional safety in automotive computing systems. It has also developed a prototype of an automotive computing system-on-chip (SoC) fabricated in a 16nm FinFET process supporting the ISO 26262 ASIL B standard for automotive functional safety.”
  • In a contributed article for Forbes, Paul Lamkin from Wareable highlights a report by Gartner which revealed that 322.69 million wearable devices will be sold in 2017, noting, “30.32 million smartwatches were sold in 2015, a figure it says will grow to 66.71 million by 2017.”

ARM at Hack Cambridge 2016



The ARM University Program (AUP) and mbed Internet of Things Teams had an incredible weekend as both a sponsor and mentor at the Hack Cambridge Hackathon 2016 at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, United Kingdom.


Hack Cambridge is a 400-strong event hosted by the University of Cambridge with help from Major League Hacking and the Cambridge Live Trust. 'Hackers' are either students or recent graduates, and came from all continents to attend. Some people came for fun, others to learn, but everyone shared the same passion for re-purposing and, in some cases, 'breaking' technology!


ARM awarded Team CakeMix its 'Best Hardware Hack' - Each team member winning a ROCKI WiFi Music System, £30 Spotify Voucher, a Seeed Studio Grove Starter Kit for mbed with an additional Base Shield, an STMicroelectronics NV Nucleo-F401RE Development Board and a 3D printed ARM mbed winners' trophy.


Congratulations to all winning teams, but most importantly all that came to attend, even those that quite literally travelled thousands of miles, who brought to the table so many innovative and creative 'hacks' in just 24 hours.


The ARM Twitter feed from the event can be seen at and the photo album can be viewed at Round-up video coming soon!




Highlights from #HackCambridge





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This article was delivered in collaboration with the ARM University Program and ARM Research. To be the first to find out about ARM news you can subscribe to either of the following:




ARM University Program (AUP) Internet of Things

  • Richard Wilson from Electronics Weekly highlights the release of Red Pitaya’s ARM-based programmable board which runs open-source software and measures magnetic fields, noting, “The credit card-sized board, which is available from RS and Mouser, uses a Xilinx Zynq processor with a dual ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore and programmable functions of an FPGA.”
  • Chuck Martin from MediaPost highlights a survey by TEKsystems which revealed the positive impacts that business leaders expect from IoT initiatives, noting, “The good news is that companies see customers as the main beneficiaries of their IoT efforts.”
  • Jon Fingas of Engadget reports on one bright spot in the tablet market, as detachable tablet sales have grown significantly in the previous few quarters
  • An article from Cambridge Network reports Feabhas is taking advantage of STMicroelectronics’ ARM-based microcontrollers to enhance its practical training exercises, quoting Feabhas CEO, Niall Cooling, as stating, “To ensure our C++11 /14 and C11 delegates get the most from the latest techniques and state-of-the-art tools, we have introduced STM32F4 ARM Cortex-M4-based microcontrollers to our practical exercises.”
  • Ed Sperling from SemiEngineeringhighlights ARM’s insight on the challenges of using multiple processors in a system, quoting ARM’s Bill Neifert as stating, “Establishing hardware level coherency is a significant verification challenge that is increasing as the number of chip cores multiplies to enable greater device performance. Coherency is not a block-level issue as it needs to be tackled at the system-level in a way that is sensitive to the individual IP configuration of the entire SoC.”
  • Several reporters including Agam Shah from PCWorld highlight the release of Linaro’s standardized Linux-based software stack for ARM servers, noting, “ARM servers are already recognized as a stable platform for the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) stack, used for serving Web applications.”
  • Jeremy Kahn from Bloomberg Business highlights ARM’s insight on cybersecurity and IoT risks, quoting ARM’s Stephen Pattison as stating, “The Internet of Things, a movement that seeks to control everything from factory equipment to traffic lights and household appliances through the Web, creates vast opportunities for improved efficiency and convenience. But unless companies address the emerging cybersecurity risks, the Internet of Things (or IoT) will fail.”
  • Lars Kurth of the Xen Project announced that ARM will host the next Xen Project Hackathon in Cambridge on April 18 and 19. It will cover many hot topics such as the latest Xen Project Hypervisor 4.7 features, planning for the next Xen Project Hypervisor release, Cloud Integration, Cloud Operating Systems, Mirage OS as well as Xen Project in emerging segments such as embedded, mobile, automotive and NFV. To sign up, click here
  • Justin Mitchell of the BBC wrote how last November they underwent a project to update the 30+ year old NICAM distribution system that carries many of the UK broadcaster's radio channels. The new codec contains a Xilinx Zynq-7000 chip running on dual-core Cortex-A9 processors, and enable over 30 million people to listen to the BBC's radio every week.
  • Several reporters including Matthew Broersma from TechWeekEurope highlight the release of Linux Kernel 4.5 which includes driver improvements and enhanced 3D graphics support for the ARM-based Raspberry Pi, noting, “New developments by UK-based chip designer ARM mean developers can now build a generic ARM kernel that works across all ARMv6 and ARMv7 platforms.”
  • Tom Austin-Morgan from New Electronics highlights the release of Cypress Semiconductor’s ARM-based PSoC 4 L-Series programmable architecture, noting, “The PSoC 4 L-Series is said to be the industry’s most integrated single-chip solution with a 32-bit ARM-Cortex-M0 core, featuring up to 256KBytes flash memory, 98 general purpose I/Os, 33 programmable analogue and digital blocks, a USB device controller, and a control area network interface.”
  • Several reporters including Dean Takahashi from VentureBeat continue to highlight the release of the Mali-DP650, noting, “That is an interesting accomplishment because it takes a lot of performance to drive 4K displays, which account for about 20 percent of all TVs sold now. At the same time, ARM chips are known for their power efficiency, so you can likely run that display without consuming a ton of power.”

  • David Manners from Electronics Weekly highlights a Gartner report which revealed that global IT spending will total $3.54 trillion in 2016, sharing, “U.S. multinationals’ revenues faced currency headwinds in 2015. However, in 2016 those headwinds go away and they can expect an additional 5% growth.”

  • Kelly Sheridan of InformationWeek provides some good news as she predicts that global device shipments in the mobile market are expected to rise in 2016.

  • In more M&A news within the semiconductor industry, Andrew Nusca of Fortune reports that Microchip Technology has signed an agreement to buy Atmel  ATML 0.25%  in the latest billion-dollar deal in the consolidating semiconductor industry.

  • An article in Cambridge News highlights ARM’s technology in NeuroSky devices helping improve the monitoring of patients with chronic illnesses. The article quotes ARM’s Karthik Ranjan as saying, “The use of trusted off-the-shelf mobile technology in medical sensors can cut billions of dollars a year from the cost of providing remote healthcare services.”

  • Several reporters, including Junko Yoshida at EE Times, highlight the release of Cypress’ ARM-based Traveo automotive microcontrollers. Yoshida writes, “Cypress said that the new 40nm Traveo series is based on the ARM Cortex-R5 processor with 240-MHz performance and supports the Controller Area Network-Flexible Data (CAN-FD) automotive communication protocol for increased data bandwidth for faster networking.”

  • Max Maxfield of EE Times reports Lauterbach will host a workshop on optimizing ARM Cortex-M code in the UK Device Developers’ Conference, noting, “Based on their extensive experience of working with many of the world’s leading technology companies, this two-hour presentation will explain all of the Cortex-M debug Coresight bits and show how they can be used to debug and analyze an embedded system.”

  • Ed Sperling from SemiEngineering highlights new approaches to improve memory power and performance, quoting ARM Fellow Rob Atiken as saying, “So with magnetic memory, if you use it only as memory, the performance is okay. But you also can do interesting things with it, such as save on leakage power of SRAM and active power in DRAM. And with more complicated systems, there are all sorts of options.”
  • Several reporters including Max Maxfield from EE Times highlight the availability of RF Digital’s ARM-based Simblee module to the public, noting, “Now we have the Simblee module, which is 10mm x 7mm x 2mm in size, and which contains two main functions: A 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 processor (with 128KB of Flash and 24KB of RAM running at 16MHz) and a Bluetooth Smart engine.”
  • Chros Wilder of Forbes reports that the IOT and wearables are changing Field Service Automation as we know it, driving much of the innovation in this industry.


Merry Christmas to you all folks



I speak with Grant Sinclair, nephew of the inventor behind the UK’s first affordable mass-market home computer, to hear of his new invention - the Poco. Reviewing the Sinclair family and its success over the last 54 years, I look at how the rise of the Cambridge based Sinclair Radionics (founded in 1961) helped to shape this new generation of microelectronic innovation.



In Depth


Sinclair – two syllables synonymous with leading-edge design, innovation and efficiency. I spent the morning with Grant Sinclair, nephew of the inventor behind the UK’s first affordable mass-market home computer, to hear of the continuation and evolution of the Sinclair ingenuity, and its products thereafter.


Grant was in the privileged position to be at the centre of the personal computer race of the 1980’s when the Sinclair ZX81 (Sinclair Research) battled with the BBC Micro (Acorn Computers) for the premier place in the UK’s then emerging home computer market.  Despite the intense rivalry between these two Cambridge based companies, he describes the relationship between Chris Curry - co-Founder of Acorn Computers - and his father Iain Sinclair, as that akin to the closest of friends.


Grant describes himself as being influenced by several family members along with leading tech entrepreneurs of the period, learning personally from the likes of Chris Curry and Sir David Potter of Psion - pioneers of the leading Symbian mobile phone software platform, he explains.



Starting with the Sinclair family tree, Grant describes his father and uncle (Sir Clive Sinclair) as two men of differing talents. His uncle the pragmatist when it came to the sales and marketing strategy around the nascent Sinclair ZX Spectrum.  For example, when it came to pricing and packaging he had a singular focus on “hitting the right price point to secure sales [at around] a tenth of the price” of the competition, along with a “particular obsession about making things smaller and smaller.” His father, Iain Sinclair, on the other-hand, was focused on industrial design, on getting products “looking, feeling and working as great as possible.” You can find evidence of this in the 100 or so dedicated gaming computers Iain designed for Saitek Ltd of Hong Kong from 1980 through to around 1995, Grant explains, who marketed the industrial designs under several of their own brands including Kasparov.


Grant developed his business acumen at his father’s London-based company Iain Sinclair Design, which was founded in 1964 and is still going strong today.  He recalls a fond time in 1994 when their low-cost Flashcard invention had been launched and just won a BBC Design Award.  The company went from generating zero revenue from the invention to sales amassing over 2.5 million units and an order book mountain as a result.  “We were knee deep in orders for several years and struggled to keep up with demand”, reminisces Grant.   As he had to be on standby 24/7 to build multiple working credit card-sized Flashcard torch prototypes in time for trade and press show launches, it was only natural that Grant became involved in overseeing the manufacturing and marketing process as well.


Then of course came the meteoritic rise of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, which sold more than 5 million units over 10 years, according to multiple sources.  In fact, it can be easy to under-estimate the impact the ZX Spectrum had on the industry at the time.  Richard Altwasser, the original engineer behind ZX Spectrum stated in an interview with the BBC that it, in fact, sold “more than three times the volume” of the BBC Micro, shipping more units than any other personal computer in the world at the time.  From a personal point of view, Grant recalls the impact this seminal computer had on his early development.  He remembers, aged 10, demonstrating coding on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum to a crowded Personal Computer World trade show audience of hundreds and later at Kings College Music School in Cambridge, where he used it to perform very early digital music at a public, end of year music event.


It’s not surprising then, that this year, in the continuation and evolution of Sinclair ingenuity, Grant registered London-based Sinclair Mobile Ltd for the sole purpose of marketing his own inventions.  The company’s first major public release – simply entitled the Poco (small or little in Italian) is a multi-functional micro computer, powered by a Raspberry Pi chipset, with an action camera, gaming console, high resolution 24-bit music player and an internet-ready web browser.  As leading gadget blog Engadget puts it "This Raspberry Pi handheld wants to be every gadget in the world".


The development of today’s Poco originated from the Poco Pro Camera concept design, with the need for a small form factor and a lighter frame complete with a premium AMOLED display.  Taking notes from his father’s background in industrial design and his uncle’s miniaturisation of electronics, Grant looked to the already established and flourishing Raspberry Pi community for further inspiration.  The result is that the Poco comes equipped with a Raspberry Pi compute module embedded with an ARM-based processor, which Grant says “reduces the time to market” because the Raspberry Pi community has already developed and tested the technology through a myriad wearable applications.


Much of Poco’s hardware design is in fact based on pre-existing designs from the community, simplified and miniaturised wherever possible, but never combined in such a form for such a purpose.  According to Grant, the advantage here is that “everything is already done” and that “the software has already been written” and this ensures that the Poco is actually achievable in a reasonable timeframe and truly cutting-edge.  In fact, thanks to the adaptive and agile nature of the Raspberry Pi community, Sinclair Mobile have just announced that they have already begun working on a newer, “simplified” and low cost version of the Poco which will take advantage of the just launched Raspberry Pi Zero.


When we asked Grant why he chose ARM architecture, it really came down to two things – sense and sentiment.  Sense in that ARM processors provide “much capability with energy efficiency in a small package”, and the sentiment of nostalgia from “the fact ARM is from my hometown [Cambridge]” and was “a spin-off from Acorn – a sizeable part of the Cambridge Phenomenon’s tech cluster”.  In fact, Acorn’s other Co-Founder, alongside Chris Curry, was Hermann Hauser whom is quoted as describing the Poco as a device “you would expect from a Sinclair product, it looks very cool.” Jason Bradbury from The Gadget Show concurs, tweeting to his 263,000 followers on Twitter, “this looks cool.”


In terms of horsepower, we were able to collectively estimate that the Poco, using a single ARM core running at 700 MHz, would outperform Sir Clive Sinclair’s Z80-equipped ZX81 215 times, in a form factor approximately 15 times smaller.  It is expected with faster quad-core models in development that this figure of compute performance is likely to soar to much higher levels.



It’s also worthwhile noting the educational value of the Poco.  Grant explained how he came to learn of microelectronics, reverse-engineering and then miniaturising devices, sourcing and reading computer magazines and manuals from all over the world and learning by taking apart any electronic device he could get his hands on, all without a formal qualification.  What was truly inspirational however was a visit to Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona.  His visit to the Teardown booth “worryingly showed anyone exactly how to make a device such as an iPhone, or other leading consumer products.” Though, like with his uncle, this was the path to the miniaturisation of his devices that ultimately led to the Poco.  As such, Grant plans to make a clear body for the Poco so children are similarly able to reverse-engineer its components, say for those that are visual and kinaesthetic learners, with a “plan to release a low-cost kit product” that could be used to “load games such as Minecraft, or classics like Quake, and other gaming and learning emulators”.  There are even BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum emulators for the Raspberry Pi now, additionally with the ability to control a robot.  With cost being a factor, his aim is to now develop a low-cost education device, perhaps leveraging the Raspberry Pi Zero module, for approximately £49 ($74 USD).


Indeed, self-education is a key philosophy that drives the Sinclair family, with an awareness of the need to provide children, regardless of their background, with hands-on experience in STEM subjects - programming and engineering in particular.  Whilst Sir Clive Sinclair was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) by the University of Bath in 1983, he didn’t actually obtain a formal university degree, Grant explains.  Instead, he adopted a path to those of similar success in electronics at that time.  A case in point is Sir Alan Sugar, whose company Amstrad bought the Sinclair logo and rights to license the ZX Spectrum for around £9M ($13.5M USD) in 1986.  Surprisingly Lord Sugar’s career got started when he purchased bulk batches of reject Sinclair Hi-Fi components such as amplifiers, before repairing them and selling them on at market stalls in the late 1960s.  In fact, you could argue Sinclair’s products indirectly aided a whole new generation of electronics DIY hobbyists and programmers, with Altwasser recollecting that during his decade of recruiting software developers he was “continually meeting people who cut their teeth on a ZX Spectrum”.


This year Sir Clive Sinclair is a partner of a new company, Retro Computers Ltd, who have recently launched the Every Child Can Code Initiative, which previously brought the revival of the ZX series with the ZX Vega.  Grant is also working along similar lines through the development of accessible devices and kits, and sees Poco as becoming synonymous with the emerging Maker culture.  Howard Bernstein, known as the influential trip hop music producer Howie B, summarises in describing the Poco as "a Creative tool that can become what you want it to be".


The “high-end and feature-packed” Poco is currently live on IndieGoGo and tendering backers with 21 days remaining at point of writing.  Grant explains that he’s chosen to seek crowdfunding as a means “to get valuable market feedback and to get his name on the door as being first.” Whether Sinclair Mobile follows the success of its predecessors is yet to be determined, but there’s no arguing the spirit and clear progression its founder has shown in taking influence from his past and embracing the guerrilla product development ethos of the maker community.  This is further demonstrated in the manufacturing model being deployed by Grant.  The Raspberry Pi is largely manufactured in Sony’s Pencoed (Wales) plant, and Grant hopes to do the same with the Poco - the goal being to minimise the distance between manufacturer and consumer.


As a last thought, Grant recollects the launch of the Apple Newton in 1993; the first PDA product to feature handwriting recognition, with Chris Curry and Grant’s father in attendance. A friendly argument ensued as to the future of payment systems, Grant explains – Chris believing that cash and cheques would soon be obsolete and that the future would be with the electronic wallet.  Chris’ company, General Information Systems of Cambridge, later went on to develop one of the very first portable ‘Chip and Pin’ card readers and was also involved with London’s Oyster Card cashless payment system.  In fact Iain Sinclair produced the industrial design for one of Chris’ very early credit card sized pocketable payment concepts for Mondex, according to Grant.  While we can’t predict the future, perhaps we can hope that moving forward, end-users, developers and engineers will use the tools of today to make the platforms of tomorrow.  Development models such as the one used by Sinclair Mobile could be an entirely new path for consumer electronics, where companies respond to its changing environment, rather than hoping it can shape and lead innovation.  With the help of crowdfunding sites, and a philosophy of crowdsourcing development, the future is bright for the next generation of start-ups.



Poco Media



You can read more about the Sinclair Mobile Poco on IndieGoGo .



Get Involved


This article was delivered in collaboration with the ARM University Program and ARM Research. To be the first to find out about ARM news you can subscribe to either of the following:






ARM University Program (AUP)

  • Timothy Morgan of The Next Platform reports that Hewlett Packard Enterprise is hosting its first big shindig, the Discover Europe customer and partner conference, as a company separated from PCs and printers, and is trotting out a new line of systems, code named “Thunderbird” and sold under the brand HPE Synergy, that are follow-ons to its BladeSystem blade servers.

  • R.Colin Johnson of EETimes features updates on some of the carbon-reducing technologies being developed or already in use that could help companies, countries and citizens reduce their carbon footprint.

  • Tom Austin-Morgan of New Electronics reports that Toshiba has launched the TMPM37AFSQG microcontroller (MCU) as the latest addition to its ARM Cortex-M3-based TX03 series.

  • David Manners from Electronics Weekly writes how China’s support programme for its chip industry looks like it will benefit ARM

  • Gulveen Aulakh writes for The Times of India on how Lenovo is aiming to double smartphone production in India

  • In a post for Cadence’s blog that was picked up by Design and Reuse, Paul McLellan highlights an interview with CEO Simon Segars discussing the importance of ARM7 processors in the company’s success, noting, “Simon thinks that over 30 billion ARM7TDMI chips have shipped, making it the biggest selling microprocessor of all time, at least in terms of unit volume. It was also the turning point for ARM as a company.”

  • Chuong Nguyen of TechRadar reports on Xiaomi's new tablet, which looks like an iPad Mini but acts like a Surface


Happy Thanksgiving to all

GPS Modules Features

Deciding which GPS module to use can be difficult. Thanks to the latest technology, GPS modules are getting smaller, more light weight, more inexpensive and easier to use. But how do you decide which GPS module will work best for your application? What factors do you need to consider before you choose a module?


Here are the top 9 features to consider.

  • Neil Tyler from New Electronics highlights a panel led by ARM CEO Simon Segars at the Science Museum in London discussing the next technological revolution, quoting Simon as stating, “We need to ensure that teachers bring technology not just into classes about technology, but into as many subject areas as possible.”

  • Bill Wong from Electronic Design highlights the release of ARM’s Cortex-A35 and ARMv8-M architecture at TechCon, in addition to several 64-bit ARM platform announcements at the show, noting, “The big difference between this year and last is that the 64-bit platforms are generally available rather than just evaluation kits. It is currently a small fraction of the server market, but this is changing as the higher performance and high core-count platforms become available as they run very cool and efficiently.”

  • Peter Sayer from PCWorld highlights the release of Ingenico’s ARM-based 5000-series payment terminals which can run web apps to perform functions in addition to processing payments, noting, “Behind the terminals’ bigger display is a 600MHz ARM Cortex-A5 processor with 512MB each of RAM and flash, running a webkit-based HTML5 browser on top of Ingenico’s own Linux-based operating system.”

  • Parker Wilhelm of TechRadar writes about biometric 'tech tattoos', and how a company from Austin, TX is putting a new spin on the concept of wearable tech.

  • Several reporters including Edgar Alvarez from Engadget highlight the anticipated release of Garmin’s ARM-based Android streaming TV stick, noting, “The stick is said to come with a 1GHz Amlogic AML826 dual-core processor, ARM Mali-400 graphics, 1GB of RAM and support for both Bluetooth and WiFi.”

  • An article from Phys.Org on United for Wildlife’s announcement of a conservation technology network called Wildlabs.Net with support from ARM, quoting ARM’s Ian Ferguson as stating, “Technology is already being used to help protect the planet’s vital resources and now we are helping to accelerate these advances to protect threatened species and habitats.”

  • Jessica Lipsky from EE Times highlights the release of Parrot’s ARM-based Bebop consumer drone, noting, “Bebop 2 uses an ARM Cortex-A9 processor, a low-tier GPU, 8 GB of flash memory, GPS receiver, and three-axis stabilization.”

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