The recently launched Arm Development Studio provides a complete software development solution for all Arm devices. It includes as part of the package a license for Keil MDK, the preferred toolchain for users of Arm Cortex-M based microcontrollers. MDK is also available to purchase standalone, giving users the flexibility to decide on the appropriate solution for their needs. This article is intended to help you decide which tool is right for your needs, as there are a number of parameters to consider:
Note that older Arm toolchains, such as Arm DS-5 are no longer recommended for use. At the time of writing, existing users of MDK and DS-5 can make use of a promotional trade-in offer to move to Development Studio.
Development Studio is available in three distinct editions. MDK has been made available in four generally available editions, as well as special vendor specific editions. For both products, higher editions are always supersets of lower editions – for example there is no feature in Arm DS Bronze Edition that is not also present in the Silver Edition.
If you wish to use MDK with your Development Studio license, be sure to choose the appropriate Development Studio edition. If the specific MDK edition you need is not listed below, then select the next highest alternative.
Despite the license file enabling both, you should consider Development Studio and MDK to be distinct tools, and as such, capabilities should be considered independent. For example, secure code for Armv8-M cores can be built with Development Studio Bronze Edition, but not within MDK Essential Edition, despite Essential Edition being enabled by the Bronze Edition license.
MDK is a highly capable, mature, product, with over 30 years of development history. The µVision IDE is easy to use, and very familiar to many. MDK will continue to support a wide range of Arm-based microcontrollers, including those based on the latest Armv8-M CPUs.
There are several features within the IDE that are unique to that platform and are not (yet) supported within Development Studio. Examples of these features include:
You may have built up a testing infrastructure based around the scripting capabilities of µVision. While Development Studio also supports such scripting functionality, the languages are very different, and so it may take time for you to re-implement.
There are many reasons for you to consider migration to the Development Studio IDE. I remind again that purchase of Development Studio includes a license for MDK, which means that you do not need to switch all aspects of your development immediately.
DS-MDK was supplied with certain MDK editions and provided support for a limited number of heterogeneous systems. This product is no longer being developed, and it is recommended that all users migrate to Development Studio IDE, which supports all features of DS-MDK in the Bronze (and higher) editions.
Existing DS-MDK projects and workspaces can be easily imported to Development Studio.
MDK is a mature, highly-capable development environment for embedded microcontrollers. Development Studio is a complete environment for any Arm based platform and gives MDK users an easy path to migrate their programs to more advanced devices. If you have any further questions regarding your particular situation, do not hesitate to contact Arm or your local representative, and we will be happy to advise.
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