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An RTOS (Real-Time Operating System) is the most universally accepted way of designing and implementing embedded software. It is the most sought after component of any system that outgrows the venerable "superloop". But it is also the design strategy that implies a certain programming paradigm, which leads to particularly brittle designs that often work only by chance. I'm talking about sequential programming based on blocking.


Blocking occurs any time you wait explicitly in-line for something to happen. All RTOSes provide an assortment of blocking mechanisms, such as time-delays, semaphores, event-flags, mailboxes, message queues, and so on. Every RTOS thread, structured as an endless loop, must use at least one such blocking mechanism, or else it will take all the CPU cycles. Typically, however, threads block not in just one place in the endless loop, but in many places scattered throughout various functions called from the thread routine. For example, in one part of the loop a thread can block and wait for a semaphore that indicates the end of an ADC conversion. In other part of the loop, the same thread might wait for an event flag indicating a button press, and so on.


This excessive blocking is evil, because it appears to work initially, but almost always degenerates into a unmanageable mess. The problem is that while a thread is blocked, the thread is not doing any other work and is not responsive to other events. Such a thread cannot be easily extended to handle new events, not just because the system is unresponsive, but mostly due to the fact that the whole structure of the code past the blocking call is designed to handle only the event that it was explicitly waiting for.


You might think that difficulty of adding new features (events and behaviors) to such designs is only important later, when the original software is maintained or reused for the next similar project. I disagree. Flexibility is vital from day one. Any application of nontrivial complexity is developed over time by gradually adding new events and behaviors. The inflexibility makes it exponentially harder to grow and elaborate an application, so the design quickly degenerates in the process known as architectural decay.


The mechanisms of architectural decay of RTOS-based applications are manifold, but perhaps the worst is the unnecessary proliferation of threads. Designers, unable to add new events to unresponsive threads are forced to create new threads, regardless of coupling and cohesion. Often the new feature uses the same data and resources as an already existing feature (such features are called cohesive). But unresponsiveness forces you to add the new feature in a new thread, which requires caution with sharing the common data. So mutexes and other such blocking mechanisms must be applied and the vicious cycle tightens. The designer ends up spending most of the time not on the feature at hand, but on managing subtle, intermittent, unintended side-effects.


For these reasons experienced software developers avoid blocking as much as possible. Instead, they use the Active Object design pattern. They structure their threads in a particular way, as "message pumps", with just one blocking call at the top of the task loop, which waits generically for all events that can flow to this particular thread. Then, after this blocking call the code checks which event actually arrived, and based on the type of the event the appropriate event handler is called. The pivotal point is that these event handlers are not allowed to block, but must quickly return to the "message pump". This is, of course, the event-driven paradigm applied on top of a traditional RTOS.


While you can implement Active Objects manually on top of a conventional RTOS, an even better way is to implement this pattern as a software framework, because a framework is the best known method to capture and reuse a software architecture. In fact, you can already see how such a framework already starts to emerge. Just notice that the "message pump" structure is identical for all thrads, so it can become part of the framework rather than being repeated in every application.


This also illustrates the most important characteristics of a framework called inversion of control. When you use an RTOS, you write the main body of each thread and you call the code from the RTOS, such as delay(). In contrast, when you use a framework, you reuse the architecture, such as the "message pump" here, and write the code that it calls. The inversion of control is very characteristic to all event-driven systems. It is the main reason for the architectural-reuse and enforcement of the best practices, as opposed to re-inventing them for each project at hand.


But there is more, much more to the Active Object framework. For example, a framework like this can also provide support for state machines (or better yet, hierarchical state machines), with which to implement the internal behavior of active objects. In fact, this is exactly how you are supposed to model the behavior in the UML (Unified Modeling Language).


As it turns out, active objects provide the sufficiently high-level of abstraction and the right level of abstraction to effectively apply modeling. This is in contrast to a traditional RTOS, which does not provide the right abstractions. You will not find threads, semaphores, or time delays in the standard UML. But you will find active objects, events, and hierarchical state machines.


An AO framework and a modeling tool beautifully complement each other. The framework benefits from a modeling tool to take full advantage of the very expressive graphical notation of state machines, which are the most constructive part of the UML.


In summary, RTOS and superloop aren't the only game in town. Actor frameworks, such as Akka, are becoming all the rage in enterprise computing, but active object frameworks are an even better fit for deeply embedded programming. After working with such frameworks for over 15 years , I believe that they represent a similar quantum leap of improvement over the RTOS, as the RTOS represents with respect to the “superloop”.


If you'd like to learn more about active objects, I recently posted a presentation on SlideShare: Beyond the RTOS: A Better Way to Design Real-Time Embedded Software

nVIDIA® Tegra® K1 Development Board, Propus has eSOMTK1 - Systems on Module & carrier board. eSOMTK1 is based on nVIDIA's Tegra K1 4-Plus-1 ARM™ Cortex-A15 Quad core processor which can operate up to 2.3 GHz and Integrated nVIDIA Kepler™ GPU with 192 nVIDIA CUDA® cores.



Today is World IP Day today, an annual celebration and acknowledgement of the vital role that intellectual property rights play in encouraging innovation.

In electronics design, the ARM community has of course played a crucial role in changing the very nature of how we conceive and implement systems and silicon design. And the way we do it changes constantly.


We don’t often have the time because we’re busy building tomorrow, but take a moment today to pause and reflect on your accomplishments as part of this global ecosystem. It’s been an astonishing journey.


Last year, my colleague neilcooper compiled a history of ecosystem innovation over the past quarter century (Celebrating 25 Years of the ARM Ecosystem). It’s an inspiring story, especially for those of us who covered the rise of a truly unique approach to electronics design way back when.



Related stories:

Celebrating 25 Years of the ARM Ecosystem

Ten key milestones from ARM’s first 25 years



Berkeley’s Dr. Rabaey predicted trouble with the IOT back in 2008. At the upcoming IEEE IMS 2016 event, he’ll propose an open, scalable human Intranet to deal with the legacy issues.

By John Blyler, Editorial Director


History may well repeat itself at this year’s ieee IMS May 2016 event. Berkeley University’s Dr. Jan Rabaey will speak on a subject of “sensor swarms” that he first introduced back in 2008 at a javascript:;Cadence Design Systems Design Network Live (CDNLive) event. [Back then, Ted Vecurevich was still CTO for the company – see image below.]


Even before 2008, Rabaey ( javascript:;Sensor Swarm Proponent Predicted IoT Technical Barrier) was a proponent of the concept of a sensor swarm but predicted serious technical barriers to what would later be called the Internet-of-Things (IoT). These earlier warnings by Dr. Rabaey about complexity issues supported later reports on the barriers of immature standards and the high cost of networking infrastructures for IoT – see below.


During the early cdnlive event, I moderated a panel where Dr. Jan Rabaey of talked about the coming age of wireless sensor swarms (a precursor to IoT). He noted the growing complexity of sensory networks, adding that, “if you ignore system-level design, you’re toast.”

Figure: Low-power panel at CDNLive 2008 (from left to right): John Blyler (moderator), Ted Vucurevich, Nikhil Jayaram, Juan Antonio Carballo, Jan Rabaey and Carl Guardino.


A few years ago, javascript:;Embedded sponsored a report by the the_economist Intelligence Unit, titled; “The Internet of Things Business Index: A quiet revolution

gathers pace.” Among the many findings of the report was a caution about connectivity: “The IoT will not flourish without genuine co-operation. Turning 50bn so-called smart things into a global network requires businesses to agree on standards for inter-connectivity and data sharing.”


Two of the top five barriers for companies hoping to increase the use of IoT were; 1) the immaturity of industry standards around IoT, and 2) the high costs of required investments of IoT infrastructure. Both of these barriers relate directly to networking/connectivity issues, including the design of the overall system – from the analog sensor to the digital MCU and up through the individual wired/wireless networks to the cloud.


Echoing Dr. Rabaey’s words from many years ago, the technical success of IoT will depend upon the smooth interconnection between the many small sensor networks of individually connected things to the big network of connected things that extended across industries and organizations. This inter-connectivity will involved both wired and wireless protocols and standards.


Once this system-level infrastructure is secure, then the business success of IoT will depend upon the free flow of information across all of these networks. But part of the business allure of IoT is the services that companies can charge, e.g., the sale of data. This business model that supports both the free flow of information and the sale of a portion of that information has yet to be developed.

Both of these challenges can – and will – be met, but not without dealing with complex issues on both the technical and business fronts of IoT.


Be sure to catch Dr. Rabaey’s update at this year’s IEEE IMS 2016 event: “The Human Intranet- Where Swarms and Humans Meet.”

Originally published on "IP Insider"

ARM TechCon 2016 may be more than six months away, but time is of the essence.


ARM TechCon 2015 lecture session.jpg

The 2016 call for abstracts is now open until June 10. ARM TechCon is one of the industry’s premier technical events, attracting an engaged audience of engineers, developers and entrepreneurs hungry for information about technology trends, products and training.


For ARM partners, ARM TechCon, held this year at the Santa Clara Convention Center Oct. 25-27, is an effective channel to highlight the ARM ecosystem’s remarkable achievements and inspire future designs.



The conference welcomes presentations on design ideas, applications, design advancements, process improvements, or innovative products based on ARM technology. Here is the list of this year’s conference tracks and a link to additional details on each


  • Embedded Software Development
  • Silicon Design
  • Automotive, Industrial & Functional Safety
  • Graphics
  • Contextual Processing
  • Networking, Infrastructure & Servers
  • High-Efficiency Systems
  • Internet of Things
  • Trust & Security


The ARM TechCon 2016 Technical Program Committee reviews all submissions based on quality, relevance, impact, and originality. We hope to see your submission in the mix soon!


Click here to submit your abstract!

The 2015 ARM Student Design Contest India finale took place on 26th March 2016 at the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Bangalore, with twenty five teams presenting their working prototype around the theme of Smart Transport Systems. These twenty five teams qualified for the finals from over a 100 teams that were present at the preliminary rounds at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras in September 2015. Started in 2014 by the ARM University Program (AUP) in India, the 2015 edition of the contest in a sense provided energy and thought to the local Make-in-India and the Start-up-India initiatives to promote innovation and productivity.


Of the hundred and sixty seven proposals received online, the preliminary round at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras saw a hundred and fifteen selected teams vying for the top twenty five positions to be able to make it to the finals. The jury panel consisted of a blend of academicians and industry experts (from OEMs, as well as manufacturers in the automotive space such as TVS Motor Company). The proposals were broadly classified into four categories, namely, traffic management, infrastructure, safety and emissions, and general categories. The preliminary round ended with the twenty five top teams being handed an ARM Cortex-M0+ based NXP / Freescale FRDM KL25Z based car kit each, so that they could develop a working prototype for demonstration at the finals. Each team was guided by a faculty mentor and participated in regular review meetings with the organizers (ACCS) and industry experts.


Img 1.jpg Img 4.jpg Img 2.jpgImg 5.jpg

The ARM Cortex-M0+ powered Freescale Car Kit

The first prize carrying a cash award of 100K INR went to a team from the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Hamirpur (adopter of AUP's education kit) for a Priority-based Traffic Management System. Using Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags on vehicles and RFID readers at traffic signals, the system provides a seamless path to emergency services when an emergency service vehicle (tag) comes in the zone of an RFID reader. Additional features include theft and traffic-violation detection mechanisms that could potentially alert law and order agencies closest to a vehicle under observation.


The second prize with a cash award of 50K INR also went to a team from the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Hamirpur for designing a Smart Honking System. To tackle the ever-growing problem of unnecessary honking, the team developed an inter-vehicular communication system using RFID. With the RFID, when there is a need for honking, only vehicles within a specific pre-defined range are alerted with a request signal. The system features additional visual support for hearing impaired drivers, in-car infotainment controls that turn down sound volume, enabling a driver to be alerted to an incoming signal requesting path clearance for an emergency service vehicle.


The prototype of a child-alert system in parked vehicles put together by the team from Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology, Yelahanka (adopter of AUP's education kit), won the third prize carrying a cash award of 25K INR. The child-safety mechanism essentially monitors temperature and oxygen levels inside the passenger cabin of a parked car with a child/pet left inside. As a first level of security, the system alerts the driver of the car initially allowing enough time for the driver to return to the vehicle before anything untoward happens to the child/pet in the car. In case the driver does not respond to the initial system alert, then the system alerts emergency services to the rescue of the child/pet.


For a detailed coverage of the even you could visit our social media channels - Facebook and Twitter.



Second Place
Third Place
Img 9.jpgImg 10.jpgImg 7.jpg
Smart Honking SystemPriority based traffic Management SystemSystem for Child Safety in Parked Vehicles



Following on the heels of a recent post highlighting trade-offs in HDI technology and layer count of a single-board versus a som solution and how that drives bare_board costs, we wanted to take the next step and examine the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a single board development approach vs. incorporating a SOM in your design.


The analysis below looks at both the recurring costs and the engineering investment for the two approaches. The SOM used in this comparison is part of Critical Link’s MitySOM-5CSx family, which is based on the altera cyclone_v_soc, featuring single or dual hard-core arm cortex-a9 (single core for this exercise) tightly integrated with fpga fabric.





Line ItemSingle Board SolutionSOM solution

Your parts BOM - this represents the total BOM cost for the solution.

Includes all components for the CPU/FPGA infrastructure (assumed in this case to be in the $60 range) in addition to all the components that fill out your total solution. The additional parts could be ADCs, DACs, PHYs, connectors, power supply components, passives, etc. These additional components are assumed to be in the $90 range for this exercise.

The same as the single board solution, minus the components that would be provided as part of the SOM itself.

Bare Board

Approximately 5"x 6" bare board, 12 layers, HDI technology including blind and buried vias, microvias, tight trace and space.

Approximately 5"x 6"bare board, 6 layers, non HDI technology, no blind and buried vias, no microvias, and relaxed trace and space

Assembly - Labor cost for a contract manufacturer to assemble the representative board.


Slightly cheaper than the single board solution since there are fewer components to place

X-Ray - X-Ray inspection of BGA components post assembly


Cost not incurred in this approach. This assumes all BGA components are in the CPU/FPGA subsystem and thus on the SOM.

Test - Functional, flying probe, or other post assembly test method


Slightly less expensive since there are fewer components to cover with testing.


As you can see, the total recurring costs for the single board solution in this mythical scenario is $62 per unit less than the cost for a SOM solution. Even with a far lower cost for the bare board; lower costs for assembly and testing; and the elimination of the need to x-ray, the single board solution looks like the winner.


Let's now extend our scenario to include the cost to engineer each solution.  For the purposes of our imaginary scenario let's assume that the cost to engineer the portion of the design already found on the SOM is $250,000 and those portions of the design not covered by the SOM (predominantly I/O, data acquisition, etc.) cost $50,000 to develop.


$250,000 to develop the SOM functionality?


One may consider this to be an inflated number. In our experience, however, it's pretty aggressive. To illustrate this point consider that this cost includes the total cost of the following (including materials):


  • schematic design and review
  • power supply design and power sequencing
  • board layout including working with PCB houses to develop a cost efficient, manufacturable design
  • high speed DDR3 routing, simulation and validation
  • 2 - 3 board spins to optimize CPU / FPGA circuitry design and layout
  • design verification of all high and low speed interfaces including stress testing over multiple units across the entire supported temperature range
  • DDR3 bringup and timings
  • Bootloader software development and test
  • Operating system board support package development and test


Using the analysis shown here, at an annual volume of 1,000 units the TCO of each SOM-based unit produced is more than $100 less than that of a single board, chip-down unit. The break-even point is around 3,000 units per year, assuming a fairly typical target ROI period of 18 months, though most designs don’t get to that kind of volume until a year or more into production.


As you can see, with a SOM based approach, a very significant engineering investment has already been made swinging the cost trade balance in favor of the SOM. Does this analysis hold true for all projects? Of course not. However, for a large variety of industrial and medical type applications it does.


Still not seeing the value?


Let's consider additional "behind the scenes" benefits:


  • Immediately out of the gate at project start, you and your engineering team can focus on your value-add instead of reinventing a wheel.
  • Your solution is completed 6 to 12 months faster enabling quicker time to market, contributing to more revenue, and potentially more overall market share as a result.
  • Parts obsolescence, memory die shrinks, etc. We all have to deal with them, but when memory is on the SOM we take care of the die shrinks and obsolescence issues.
  • You benefit from the experiences of many, many applications and uses of the SOM. We provide the SOM to a great number of customers who then install it in a variety of their products. Occasionally a scenario is discovered that requires an improvement to the SOM. You get to benefit from not having to experience the discovery, analysis, and implementation of these required improvements.


If you're being pushed to add complexity to your products despite tight timelines, it may be time to consider the total cost of ownership and value-added benefits of a SOM approach, and perhaps relieve a little bit of resource stress along the way!

Critical Link BareBoard Cost Drivers.pngis often asked to help cost-out the differences between a single-board chip-down solution and a solution that incorporates a som.  It’s well known that HDI (high density interconnect) and layer count increase the cost of a bare board, but just how much?  We were surprised to find out.


Our customers generally expect board size to be a driver of board cost, double the size of the board and the cost of the board generally doubles. Pretty straight forward. HDI and 10-12 layers are known to increase the cost, but by how much?


In order to check it out Critical Link asked different PCB suppliers to quote a fictitious 12-layer HDI board and a non-HDI, same-sized design using only 6 layers.  We were trying to analyze the difference in cost between board designs that used BGAs and required HDI and additional layers to perform the escape routing and those that didn’t. In the latter case we were thinking those designs leveraged a som such as our MitySOM-5CSx or others from the Single Board Computers resource guide.


Across multiple PCB suppliers we were shocked to find the cost of a 12-layer HDI board is roughly 5 to 6 times the cost of a 6-layer board. The actual size of the board was irrelevant; whether 2”x5” or 8”x5”, the multiplier remained consistent. Ouch.


To give you a better idea, here’s a pricing example from one PCB supplier. The actual prices were different from each supplier, but the multipliers were surprisingly similar.


Base board price comparison, based on number of layers:

(All figures based on a quantity of 1,000)


Board size

Six-layer board

Twelve-layer HDI board




$     6.75

$   39.00

$   32.25



$   13.50

$   63.00

$   49.50



$   22.50

$ 105.00

$   82.50



$   25.00

$ 117.50

$   92.50





In addition to the pure base board cost savings, incorporating a som like the MitySOM-5CSx typically allows for a smaller form-factor, meaning an even lower base board cost. (E.g., if you were able to reduce the board size from 6x5 to 4x5, the price decreases further to $13.50 and the multiplier jumps to over 7.5x.)


Reducing the number of layers and technology doesn’t come for “free,” of course. The BGA components that would have forced the extra layers have to go somewhere, and that’s on the som. Obviously there are costs associated with the som -- and in a later post, we will discuss Total Cost of Ownership of a chip-down approach vs. incorporating a som but we know designers find it interesting that a reduction in the number of layers produces such dramatic cost savings for the bare board.

A journalist recently said to me:


“The trouble with IoT is that it isn't making a visible difference yet.”


I had to disagree, at least in part. IoT IS making a difference but a key part of that difference isn't visible: The connected microcontroller, which is changing the rules for developers and designers.


One day all devices will be connected and here are three reasons:


1. User Interface

Bluetooth Low Energy has enabled a vast range of new devices to be developed that connect to your smartphone.


Perhaps the most popular of these new devices has been the activity monitor. Devices like Fitbit, or Misfit Shine have almost no user interface on the device. Instead they relay their data to the smartphone where it can be viewed and interpreted with rich, vivid visualizations.


Misfit Shine 2</a> with its minimal user interface

Misfit Shine 2 with its minimal user interface

Fitbit iOS App provides rich user interface for coaching

Fitbit iOS App provides rich user interface for coaching


By building a device that has a wireless connection to a smartphone, the designer has the freedom to create rich and changing user interfaces that are delivered through our treasured smartphones.


Perhaps more importantly, it enables the user experience to evolve. In the short term, that means benefitting from the latest screen technology, touch and gesture control of the smartphone. In the future, it means that the embedded device will be able to interact with augmented or virtual reality headsets or wearable technology.


2. Ecosystems

In addition to user interface, the wireless connection adds value to the device in that it expands the device’s capabilities beyond the boundaries of the hardware. App developers can interact with the device, combining additional services and other devices to create much greater value. For example an activity tracker can gain mapping and social competition experiences from third-party designers, or can share updates that can be viewed on other products.


3. Developer freedom – no longer fixed in time

Embedded microcontrollers used to require the developer to lock the features before the device shipped. Once in the hands of the user, therefore, it wasn’t possible to adjust the behavior to the needs of new applications or changes in social trends. Adding connectivity to the microcontroller frees the developer and designer to add features and enhance the product after it has shipped.


The future of embedded devices


All embedded devices want to connect, and the value to the designer and the developer is far greater than the marginal cost of the technology. So I believe that all embedded devices will add connectivity.


The only question is which technology. At the moment the technology that is leading that innovation is Bluetooth Smart. In the ARM Wireless Business Unit, we are delivering that radio technology as IP to enable the next generation of connected devices. We call it ARM® Cordio® and today it is qualified to the latest Bluetooth 4.2 standard.


Next week is Bluetooth World the event where developers and designers congregate to discuss the future of the technology.


I will be presenting a keynote explaining why Bluetooth Smart adoption will continue to grow and the reasons for its success. I’ll also be explaining how ARM and its partners are delivering the technology to support this growth.


My colleague Charlene Marini (charlenemarini) will also be participating in a panel looking at whether the Internet of Things is Hype or Hope, with participants from Amazon and Google among others.


You can read about ARM presence at Bluetooth World here and here as well.


I hope to see you there!


Paul Williamson is general manager of the ARM Wireless Business Unit.

It sounds almost like a tale: Every Year again all the Experts of the Embedded Market meet in a little old Town in the Forrest of Bavaria. They are coming from all nations in flying machines to see the latest inovation and talk to each other in a language filled with Buzz words only few might understand if they not belong to this totally Engineering group....


Also this Year Embedded World took place like always in end of February.

I have been on a few times on Embedded Worlds now, but it is always great to go again.

Every year there is something new to spot and I also enjoy to meet old friends and silicon vendors to discuss about the latest evolution/revolution.


This Year I attended the Show for TechNexion and we showed our latest Products based on NXP's ARM chips, like our tiny PICO Modules which are also available with NXP i.MX6UL now and the ideal choice for multimedia applications or where not much space is available. With i.MX6 and i.MX7 options it ofers a nice scalability.

Not to forget the fitting baseboard which makes us the HW provider of choice for NXP and Google for the Brillo OS


Of Course we also showed our EDM Modules, the work horse of the industry. Reliable. Rugged. Open Source Standard.

With 82mm x 60mm it's a small formfactor with a great scalability from Single to DualLite or Quad core. And of course also available with i.MX7


New have been our TEK-Series, a Series of ruggedized, fan-less, cable-less BoxPC's with a Modular approach so Customer can choose the right configuration from off-the-shelf components


Also new have been our TEP-Seriees, which is a Series of HMI's ranging from 7" to 10" and 15", also based on the same modular, cable-free- fan-less approach like the TEK-Series.


Embedded World has been very busy for us, but never less we found the time to record a video, introducing our Company (for the few who don't know about us yet..) and in the second half of the video having a detailed introduction of our new products.

You can watch the video here:

TechNexion Company Introduction (@Embedded-News.TV)

or directly on YouTube here:

TechNexion Company Introduction and Product presentation (@YouTube)


Thanks all our visitors and Looking forward to see you again next year!!

It has been year since ARM got into the Bluetooth Smart business with the acquisition of Wicentric, a software company, which was followed up by the purchase of Sunrise Micro Devices, a radio IP company.  Both companies became the nucleus of ARM’s new Wireless Business Unit and enabled ARM to offer a complete Bluetooth Smart solution from RF to Applications.


So far, we are the only IP company to offer all the components from one source.


We made a lot of progress but you don’t realize it until you look back, akin to climbing a mountain and taking that rest admiring the view and how much you climbed.   Besides getting the two companies integrated into ARM a lot progress has been made on getting products production ready   This is not like releasing RTL for a processor core, since the RF is process specific you have to build test silicon to validate the radio specifications and whether the part can be manufactured (corner lots) . You also need evaluation platforms so ARM customers can validate your claims.  And let us not forget all the documentation.


The net for year is we have a silicon-proven, production ready, fully Bluetooth Smart Qualified product portfolio called ARM Cordio® BT4 that  includes the RF Front-End, controller, link-layer, stack, and profiles.




So, what do we do next?

We climb some more. The Bluetooth 2016 enhancements mentioned by the Bluetooth SIG last November is keeping us real busy, our goal is to have radio IP ready when the specification is released.   We are excited about the upcoming changes to the specification that will enable new types of devices and take Bluetooth Smart to the next level. Our approach will be give our customers more choice and flexibility when adding Bluetooth Smart to their SoCs.


Let me know if you want to know more or if you are in the Bay Area March 15-16, we will be a Bluetooth World, come by and see what we are doing, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Eric Gowland

NXP Kinetis Contest

Posted by Eric Gowland Mar 7, 2016

award-155595_960_720.pngDid the armboardwins competition leave you inspired, but without a project to submit? Head on over to our friends at and checkout their latest competition - submit an idea for building something on NXP Semiconductor's Freedom K82F Development board, and be in with a chance to win not only a K82F board, but a Glowforge 3D Laser Printer!


These competitions aren't just a way to win prizes - if you're looking for an excuse to try out some of the fantastic IoT and Embedded platforms now on the market, and the huge variety of sensors, connectivity and software support, this is a great excuse. Or if you don't have time to build something yourself, just browsing the entries can be a good chance to see what is out there, and what the community is building with it.

Right after the excitement of Embedded World, we are already looking at the next stimulating event – Bluetooth World!


Bluetooth World.png

Bluetooth World, held this year at the Levi’s® Stadium in Santa Clara, is the official event from the Bluetooth SIG, and is open to anyone who has an interest in Bluetooth technology and its increasing role in IoT. You can register for the event here:


Embedded Intelligence


Embedded intelligence is about devices and services in end to end solutions. There is an immense market opportunity to connect new generations of devices such as home automation, wearables and hearables, and reshape the interactive user experience. ARM provides the right solutions to address these hardware needs with the key technology that is Bluetooth Low Energy, thus opening a vast new developer audience the opportunity to realize the potential of this technology.


ARM sessions


You can find here the outline of the sessions from ARM, at Bluetooth World 2016 , such as the Keynote from pnwilliamson  “Indistinguishable from Magic - Taking Bluetooth® Smart to the next level” on March 15.




What & Time



March 15


11:10 am – 11:30 am

Keynote - Indistinguishable from Magic - Taking Bluetooth® Smart to the next level


March 15

Keynote Panel

11:50 am – 12:20 pm

The IOT Bubble: Hype or Hope


March 15

Developer Hub Session

11:20 am – 12:05 pm

Developing with mbed and Bluetooth® Low Energy

Jan Jongboom

March 15

Developer Hub Session

3:35 pm – 4:05 pm

Designing with ARM Cordio® Software

Jason Hillyard

March 15


Track B – Developer Tools

5:30 pm – 6:00 pm

Defragmenting the IoT


March 16

Developer Hub Session

11:20 am – 12:05 pm

Enabling the Future of Bluetooth® Low Energy Applications

prithi & Charles Dittmer

March 16

Track A

Product, Market & Strategy

4:10 pm – 4:30 pm

Inspiring the Next Class of BLE Devices

prithi  & Charles Dittmer

March 16

Developer Hub Session

3:35 pm – 4:05 pm

Designing with ARM Cordio® Software

Jason Hillyard



I look forward going there and network with many members of the ARM ecosystem, and sharpen technological knowledge related to Bluetooth and other related technical aspects.


Visit ARM at Bluetooth World


ARM will be at Booth MR4, so please come and check our different demonstrations and solutions and how ARM and its ecosystem enables next generation Bluetooth designs.


ARM will demonstrate test chips representative of complete and qualified Bluetooth solution, from RF to application. Amongst others, a micro-beacon, smaller than a one cent coin, is an example of such chip that will be shown.


Another test chip that will be presented is showcasing how a Cortex-M processor-based SoC design where various ARM IP blocks can be quickly and efficiently assembled to produce differentiated and robust working silicon with limited engineering resources (this test chip was created in 3 months, by 3 engineers).


The comprehensive test chip includes:


  • Power-efficient ARM Cordio® Radio IP
  • IoT subsystem for Cortex-M processors pre-integrated with mbed OS to jumpstart integration and SoC design
  • Compatibility with the broad range of software for Cortex-M processors and mbed ecosystem


You can read this blog from liamdillon  about how the testchip was setup for the demo.

If you can’t be at the show why not follow the @ARMEmbedded twitter feed to get breaking news live from the event.


See you there in Santa Clara!


#ARMEmbedded  #ARMCordio


If you haven’t been in the embedded space long, it’s difficult to appreciate the sector’s technological evolution in recent years. Back in the day, 4-, 8- and 16-bit microcontrollers (MCUs) ruled the roost. Applications and operating system software were homegrown, as were development tools; in fact much of the embedded development was done inside vertically integrated systems houses.MicroEJ OS screen grab.jpg

Then the industry started to standardize around off-the-shelf hardware and software; 32-bit MCUs came on the scene.


But with that emerged a chasm of sorts. The development experience that engineers had on personal computers and servers didn't translate at all into the embedded world, even with the opportunity for robust 32-bit programming. Programming at high level (Java or C, for instance) wasn't yet feasible.


On one side of that chasm sat a fragmented landscape of hardware and software, resource-constrained MCUs and a dizzying array of sensors and sensor data to be acquired and harnessed. On the other sat cloud services and big data, the speed and robustness of the mobile experience and the dizzying pace of Internet development and change.


Enter MicroEJ. Founded as MicroEJ a dozen years ago by CEO Fred Rivard, the French company’s mission is to bring the capability of mobile operating systems, iOS and Android, to resource-constrained and cost-effective platforms running on microcontrollers, such as ARM® Cortex®-M.


Small, flexible

“We are capable of providing this in a very small footprint,” said Vincent Perrier, chief marketing and product officer. “We usually run on top of a real-time kernel. “They can write the application with the Java language, but our solutions support multiple languages. Java has proven to be efficient in productivity and early prototyping.”

The company offers three core products:


  • Its SDK, including its runtime component operating system (MicroEJ OS) and development tools
  • MicroEJ Studio for application development
  • Downloadable applications through the MicroEJ online store.


At CES (4 CES trends that could shape 2016), the company introduced its MicroEJ Application store, which allows device manufacturers and OEMs to create an ecosystem around their products to serve their customers, application developers, and service providers.


At Embedded World, the company introduced version 4 of the MicroEJ OS, which continues to address traditional resource-constrained embedded systems with added capabilities dedicated to IoT devices. The company’s complete IoT solution now includes MicroEJ OS 4, the MicroEJ Application Store, the MicroEJ Workbench toolset, and the MicroEJ Studio (which allows application developers to develop and test applications). (See also MicroEJ SDK).


Vincent Perrier MicroEJ.jpegThe MicroEJ OS runs on ARM architecture, primarily the Cortex-M0 Plus, Cortex-M3, Cortex-M4, Cortex-M7, and Cortex-A family(MicroEJ also supports legacy customers on ARM7 and older architectures). Customer designs are powering everything from traditional embedded to automotive, transportation and other applications. (Customers include Itron, Siemens, Audi, Continental, Huawei and others).

The company notes that more than 1 million devices have shipped to date with MicroEJ technology on board.


The 32-bit IoT opportunity

As the benefits of 32-bit compute become more widely known in the embedded world, Perrier (pictured left) said his company is seeing take-up in wearables, and “anything with the word ‘smart in it’— smart home appliances, smart energy, smart grid, smart buildings.” Perrier and his colleagues call this the “sub-gig” zone (below 1GHz and 1GB memory footprints), where end device cost and device flexibility are paramount. The sub-gig zone is also considered to make up 75 percent of the IoT market, according to MicroEJ.


Perrier said the company’s approach takes into consideration different types of developers that might be migrating into the embedded space.

For example, the online store is a way to deliver applications that are downloaded to the device, whereas all the firmware is handled with the SDK.

“With the separation of this embedded firmware, the device software development is separated from the high-level app development,” Perrier said. “Those are two different developers. The app developer can come from the PC or smart phone world, and they might be using plain Java. For the firmware developer, you need experts: someone who knows how to set up the RTOS and write drivers. You let the bulk of app development to non-experts.”

Of this category, Perrier estimates there are 10 million developers on PC and mobile platforms, compared with perhaps 100,000 embedded experts in the world.


The company’s original idea was to bring the methods, tools and practices from the pc and server industry to the embedded space, Perrier notes. “We want to provide the same languages and practices that made the PC and server industry successful,” he said. “What really changed the game was when Android proved that Java could be used successfully for developing embedded devices and was the solution for developing for a unified software platform.”


“That’s why we think we’re offering a relevant value proposition,” he added.


For more information visit  MicroEJ, MicroEJ’s web page, its developer site and its store.


Related stories

In middle of March, Forlinx will launch a new item to market, it is i.MX6UL which is based on NXP i.MX6UL microcontrollor.


It belongs to ARM Cortex-A7 product family. It is a low power consumption item and the significant features of this item compared with original i.MX6UL SoM are as below:


  1. the SoM sized in 50mm*40mm even smaller than the original Freescale SoM sized in 67.6mm*42.4mm;
  2. 160 pins are all pinned out from the CPU, and 129 are multiplexed. Even 200 pins on Freescale original i.MX6UL, but not all pinned out.


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