Using Arduino > Microcontrollers

Arduino to ARM. Where to start?

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Looks good,  "Netduino Go has four times the speed (168MHz), six times the code space (384KB), and twice the available RAM (100KB+) of Netduino Plus."
It covers simple as well as OMG complex.


--- Quote ---Right now I am leaning toward LPC or ST-branded ARMs that are found on the Maple (always out of stock), Discovery (seems underpowered), LPCExpresso, and mbed (missing JTAG).
--- End quote ---

Discovery seems underpowered?  Which one?

ARM come in sort-of three flavors.  You have your "small" microcontrollers aimed at the 8bit market.  Less than 100MHz, less than 256k flash, no MMU.  Usually Cortex M0 or Cortex M3 cores.  The LPCExpresso boards and Maple, plus most of the TI Stellaris development boards and the Freescale Kinetis boards are mostly in this category.

And you have your BIG ARMS.  500+ MHz.  External memory with MMU.  Runs linux and most programs are written as user-level linux programs.  ARM9, ARM11, Cortex A8 cores.  Includes Rasberry Pi, BeagleBoard/etc, Pogoplug, and assorted wireless routers.

Then you have the in-between systems.  100-500MHz, up to 1MB flash.  No MMU, but too much space (IMO) not to run some sort of kernel.  A lot of the Cortex M4 boards (including the STMF4 discovery) fall in here.

--- Quote ---also eagerly awaiting the Due
--- End quote ---
You might want to wait another month and see if anything concrete comes out of "Maker Faire" Silicon Valley.  It was MF NY where the Leonardo/Due were first mentioned, and it wouldn't surprise me if they had more to say here.  Apparently Atmel and Arduino are sharing "booth space" (cf avrfreaks)

PS: I think a great place to start for "advanced" hackers would be to port the Arduino core libraries to whatever ARM board you get.  This teaches you quite a bit about how the new CPU works, gets you familiar with the Arduino internals in a way that few people achieve, AND potentially provides a useful tool for less experienced users.  Shucks, I'd like to see the Arduino core ported to windows (A parallel port has 8+ output bits.  The sound card has several channels capable of analogRead(), etc.)

The more host-oriented people can spend their time trying to build arm-gcc tools in useful forms.
One of the more attractive parts of a hypothetical Arduino IDE supporting ARM is the existence of a multiplatform ARM development environment that isn't dependent on proprietary libraries.

You could also look at ChipKit, which is an arduino-like system with PIC32 (MIPS) processor.  Not as popular as ARM, but of comparable power.  Someone has the larger ChipKit (MEGA equiv) running 2.10bsd unix...

I would recommend the STM32F4 Discovery board. It is very cheap, in fact it is sold at below cost, and powerful. It is also a bit of a challenge to drive, especially on a Mac.

Thank you for explaining the different ARMs available. I was looking for something like that. So now I know that the Cortex M0 and M3 are essentially the same device as Arduino, only about 5 times faster with more I/O.

I think I will opt for the medium power ARMs like the STM32F4 Discovery board which I thought was underpowered. I am looking at it again though and my head is exploding reading the datasheet. I am trying to compare the STM32F407VGT6 to the ATmega2560 and there doesn't seem to be any reason at all to use the 2560, or even an Atmel Xmega when the price difference between the AVR and ARM is $1.

* Arduino Mega 2560: $40, bare ATMega2560: $18

* STM32F4 Discovery board: $15, bare STM32F407VGT6: $13

* LeafLabs Maple: $45, bare STM32F103RB: $17

My next question: why is this supposedly more powerful Discovery Board being sold for so cheap, much cheaper than the less powerful Maple? This is part of the reason I was so confused--apparently price is inversely proportional to power for dev boards until you reach the ARMs with Linux. What are some of the other mid-range boards?


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