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Author Topic: Will we ever see higher spec chips in the Arduino  (Read 3991 times)
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I can't help but notice that even the cheapest of .NET Micro based boards tend to have far more powerful chips with a lot more ram and often 32bit.

Will we ever see a board with more powerful microcontrollers, like Atmel's 32 bit offering?
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Have you considered the Maple?

http://leaflabs.com/devices/maple/

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Yes, there is a 96Mhz 32 bit arduino in development, its release is currently unknown I'm pretty sure. But it will be here eventually.
Search the forum for 'Arduino Due' and you might get an interesting read.
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Thanks for the replies.

So the Maple essentially looks like an Arduino port to 32bit?

I like this, although I'd be weary committing time to something potentially problematic - how developed are these, and how wide is their use?

I like the idea of a proper 32bit Arduino if I'm honest.
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I like the idea of a proper 32bit Arduino if I'm honest.
Then the solution is to wait for the ARM based Due. It was promised for last December but it hasn't made it yet.
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I like this, although I'd be weary committing time to something potentially problematic - how developed are these, and how wide is their use?

I like the idea of a proper 32bit Arduino if I'm honest.

Don't know the answers to the above, but I'm not sure a "proper 32-bit Arduino" will be any less "problematic". Most likely you are worried about compatibility with libraries and existing code. The Due will have incompatibilities, I am sure, because it is fundamentally a different processor under the hood, plus it is a 3.3V processor so will have a basic hardware "incompatibility" right out of the gate.

This isn't to say it's going to be a problem -- it's a new product going in a new direction and it shouldn't really be expected to be 100% compatible with everything that's come before it. That would just weigh down development like an anchor.

I would view the Maple (and others...) the same way. It's different, but similar. It takes some learning to appreciate the differences, but Arduino takes learning no matter what!

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Indeed, just because it's an official Arduino board doesn't mean it will be 100% compatible.

Consider Arduino Mega.  For nearly a year, almost no major 3rd party libraries supported it.  Even some of the ones shipped with Arduino didn't work.

Arduino Mega support in many of the more complex libraries is a result of my porting efforts for Teensy.  Firmata, which now ships pre-programmed on all Arduino boards, would be a good example of a library which became compatible with many other boards only because I added a hardware abstraction layer in the process of porting it to Teensy.  I've ported several others over the last couple years, when clearly nobody else intended to do so.

That's just slightly different AVR chips.  The situation will be much harder for a completely different chip.  Look at the library compatibility lists for Maple and ChipKit.  They're short lists.  It's not impossible, but it does take a lot of time and effort to port so much code to very different hardware.  Believe me, I know....
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In fact the Due can never be 100% compatible, even if they can map pins to the correct place (unlikely but maybe) and boost them to 5v (easy with digital IO but unlikely they will, probably impossible for analogue IO without a lot of external HW) there is the current-handling ability of the ARM pins, most are only a few mA and nowhere near the 20+mA we expect from an ATmega.

I'm dying to see how they handle this. The photo shows a Mega look-alike so maybe they have got a workable pin mapping, but the other issues may cause a fork in the product line.

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I can't see why pin mapping should be any problem at all. Am I missing something?
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I can't see why pin mapping should be any problem at all. Am I missing something?

I agree, other then voltage and current level differences, pin mapping should be among the more easy things they will have to deal with to make the Due more Arduino like. I'll try and keep an open mind, but I suspect I will not be an early adopter of the Due board, assuming it does ever get released.

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I can't see why pin mapping should be any problem at all. Am I missing something?
I think the SAM has fewer PWM pins (10?) but you're right everything else should map easily, as long as you dumb it down to be similar to a Mega.

That said, if for example you use the external RAM interface (even just for 8-bit access) you lose some ADC inputs, likewise with using PWM pins, there goes more ADCs.

Also, I haven't counted but if you dedicate the SD interface to an SD card (and you would be crazy not to) you will lose 6 IO pins and I think that (along with the XRAM) brings it down to < the 54 a Mega has.

TXD2 and ADC12B0 are both on the same pin and not muxed to any others, I guess that's not any different to A4/5 and I2C on a standard Arduino, you have on or the other but if you want to say put an RS232 transceiver on the TX pin you have a problem.

Anyway, I doubt the Due will have any of the above features and as I said if you just create a simple Mega-look-alike it should work well.

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doubt the Due will have any of the above features and as I said if you just create a simple Mega-look-alike it should work well.
Yes I would agree with that.

But to my mind the Due is not about sheer numbers of GPIO pins, it is about the speed and internal memory. This opens up the possibility of using it for projects that currently beginners think the Arduino is capable of doing. Stuff like MP3 decoding, web cam interface, audio record and playback, image processing, LCD graphics display driving, digital signal processing, FFT and recognition and so on. The sort of stuff young people think a computer should do easily.
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Yep. IO can easily be added, grunt cannot.

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But to my mind the Due is not about sheer numbers of GPIO pins, it is about the speed and internal memory. This opens up the possibility of using it for projects that currently beginners think the Arduino is capable of doing. Stuff like MP3 decoding, web cam interface, audio record and playback, image processing, LCD graphics display driving, digital signal processing, FFT and recognition and so on. The sort of stuff young people think a computer should do easily.

Yes, indeed.  But it's going to take so much more than just a chip to make these things happen.

At the very least, Arduino Stream and Print classes will need to support some way to connect together like "pipes" (probably leveraging DMA), so data incoming on a stream gets automatically pushed into a mp3 decoder and/or signal processing library, and its output stream gets automatically pushed to a I2S output.

An incredible amount of software work is needed.  Nothing impossible, but a huge amount of tough work and much of it focused on good performance.  That seems very unlike the current pace of Arduino software development.

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But it's going to take so much more than just a chip to make these things happen.
Yes it will take the community so when we have the basic hardware you can go with all your fancy pipes if you need them. Personally I don't think you do, you just need to know how to program properly.
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