Freescale is shipping a series of hardware/software development kits for its ARM CPU-based Vybrid F series SoCs, based on an ARM Cortex-A5 core, optionally along with a second ARM core of the Cortex-M4 variety. The kits include Freescale’s compact Tower System hardware accompanied by a customized version of the Eclipse-based ARM DS-5 toolchain.
Freescale targets its Vybrid F series system-on-chips (SoCs) at a wide range of industrial applications, including equipment HMIs, infrastructure and manufacturing equipment control, energy conversion in motor drives and power inverters, ruggedized wired and wireless connectivity, and control functions in battery-powered robots and industrial vehicles.
The Vybrid F SoCs feature an asymmetrical-multiprocessing architecture based on ARM CPU cores, and are currently available in three models. The entry-level VF3xx integrates a single ARM Cortex-A5 core along with 1.5MB SRAM, dual XiP quad SPI memory interface, an XGA display controller, dual high-speed USB 2.0 OTG controllers, and dual 10/100 Ethernet interfaces. Relative to the VF3xx, the VF5xx offers higher performance and adds a DDR2/3 DRAM interface, while the VF6xx further adds an ARM Cortex-M4 core plus an analog video ADC.
Freescale Vybrid F series SoC block diagram
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The Vybrid VF6xx model’s combination of Cortex-A5 and Cortex-M4 cores enables a rich, Linux-based HMI to be hosted on the Cortex-A5 core, while real-time determinism is provided courtesy of an RTOS like Freescale’s MQX running on the Cortex-M4 core. According to Freescale, such a configuration can “reduce development effort, component count, circuit board area, and power consumption, saving up to $5 per system.”
The Vybrid processors also provide security features such as advanced encryption, secure boot, anti-tamper, and anti-clone functions, making them well suited to critical infrastructure applications, such as smart grid and industrial control, says Freescale.
Customized ARM DS-5 toolchain
Freescale supports Linux- and MQX-based software development for its Vybrid F series SoCs by means of a customized version of the Eclipse-based ARM Development Studio 5 (DS-5) integrated development environment, which can “seamlessly generate, debug and optimize code for both ARM cores in Vybrid devices,” according to the company.
Key features of the Vybrid F’s ARM DS-5 toolchain are said to include:
- User-friendly IDE based on Eclipse
- Best-in-class ARM C/C++ compiler
- Can debug both cores simultaneously
- Intuitive DS-5 Debugger supports Linux and MQX
- End-to-end support, from SoC bring-up to system-wide debug and power optimization
- Industry standard ARM compiler for both ARM Cortex-A5 and Cortex-M4 processors, optimized for best code size and performance balance
- ARM Streamline system-wide performance analyzer and real-time system model simulators
- Developed and maintained by experts in ARM processor technology
Hardware development environment
Freescale supports the Vybrid processors with a modular “Tower System” development platform. The setup is intended to speed up development and save costs, by providing interchangeable and reusable modules, along with open-source design files that are easily customizable to meet the needs of specific applications. The entire system (shown below) can fit in the palm of your hand.
Vybrid Tower System with VF6xx System Module
The Vybrid Tower System is configured for a particular Vybrid F series SoC by installing a System Module based the desired SoC. The System Module for the Vybrid VF6xx processor is shown below.
Vybrid VF6xx System Module, front and back
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The YouTube video below demonstrates the Vybrid-customized ARM DS-5 IDE running on a Vybrid Tower System.
Using the ARM DS-5 IDE on the Freescale Vybrid Tower System
Announced third-party support for Freescale’s Vybrid SoCs and the Vybrid-customized ARM DS-5 toolchain includes a Vybrid Linux BSP and a Vybrid Eclipse plug-in from Timesys, and a Vybrid COM (computer-on-module) plus Linux and MQX BSPs from Phytec.
The Vybrid F series VF3xx, VF5xx, and VF6xx SoCs are currently sampling, and the Vybrid F series SoC development kits are available now in a variety of versions, including hardware-only and hardware/software configurations. Pricing ranges from $199 to $1,500, depending on configuration. More details may be found at Freescale’s Vybrid product page.