AUSTIN, USA: Freescale Semiconductor is redefining embedded Ethernet design with a new platform solution that combines a 32-bit ColdFire V1 microcontroller (MCU) with a complimentary operating system and application software solution and easy-to-use, modular development hardware.
This combined hardware/software offering is designed to help embedded designers save months in development time and reduce cost, now and in the future.
Freescale’s ultimate Ethernet connectivity solution features the MCF51CN ColdFire V1 MCU, complimentary Freescale MQX real-time operating system (RTOS) and TCP/IP software stacks, and the Tower System, a cost-effective, open-source demonstration and evaluation platform with a library of interchangeable board modules. The combined solution gives developers an easily customizable, expandable design environment that can expedite development time through rapid prototyping and tool reuse.
The first Freescale MCU supported by the Tower System is the MCF51CN, which integrates the ColdFire V1 core with on-chip Ethernet connectivity and a flexible external bus. The MCF51CN MCU is ideal for developers who need to upgrade serial communications to Ethernet, as well as for new applications requiring 10/100Mb connectivity. Target embedded Ethernet applications include:
* Security and building control systems (including HVAC systems).
* Industrial operator interfaces and control systems.
* Consumer and industrial appliances (white goods).
* Medical monitoring systems and instrumentation.
* Point-of-sale (POS) and courier systems.
"The combination of the MCF51CN MCU, Freescale MQX software and our Tower System can help developers connect serial applications to Ethernet in just seconds,” said Jeff Bock, global marketing manager for industrial and multi-market microcontrollers at Freescale. “This comprehensive solution enhances design flexibility and helps to significantly reduce development cost and complexity for a wide range of industrial applications. The Tower System’s modular, reconfigurable hardware running Freescale MQX software makes it refreshingly easy to get Ethernet applications up and running quickly –- at minimal cost.”
The Tower System
The Tower System provides a comprehensive and highly customizable embedded design environment that enables developers to mix and match MCU and peripheral boards to create reconfigurable development platforms that suit their design needs.
Interchangeable expansion cards promote reuse of hardware across multiple architectures, which helps speed time to market. The modular design scales down overall tool costs, while providing an inexpensive entry point.
The Freescale Tower System helps developers quickly evaluate and prototype their applications. As they require more functionality and design capabilities, developers can easily add more modules to their Tower System library. In addition, standardized, open-source hardware allows Freescale customers and partners to design additional modules for added functionality and customization.
The Tower System’s easy-to-use, modular design helps customers control tool costs, from simple concept testing to full product development. A single MCU/MPU module serves as the main control board. Modules simply plug into backplane boards, called “elevators,” through standard PCB edge connectors. Peripheral board re-use eliminates the need to buy and develop redundant hardware, which reduces future costs. In addition, the MCU module includes open-source background debug mode (OSBDM) hardware, allowing each board to serve as a standalone debug tool.
The Tower System is currently available for MCF51CN MCUs. In the coming quarters, Freescale and its partners plan to provide Tower System support for additional embedded devices, including other ColdFire MCUs, 8-bit MCUs and digital signal controllers (DSCs).
The MCF51CN MCUs ship with the comprehensive Freescale MQX software solution, which includes Freescale MQX RTOS and the real-time TCP/IP communication suite (RTCS), at no additional cost. The full-featured Freescale MQX RTOS is available to customers with a commercial-friendly licensing model that allows them to keep their source code modifications.
The Freescale MQX RTOS offers a small, configurable footprint, straightforward application programming interface (API) and a modular architecture that can be fine-tuned to fit a wide range of application needs.
By providing complimentary Freescale MQX software with its silicon products, Freescale is helping alleviate much of the initial software investment hurdle faced by embedded developers. Comparable full-featured software offerings on the market today may cost developers as much as $95,000 in licensing fees.
To ease the development process, Freescale offers a comprehensive ecosystem of software development tools, reference designs, application notes, software examples and webinars. The MCF51CN family is supported by a complimentary 30-day evaluation version of Freescale's CodeWarrior® Development Studio for ColdFire v6.2.
Designers can further accelerate development with the help of Processor Expert software, an award-winning rapid application development tool in the CodeWarrior tool suite. The CodeWarrior Development Studio is Freescale MQX RTOS aware, giving developers a highly integrated development ecosystem.
Pricing and availability
The MCF51CN128 Tower System development boards can be purchased as individual modules or as part of a comprehensive kit for quick and easy development.
The TWR-MCF51CN microcontroller module, with a suggested resale price of $39 (USD), features the MCF51CN128 MCU in an 80-pin LQFP package with Ethernet connectivity.
The TWR-MCF51CN-KIT, with a suggested resale price of $99 (USD), is a complete Tower System kit, including:
* TWR-MCF51CN module (standalone MCU development board).
* TWR-SER module (serial board supporting Ethernet, USB, RS232, RS485 and CAN).
* TWR-ELEV module (elevator boards connect the MCU and serial boards).
* USB and Ethernet cables.
* Interactive DVD complete with tools, software, lab supplements and other helpful resources.
Samples of the MCF51CN MCU are available now, and production quantities are planned for Q4 2009. Suggested resale pricing for MCF51CN MCUs starts at $2.99 in 10,000-unit quantities.