You guys will buy your AVRs from … Microchip from now on :)

atmel-vs-microchip-

It’s done! The painful and slow sinking of Atmel seems to be over now.

We knew for a long time that thing do not go well with Atmel due to their poor management. The Arduino wave kept them for a while above the water level, but in September 2015 they announced that are about to sign with the world unknown company Dialog Semiconductor deal for $4.8 billions mostly with shares exchange, but as the time pass the shares of Dialog Semiconductor went down and this deal was looking not so attractive as before, and Microchip offer for $3.56 billions in shares become more attractive!

Microchip in other hand continue to expand and never have been better – they are buying company after company and already have the IC portfolio of SMSC, MICREL, SST, Novocell etc etc and what is better, each time they buy company they improve the availability and make these chips more easier to buy and deal with. This with the nice application notes and support is the Microchip receipt for success.

Our experience with SMSC and MICREL was that these companies were working with just big customers and smaller companies couldn’t buy directly, while Microchip sales channels can satisfy both big and small customers. After Microchip bought  these companies, they improved the availability and made these chips easier to buy for the small customers. Atmel is in the same state – probably this was the major reason to sink, although Atmel have similar products like Microchip and even better open source software support, they sales are terrible hard to deal with. Many components prices go unexpected up and down as Atmel production capabilities are humble, once some big customer place large order for one chip they stop making others and this make impossible to use them for serious projects. Once you put AVR in your product it is not unlikely these chips suddenly to go on allocation due to the poor management and planning Altmel has, something which (almost) never happen to Microchip.

I guess Microchip will not cut AVRs supply but it’s unlickely they will keep developing this line when they put so much efforts in the PICs, to keep duplicate development teams for similar products is not practically. More probably is they to invest in ARM line expansion as this is something they missed yet.

For years Microchip top management was like mule on bridge not wanting to step ahead 🙂 They were refusing to buy ARM licensee and bet on MIPS and they were missing a lot of sale opportunities with this odd decision. Whatever they do with PIC32 it’s not so successful like the STM32s and LPCs and they miss sales for millions $$$. This is not because MIPS architecture is bad, quite opposite it’s well developed in networking devices, but MIPS Soc from Mediatek running Linux at 400Mhz cost $2 while Microchip sells MIPS PIC32 with no MMU running at 80Mhz for $5-6.

Now with Atmel they got lot of ARM licensees and with their efficient manufacturing and great sale channels this give them access to the ARM sale market and other companies got strong competitor.

New Product in stock: PIC32-RetroBSD Open Source Hardware Board running Unix like RetroBSD OS

PIC32-RETROBSD

RetroBSD is a port of 2.11BSD Unix intended for embedded systems with fixed memory mapping. The current target is Microchip PIC32 microcontroller with 128 kbytes of RAM and 512 kbytes of Flash. PIC32 processor has MIPS M4K architecture, executable data memory and flexible RAM partitioning between user and kernel modes. The project is open source and hosted at RetroBSD.org

PIC32-Pinguino was used by RetroBSD developers since long time as it’s small and easy to use, but the Pinguino bords processor PIC32MX440 has not enough RAM to hold the RetroBSD, so we got number of requests to release PIC32-PINGUINO-MICRO with PIC32MX795F512H processor which is pin to pin compatible, so we run small batch of these boards and named them PIC32-RetroBSD, these surely can be used with Pinguino and MPIDE, but note that you must have additional PIC-KIT3 to re-flash the proper bootloader, as RetroBSD bootloader is different and we ship these boards with RetroBSD bootlaoder. Also you will need PIC32-RetroBSD-SD for the file system.

We are shipping today free PIC32-RetroBSD boards to the 9 RetroBSD developers.

Running FreeBSD on Open Source Hardware RT5350F-OLinuXino MIPS board

csm_freebsd308x260_1_a0f81edad2

via Twitter

Emmanuel Vadot posted nice tutorial how to run FreeBSD on RT5350F-OLinuXino on his blog.

Part2 – GPIOs

The Long anticipated RT5350F-OLinuXino is finally in stock and we have some more good news

RT5350F-OLinuXino-1

RT5350F-OLinuXino development started loooooong time ago, we made the hardware very quickly and hit the wall with the software 🙂

The Hardware had two revisions, we knew that this IC is overheating and need external DCDC power regulator to release it from the heat, but we first decided to try how bad is it with the chip steps down the 5V to 1.2V with internal LDO, well…. the chip was easily rising to 60C at room temperature 20C, so we made revision.B where we add external DCDC and the temperature of the chip cool down to 40C, so far so good.

The next obstracle was WIFI tuning, Ralink have bunch of registers which are not described in the ‘datasheet’ but you have to know what do with them if you want to tune your WIFI to work correctly.

OpenWRT wisely skips this area of memory as each module vendor is responsible to write the optimal info for the chip in these. It took us about year to figure out what to write in these registers, including obtaining NDA info about the chip features.

The result is good, the chip makes link from up to 20 meters when in house and up to 50-60 meters in open air which is about the maximum of this small PCB printed antenna.

RT5350F-OLinuXino is now in stock and cost EUR 15 in single quantity.

We didn’t stop here, we made also EVB with two relays, button, RT5350F-OLinuXino socket, UEXT connector, USB host, two 100MB Ethernet ports and EXT connector with all unused ports.

RT5350F-OLinuXino-EVB-1

 

The RT5350F-OLinuXin-EVB is also in stock and cost EUR 24 including RT5350F-OLinuXino in it.

Then we decided to make new version with just one Ethernet and LED display in DIN enclosure:

RT5350-OLinuXino-DIN

you can see it here how it looks in plastic box:

RT5350-OLinuXino-DIN-2

RT5350F-OLinuXino-DIN is still not complete but will be in stock soon (hopefully end of June). The price will be about EUR 35. It will be nice solution for home automation, serving array of ESP8266 sensors and BLE modules as OpenWRT supports 6LoWPAN.

 

New PIC32-HMZ144 Open Source Hardware development board is in stock

PIC32MZH144

PIC32-HMZ144 is low cost development board for the new PIC32MZ2048HCM144 processor from Microchip with these features:

  • PIC32MZ2048EHC144 512KB RAM 2MB Flash
  • USB-OTG
  • uSD card
  • ICSP for debug and programming
  • JTAG pins exposed on 0.1″ step 6 pins
  • EXT1 and EXT2 50 pin 0.1″ connectors for all PIC ports
  • RESET and USER buttons
  • PWR and STATUS LEDs
  • LiPo battery charger and connector
  • UEXT connector
  • Dimensions: 77 x 52 mm

PIC32MZ2048HCM144 is high performance MIPS core processor from Microchip with 10-bit, 500 KSPS, 48-channel ADC module, MMU for real time OS support, CAN, UART, I2C, PMP, EBI, SQI & Analog Comparators, SPI/I2S interfaces for audio processing and playback, Hi-Speed USB 2.0 Device/Host/OTG, 10/100 Mbps Ethernet MAC with MII and RMII interface.

Another board with Ethernet and LCD is on the way, PIC32MZ2048 is good candidate to run RetroBSD