Amazon FreeRTOS IoT ported on STM32-E407 board

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Amazon announced few weeks ago about their AWS stack support for FreeRTOS. As their development kit is not yet shipping, Roedan Embedded Systems decided to fork their GitHub repo and port to available boards like STM32-E407.

via Twitter

CT800 – embedded FLOSS Chess computer made with STM32-H405 OSHW board

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We got interesting project link from Rasmus Althoff: CT800 is Free/Libre Open Source Software CHESS computer made with STM32-H405 Open Source Hardware board inside.

It has around 2100 ELO, maximum search depth 20 plies. The software is done in C and released under GPL3 licensee.

GD32F103RBT6 – the STM32 pin to pin compatible Chinese MCUs sample test

GD32

Our previous blog post made lot of buzz about the STM32 pin to pin and functional compatible processors made by Chinese company Giga Device.

Some people at Giga Device got upset from the comments that they probably did STM32 cloning or do not pay ARM licensees and we received this letter from GD32 product family manager Eric Jin:

1. All the products provided by GigaDevice were developed by GigaDevice independently, and GigaDevice has its all intellectual property rights. As the third-party intellectual property rights, GigaDevice has obtained the intellectual property rights holder’s authorization.

2. All the products provided by GigaDevice do not infringe any third-party intellectual property rights.

3. It’s sure that for the record, GigaDevice are a legitimate ARM licensee :
https://community.arm.com/community/arm-partner-directory/partner-gigadevice-semiconductor

4. And GigaDevice is officially the ARM connected community member and the ARM university programme partner.

5. GigaDevice GD32 series of MCU got the trade mark in world wide such as US, Korea& Japan

6. The right of layout-designs of integrated circuits design of GD32 MCU is protected in China.
GigaDevice also have lots of US,EUROPEAN & INT’L PATENT concerning GD32 MCUs, examples check the attached patent file.

1 PCT/CN2013/075149 PCT International EMBEDDED SYSTEM CONTROLLER

2 14/399,858 US EMBEDDED SYSTEM CONTROLLER

3 13788134.8 EU EMBEDDED SYSTEM CONTROLLER

4 PCT/CN2015/071990 PCT International MCU

5 PCT/CN2015/071983 PCT International MCU

6 PCT/CN2015/071556 PCT International MCU

7. We also provide the “Intellectual Property Rights Guarantee letter” and the “Trademark Certificate” for your reference.

8. We will continue to highlight the advantage of our own in market, especially the family roadmap.

 

We got some free samples of GD32F103RBT6 and replaced the MCUs on STM32-P103, STM32-H103 and OLIMEXINO-STM32. To our surprise these boards pass all functional tests without any modifications, i.e. all the development tools, JTAGs, etc work with GD32 like they are STM32! Also all software code made for STM32 run the same way on GD32 devices, so you can re-use all STM32 code and libraries for these new devices.

How this will affect ST? I don’t know, but I guess not much. Big customers who make probably major share from the STM32 sales already have good prices directly from ST and will not move to something unknown which cost a little bit less.

The prices of GD32F103RBT6 in China are about 20% less than the price you can buy there original STM32 chips. If I was big company I wouldn’t move away from ST as GD32 devices have some claims for higher speed etc, but their web site is total mess and you hardly can find even simple datasheet, not to say that GD32 have no Errata, which is alert for us, in novadays device with no published errata usually means the manufacturer of this device is either hiding something either didn’t test it’s device well enough :). For  big projects switching to noname Chinese supplier is no go as the risks are huge.

For the small customers it’s another story. If Giga device can find reliable small distributors which to stock and sell their products in Europe they will have no competition by ST which use the old fat distribution channels left in Europe which charge for small quantities x3 the prices which is for big customers and obstracle competetive small scale production here.

 

Chinese clones attack STM32 microcontrollers

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I recently heard of GD32F103 processors made by Giga Devices an Chinese company which make STM32 ‘compatible’ microcontrollers targeting their popular STM32F103 series.

Taobao sellers offer these starting from $1.25 up to $2.20 depend on the memory configuration.

Looking at the publishing specs GD32 also looks better than STM32, the only problem is that it’s not possible to know for sure if what the Chinese manufacturers write in their datasheet is tested and is real.

For instance they claim 108 Mhz operation for the chips, even some web blogs says they ran GD32F103 up to 120Mhz “without problem”, but these are amateur claims, probably made these tests at room temperature :), let me tell you secret original STM32 will also run at this frequency, but ST do not claim this in the datasheet as they have to guarantee the work in the whole operating temperature range and whole power supply range in the datasheets.

So if Giga Devices offer something better in specs in quite questionable, sure for amateur not crytical use apps like blinking LEDs in house, this will be perfect chip, and it’s main advantage is the lower cost compared to STM32.

I’ve even read speculations in the same web blog that Giga Devices “licensee” STM32 core from ST to produce lower cost versions for Chinese market.

I was very doubtful something like this is true for number of reasons. To produce STM32 chip itself as hardware cost not so much, the reason ST sell it at this price is that they have spent lot of resource to design and market these chips, also they pay small royalty fee to ARM for every chip they sell. So obviously they can achieve the same sale prices as Giga Devices if they were in same situation – zero development cost and just copy and paste someone else’s product. It’s very doubtful if Giga Devices pay royalties to ARM also, but this is just my speculation ;).

I wrote to contact in ST asking if they licensee the STM32 to China and got this answer:

Dear Tsvetan,

Those GD32xxx devices are effectively a kind of clones of our STM32, but it's a pure piracy: no agreements of any kind between ST and Giga Device, no license... nothing.
ST legal people are in charge of this problem.

So as I expected these are illegal clones. This creates one bigger problem and damage on ST business though.

For everyone is clear that purchasing of STM32 chip through normal USA or EU distribution channels is expensive if you want to make mass product. The EU distributors are too fat and lazy to offer you anything which will allow you to build competitive product if you have to compete with far east manufacturers.

So we at Olimex are forced to buy from Chinese distributors all ST and NXP chips for instance to may achieve better price for our final products. I guess many others do the same.

Now when there are clones of STM32 this becomes a problem as we will never know when we buy STM32 chips from China if these are original ST parts or Giga Devices clones which are re-marked as STM32 processors.

In my opinion on long terms this will have enormous impact on ST brand as many people may buy counterfeit devices believing they buy original ST chips, but these chips will be just clones marked as STM32 and blame ST for all problems they encounter with these chips. This way the major ST advantage they had vs NXP LPC series will vanish as they were know to be sourcable at lower cost than NXP in China.

I think the lawers would not help in this case. They may shut down Giga Devices legally, but illegally the cloned STM32 design can be produced at many places secretly and sold as STM32 original parts even after the GigaDevices closure!

MOD-LCD3310 OSHW monochrome LCD 84×48 pixels board with UEXT connector

MOD-LCD3310

MOD-LCD3310 is Open Source Hardware board released under Apache 2.0 Licensee.
It’s low cost 84×48 pixels LCD which can connect to any of our development boards with UEXT connectors.
The schematic in PDF format and Board and Schematic files in Eagle CAD format are on GitHub.

Examples how to connect MOD-LCD3310 to OLIMEXINO-32U4 (Arduino Leonardo), OLIMEXINO-STM32 (Maple), PIC32-PINGUINO (Pinguino), A20-OLinuXino-MICRO, LPC-P1227 (NXP) and STM32-P103 (ST) are on GitHub.

The LCD panel alone is also available for purchase on our web shop

LCD3310-1

backlight panel

NOKIA3310-BACKLIGHT-2

and the matching connector

LCD3310-CON

which you can use to make your own PCBs with this display for your next project.

Developing on STM32-H152 with ChibiOS/RT

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We found interesting blog post about how to setup STM32-H152 to work with ChibiOS using OpenOCD debugger.

 

New Product in stock: STM32-H405 header board with Cortex-M4

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STM32-H405 is small entry level board for those who want to learn the powerful Cortex-M4 devices. It uses the well known STM32-H103 design and layout but incorporate the newer and faster STM32F405RGT6 processor running on 168Mhz.

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