ARM Cortex-M development software recommendations.

Thread Starter

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
4,882
I have been designing with ARM Cortex microcontrollers since 2014, I have used NXP devices and their free software (MCU-Xpresso, based on Eclipse).
The latest version fails to connect to the device on my new laptop, neither on Windows10 or Linux, so I'm running it on Linux on an old laptop with one broken USB socket and a duff battery. The new version of MCUXpresso crashes regularly.

NXP Microcontrollers have become as rare as hens' teeth, and I bought some Renesas devices thinking that their free software (e2Studio) also being based on Eclipse would be quick to learn and familiar. After three days over the holidays, (on a laptop which runs MCUXpresso successfully), I have got nowhere with e2studio both on Windows and Linux - different arcane errors on each.

I'm wondering if - perish the thought - I might be better off actually buying some development software. Any recommendations?

(I do worry that, several hundred pounds later, I might be in exactly the same place but with more expensive arcane error messages)
 

ApacheKid

Joined Jan 12, 2015
619
Seriously Evaluate VisualGDB with Visual Studio. Visual Studio is arguably the most sophisticated and feature rich software IDE that exists and the VisualGDB extension is definitely professional grade. Debugging, multi threaded debugging, examining memory and registers as well as rich C and C++ support add up to a very impressive setup.

Although I'm not a professional with MCU development I am a seasoned software designer and I have formal qualifications in electronics.

I was frankly blown away by how robust this was when I first looked at it, I've coded and debugged various STM32 based boards with this, their site has a bunch of detailed tutorials which all worked first time without hassle.

The "custom" license is only 180 bucks and Visual Studio community edition is free, this is a no brainer.

Don't even look at Eclipse.
 
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MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
25,931
I have been programming STM32 MCUs since 2011.
I have been blown away with the performance of these MCUs.
STM32CubeIDE is mature and it's free. Get an STM32F407G DISCOVERY board and get cracking.
 

ApacheKid

Joined Jan 12, 2015
619
I have been programming STM32 MCUs since 2011.
I have been blown away with the performance of these MCUs.
STM32CubeIDE is mature and it's free. Get an STM32F407G DISCOVERY board and get cracking.
I've not used those tools in earnest but would personally avoid anything Eclipse based. As a general IDE and debugging platform Visual Studio (not Visual Studio Code) is very impressive and recently (the 2022 version) runs as a 64 bit app (not that this would matter much for MCU work).

Visual Studio is free for the community edition (which offers a great deal) but is a paid for regularly updated product at the professional and enterprise levels so because it's not seen as a pure cost by Microsoft it gets regular attention and innovations.
 

Thread Starter

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
4,882
Thanks. I don't think that there's much difference between the NXP devices and the STM32. One thing that they have in common is that no-one has any stock!
But I did buy a substantial quantity of Renesas RA4M1 devices, and all I have to do now is get their IDE working. I would have thought, being Eclipse, I would already know most of its idiosyncrasies, but it comes with a whole new set of arcane error messages!
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
25,931
My #1 choice for a software development toolset has to be IAR Embedded Workbench.
It is expensive but there is a trial version available.
There is a time limited trial version. There is also a code size limit license with no expiry date.
 

ApacheKid

Joined Jan 12, 2015
619
Thanks. I don't think that there's much difference between the NXP devices and the STM32. One thing that they have in common is that no-one has any stock!
But I did buy a substantial quantity of Renesas RA4M1 devices, and all I have to do now is get their IDE working. I would have thought, being Eclipse, I would already know most of its idiosyncrasies, but it comes with a whole new set of arcane error messages!
I might have unwittingly implied that VisualGDB is only for STM32, that was not my intention, take a look here for example.
 

Thread Starter

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
4,882
Excellent (and I am following the plot)! I'll have to investigate what hardware I need between computer and MCU. I see that it can interface with the LPC-Link which I have.
 

ApacheKid

Joined Jan 12, 2015
619
Excellent (and I am following the plot)! I'll have to investigate what hardware I need between computer and MCU. I see that it can interface with the LPC-Link which I have.
I've never used the NXP devices but for the various STM32 boards nothing was needed, just a USB cable between the device and my PC.
 

Thread Starter

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
4,882
I don’t have an NXP board, I have an NXP MCU soldered to my board, and it’s an MCU without a USB interface.
 

Thread Starter

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
4,882
Visual Gdb downloaded and installed. Waded through a huge list of supported devices. My favourite LPC1517 (of which we have no stock, and no prospect of getting any in 2022) is present, but the Renesas device of which we bought a couple of hundred is conspicuous by its absence.
 

Thread Starter

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
4,882
R7FA4M1, and R7FA4M2 (for two different projects)
[Edit] These have USB interfaces - and someone has just posted a question on the Renesas forum as to whether they could be programmed directly from the computer using the USB interface. I await the reply with bated breath.
 
Last edited:

ApacheKid

Joined Jan 12, 2015
619
R7FA4M1, and R7FA4M2 (for two different projects)
[Edit] These have USB interfaces - and someone has just posted a question on the Renesas forum as to whether they could be programmed directly from the computer using the USB interface. I await the reply with bated breath.
I have reached out to the sysprogs team once or twice in the past, they know their stuff so don't hesitate to ask them stuff. Actual detailed support though might require you buy a license but basic questions I had before buying the license were promptly answered.
 

Thread Starter

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
4,882
I have reached out to the sysprogs team once or twice in the past, they know their stuff so don't hesitate to ask them stuff. Actual detailed support though might require you buy a license but basic questions I had before buying the license were promptly answered.
I'll have a bash at a LPC1517 project to see if I like it. Surely I must be able to find a single LPC1517 somewhere, on the floor beside the bench perhaps, even if I have to straighten the pins out.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
25,931
As far as I know, MCUs do not use USB for flashing and debugging. They use JTAG or SWD.
You connect a programming adapter that plugs into your PC's USB port. The adapter converts the PC commands to JTAG or SWD.

STM32 discovery boards have the USB interface built-in on the boards. The run directly off the USB port of your PC.
What I do is a buy the lowest cost development board and use that as my programming adapter. Then I can program my own MCUs in-circuit. It works with any toolset, IAR EWARM as well as STM32CubeIDE.

IAR EWARM supports Renesas RA4 MCUs which covers your R7FA4M1, and R7FA4M2 chips.
 
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