Benchmarking NXP i.MX 6UltraLite and Marvell PXA166, PXA168 ARM CPUs

Technology has become more than just a battle of sheer numbers. It has somewhat morphed into a “less is more” philosophy to see what’s possible with less. We pitted these three ARM CPUs together to find out if there are any positive impacts to using a slower clock speed CPU:

What we found is very promising in that in most tests, the 696 MHz i.MX 6UltraLite provided a huge advantage over the 800 MHz PXA166 and even the 1066 MHz PXA168. Let’s take a quick look at our findings.

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Write Endurance to Write Home About

Radiation tolerance, power efficiency, and fast write performance also characterize F-RAM non-volatile storage technology.

Ferroelectric Random Access Memory (F-RAM) is a non-volatile storage technology that offers low power, fast write performance, and a greater write endurance when compared to EEPROM or flash technologies. For example, the write endurance of F-RAM from Cypress Semiconductor is 10^14 (100 trillion) write cycles. Presuming the device takes 4 ms to rewrite every cell, it would take a minimum of 126 years for a failure to occur. However, EEPROM and NOR Flash have write endurance of just 10^6 (1 million) write cycles. Additionally, F-RAM data retention is very robust, supporting a minimum of 10 years, and more than 121 years of data retention at + 85 °C, depending on the individual product.

Figure 1: Technologic Systems is now offering single board computers with an added Ferroelectric Random Access Memory (F-RAM) from Cypress Semiconductor.
Figure 1: Technologic Systems is now offering single board computers with an added Ferroelectric Random Access Memory (F-RAM) from Cypress Semiconductor.

The high-speed nature of the device combined with its non-volatility and data retention makes this memory device useful in many applications. The F-RAM used in Technologic Systems’ products is an AT25 compatible SPI device. The TS-7553-V2 board support package implements the F-RAM as an extra EEPROM-like memory and presents the whole device as a flat file.

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Example XBee Project: Opened Door Alert via Email/SMS

Imagine this: You have a five-year-old son who has grown tall enough, and smart enough to open the door to your home office, packed with all your super fun gizmos and trinkets. It has a lock, but being the lackadaisical creature you are, you forget to lock it. You’ll only be gone for a minute or two, after all! Well, that was just enough time for your son to sneak in, rip up all the jumper wires from your breadboard, find a permanent marker, and well, you know how this ends.

In this (oddly specific) example project we’re going to be coming up with a solution to avoid such a disaster by building a wireless, internet connected, SMS door alert system using:

This way, we’ll receive a text message every time the door is opened and be able to rush to the scene of the future crime.
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A Friendly Introduction to XBee

Digi XBee radios sure are handy for wireless communication in embedded systems, so let’s take a look from a newbie perspective at how to get two of ‘em talking to each other quickly.

This tutorial can be applied generically to any setup with any two XBee radios, so long as you have them plugged in and ready to work with a serial port. That being said, this is a list of parts used in this tutorial:

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Practical Guide to Getting Started With the TS-7553-V2

 

This practical guide gives us an opportunity to take a relaxed approach to getting started with the TS-7553-V2 single board computer. We’re going to take a look at how to make our first connections, and setup the network. These are usually the first things we do before starting development. In the grand scheme of things, this is just a friendlier extrapolation from the official TS-7553-V2 manual, so be sure to keep it handy for more advanced topics and specific details. The only assumption being made is that you’ve purchased the TS-7553-V2 with a development kit, including the pre-programmed microSD card and enclosure with 128×64 px LCD and 4 button keypad. Right then, let’s get started!

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