Luminary Micro has pulled off another coup with its $49 EKK-LM3S811 Evaluation Kit (Fig. 1) to follow up its $1 ARM micro (32-Bit ARM MCU Hits One-Dollar Mark ED Online ID 12358). It includes Keil's µVision (EiED Online>> Developing ARMs, ED Online ID 11307) development tools plus the latest ARM RealView C/C++ compiler. This is the same platform used with higher end ARM packages.
I liked the installation CD that included a good web interface with plenty of examples, application notes and documentation. The Keil installation starts with a sample project for the Luminary Micro board so getting up and running takes minutes instead of hours.
The development board is impressive and shows off the features of the LM3S811 Cortex-M3-based Stellaris microcontroller. It incorporates a tiny, bit-mapped LCD display that is more functional than the typical status LEDs on competing products. The board comes with a tiny horizontal-style Asteriods game that uses the LCD and the on-board potentiometer for control of your spaceship. Not a bad demo for real time multimedia support.
The IO pins are accessible via holes on 0.1-in centers so you can solder headers for use with external boards. The designers even included mounting holes so it can be connected securely to another board.
There is also a pin header on one end that is actually a JTAG interface for off-board debugging. It uses the same debugger for the on-board Stellaris microcontroller. Switching between the two is done in software. No need to play with jumpers.
ARM vendors will do well to examine this package closely. It is the wave of the future and this is an excellent example of how to do it right.