Graphical design tools simplify design and decrease development times by enabling designers to concentrate on the application instead of the syntax of the underlying software. That's why I was excited to try out the latest PSoC Express from Cypress Semiconductor. It's much more polished and functional than the initial version I looked at about a year ago (see "Soft MCU Goes Graphical" at www.electronicdesign.com, ED Online 10215). Best of all, it can handle simulations that incorporate a network of PSoC microcontrollers using an I2C link.
PSoC Express uses a similar but simpler interface to programming, compared to National Instruments' LabVIEW and Matlab's SimuLink. LabVIEW and SimuLink provide a full graphical programming environment that can target a range of hardware platforms, whereas PSoC Express provides a more limited set of functions and linkages between graphical objects that represent hardware or software modules. All three of these development tools permit the creation and execution/simulation of applications without the need for actual hardware. PSoC Express can take advantage of the reconfigurable hardware that's part and parcel for the PSoC microcontroller product line. One of the interfaces that can be set up between multiple PSoC devices is I2C. Master and slave support is available. Each device will be developed in its own window (see the figure). During simulation, multiple devices operate simultaneously, so designers can test out cooperative applications. A typical demo would have a pair of PSoC microcontrollers handling LEDs and pushbuttons signaling their counterparts of changes and reflecting their counterparts' actions. Translating this application to the new development kit was a trivial exercise.
PSoC Express 2.1 includes a host of new devices and additional enhancement that I will take a closer look at in an upcoming EIED Online article. I also will look at the improved integration with PSoC Designer, which is a more sophisticated, complicated, and complementary tool for PSoC hardware design and configuration.
PSoC Express and PSoC Designer are available as free downloads at Cypress' Web site. Simulation support allows operation without PSoC hardware.