Fido Teaches Old Dogs New Tricks

July 11, 2007
Innovasic’s fido1100 brings the Motorola 68000 architecture into this century with a unique real-time microcontroller architecture.

I was looking forward to checking out Innovasic’s $499 fido1100 EDK (evaluation development kit) (see Back To The Future With The 68K). The fido1100 instruction set is based on the CPU32+ that is compatible with the venerable Motorola 68000. The EDK includes the Eclipse IDE and C++ GNU toolchain (Sourcery G++ GNU) from Code Sourcery. The GNU tools for the 68000 have had plenty of time for refinement. The fido1100 is interesting, partly because of its instruction set and longevity. Innovasic has been known for providing long-term support, often for products discontinued by other vendors. The fido1100 falls into this category although it is significantly more powerful than most of the 68000 platforms of the past and many of the ones still being built. The other aspect of the fido1100 is its Universal IO Controller (UIC). The UIC can be configured to be a 10/100 Ethernet interface or a CAN, UART, SPI, I2C, or GPIO (general-purpose input/output) interface. Ethernet still requires an off-chip physical layer (PHY). The Ethernet, CAN, and I2C configurations handle packet addressing. The current fido1100 chip has four independent UICs. In theory, the UIC is programmable but currently in practice the interfaces are those standard ones already listed. Other standard peripherals include a dual-channel DMA and an eight-channel, 10-bit analog-to-digital controller (ADC). It isn't the fastest or most accurate ADC available, but it's more than adequate for a wide variety of embedded applications. Other analog peripherals will have to be added as necessary. Opening Up The Kit The fido1100 EDK comes with the usual eval board and software, and I quickly got the system up and running. The kit comes with comes with a Quick Start guide that runs through almost a dozen tests done with just the board. It was simply a matter of plugging it in and running through the steps. Now that I knew the board was working properly, it was time to install the disk containing the software from Code Sourcery for Windows. This doesn’t take too long and once completed, you have a nice installation of the Eclipse IDE along with all the libraries needed to take advantage of the fido1100 and its UICs as well as the other on-chip peripherals like the 8-channel, 10-bit ADC (analog-to-digital controller) and dual channel DMA. Using the peripherals is a relatively simple exercise. The C libraries essentially insulate the programmer from the underlying hardware. The platform is suitable for Linux and Innovasic indicated a version would be available for it but it is not included in the installation disks. Check with Innovasic for more details. The Eclipse IDE is integrated with the on-chip SPIDER (Software Profiling and Integrated Debug Environment) debug tool. The trace buffer used for profiling is in main memory. Debug support can use one of the Ethernet ports. SPIDER can be used to track cache usage. This is important because fido1100’s on-chip Rapid Execution Memory (REM) can provide a deterministic cache. Essentially code is loaded and locked down. Of course, it helps to load the right code. This may be something like interrupt code or the currently required software filter or compression algorithm. REM is one reason many developers prefer the fido1100. The software package had me off and running with something of my own in less than an hour. It helps to know Eclipse and the GNU tool chain already but it is not a requirement. Eclipse has improved significantly in terms of initial ease of use over the past couple years and Code Sourcery’s integration made installation a no-brainer. Innovasic has put together a winning package with the fido1100 platform and its EDK. I can definitely recommend the combination if the peripherals and performance meet your design requirements. Related Links Code Sourcery Eclipse GNU Project Innovasic

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