The microcontrollers from the ARM7 range and its development board, the cortex M3, make it possible to take 32 bits to designs which were traditionally the terrain of 8 bits. Due to their low price and usability, they have major advantages over 8-bit architectures. The large variety of manufacturers which use these architectures provides a wide range of possibilities in terms of peripherals and the amount of memory. The leading manufacturers which we use are ST, Texas Instruments and NXP.
The possibility of purchasing components with a large storage capacity makes it possible to create bootloaders which securely update the firmware remotely and unattended. In this example the firmware which was developed was capable of detecting a new version of firmware by connecting to a remote server overnight. This meant that our client was able to update all of their computers, distributed throughout the country, by simply loading the new firmware onto the server.
In TI’s Cortex M3 range, the Ethernet peripheral is included in the uC, only requiring the transformer and a connector to provide it with connectivity. The inclusion of a real time operating system and a completely free TCP/IP stack, allows us to develop sensing systems at a very low cost.