Wednesday, December 23, 2015

MSP432 LaunchPad review

The new MSP432 LaunchPad is very cool. Here it is in all its glory. We got our hands on a pre-production unit in red, but it looks like the production units are all black.

The MSP432 Processor

It is a 32-bit 48MHz Cortex-M4F processor with the MSP430 peripherals. Performance stated of 1.18f DMIPS/Mhz. At 48MHz it uses 7.6mA if using the LDO, 4.6mA if using the DC/DC converter. I'll explain more about that below. So it's pretty good.

  • Memory - 256kB of flash, 16kB of INFO Memory, 64kB of SRAM (including 8kB of Backup Memory - we're not in the MSP430 land anymore), and 32KB of ROM preloaded with MSPWare Driver Libraries.
  • Voltage Range: 1.62V to 3.7V
  • Current consumption: Less than 1uA while running with RTC, Active is 90uA/MHz
  • Clocking: the flexible clocking that we know and love - internal DCO up to 48MHz, support for 32kHz xtal, a few different internal oscillators.
  • DMA - if you use DMA in a micro controller please comment below. I've always wondered who actually uses it.
  • Timers - 4x 16-bit timers, 2x 32-bit timers. Fewer than I would have thought.
  • Serial - 4x eUSCI_B modules with I2C/SPI and 4x eUSCI_A modules with UART/SPI/IrDA. Does anyone still use IrDA?
  • GPIO - All IOs can generate an Interrupt, like Tiva (yay!), all can drive up to 6mA, and 4 of them can drive up to 20mA. 24 of the pins support pin mapping - a very cool feature.
  • Analog - 14-bit 1MSPS ADC (ooh, that's cool) with (finally!) an internal voltage reference that doesn't suck (10ppm / degree C stability) and 2 comparators.
  • Hardware Accelerators for AES and CRC
  • Package - LQFP100, 80NFBGA, 60VQFN. The LQFP is pretty large, 14mm square. Same size as the TM4C129X in the debugger section of the Launchpad but with bigger pitch - should make soldering easier.
  • Built-In DC/DC converter or LDO option. This is new, never seen this on a processor before. The processor core operates at a lower voltage than the supply voltage. This voltage can be supplied by an LDO or DC/DC switching regulator. Most processors use an LDO. The MSP432 has an internal DC/DC regulator - you just need to attach an external inductor and a couple capacitors.  Using the DC/DC regulator reduces operating and sleep current consumption by about 40%.

The LaunchPad

The board is designed quite well. Like all Launchpads, it has an onboard debugger. Lets hope that it's more reliable than the MSP430G2 Launchpad debugger - that's the buggiest debugger I've ever used. The debugger on the '432 Launchpad can be electrically disconnected from the processor section via headers. That's very cool too. The headers that connect the two are well labeled:

  • Power: GND, 3V3, 5V
  • Serial: RTS, CTS, RXD, TXD

There is a "Launchpad-XL" pin configuration (the 40 pin version with 35 GPIOs used on the '5529 LaunchPad) so it should support all the new BoosterPacks. Unfortunately they didn't say whether it would support the SensorHub - that would be a cool combination. They also pulled out the unused pin to a separate unpopulated header. There's 26 pins on that header.  So there's a total of 35 + 26 = 61 GPIOs available.

Peripherals - Similar to the TM4C123 LaunchPad, this board has 2x buttons + reset button, 1 red LED, and one RGB LED. I like the Launchpad style of not hogging up pins with peripherals that I don't need. The LED signals can be electrically disconnected from the processor using jumpers. The LED signals aren't available on any of the headers so it's questionable why someone would want to disconnect them. There are also a 32KHz crystal and a MHz crystal.

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