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Blackfin Microprocessor Vs ARM Microcontroller

Hi, I would like to know pros and cons for Blackfin and ARM Labview Embedded software. I am new to embedded software. My intention is to make an independent controller like a real time system. I know that Blackfin embedded software targets a microprocessor where as ARM embedded software targets a microcontroller. I would like to know which one would be a good tool for a beginner like me. I dont want to buy one now and another one later cause these softwares are not cheap. I appreciate if someone can lay side by side the pros and cons for like the ease of programming, the intermideiate hardware required between the computer and the target for program transfer, the available drivers for accessing the hardware (Digital IO, Serial Port, CAN etc..) flexibilty for making custom integrated circuit boards.

 

Thanks in advance.

Mudda.

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If you are looking for ease in programmability then you may consider the Blackfin as your solution. NI LabVIEW has matured nicely with the Blackfin with many 3rd parties developing a lot of stuff on the side. The Blackfin uses a different OS to that of the ARM7 microcontrollers, due to licensing options (or so I believe). The Blackfin OS can be a little more difficult to program but hopefully a lot of this is taken up in the background with LVE - as it is more mature in its development over the ARM7.

 

We are currently looking at developing a product with the Blackfin after utilising so much time developing with the ARM7 (lpc2368, based on the LPC2378 dev board). To clarify, we are developing another product using the Blackfin processor. In the next few months we should have a much better idea of what we are dealing with.

 

Considering the advantages of the BF over the ARM you need to consider what it is you are trying to achieve, specifically. The BF is great at high level processing and does it quickly but you need all the external hardware. The ARM7 is also great but won't be able to do some of the FFT's or high level signal analysis you may need - according to your application. There are some really neat ARM7's out there (and even ARM9 but development using the LVE may be a little hazzy) that may suit your needs. Look for something that has a lot of internal RAM (or can use external) as the LVE OS can be memory hungry.

 

The ARM micro-controller may be able to do what you require. It has a lot of the drivers available to you and is made easier to control using LVE. The programming environment is still a little buggy (more so when you first wrote your post) but is progressing, with the potential in becoming a powerful product. Some of the comms drivers are not there - CAN is supposed to be but is buggy; serial port, works but may need some one time adjustments here; digital I/O works fine, again with some minor adjustments and required programming techniques.

 

Both chips can be used for custom hardware.

 

That is a small help but I hope it helps nevertheless.

 

David.

 

 

 

[LVE = LabVIEW embedded]

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Hi David,

 

Thank you for the post. It is always appreciated when a customer gives their input on what they have tried so far.

 

Just to discuss a few basic differences on Blackfin vs. ARM.

 

Blackfin:

For Signal processing, the blackfin might be a better option just because of the options available with it. If you use the BF 548 board, it comes with a touch screen as well. There are a number of examples in the NI Example Finder that describe these examples for you.

This document provides an excellent description on why, what, when you would need/use Blackfin:

Introduction to Analog Devices Blackfin Processors

 

This document lists applications built by customer using the Blackfin Embedded Software and their experiences with it:

Customer Successes using the LabVIEW Embedded Module for Blackfin Processors

 

ARM:

The primary advantage with ARM is the number of processors supported with it. Over 260 processors made by a number of manufacturers including NXP, Luminary Micro, Cirrus Logic. The full list of devices supported by the ARM module is on this page.

 

This document is a good starting point to understand using ARM hardware with LabVIEW Embedded for ARM:

Accelerate ARM-Based Embedded System Development with NI LabVIEW  

 

The functionality with Tier 1 devices are, of course, better. However, NI is looking to add more devices with every new release of the software. Tier 1 devices are validated microcontrollers that provide an out-of-the-box programming experience. In addition to basic LabVIEW programming, mathematics, and signal-processing palettes, tier 1 devices also provide LabVIEW palettes for communications, analog, and digital I/O.

 

This document lists the support that comes with the two tiers and the list of Tier 1 devices.

 ARM devices supported by LabVIEW

 

This document provides a top-level overview of the Tier 1 hardware supported LabVIEW Embedded for ARM:

Overview of ARM Evaluation Hardware  

 

For using Tier 2 devices, you will have to follow the porting guide listed here:

LabVIEW Embedded for ARM Porting Guide

 

On using LabVIEW Embedded with CAN, this document is a good resource:

Developing ARM Applications to communicate via CAN

 

Hope this is useful!

 

 

Warm regards,
Karunya R
National Instruments
Applications Engineer
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@Karunya_R wrote:

NI is looking to add more devices with every new release of the software. Tier 1 devices are validated microcontrollers that provide an out-of-the-box programming experience. In addition to basic LabVIEW programming, mathematics, and signal-processing palettes, tier 1 devices also provide LabVIEW palettes for communications, analog, and digital I/O.


Dear NI, is the next Tier 1 board close? There are only 2 (or 3) Tier 1 boards available and these are getting a little long in the tooth being over 5 years ago.

 

Dear NI, is the next Tier 1 board close? There are only 2 (or 3) Tier 1 boards available and these are getting a little long in the tooth being introduced over 5 years ago.

 

If you're unsure about which board to target, can I suggest the MCBTMS570 Development Board (www.keil.com/mcbtms570). This board offers 256 DMIPS of power versus the 60 DMIPS currently available (4x more performance). Also, due to the overhead of the RTOS, the "left over" performance increase is not just 4x but an impressive, well over 10x!

 

Do we need this performance? Yes. I've put together a demonstration project using the evaluation software very quickly. It was a pleasure to programme in LabVIEW. However I've spent 10 times (yes, literally 10 times) the development effort trying to get the required performance. And what I'm doing is not overly taxing and would readily have been achieved with the ARM Cortex M3 if it was written in C. My efforts turned the initial pleasurable programming into frustration. And in the end, after all that effort, I didn’t get the required performance. I’m to present my demonstration project to the engineering team in a few weeks time and it won’t be as impressive as it could/should be. In fact, the C advocates will have a field day!

 

The MCBTM570 board runs Keil RTX OS, so it should be relatively easy to establish a Tier 1 board. From what I understand it would only take NI about 2 months to create such a Tier 1 board. This would be a breath of fresh air for LabVIEW Embedded for ARM programmers and inject new life into the product. I can guarantee additional LabVIEW Embedded sales.

 

More importantly for NI, a more capable LabVIEW Embedded will increase sales of NI's primary product - LabVIEW. When people go out to buy something they will use for a while they look for many just-in-case features (who's bought a video recorder seeking out various features that in the end were never used). "LabVIEW Everywhere" supports sales of LabVIEW on Windows/Mac/Unix, which in turn sells hardware.

 

So, do we get one more Tier 1 board? Please…

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