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darren
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2019/04/26 02:09:17 (permalink)
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Graphics hardware tools

Hi,
 
I'm currently working on a new project which needs a QVGA graphical display with touch screen. My application would be simple, just some menu navigation, status checks and text (no videos or compression). I searched Microchip website for solutions and I found a lot of information and software tool. When it came to development boards, I noted that nearly all the development boards which the documentation is based on is no longer manufactured. The only development board I could find is the MultiMedia Expension Board II (DM320005-5) which is a huge overkill to what I actually need. 
 
For my project, I wanted to use the Low-Cost Controllerless (LLC) library and the development boards on which the documentation is base (PICtail Plus Daughter Board ACC164144 and graphic display Truly 3.2” QVGA AC164127-4) but as said, these are marked as no longer available for sale. 
 
What development boards are available for graphics development? Is the DM320005-5 the only one currently available?
 
Note: Sorry if this is not the correct proper section but I couldn't find a dedicated section for Graphics Development Tools.
 
 
Thanks
post edited by darren - 2019/04/26 06:07:56
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    MikeinAZ
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    Re: Graphics hardware tools 2019/04/29 13:40:47 (permalink)
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    Hello,
     
    You are correct that the older Pictail boards with QVGA are no longer supported in our MPLAB Harmony development.  It is still possible for you to put your own platform together, and there are a number of kits out there provided by third party providers if you are interested in.  
    In this class, you are correct that the MEB 2 is one of those systems that will provide you with this capability.  It must be mated with a starter kit, and it does come with a display.
    Another approach is for you to use some of our latest boards for Cortex devices.  You can mate a SAM E70 Xplained Ultra board with a display (we have WQVGA available).  This has a number of applications already working in LCC in Harmony 3.
    More boards in this class and smaller devices are in the works, and should be available later this quarter or next.
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    split
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    Re: Graphics hardware tools 2019/08/04 12:45:09 (permalink)
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    MikeinAZ
    You are correct that the older Pictail boards with QVGA are no longer supported in our MPLAB Harmony development.  ....... You can mate a SAM E70 Xplained Ultra board with a display (we have WQVGA available).  This has a number of applications already working in LCC in Harmony 3.
    More boards in this class and smaller devices are in the works, and should be available later this quarter or next.



    Mike,
     
    Its concerning that on this PIC32 forum that the PiC32 Dev boards mentioned are no longer supported and there is a push towards the Arm based SAM products.    I sense that Microchip would like to move developers towards Arm.   Which is concerning for the longevity of the PIC32 products.   I'm investigating a new project which has a 5 year perhaps 10 year lifespan and now I hesitate to consider the PIC32.
     
    The problem is, when you use the All Parametric search and you select "Low Cost Controllerless Graphics", not one SAM device is shown, only PIC32.     The controllerless solution seems best for our application.  Was it determined  that there was some issue with that approach?
     
    Is there something with the SAM MCUs which prevents the controllerless solution?
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    MikeinAZ
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    Re: Graphics hardware tools 2019/08/05 09:55:40 (permalink)
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    You can certainly continue to use either core, and that is what Harmony 3 is meant to allow you to do.  We have a long history of continued device support, which includes the PIC32 product line.
     
    Specifically for LCC, you should look at the Harmony 3 line up of applications.  We have most recently released v3.4, which has LCC support for both SAM E70 and PIC32MZ EF.  This will not typically show up on parametric searches, as they do not use the same port for similar functions.
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    split
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    Re: Graphics hardware tools 2019/08/05 10:13:18 (permalink)
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    I looked at the SAM line and it seems that a version with a parallel port or equivalent, that could be used for LCC, is considerably more expensive than the PIC32, which defeats the whole concept of  "Low Cost"
    I'm a bit confused as to why Microchip would discontinue the LCC board with no obvious replacement.
    For our application, the LCC seems ideal and the PIC32MK seems to check all the boxes.  We do have another concern with the Controllerless approach, and that is the ISR response time.  If non-interruptable code is executing, what affect will be observed on the display...or rather what is  the required ISR response time.  We need to investigate that further.
     
    post edited by split - 2019/08/05 11:21:41
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    MikeinAZ
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    Re: Graphics hardware tools 2019/08/05 10:53:26 (permalink)
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    LCC is not a hardware port, but really it is a technology for driving a (dumb) display interface with timing for graphics.  Yes, this can be done with several interfaces.
     
    The LCC board was driven only with a PIC32MX 795, which enabled external memory to use as a frame buffer.  Because of the external memory it was actually a very expensive total solution.  The device could not actually support the display on its own as the SRAM is too small (for that display).  For some displays this may be a viable solution, but this specific board was not a good example of that.  This is why it is not available for new designs... customers had requested ways around this.
     
    To address this we have a few devices, but they all have system cost trade offs.  Obviously smaller and larger display formats may create other options that drive cost and complexity.
     
    1) You can use a SAM E70 with internal SRAM for a frame buffer to drive a WQVGA display.  This is with LCC, and uses a parallel interface to the display.  We have examples with this using the SAM E70 Xplained Ultra board, which comes with a graphics interface.  At 300MHz the core has a good deal of additional cycles to handle jobs other than graphics.  We do touch based on interrupt in our example also.
     
    2) You could use a PIC32MZ EF, again with internal SRAM for WQVGA.  The best approach would be to use the latest Curiosity 2.0 board which has a graphics adapter.  This component costs marginally more than the SAM E70, but the mix of features may drive customers one way or the other.
     
    3) You could use the SAM E54 with external controller.  The cost trade off for the lower cost processor somewhat offsets the external controller cost.  This is particularly interesting when the display controller is already built into the display, as are many in the class of WQVGA and below.  We have examples of this using the very new SAM E54 Curiosity Ultra board (introduced this week).  This option could also work with SPI, although also using the external controller.
     
    4) Of course you could use the PIC32MX 470 (or 795).  Each have a parallel interface, although not enough memory to typically drive the display buffer through LCC.  So they would need external SRAM support.  In that mode, this may not be cost competitive to the others.  We do not have board support for this, but the application note and board design files still available give you this option also.
     
    All approaches will benefit from our latest graphics tools and library that are part of the MPLAB Harmony Graphics Suite that is available as of GFX v3.4.0 now on Github.
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