Maria Montero

A hardware company in a software world: STMicroelectronics’ Move …

Recent software acquisitions from leading MCU vendors show how the worlds of hardware and software are converging and colliding in the changing landscape of IoT design.

MCU vendors are improving their software offerings to simplify Internet of Things (IoT) designs and to challenge the common perception that they are struggling to keep up with software development. The two recent software acquisitions of STMicroelectronics is one such example.

In July 2018, STMicro. acquired Draupner Graphics, the highly optimized software developer for graphical user interface (GUI) solutions for microcontrollers. The TouchGFX software framework facilitates smooth graphics and animations for integrated layouts.

Four months later, in November 2018, STMicro announced that the TouchGFX GUI development suite is available for free for production and redistribution with their STM32 microcontrollers. The chipmaker claims that the combination of the STM32 MCU and TouchGFX software could power up the “HMI of things.”

the TouchGFX software includes a C ++ framework that allows user interface code to occupy as little as 10 KB SRAM and 20 KB of flash memory. It then takes advantage of the Chrom-ART Accelerator â„¢ featured on the STM32 MCUs to improve graphics capabilities. The accelerator contains a rendering algorithm that minimizes the number of pixels to refresh, which in turn allows for better graphics with little memory and a power budget.

ST is incorporating the TouchGFX GUI suite in your STM32Cube ecosystem. Image courtesy of STMicroelectronics.

The TouchGFX suite supports user interfaces with a color depth of 1, 2, 4, 16 or 24 bits per pixel (bpp) and can be run with or without a real-time operating system (RTOS). It also includes the TouchGFX Designer tool, which enables designers to quickly develop graphical interfaces with simple drag-and-drop operations. In addition, it has automatic code generation, as well as font, text and image conversion.

Two acquisitions in one year

Once again, to further strengthen its software arsenal, in December 2018, STMicro announced the acquisition of Atollic, a provider of software development tools for embedded systems designs. Atollic’s TrueSTUDIO is an open source Eclipse-based integrated development environment (IDE) platform focused on Arm® Cortex®-M microcontrollers, such as the STM32 family of 32-bit MCUs from ST. STMicro plans to offer the TrueSTUDIO IDE for free to STM32 developers.

The Atollic IDE provides factory support for STM32 cards and chips. Image courtesy of STMicroelectronics.

The account of ST’s two recent software acquisitions shows how an MCU vendor is building an ecosystem comprising tools, middleware, software libraries, sample code, and evaluation panels. And it is aimed at enabling embedded systems designers to simplify product development and speed time to market.

Another recent software acquisition from a leading MCU vendor: Cypress Semiconductor buys Cirrent, a cloud services and software developer for consumer Wi-Fi® products. Cirrent software makes it easy to provision Wi-Fi, so end users can set up connections in IoT environments like the smart home without typing passwords and stay connected even when network names and passwords are changed.

By cirrent The ZipKey® Wi-Fi Onboarding solution is available for a wide variety of Wi-Fi chips and operating systems. Now, Cirrent software built into Cypress Wi-Fi solutions could further simplify Wi-Fi connectivity.