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µTasker News - Best wishes for 2008!! - 2.1.2008


Hi uTasker users!!

I wish you all the best for 2008 and hope that your Christmas period was relaxing and enjoyable.

You will have noticed that the level of newsletters has decreased in the last few months mainly due to the fact that the µTasker forum went on line in July 2007 and has since then become the main point of communication. With 76 registered forum members and 490 posts to 132 different topics to date the forum has a reasonable level of activity and already contains a lot of useful information. The search function also proves very useful when looking for answers to questions which may already have been asked (and hopefully also answered!!).

I you havenít already visited the forum you are welcome to check it out at http://www.uTasker.com/forum/ and of course register as a user.

Last year saw a few trends which will probably dictate the further direction of the project:
- First of all the M5223X is by far the most popular project, especially for industrial applications, where the amount of industrial projects using the µTasker on the M5223X outnumbers the other processors by a factor of 10!! The NE64 has been especially popular up until mid 2007 but an increasing number of users have now progressed on to the 'larger and more powerful' Coldfire. The DEMONE64 boards are no longer produced by Freescale and it is quite clear that the Coldfire is Freescales flag-ship, whereas the NE64 will not be promoted any more. I also urge present NE64 users, whether professional or hobby, to look at this progression path. The Coldfire parts are very attractive - they are hardly more expensive than the NE64 - but their development tools, performance and features are a factor better. The support by quality open source tools for the Coldfire is also a great plus point!!

- On the subject of open source tools, 2007 saw major advances in this direction with much more user-friendly packages and guides to actually get them in to operation without investing either your compete holiday, or the projectís development budget to get them configured!! The µTasker packages for Coldfire and SAM7X are already delivered with GNU projects and this trend will certainly continue with new processors. A lot of people are now using these tools very effectively and the quality of the generated code is very good.

As some will know, there are new µTasker projects in Ďadvancedí stages of preparation for the NXP LPC23xx and Luminary LMS3xxxx families - there are boards for each in the µTasker forum. The µTasker STR91XF project has already been used successfully in a number or projects although it has not actually been officially released!!. You can expect an official ST release very shortly (possibly to coincide with an article about the µTasker project in the ST newsletter in January). Beta versions of the NXP and Luminary projects are very close.

There is a USB stack in development for the M5222X family but this has dropped a bit behind schedule (again). But it is being worked on and eventually the results will flow into the other device projects since the majority also have a USB interface built in.

I am predicting a lot of competition in the coming year from the ARM based devices. Although not presently used as intensively as the Coldfire in industrial uTasker based projects, the ARM project is very mature and with the support of interesting new chips from NXP and Luminary as well as the more established Atmel SAM7X and STR91XF, plus the OpenSource tool chains, they can offer very attractive solutions.

I am very pleased to announce that there is a new Service Pack available for the SAM7X (SP2) which brings this project up to date with the newest µTasker developments. It include latest features like NetBIOS, VLAN, Fast serving HTTP, RARP and passive FTP, plus DMA UART and SPI FLASH based file system (as well as various more subtle improvements - bug fixes are another name for them...). The latest version is available on the service pack page (http://www.utasker.com/software/softwareV1.3.html) with complete release notes. This version includes projects for IAR, stand-along GNU, Eclipse GNU and Rowley Crossworks - the standalone GNU can be automatically build from the VS based simulator environment!

Most up to date SPs for the M5223X and NE64 - containing also SPI FLASH support for the file system - are being tested before release so these will follow very shortly.

Many thanks for using the µTasker and I look forward to an exiting 2008 and the chance to discuss more details with you on the µTasker forum.

Best regards

Mark



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