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Freescale simplifies embedded development with advanced Tower Modules

Modular development platform helps save months of development time through rapid prototyping and tool re-use

AUSTIN, Texas – Dec. 1, 2009 – Freescale Semiconductor continues to enable advanced development through rapid evaluation and prototyping with its Tower System development platform. Today, the company announced two interchangeable peripheral modules and 8- and 32-bit microcontroller (MCU) modules for the Tower System.

The advanced peripheral modules offer developers 802.11b Wi-Fi and rapid prototyping functionality. The newest MCU modules support Freescale’s MCF5225X 32-bit ColdFire® MCU and MC9S08LL64 8-bit MCU.

"With the addition of these advanced modules for Freescale’s Tower System, we are providing designers, students and hobbyists an affordable development system that’s modular and expandable,” said Aiden Mitchell, director of Freescale’s Industrial & Multi-Market Microcontroller business. “The Tower system, in conjunction with Freescale MQX™ software, is the ultimate enablement solution – giving designers an array of building blocks for entry-level to advanced processor development and helping speed time to market.”

The Tower System provides a comprehensive and highly customizable embedded design environment that allows developers to mix and match MCU and peripheral boards to create reconfigurable development platforms that suit their design needs. Interchangeable modules promote reuse of hardware across multiple architectures, which helps speed time to market. The modular design scales down overall tool costs, while providing an inexpensive entry point.

Advanced MCU modules  
The Tower System now supports two advanced microcontroller modules: the TWR-MCF5225X and the TWR-S08LL64, featuring the ColdFire V2 MCF5225X MCU and the 8-bit MC9S08LL64 MCU, respectively. These modules can be combined with various peripheral modules to form a unique Tower System development tool or used as standalone debug tools.

The TWR-MCF5225X offers a powerful and flexible industrial connectivity solution with on-chip USB, Ethernet, controller area network (CAN) and encryption, along with the Freescale MQX real time operating system and associated tools and software stacks. The 8-bit MC9S08LL64 MCU includes an on-chip LCD driver that supports up to eight backplanes, enabling developers to drive more segments with fewer pins, reducing system cost and design complexity. The S08LL family supports an LCD blink mode that operates without waking up the controller core, which helps reduce overall power consumption.

These advanced modules complement the previously announced TWR-MCF51CN Ethernet MCU module.

New peripheral modules
The Wi-Fi module (TWR-ZGWIFI) adds 802.11b Wi-Fi functionality to the Tower System and includes the ZeroG Systems ZG2100 Wi-Fi I/O module and antenna, as well as configuration jumpers and an RS232 debug port. The embedded Wi-Fi module from ZeroG is optimized for embedded applications, with low data rates, power consumption and system resource requirements. The TWR-ZGWIFI module is FCC-certified and offers seamless integration with Freescale’s MQX software solution. With this module, developers can easily add Wi-Fi connectivity and run sample applications using the kit in less than a few hours.

The prototyping module (TWR-PROTO) allows designers to quickly add custom circuitry and build custom prototype boards with application-specific features. With ample perfboard area, this cost-effective module is ideal for hardware development and testing during system design.

These two peripheral modules complement the previously announced serial module (TWR-SER), supporting Ethernet, USB, RS232, RS485 and CAN, and elevator modules (TWR-ELEV) that connect the MCU and peripheral boards.

About the Tower System
The Tower System helps developers quickly evaluate and prototype their applications. As they require more functionality and design capabilities, developers can easily add more modules to their Tower System library. In addition, standardized, open-source hardware allows Freescale customers and partners to design additional modules for added functionality and customization.

The Tower System’s easy-to-use, modular design helps customers control tool costs, from simple concept testing to full product development. A single MCU/MPU module serves as the main control board. Modules simply plug into backplane boards, called “elevators,” through standard PCB edge connectors. Peripheral board re-use eliminates the need to buy and develop redundant hardware, which reduces future costs. In addition, the MCU modules include open-source background debug mode (OSBDM) hardware, allowing each board to serve as a standalone debug tool.

Tower modules are currently available for MCF51CN, MCF5225X and MC9S08LL64 MCUs. In future months, Freescale and its partners plan to provide Tower System support for additional embedded devices, including other ColdFire MCUs, 8-bit MCUs and digital signal controllers (DSCs).

Pricing and availability

  • The TWR-MCF5225X MCU module is available for a suggested resale price of $49 (USD)
  • The TWR-S08LL64 MCU module is available for a suggested resale price of $69 (USD)
  • The TWR-ZGWIFI and TWR-PROTO modules are available now for a suggested resale price of $59 (USD) and $14.99 (USD), respectively.
  • The TWR-MCF5225X-KIT includes the TWR-SER and TWR-ELEV modules and is available for a suggested resale price of $119 (USD).
  • The TWR-S08LL64-KIT includes the TWR-PROTO and TWR-ELEV modules and is available for a suggested resale price of $99 (USD).

Online training, videos, webcast, technical documentation and application notes are available at www.freescale.com/tower.

About Freescale Semiconductor
Freescale Semiconductor is a global leader in the design and manufacture of embedded semiconductors for the automotive, consumer, industrial and networking markets. The privately held company is based in Austin, Texas, and has design, research and development, manufacturing or sales operations around the world. www.freescale.com. Follow us on Twitter.

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