ARM Based Projects – Reality Check
Having worked with final year projects and student projects in general for many years we can say that not all student projects need ARM processors / controllers. Most academic projects can be easily completed with microcontrollers like PIC, AVR, Arduino etc. Having said, if a student wants to go with ARM controllers for their projects we do not discourage it because of the following facts
- ARM is the most widely used controller / processor architecture in the world.
- More than 50 billion ARM microcontrollers / processors have been produced till date.
- More than 90% of smart phones use ARM based devices.
Any which way you look at these numbers they are staggering. For any student who wants to pursue a career in embedded systems ARM processors and controllers are indispensable and for the same reason engineering colleges recommend ARM based final year projects.
So many choices – Which ARM ?
Assuming you have decided on a ARM based project, the next logical question is which ARM based controller to use for your project. This is the tough part and this article is intended to suggest a good choice considering the general requirements of a student project.
There are 1000’s of different ARM based products manufactured by more than 25 different companies. In terms of the manufacturer we recommend NXP and their LPC11XXX family of ARM controllers. But out of the lot we recommend LPC11U67 to our students. Our reasons for recommend the LPC family and specifically the LPC11U67 are as follows.
Why LPC ?
For the simple fact that we find the development tools both software and hardware the least complicated and low cost. NXPs LPCWare.com is a excellent resource for beginners. The free development tool LPCXresso is also a significant advantage, especially from a student’s perspective. Added to this are excellent evaluation board cum debugger like this one, which costs less than 40USD. Effectively a student can start developing a ARM based projects for about 50USD. In our experience this is even less than some 8 bit microcontrollers !!
Why LPC11U67 ?
Following are some of the reasons why we recommend the LPC11U67 to our students for their final year projects.
- Moderate Cost – Approx 6 USD – Source
- Relatively easy to use Package – 48 TQFP (can be used with adapter boards)
- Almost all popular peripheral features
- Plenty of memory for a project using ARM
- Good number of IOs for a student project
- If required students can easily scale up and down the LPC11U family.
These are some of the factors we recommend this specific IC for projects using ARM controllers. We also recommend that students read our article on selecting final year projects.
We will be coming up with a list of project ideas specifically for ARM based projects in the near future, which will include both application oriented final year projects and also IEEE projects, based on specific IEEE base papers. In the mean while we recommend that students look at LPCware.com if they are planning on ARM based projects.