In conjunction with its new 32 PIC processor rollout, Microchip has released its MPLAB Harmony, an all-in-one free development framework that should bring coherence to the software development and support process.
It integrates the licensing, resale and support of both Microchip and third-party middleware, drivers, libraries and real-time operating systems.
Focused at this point on the company’s PI32 MCUs, Rod Drake, director of Microchip’s MCU32 Division, said MPLAB Harmony currently includes pre-verified third-party offerings from Express Logic, FreeRTOS, InterNiche, WITTENSTEIN High Integrity Systems, SEGGER and wolfSSL, with many more on the way.
For PIC32 MCU users at least, he said, the result is that developers will be able to simplify their MCU code development process by using the framework to rduce common integration bugs which will accelerate time to market. Support and licensing for all the modules, including the third party RTOS', is available directly from Microchip.
Drake said the move was to counter the growing complexity of embedded systems in which industry studies say software development accounts for 60% of the average design cycle. Complicating and extending the development process is that often developers are using a variety of software with untested compatibility and multiple sources of purchasing and support.
He said this increases verification and debug time after the design is completed, which can cost 10-30 times more than defects found during the design phase.
More than just providing a single integrated, abstracted and flexible source for Microchip-tested, debugged and interoperable code, said Drake, Harmony provides a modular architecture that enables the efficient integration of multiple drivers, middleware and libraries, while offering an RTOS-independent environment.
On the hardware side, the Harmony framework has been designed to make it even easier to port code and migrate among all of Microchip’s 32-bit PIC32 microcontrollers. By using this single source for in-house and third-party code (both free and premium) that is supported by Microchip, he said designers can greatly increase their reaction times to their ever-changing end-market requirements.
MPLAB Harmony is available today, and the basic framework is free. The first release provides initial support for the new PIC32MZ family, as well as the PIC32MX families. Full support for all PIC32 families is planned for the next version release, which is expected in March 2014.
Once downloaded, there is a modular menu of free and premium software options that are also available today. The expanding list of initial offerings includes FreeRTOS from Real Time Engineers Ltd. and OPENRTOS from Wittenstein High Integrity Systems; a TCP/IP stack from InterNiche Technologies; and a CyaSSL Embedded SSL Library from wolfSSL, among many others.
There is also a portal available where designers can easily download the framework and get started with their development.