General embedded development kits using gcc/gdb.

Craig Verbeck
Fri Jul 7 09:21:00 GMT 2000

My reply may be considered off topic -- but I think it's a cool idea....

| I would like to make some single board embedded development 
| kits with some
| simple tools.  Firstly I would like to use a board that has a 
| more general
| (i.e. non DSP) type processor, something like a MIPS, ARM, PowerPC, or
| Pentium, or anything else that is deemed suitable.  The 
| programme for a board
| will be programmed using gcc on any type of host computer 
| with target output
| for the embedded system processor, and I would like to have 
| the facility to
| use gdb as the debugger.  Such a system has many advantages.

One not-so-implied requirement is to lower the entry cost to develop on such
a system.  IMO this is the key to making this type of system work.  I have
been drawn to gcc/gdb/eCos for the same reasons: extremely high quality
tools, exceptionally low cost of entry (in $).

However, there is cost.  In many cases you must converge the tools to your
system.  To expand on your idea, wouldn't it be great if there were a "kits"
for not just this board (which BTW is an excellent combination) but for a
large number of development boards/eval kits.

I am approached by distributors/factory reps every week.  They want to
"give" me an eval board.  In almost all cases the development tool-chain
cost is extreme ($5k-$25k+).  They will give you an eval license for the
development tools that lasts 30 days.  This is not enough time.  Also, all
of these compilers are different -- I have no desire to learn a new tool
chain each time I have to develop a project with a new processor.

There are development boards for all of these systems.  The ultimate would
be to download a zip (windows) or tar-ball (Linux) that had binary versions
of the compiler, debugger, eCos, and maybe uC/Linux with a BSP for a
specific development board.  Based on how much processor you have available
(MIPS, memory size, etc.) other excellent additions would be a portable GUI
and a TCP/IP stack.  All ready to go.  Download, install and you are ready
to develop in a familiar environment that has been pre-converged to this
target system.

Here's a list of processors that I'd love to see a binary distribution of
this "development kit" for both windows and Linux:
8bit: 8051/Atmel AVR
16bit: x86
32bit: PPC/CPU32(68k)/ARM/MIPS/Pentium
I'm sure there are more.  These are the processors that I use (or would like
to use) on a regular basis.

I know a lot of people have developed parts and pieces of this.  All of the
source code is available.  But, there does not appear to be any _overall_

Sorry for the rant,

A.C. Verbeck
Principal Software Engineer
Clarity Visual Systems
vox: (503) 570-0319
fax: (503) 682-9441

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