ARM and its partners are set to start shipping a digital signal processing (DSP) “Lab-in-a-Box” (LiB) to universities worldwide to help boost practical skills development and the creation of new ARM-based audio systems, such as high definition home media and voice-controlled home automation systems. The LiB kits contain ARM Cortex-M4-based microcontroller boards by STMicroelectronics and audio cards from Wolfson Microelectronics and Farnell element14.
The centerpiece of the ARM University Program, LiB packages are able to offer ARM-based technology and high quality teaching and training materials that support electronics and computer engineering courses. DSP courses have traditionally used software simulation packages, or hands-on labs using relatively expensive development kits costing around $300 per student. By comparison, this new DSP LiB being unveiled at the ASEE Annual Conference tomorrow will only cost around $50 allowing more students to practice theory with advanced hardware sourced from widely-available products.
“Our Lab-in-a-Box offerings are proving hugely popular in universities because of the low-cost access to state-of-the-art technology,” explained Khaled Benkrid, manager of the Worldwide University Program, ARM. “The DSP kits enable high performance yet energy-efficient digital signal processing at a very affordable price. We expect to see them being used by students to create commercially-viable audio applications and it’s another great example of our partnership supporting engineers in training and beyond.”
The DSP LiB will begin shipping to universities in July 2014 and is the latest in a series of initiatives led by ARM which span multiple academic topics including embedded systems design, programming and SoC design. The DSP kits will also be offered to developers outside academia at a later date.
A typical DSP Lab-in-a-Box contains
- Hardware boards (ARM Cortex-M4-based STM32F4 Discovery microcontroller boards from STMicroelectronics and Wolfson Audio Cards from Wolfson Microelectronics and Farnell element14)
- One-year renewable software licences for the full ARM Keil MDK-Professional development tool from ARM
- Complete teaching materials, including lecture note slides, demonstration codes and hands-on lab manuals with solutions in source.
“Low-cost Cortex-M4-based microcontroller development kits, combined with suitable audio interfaces, represent an exciting new opportunity to spread hands-on DSP teaching to a wider audience,” said Dr. Donald Reay, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK. “These hardware and software tools are similar to those used for teaching and development of microcontroller applications and afford an ideal introduction to real-time and DSP concepts with wide applicability to embedded systems.”
Commenting Alistair Banham, Senior VP and GM, Custom Solutions at Wolfson Microelectronics, said: “ARM’s Lab-in-a-Box provides the ideal toolkit to help educate and inspire the next generation, and we are delighted to provide the Wolfson Audio Card as part of this innovative package. The Wolfson Audio Card is packed with features including Wolfson’s compelling high definition Audio Hub and digital MEMS microphones, enabling the electronics designers and engineers of the future to easily incorporate outstanding audio playback and audio capture into their applications.”