Hercules MCUs offer safety features for less than $20

July 30, 2013 // By Graham Prophet
Texas Instruments has introduced the Hercules LaunchPad, the lowest cost evaluation platform for Hercules MCUs, providing an entry-level option enabling developers to gain familiarity with TI Hercules MCUs and evaluate the MCUs' performance and safety features.

The TI Hercules LaunchPad is a modular, quick-launch evaluation kit that contains the development board, USB cable and documentation. On-board emulation and included Hercules MCU demos allow exploration of advanced safety features integrated in Hercules MCUs. The Hercules LaunchPad is available in two models – one based on the Hercules TMS570LS04x MCU and another based on Hercules RM42x MCU. Dual lockstep ARM Cortex-R4 based Hercules MCUs are intended for use in safety-critical automotive, industrial and medical applications needing to adhere to industry safety standards such as ISO 26262 and IEC 61508.

The TI MCU LaunchPad ecosystem, with its MSP430 LaunchPad, C2000 LaunchPad, Tiva C Series LaunchPad and now the Hercules LaunchPad, offers flexibility and expandability through many available BoosterPack expansion boards. These BoosterPacks enable greater functionality and speed design and exploration. Developers can get started quickly with TI's free software, tools and documentation, as well as share project ideas and collaborate with best practices through a large community.

The Hercules LaunchPad:

- enables you to evaluate Hercules MCUs designed for safety-critical applications related to functional safety standards, such as IEC 61508 and ISO 26262.

- allows for expansion with a 40-pin BoosterPack header that brings out MCU pins for design flexibility, and

- provides footprint for an additional header to complete access to all MCU pins.

Powered by USB, the board integrates an on-board XDS100v2 JTAG emulator, LED lights, a light sensor and SCI to PC serial communication port for design flexibility. Software for evaluation includes Hercules MCU safety demos with downloadable host graphical user interface (GUI) to select and run the demos. It provides software drivers for demos using the Educational BoosterPack, an add-on module with an accelerometer, an LCD display, tri-colour LEDs and other features to help users get familiar with the MCUs' input/output (I/O) interfaces. It supports the latest version of TI's Eclipse-based Code Composer Studio integrated development environment (IDE) to ease development, and offers HALCoGen for