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L2 C language for Embedded MCUs

Learning how to program a Microcontroller (especially the Cortex-M based ones)

  • Reviewing the C language standard
  • Putting in evidence the essential C features used in embedded application
  • Discovering the Embedded context through several bare-metal labs running on an STM32F4 MCU (Cortex-M4 core based)
  • Discovering the Debug features
  • Understanding the different steps of a toolchain
  • Understanding how to configure a linker script to place code and data in memory
  • Getting an Overview on STM32F4 Architecture
  • Understanding the Cortex-M4 Application level programmers’ model
  • Reviewing the boot sequence
  • Analyzing the compiler optimization and how to right optimized code
  • Interfacing C and Assembly
  • Learning how to handle interrupts
  • Programming a serial communication
  • Configuring DMA transfers
  • Working with an ADC
Course environment
  • Convenient course material with space for taking notes
  • Example code, labs and solutions
  • A STM32F2 (Cortex-M3) Board for Labs
  • A PC for two trainees with the free System Workbench for STM32 IDE to flash and debug applications
  • Basic knowledge of C language (or another low-level language)
  • Knowledge of binary arithmetic
  • The knowledge of embedded processor philosophy is recommended

First Day
Analyzing the different Toolchain elements
  • Using cross compilation
  • Compiler, Assembler and Linker Purpose
  • C source program structure
  • Preprocessor
    • #define, #include instructions
    • Writing Macros with precaution
    • Writing Header files with precaution
  • Reviewing the different object file sections
  • Library inclusion
  • Startup file
  • GCC compiler options
  • Configuring the linker to place code and data in the memory, executing code from RAM
  • Makefile
Exercise :  Following the different build steps of a simple program
Exercise :  Working with Conditional Compilation
Exercise :  Working with the linker, placing code and data in the memory
Lab Environment
  • Creating a project from scratch
  • Lauterbach probe
  • Communicating with the Target
  • Debugger Windows : Source (C and Disassembly), Memory, Stack, Variables, Registers
  • Breakpoints
Types and Operators
  • Variable storage class (static, automatic, register et extern) with their location and lifetime
  • Local and global variable declaration
  • Scalar types (char, halfword, int, float and double)
  • Constants
  • Strings
  • Type conversion, casting
  • The volatile attribute
  • C operators (logical, arithmetical and relational)
  • Operator priority
Exercise :  Working with types and operators
Second Day
Control structures
  • If/else structure
  • Switch/case structure
  • While, do/while and for loopf
  • Break, continue and go instructions
Exercise :  Working with control structures
Pointers and Arrays
  • Pointer definition
  • Pointer Initialization, pointer access, pointer operations
  • Constant and volatile pointer
  • The restrict attribute
  • One- and Multi-dimensional arrays
  • Array initialization, array access, array operations
  • Pointer array
Exercise :  Working with pointers
Exercise :  Working with arrays
Structures and unions
  • Structure variable declaration
  • Structure variable pointer declaration
  • Structure field access
  • Padding, #pragma pack compilation directive
  • Big and little endian format
  • Bit field structure declaration
  • Modeling peripheral register
  • Structure array
  • Typedef type
  • Enum type
  • Union declaration
  • Union intitialization and operation
Exercise :  Modeling a STM32F2 timer to program it
  • Function prototype (arguments, return value)
  • Function definition and declaration
  • Function visibility
  • Function pointer
  • Function call
  • Passing parameter
  • Stack operation
  • Stack frame, call stack
  • The recursivity and the stack
  • Macro vs function
  • Pipeline and branch
  • Function inlining
  • Interfacing C and Assembler
Exercise :  Passing parameter to function
Exercise :  Analyzing the stack utilization
Standard library Overview
  • Stdio library
  • Getchar and putchar functions
  • Memcpy function
  • Printf and scanf functions
  • File access function review
Third Day
Data structures
  • Programming FIFOs
  • Programming Linked list (simple and double)
Exercise :  Working with linked list
Dynamic allocation
  • Dynamic allocation functions: malloc, free function
  • Sizeof operator
  • Dynamic memory allocation vs static memory allocation
  • Stack vs Heap
  • Memory management algorithms overview
    • Buddy System
    • Best fit / First Fit
    • Pools Management
  • Memory management errors
Exercise :  Using dynamic allocation
Embedded Context
  • Peripheral Programming
  • Peripheral register access and Memory access
  • Signed vs unsigned
  • Memory latency
  • Cache
  • Synchronization
  • Interruption necessity in an embedded context
  • Level and pulse triggered interrupts
  • Interrupt clearance
  • Interrupt handler writing
  • Vector table
  • Vector installation
Cortex-M Architecture Overview
  • V7-M Architecture Overview
  • Harvard Architecture, I-Code, D-Code and System Bus
  • Registers (Two stacks pointers)
  • States
  • Different Running-modes and Privileged Levels
  • System Control Block
  • Systick Timer
  • Alignment and Endianness
  • CMSIS Library
  • Exception / Interrupt Mechanism Overview
  • Vector Table
  • Interrut entry and return Overview
    • Tail-Chaining
    • Pre-emption (Nesting)
    • NVIC Integrated Interrupt Controller
    • Exception Priority Management
  • Debug Interface Ovevriew
  • Clarifying the boot sequence
Exercise :  Timer Interrupt Management
Fourth Day
Compiler Hints and Tips for Cortex-M
  • Compiler optimizations
  • Mixing C and Assembly
  • Function inlining
  • Unaligned Accesses, padding
  • Local and global data issues, alignment, Structure
Exercise :  Interfacing C and Assembler
Exercise :  Demo: Long Branch, Function inlining, padding
STM32F4 MCUs Architecture Overview
  • ARM core based architecture
  • Description of STM32F407X SoC architecture
  • Clarifying the internal data and instruction paths: Bus Matrix, AHB-lite interconnect, peripheral buses, AHB-to-APB bridges, DMAs
  • Memory Organization
    • Flash memory read interface
    • Adaptive Real-Time memory accelerator, instruction prefetch queue and branch cache
    • Sector and mass erase
    • Internal SRAMs
    • Concurrent access to 112 KB and 16 KB blocks
  • SoC mapping
  • Flash Programming methods
  • Boot Configuration
  • Power, Reset and Clocking Overview
  • DMA Overview
  • UART Overview
Exercise :  Get Metrics for a data copy using the DMA or not
Exercise :  Programming the UART to redirect the printf on the serial port
Exercise :  Displaying ADC value on LCD