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NXP i.MX RT1170 High End Processor Evaluation Kit - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 8
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 7
Demo Software was of good quality: 9
Product was easy to use: 9
Support materials were available: 9
The price to performance ratio was good: 5
TotalScore: 47 / 60
  • RoadTest: NXP i.MX RT1170 High End Processor Evaluation Kit
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Advent Azure Sphere Dev KIT, Arduino Nano 33 IOT, NXP LPC55S69-EVK included in the Advent Monarch LTE-M Dev Kit.
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: 1) ---- During Unboxing, I realized that both the camera sensor module and the TFT LED display were not attached to the EVK. I looked through online documentation for the kit and could not find any indication on the orientation and how to attach these components to the EVK.I created 2 tickets on the online NXP customer support portal at https://support.nxp.com/s/ , And I received my 2 answers in a day. I did end up braking a part on the connector for the TFT display ribbon cable. the details of these 2 cases re mentioned in the review. 2) ---- Connecting the TFT was difficult. I was able to get help from customer support and the forum community. But broke the piece of the connector that secured the ribbon cable to the connector on the EVK. I had to order another connector that had the piece the secure the TFT ribbon. 3) --- I had trouble with an error in the NXP software graphics GuiGuider. I posted a question to the NXP GuiGUider Forum. The Response: was that I needed the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed on my machine. I had the development environment JDK but I needed to install the JRE. I installed the JRE and the problem was solved. This prerequisite was in the User Manual which I shold have caught. 4) ----

  • Detailed Review:

    DRAFT

    Updated 6/4/2021

    This review will dive into embedded software development using the i.MX RT1170-EVK PCB. The evaluation kit (EVK) helps you take your design to the next level by reducing complexity and accelerating time to market. NXP’s MCUXpresso software and tools offer comprehensive development solutions designed to optimize, ease and accelerate embedded system development of applications based on Cortex-M core devices from NXP. At center of the EVK is NXP part# MIMXRT1176DVMAA processor. The EVK PCB allows embedded software developers to experiment with the powerful capabilities of the processor.  The i.MX RT1170 MCU Family of processors are setting speed records at 1GHz. This ground-breaking family combines superior computing power and multiple media capabilities with ease of use and real-time functionality. I will be experimenting with some of these capabilities using the MCUExpresso SDK for the i.mx RT1170 Board. The evaluation kit supplied also contains a  5.5" 720 TFT LCD DISPLAY, which I also plan on experimenting with.

     

    I do not have an electronics background, but I am interested in IoT. My background is more on the software side, with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Computer Science from Boston University. I Graduated from BU in 1980 and had been working as a Software Engineer since then until I retired in 2018.  I've been presently experimenting with IoT and I've used a few Development kits. I'm not keen on soldering (my dexterity is not as good as it use to be !)  So, Development Kits allow me to experiment without soldering.

     

    I have evaluated another NXP product, the LPC55S69 EVK for a review on the  AVNET Monarch LTE-M Development Kit -- EU . This kit uses the NXP LPC55S69-EVK as the base MCU PCB with an attached Avnet Monarch Go Arduino Shield. Attached to the Shield, is a Sequans Monarch Go LTE modem. This kit is comprised of hardware components from 3 hardware companies (NXP, Advent, Sequens) and 1 Telecom company (Verizon). The Ultimate goal of this product is to develop, prototype and test embedded software for use with the Sequans Monarch Go LTE Modem.

     

    The Development for NXP boards is done through NXP's  free Software development tools. You will need to become a member, to use them, but it's all FREE. I will describe the use of these tools and give you valuable links to them in this review.

     

    So let's get started shall we.....

    Unboxing of the Kit

    The .MIMXRT1170-EVK arrived as scheduled on Thursday May 27 2021 late in the day via UPS. I did not get to the Unboxing till a day later on Saturday May 29 2021, about midday. Here are some images and a video of the unboxing. Now its time to dive into the review.

     

    Unboxing Video and Picture.

    EVKI

     

    Camera module image sensor

    If you watch the unboxing video I mentioned a empty static bag (in the image it's to the left). Well it was not empty the MIMXRT1170-EVK Packing List. has an item that I could not find.

    "Item: 901-77346 Description: Full resolution 2592x1944 Pixel Size 1.4um x 1.4um camera module image sensor with Huatian technology"

    Well it was in that static bag, but was too small to see at first. The bag was marked clearly with "901-77346".Luckly I did not throw the bag out in the trash!!! LOL

     

    camera module image sensor with Huatian technology. that will plug into the  camera module connector on the board.
    CAMERA SENSOR MODULE

     

    NXP Customer Support Portal.

    Attaching the Camera module and the TFT Ribbon cable

    I realized  both the camera sensor module and the TFT LED display were not attached to the EVK. I looked through online documentation for the kit and could not find any indication on the orientation and how to attach these components to the EVK. I  created in 2 tickets on the online NXP customer support portal at https://support.nxp.com/s/ , And I received my 2 answer in a day. I've included the screen shots for these 2 cases as they appear on the customer Support Portal. very nice experience with getting the problem solved. I highly recommend it.

    Camera module

    Screen shot of my case support request on the right and the Support Solution on the Left

     

     

    TFT Ribbon cable

    Screen shot of my case support request on the right and the Support Solution on the Left

     

    NXP Community Forums

    Another great place to get answers on the the nxp.com site is through the Community Forums. I use the i.MX Forums page for questions on the i.RXMX1170-EVK.

    I received an answer to my question about the camera module SDK examples. Here is my question and my reply posted to the i.MX RT Forum.

     

    The information proved to be correct and I was able to load in the example into the IDE. I did respond to the contributor of this reply post and marked the reply as "ACEPT AS SOLUTION".

     

    Quick Start Guide Card

    I thought I would take a closeup of the 4 pages of the guide. The link given on the last page http://www.nxp.com/MIMXRT1170-EVK/startnow should be your first landing page on the NXP website. If you have not already done so, I recommend you become a member. They have great resources and I have given links to them also in my REFERENCES section at the end of this review.

    Page1describes all the components of the EVK. Page 2 show you how to plug in the power supply and describes the demo that is run when you turn on the board.

    The real fun comes when you explore the getting started page. SO lets do that in the next section, shall we.

     

    COVERPAGE 1
    PAGE 2Back Cover

     

     

    GET STARTED -  http://www.nxp.com/MIMXRT1170-EVK/startnow

    Follow the link   http://www.nxp.com/MIMXRT1170-EVK/startnow to this landing page

    I'll describe the navigation links on the Left side that when Selected display the Topic content in the right Frame.

    I have followed similar getting started pages when I evaluated another NXP product, the LPC55S69 EVK for a review on the  AVNET Monarch LTE-M Development Kit -- EU .. It was very helpful and guided me through the steps I needed to run my experiments with that EVK. experimentation with the

    Header 1Header 2
    On the right hand side of the page you should go through every option on the menu. At the end you will have the Software tools (MCUExpresso IDE & SDK) and examples that you will need to start exploring the capabilities of the EVK.As you click on these links A page is open to the right with the content on the topic.
    This is similar to the 2 pages in the Quick Start Guide pictured above.
    These links will get your embedded software tools installed and running. It demonstrates how to Build and Debug the numerous examples in the SDK.You will learn how to build an SDK complete with examples for this specific EVK and the RT1170 family of MCU's
    These links will get you explore the examples by building and debugging one of the examples in the SDK

     

    I have gone thru these steps and have my software development environment ready to start some of my experiments on this review. Next, I'll list some highlights and chip architecture of the EVK. and then some capabilities of the EVK and Finally the RT1170 line of processors.

     

     

    Some Facts about the i.MXRT1170-EVK

    I thought to Include these picture suppled from the FACT SHEET for discussion in this review.

     

    Product Highlights

    The EVK contains an MCU from the family of processors known as the NXP i.MX RT1170 family. The following list was taken from the fact sheet and all the features of the MCU.

    Ok, some of the highlights of the i.MX RT1170 family for me, include:

    The multicore capabilities with the M4 and the M7 Cortex processors.

    The integrated multimedia for GUI & HMI.  The graphics accelerator and display interfaces available.

    The multiple memory options available.

    the Security options available.

     

    Here are the highlights:

     

    i.MX RT1170 MCU FAMILY CONFIGURATIONS

    According to the "Quick Start Guide" on Page 1, the MCU part number is MIMXRT1176.

    The following configuration grid from the fact sheet, shows this MCU on the EVK at the top of the pack with only a  NO "Tamper Protection" feature.

     

    Chip Architecture

    The following Chip Architecture Diagram, is included in a lot of Presentations and Literature on the MCU family. The dotted lines represent features not supported on all MCU's in the i.MXRT1170 family.

    Notices that " Tamper Detection" in the "Security" section is not on all MCU's in the family. In fact it is only available on the industrial only qualifying chip, the  i.MXRT1173. Not sure what "Target Detection" is, but it might have something to do with qualifying the chip as Industrial Only. Some of the other chips in the family do not support a "Secondary CPU" and/or "Multimedia".  The chip included on he EVK however does include all these features.

    Notice there is an abundance of Connectivity features and an abundance of Times, Multimedia, System Control and Security features.

     

     

    EVK Board Capabilities

    This list all the neat features available for you to experiment with on the EVK. There are plenty of interesting interfaces and feature packed in to this kit.

     

    NXP Development Software

    If you have gone through the Getting started exercise on the NXP geting started Page, then you will have experienced and should have your development environment set up .The following section will describe the NXP Toolchain available to developers for FREE.

     

    1. MCUExpresso IDE

         If you have not gone thru the getting started page and wnt to installed the latest version of the editor go HERE.

    • According to the user manual, the MCUXpresso IDE is a fully featured software development environment for NXP’s ARM based MCUs, and includes all the tools necessary to develop high-quality embedded software.
      • The MCUXpresso IDE is based on the Eclipse IDE and includes the industry standard ARM GNU toolchain. It brings developers an easy-to-use and unlimited code size development environment for NXP MCUs based on Cortex-M cores (LPC, Kinetis and iMX RT). The IDE combines the best of the widely popular LPCXpresso and Kinetis Design Studio IDE’s, providing a common platform for all NXP Cortex-M microcontrollers.
      • MCUXpresso IDE is a free toolchain providing developers with no restrictions on code or debug sizes. It provides an intuitive and powerful interface with profiling, power measurement on supported boards, GNU tool integration and library, multicore capable debugger, trace functionality and more.
      • MCUXpresso IDE debug connections support Freedom, Tower, EVK,LPCXpresso and custom development boards with industry leading open-source and commercial debug probes including MCU-Link, LPC-Link2, PEmicro and SEGGER.
      • The fully featured debugger supports both SWD and JTAG debugging, and features direct download to on-chip and external flash memory.
    • I am running the IDE on 2 of the 3 Host operating systems:
      • Microsoft® Windows® 10 (64 bit)
      • Ubuntu Linux® 18.04 LTS (64-bit host OS)
    • Refer to the users guide pdf file named "MCUXpresso_IDE_User_Guide.pdf" located in the installation directory on your installation for more instuctions on How to use the IDE.
    • The getting started page, does a great job of getting you running SDK examples on the board quickly.

    2. MCUExpresso SDK for i.MXRT1170-evk

    Again the getting started page will have taken thru the installation of the SDK for the i.mxRT1170-EVK, but if you have not already installed it yet or want to update the SDK this section might Help.

    • NXP provides SDKs for toolchains (including MCUXpresso IDE) via their SDK Builder site.
    • These SDKs can be installed via a simple ‘drag and drop’ mechanism which will then automatically enhance the IDE with new part and board knowledge (and usually a large range of examples). SDKs for MCUXpresso IDE can be generated and downloaded as required using the SDK Builder on the MCUXpresso Tools website at: MCUExpresso SDK Builder
    • Shown below, is my 2 SDK builds for Windows 10 and Ubuntu on the SDK Builder portal dashboard.. For windows I selected all the features and for Ubuntu I selected the default. Notice the difference in size between the two. The Ubuntu version does not contain some of the experiments that I want to do so I'll do those on the Windows 10 machine.  But if  I wanted to have those features on Ubuntu, I could generate another SDK with those features only. This is a very cool way of supplying an SDK. and I have not seen it used in any other IDE's.
    • Obtaining and Installing an SDK via SDK Builder
      • Users of earlier versions of the IDE may be more familiar with this model of SDK build and installation.
      • SDKs are installed and managed via the Installed SDKs view, which is located by default as the first tab within the Console view.
      • SDKs are free to download (login is required); MCUXpresso IDE offers a link to the SDK portal (shown below) from the Installed SDK Console view. From this portal, required SDKs can be downloaded onto the host machine. Alternatively, go to Help -> Additional Resources ->MCUXpresso SDK Builder ... to open this portal in an external browser.
          • SDK IMPORT

     

      • Once downloaded, an SDK package(s) can be installed by simply dragging from the downloaded location into the Installed SDKs view. Once dropped, you be prompted with a dialog asking you to confirm the import – click OK. The SDK package(s) will then be automatically installed into MCUXpresso IDE part support repository.
      • Once complete the “Installed SDKs” view will update to show you the package(s) that you have just installed.
        • SDK Import View

     

      • By default, SDKs will install into a Common folder and will therefore be available to any MCUXpresso IDE instance. Alternatively SDKs can be installed into the current Workspace so making their installation local to that Workspace. The selected install location is shown in the SDK Window text as highlighted above. Also highlighted is the new version information string (displayed in grey), this feature allows different SDK builds to be distinguishable. Please also see SDK Advanced Importing [34] for further information on SDK installation options.

     

    • Importing Example Projects (from installed SDKs)

    • In addition to drivers and part support, SDKs also deliver many example projects for the target MCU.
    • To import examples from an installed SDK, go to the Quickstart panel and select Import SDKexample(s).
        • This option invokes the Import SDK Example Wizard that guides the user to import SDK example projects from installed SDKs. This will initially launch a page allowing MCU/board selection. Select the i.MXRT1170-evk board.
        • The SDK Example Import Page Comes up, allowing you to select the examples you would like to experiment with. You can select the entire examples , but you should only select the examples you want to work with. For example the screenshot below shows the blinky example run on the Cortex M& processor. example being selected and when selected brings the example into the project.
      • The next screenshot shows the example in the project explorer after the FINISH button is pressed.

    3. MCUEXPRESSO Pin Tool

    TODO

     

    Experiments

    I did a few experiments to run some of the IMXRX1176 chip and the EVK through it's paces. This section contains my notes on the experiments.

    1. Graphics

    There are several graphics libraries supported by the IMXRX1170-EVK, (refer to GUI solutions for NXP MCU) , but I used the Light and Versatile Graphics Library (LVGL) for my experiments. And the good news is that it is FREE to use with the open source license.

    The SDK has a few examples using this library. They are mentioned in this section and are very useful for experimenting with the TFT Board connected to the IMMX1170-EVK. SO lets get into it, shall we.

     

    Connecting the TFT board to the EVK

     

     

    Running some SDK Graphics examples.

     

    littlevgl_example

     

    Experiment 1 - littlevgl_demo_widgets_bm_cm7

     

    Experiment 2 - littlevgl_demo_widgets_cm7

     

    Experiment 3 - littlevgl_guider_cm7

    For this experiment you will need to have the FREE NXP Software Tool "GuiGuider ", Which you download from here Download GUI Guider

    Here is the user guide and a great page and video Getting Started with GUI Guider which I followed and was very helpful getting my experiments running.

    After downloading and installing GUI Guider I ran through the video on the getting started page. I did have a few problems but with the help of the NXP Forum and the User manual I was able to get through it

     

     

     

     

     

    TODO

    2. Audio

    3. Machine Learning

    4. Connectivity

    4.1 connect i.mxrt1070 to NXP lpc55S69-EVK

    5. Azure RTOS & FreeRTOS

    6.Camera Module Sensor

    Summary & Conclusions

    TODO

    1.Summary

    2.Conclusions

    Possible Future Experiments

    TODO

    APPENDICES

    TODO

    Appendix A -

    Appendix B -

    Appendix C -

    REFERENCES

    NXP i.MX RT1170-EVK Development Environment Setup

    • MCUXpresso IDE
      • IDE used to development embedded software on NXP supported boards
    • MCUExpresso SDK Builder
      • SDKs for MCUXpresso IDE can be generated  for the i.MXRT1170-EVK with features needed and downloaded as required.

     

    GUI Guider Resources

    NXP Design Resources

    Board Documents

    Chip Documents

    Software

    Additional Information

    • Hardware Development Guide
      • This document’s purpose is to help hardware engineers design and test their MIMXRT1170 processor-based designs. It provides information about board layout recommendations and design checklists to ensure first-pass success and avoid board bring-up problems.
    • LVGL Open-Source Graphics Library (Downloads)
      • download page for the Graphics Library
      • Software Development Kit for Arm® Cortex®-M Cores including Kinetis®, LPC MCUs and i.MX RT, with optional FreeRTOS and MCU Bootloader
    • Light and Versatile Graphics Library LVGL: open-source graphics library
      • Github,release notes,docs,and forums for the lvgl Graphics library
      • LVGL is an open-source graphics library providing everything you need to create embedded GUI with easy-to-use graphical elements, beautiful visual effects and low memory footprint.

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