Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and interactive touchscreen displays provide intuitive user experiences in applications from robotic and machine controls to medical user interfaces, automotive instrumentation and home and building automation systems. A well-designed GUI enables users to process information more quickly and interact more effectively with a product.
Microchip Technology recently announced a new GUI development toolkit for its portfolio of 32-bit microprocessors (MPUs) running Linux, helping designers of industrial, medical, consumer and automotive graphical displays to reduce development cost and time to market.
The company’s new Ensemble Graphics Toolkit is a free and open-source C++ GUI suite for its SAMA5 and SAM9 series of Arm Cortex-A5 and ARM926EJ-S processor-based MPU, including the system-in-package and system-on-module products. The toolkit is optimised for Microchip’s 32-bit MPUs running the Linux operating system. By taking advantage of underlying hardware acceleration, including graphics controllers and video decoders when available, the toolkit provides a high-performance user experience on low- and mid-range graphical displays up to XGA (1024 x 768 pixels) resolution.
Optimised code allows a smaller memory footprint, saving BOM cost. The efficient performance relative to other graphics solutions that rely on higher-performance cores and 3D graphical acceleration allows rich GUIs to be created for Microchip’s power-efficient MPUs. In addition, Ensemble Graphics Toolkit and Linux can be optimised for fast cold boot – with boot times of under three seconds from cold reset, as required for applications such as automotive dashboard clusters.
The Ensemble Graphics Toolkit suite is available without licensing or royalty fees to all developers of graphical interfaces. The toolkit is complementary to Microchip’s bare metal/RTOS-focused MPLAB Harmony Graphics Suite embedded software development framework, which also provides a zero-cost, royalty-free graphical user experience.
The toolkit is fully integrated with Linux4SAM, Microchip’s mainline, Long Term Support (LTS) Linux offering. In addition to supporting Microchip’s MPU families, Linux4SAM contains driver support for a broad range of its components including the maXTouch family of touchscreen controllers, memory devices, power management and analog devices, and wired and wireless networking components and modules. Linux4SAM is regularly updated and supports all Microchip MPUs throughout product life.
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