Computer/Embedded Technology


SoM maker relies on ST MPU and open-source community

27 October 2021 Computer/Embedded Technology

Is open source a viable or even lucrative business model? Unfortunately, the question itself isn’t often posed and many enterprises assume they must implement walled gardens and make everything proprietary. And while there’s undoubtedly a case for patents and private IPs, the STM32MP1 microprocessor teaches that the benefits of mainlining a board support package and opening schematics are too often underrated.


DHCOR STM32MP1.

For a demonstrable example, let’s look at DH electronics, a system-on-module (SoM) maker based in Germany. The company, a member of the ST Partner Program, offers the DHCOR STM32MP1 – a solderable SoM that comes with up to 1 GB of DDR3 and uses STMicroelectronics’ (ST) power management companion device, the STPMIC1. DH electronics also makes the DHCOM STM32MP1, a SODIMM-200 module that includes Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and a second Ethernet controller.

The SoMs behind the development boards

What distinguishes DH electronics from the competition is its development boards. The DHCOR STM32MP1 is in the Avenger96, a PCB with a Wi-Fi module and an HDMI 1.4 port. Similarly, the DHCOM STM32MP1 powers the DHCON, a complete control unit with a screen and touch buttons. The latter’s modular architecture also enables customers to add expansions, such as a sub-gigahertz communication system.


DHCOM STM32MP1.

Both development tools highlight the open philosophy that drives DH electronics. Indeed, the schematics of the evaluation boards are open source and the company upstreams its Linux drivers. To better understand their operation, the ST Blog sat down with Stefan Daxenberger, CEO at DH electronics, Robert Göllner, head of software development and Andreas Geisreiter, product manager.

“Very early on, we decided to be as transparent and open as possible. We believe in the idea that anyone could come and check out what we’re doing and we would still have a competitive edge. Open source is not only code sharing but a willingness to bring a certain know-how to a community and make a business around it,” they shared.

The trio then explained how this approach enabled them to get new customers. Prospective clients chose to adopt their STM32MP1 SoM because they didn’t have to spend time and human resources on the platform itself. The open-source philosophy and mainlined Linux BSP (board support package) mean DH electronics can more easily offer a wide range of services.

Indeed, contributing to the community means being able to use other tools already available. As a result, many customers focus on their application instead of worrying about the operating system, over-the-air update mechanisms and more. Additionally, the open-source direction allows DH electronics to provide long-term support for its products. Companies thus have the assurance that their STM32MP1 system will still receive updates a decade or more later.


The Avenger96 is more accessible thanks to DH electronics’ open-source approach.

How surmounting challenges paid off

Talking to DH electronics was enlightening because the team also shared their experience upstreaming their drivers. They explained that the process represents a significant investment, as mainlining your board support package and adopting the open-source model is not a trivial process. For instance, DH electronics has been partnering with Denx, a software engineering company that got its upstream process started before moving some operations in-house.

As the DH electronics team explained: “Upstreaming your code is complex because there’s a lot to learn before you can bring something meaningful to the community. Getting approvals takes time, especially if companies aren’t clear about what the community expects. That’s why we enjoyed working with a partner to get started. The good news is that things get easier as the process becomes familiar.”


The DHCON, the other dev board that benefits from DH electronics’ open approach.

While investments are substantial, DH electronics lauded the returns. This approach is attracting customers and developing strong relationships with companies like ST that are also upstreaming their drivers. In this particular instance, the work ST put into its OpenSTLinux distribution also contributed to DH’s initiative.

Upstreaming our code and promoting the importance of the Linux community encouraged DH electronics to jump on the bandwagon. And now, their experience has been so successful that DH electronics itself is asking its other partners to upstream their code and join the open community. Being able to benefit from one another means it is easier to keep devices up-to-date and provide a better product.

For more information contact Renaldo Fibiger, Altron Arrow, +27 11 923 9600, rfibiger@arrow.altech.co.za, www.altronarrow.com


Credit(s)



Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Discovery kit for IoT nodes using STM32U5 MCU
Altron Arrow DSP, Micros & Memory
The B-U585I-IOT02A Discovery kit provides a complete demonstration and development platform for STMicroelectronics’ STM32U585AI microcontroller, featuring an Arm Cortex-M33 core with Arm TrustZone and ...

Read more...
VPX processor board with strong security
Rugged Interconnect Technologies Computer/Embedded Technology
Concurrent Technologies has developed a VPX processor board based on the Intel Xeon E-2200 processor family (previously known as Coffee Lake Refresh) launched by Intel for use in long-lifecycle embedded ...

Read more...
Signal chain implementation for condition monitoring systems
Altron Arrow Editor's Choice Analogue, Mixed Signal, LSI
Like all system designs, there are many choices to be made when it comes to designing a condition monitoring system, each of which comes with various trade-offs and can drastically alter the DAQ signal chain design.

Read more...
USB charger solution with high power density
Altron Arrow Power Electronics / Power Management
Diodes Incorporated has launched a three-chip solution for enhancing the performance of ultra-high-power-density USB Type-C power delivery (PD) systems. These products can be used in a wide variety of ...

Read more...
Full AI/machine learning sensing solution
Computer/Embedded Technology
SensiML, a developer of AI tools for building intelligent Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints, has teamed up with onsemi to deliver a complete machine learning solution for autonomous sensor data processing ...

Read more...
Frame grabber for up to four CoaXPress links
Rugged Interconnect Technologies Computer/Embedded Technology
Kaya Instruments’ Komodo II CoaXPress 12G PCIe/104 is a high-spec frame grabber supporting the CoaXPress 2.0 standard. It can receive video streams from up to four CoaXPress links in single, dual or ...

Read more...
Demo of new TouchGFX video widget
Altron Arrow Multimedia, Videos
The latest release (version 4.18) of STMicroelectronics’ TouchGFX software for user-interface development with STM32 microcontrollers (MCUs) added support for video playback, enhanced tools for multi-developer ...

Read more...
Configurable dual IO-Link and SIO transceiver
Altron Arrow Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
STMicroelectronics is bringing extra flexibility to IO-Link connections with the L6364 transceiver, which features dual communication channels that allow configurable output doubling for extra drive strength, ...

Read more...
Benchmarking tools for quantum computing released
Computer/Embedded Technology
Quantum computers are still a long way from being practical in real-world scenarios, but development is already underway on benchmarking tools to measure their performance. The Quantum Economic Development ...

Read more...
Updates add video to ST’s TouchGFX suite
Altron Arrow Computer/Embedded Technology
STMicroelectronics has released TouchGFX Version 4.18 for user-interface development with STM32 microcontrollers (MCUs), adding video playback, enhanced tools for multi-developer collaboration and support ...

Read more...