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Al Williams

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

32 Cents a Bit!

October 06, 2010

I've often mentioned cheap development boards in this space. You can easily get an 8 bit development kit for way under US$10. But what about 32 bit CPUs? I guess STMicroelectronics thought the same thing.

They are offering their STM32 Value line Discovery board for about US$10 (they claim under $10 but I noticed Mouser had it for $11 and change). That's about 32 cents a bit if you want to look at it that way.

For $10 you get an ARM Cortex M3 CPU, 128K of flash, 8K of RAM and a USB download and debug interface. You can even use the USB interface with your own hardware, if you prefer.

It is great to see so many vendors making starter kits like this available. Personally, I hope to see educators using kits like these to get more young people better hands on experience with embedded systems. On the other hand, as I've mentioned before, ST has the funky "Evaluation Product License Agreement" that could prevent schools from legally using a kit like this. But luckily, not everyone has such a restrictive license.

I haven't asked ST for clarification yet, but I can't imagine they intend to prevent students from using these boards. I expect they don't want you buying them (at what is probably a loss to them) and reselling them as part of a product. But a literal reading of the license would make me nervous to use these in a classroom.

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