Leaf Labs Maple Arduino thing interview questions

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Leaf Labs Maple Arduino thing interview questions

Postby ian » Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:14 am

Leaf Labs makes the Maple, an Ardunio-like thing with an ARM and its own open IDE. They wrote through the contact form and I hounded them for a conference call.

http://leaflabs.com/devices/maple/

They were a little hurt that so much press was given to the Microchip chipKIT as the first Arduino 32bit platform, when they have had a totally open 32bit platform for years.

I plan to ask some of these, as always I'll ask your questions too:
*Explain the platform and goal.
*What is the toolchain.
*Everything is GPL or other open source? Hardware and software?
*Maple uses a custom Arduino-like IDE. Now that Microchip has hacked multiplatform support into the original Arduino IDE, will they try to integrate the Maple with it?
*5volt/pin placement shield incompatibility? List?

There's no guarantee of freebies, but if there are they will go to people who propose questions here. This is kinda short notice though, we're on in ~2 hours I think.
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Re: Leaf Labs Maple Arduino thing interview questions

Postby Markus Gritsch » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:19 am

Any timeline of their "Oak" (Cortex M3 + Xilinx Spartan 3E) board in development?
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Re: Leaf Labs Maple Arduino thing interview questions

Postby TonyD » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:32 am

Markus Gritsch wrote:Any timeline of their "Oak" (Cortex M3 + Xilinx Spartan 3E) board in development?

Hmm, ARM + FPGA. I like the sound of that. Definitely a question to ask them about.
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Re: Leaf Labs Maple Arduino thing interview questions

Postby Markus Gritsch » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:04 am

The Maple is quite more expensive than the Uno32. Any impact on the price because of the Uno32 release? (The Max32 has a *lot* more RAM, but is only 5 $ more expensive)
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Re: Leaf Labs Maple Arduino thing interview questions

Postby ben » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:21 am

I've always been curious why these open projects, never use the Eclipse IDE? Especially since it's so easy to add plug-ins to extend the functionality, why does leaf labs, arduino, chipkit, create yet another ide?

Is there something inherent limiting in eclipse that prevents it's use?

I know mentor, xilinx, altera, abd ti all use it for their professional embedded development.. it's gotta be good enough, no?
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Re: Leaf Labs Maple Arduino thing interview questions

Postby arhi » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:23 am

Yes, one q from here about that one too ...

I know that xilix is preparing linq (was that the right name) in series 7 (basically dual core arm9 on the same die as 7 series fpga) but going with m3 core and spartan 3 would be great too
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Re: Leaf Labs Maple Arduino thing interview questions

Postby arhi » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:28 am

ben, I was jumping with joy when I seen microchip decided to use netbeans instead of eclipse for the mplabx ... eclipse is nice but it is still very slow and very buggy, resource hungry etc etc ..

as for the "going with arduino ide" - it's because tens of thousands of ppl use arduino ide as it is "simpler for them" then to use real programming platform. They don't know what "fuse" is, etc, they select "board", and that takes care of all the "setup the oscillator, fuse bits etc etc" and then they use high layer functions (for e.g. digitalOut(); analogOut(); ..) to control the output ... yes it is slow, and yes it takes too many resources, but ppl using those boards are not embedded system developers, they are just ppl that wanted easier way to light few leds ...

Noone prevents you from using eclipse + avr-gcc with arduno nor eclipse + codesourcery for maple ..
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Re: Leaf Labs Maple Arduino thing interview questions

Postby Markus Gritsch » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:30 am

ben wrote:I've always been curious why these open projects, never use the Eclipse IDE? Especially since it's so easy to add plug-ins to extend the functionality, why does leaf labs, arduino, chipkit, create yet another ide?


Probably because they built on top of the existing Processing-IDE, which was for Arduino probably easier to modify than create a Eclips plugin. As for the intended audience (total beginners) the Processing/Arduino-IDE is quite as simple as it can be. One button to compile, one button to run the code -- that's it.
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Re: Leaf Labs Maple Arduino thing interview questions

Postby ian » Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:41 pm

Quick notes. Post tomorrow. Sorry, no formatting so it might be tough to tell the Q from the A in places. I also have to spell it Ar-dween-o to get out of the habit of saying Ardwano:
Maple from LeafLabs conference call

Andrew Meyer (CEO), Marti Bolivar (software)

We're talking with LeafLabs. They make an ardweeno-shaped board with a 32bit ARM processor.

The way we got in touch is because Jessica at LeafLabs shot us an email about your new Maple Mini board. At the end of the email she said – hey – Microchip's chipKIT isn't the first 32bit Ardweeno-compatable platform, Maple is. And we've been at it for years.

So, please tell us a little about your development platform? Maple is Arduino shaped, mini is a breadboard compatible version
Why did you chose to do it up like an Arduino? Were trying to do FPGA+processor. Forum suggestion for ARM Arduino sparked Maple as a side project.

Your toolchain is 100% open source, can you please tell us a little about it?

Software license Compiler chain is GPL. IDE is fork of Arduino IDE. New Maple libraries are MIT license to be more flexible.
Hardware license Hardware is CC BY-SA intended to be CC BY.

Let's talk a little about ardweeno compatibility....

How many of the (core) Arduino libraries are supported? Several core libraries, 3 more in next release. Community contributions.
How much Ardweeno code will compile without changes? Maple includes reworked standard Arduino examples.

How about ardweeno shields?

Ardweeno is a 5volt system, and the ARM is 3.3volts. Flipping through your wiki it looks like not all the pins are 5volt tolerant. Does that cause problems with shields? Hasn't been a big problem. Most people are developing own shields. Common things like LCD shield work.
Is the peripheral pinout the same? Serial ok, more PWM, more Analog. Pin 14 does not set reference voltage, STM32 doesn't have external reference.
Do you keep a list or database of shield compatibility issues? Yes, extensive lists. See here. note however that each function's docs page has an individual "arduino compatibility" section as appropriate. here's an example.

Maple uses an Arduino IDE for that doesn't support AVR anymore. Microchip's chipKIT went the other way and hacked the original Ardweeno IDE to be multiplatform. It's possible to add a new platfrom like Maple to the updated 'official' Ardweeno IDE. Will you try to integrate the Maple with it, or do you plan to stick with your own IDE?

Didn't have the resources to make it multi-platform when starting. There are plans to merge it into the trunk.

Maple Mini is the new board. Would you like to plug that?

Sold out right away. Simple bread board design with enough room on the sides to still fit wires in the breadboard. 11-12bit analog performance on a 4 layer board.

What is coming from LeafLabs in the future?

Hobby line: Maple OAK - Processor + FPGA + SDRAM. 16bit parallel interface between processor and FPGA. Spartan III FPGA. ETA: couple months.

Consulting: Dogfood own projects on consulting work to test own stuff. Keep IP for open source libraries.

Lala land: Willow - dual code processor with Linux, Spartan 6. Intended as robotics platform. March 2012.
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Re: Leaf Labs Maple Arduino thing interview questions

Postby TonyD » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:29 am

good interview. Leaf Labs seem to be a nice bunch of guys. I'm looking forward to seeing their ARM + FPGA boards.
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