In 2020, GigaDevice won the Embedded Award in the hardware category with its Bumblebee processor core based on the open-source RISC-V architecture. The GD32VF103 device is a 32-bit general-purpose microcontroller based on that award-winning RISC-V 32-bit core that operates at 108 MHz with Flash access zero wait states to obtain maximum efficiency.
GigaDevice’s GD32VF103 MCUs provide flexible memory options with up to 128 kB on-chip Flash and 32 kB SRAM memory. An extensive range of enhanced I/Os and peripherals are connected to two APB buses, and the device offers up to two 12-bit ADCs, two 12-bit DACs, four general 16-bit timers, two basic timers plus a PWM advanced timer, as well as standard and advanced communication interfaces: up to three SPIs, two I2Cs, three USARTs, two UARTs, two I2Ss, two CANs, an USBFS. The RISC-V processor core is also tightly coupled with an Enhancement Core-Local Interrupt Controller (ECLIC), SysTick timer and advanced debug support. Operating from a 2.6 V to 3.6 V power supply, these devices also offer several power-saving modes to provide flexibility for maximum optimisation between wakeup latency and power consumption, an essential consideration for low-power applications. The standby current is 6.3 µA!
Such features make the GD32VF103 devices suitable for a wide range of interconnected applications, thus GigaDevice created several evaluation boards to test this technology, all of which include a GD-Link and allow full evaluation of on-chip peripherals, including connectivity, external memory bus, LCD displays, and more.
The GD32VF103V-EVAL evaluation board is a great way of evaluating GigaDevice’s chip capabilities as it uses the GD32VF103CBT6 MCU, which has the maximum 128 kB flash and 32 kB RAM of the range. On the board are user LEDs, push buttons, 2x USART, and 1x POT connected to an ADC input. Off-chip memory comes in the form of 2 Kb EEPROM and 16 Mbit SPI NOR Flash, and additional connections include a headphone interface, 2x CAN, USB, and a J-Link JTAG connector. A 3.2” TFT-LCD screen is also present.
Alternatively, GigaDevice offers a simpler, mini-USB-powered board, the GD32VF103R START, which has Reset, Boot, and Wakeup keys, a GD Link programmer, and an Arduino connector. That said, due to inconsistencies in product images and lack of stock across distributors, I am unsure whether this part is available at this time, so for now, evaluation of GigaDevice’s MCUs through ipXchange can be made using an application form for the larger kit. With ongoing shortages of components, we’ll aim to give you all a few more options for MCUs soon!
(Image sourced from GigaDevice)