Saturday, June 5, 2004

GameBoy Embedded Development

I read about a wonderful development platform for embedded projects (NewScientist May 1 Pg. 26) based on the Game Boy Advance portable gaming system. The great thing about this platform is the price. For about $70 you can get a device with all this:

2001 Game Boy Advance

Screen size: 240*160 - 2.9"

Screen type: Colour 8 or 16bit

CPU: 32bit ARM7

CPU Clock: 16.78MHz

Video RAM: 96kB

Working RAM: 32k + 256k

Power: 2AA - 80mA

Sound: 4ch stereo + 2pcm

Keys: 6 + Control pad

Link Port: <2MHz, Bootloader

Cartarige slot: 3V multiplexed bus

It is great to have this many features and power but figuring out how to get a development system based on the GBA might seem like a lot of work that would outweigh the benefits of this cheep hardware. However, for about $160 this work has already been done for you with the Xport 2.0. This might seem like a lot of money for a development system but if you look at the costs for any other development system for an embedded processor it will cost at least this much and in the end you don’t get all the features that come with the GBA. One could create this development system on your own but why when it would end up costing as much to have prototype board made and would take months of development time.

I have recently purchased a GBA from my fiancĂ©e’s little brother who had upgraded to the Game Boy Advanced SP. The Xport 2.0 works on the SP as well but I think is overkill and has fewer input buttons. I also like the fact that the GBA uses standard batteries so I won’t have to worry about buying expensive replacement batteries from Nintendo. I can also have a pair of batteries in the charger at the same time as I am using another pair in the GBA unit so that I can continually use the GBA. The EDN article Gaming as Serious Business describes potential and actual applications of the Game Boy as an embedded system. 

Stay tuned for further information on the progress of this project.

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

I am geek

I just found out about ctags for vi today and it made me the happiest person on earth! I am geek!