WHAT IS IT
The STM32 is a family of microcontrollers manufactured by ST Microelectronics. It is a single chip solution consisting of a 32-bit ARM processor core coupled with Flash memory and RAM. Also included on many chips are other on-board peripherals including, but not limited to, SPI and I2C, UART’s, timers, A/D and/or D/A converters along with general I/O pins.
Like many other modern microcontrollers, it’s high-level of integration, single chip packaging and low cost allows complex functions to be carried out in a relatively simple and inexpensive manner.
Up until recently, I have had little experience and little incentive to use the STM32 family of devices. While ST has designed some nice development boards based around the STM32 chips, they seem to have forgotten about making a cost effective tool chain to accompany the product. The tool solutions recommended by ST were very expensive, as in thousands of dollars, which seemed to be completely opposite of the image portrayed by the inexpensive chips and development boards. ($1.50 chips, $8.00 development board but $3000.00 for development suite.) However, ST seems to have been correcting that situation as there are a number of affordable and free development tools now available.
One of the tools that has got me thinking about the STM32 chips again is a project created by LeafLabs and forwarded Roger Clark called STM32duino. Originally designed for a bard called the Maple (and MapleMini), this project gives the Arduino IDE the ability to compile code for the STM32F1/F3/F4 series of devices via a third party tool. I think this is great as it brings the STM32 to the hobbyist. I’m not sure how long the STM32duino project has been going or how stable it is, but it currently seems like a viable solution.