From Variscite Wiki
DART-MX8M-MINI - MCUXpresso 2.5.0

1 Overview

1.1 MCUXpresso SDK

MCUXpresso SDK board support provides example applications for NXP development and evaluation boards for Arm Cortex-M cores. Board support packages are found inside of the top level boards folder, and each supported board has its own folder (MCUXpresso SDK package can support multiple boards). Within each <board_name> folder there are various sub-folders to classify the type of examples they contain. These include (but are not limited to):

  • cmsis_driver_examples: Simple applications intended to concisely illustrate how to use CMSIS drivers.
  • demo_apps: Full-featured applications intended to highlight key functionality and use cases of the target MCU. These applications typically use multiple MCU peripherals and may leverage stacks and middleware.
  • driver_examples: Simple applications intended to concisely illustrate how to use the MCUXpresso SDK’s peripheral drivers for a single use case.
  • rtos_examples: Basic FreeRTOS OS examples showcasing the use of various RTOS objects (semaphores, queues, and so on) and interfacing with the MCUXpresso SDK’s RTOS drivers
  • multicore_examples: Simple applications intended to concisely illustrate how to use middleware/multicore stack


Here we describe how to use ARM GCC toolchain, officially supported following Getting Started with MCUXpresso SDK for i.MX 8M Mini.pdf.

2 Prerequisites

Before starting, prepare a Yocto boot SD (Sumo or newer).

To allow Cortex M4 accessing shared resources without experiencing Linux kernel conflicts, a dedicated device tree must be loaded, containing m4 label in the name, using the fdt_file environment variable in uboot.


This device tree disables some of the base device tree nodes in order to avoid conflicts between the main processor and Cortex M4.

3 Installing required packages

Install cmake

sudo apt-get install cmake

Download and install GNU-ARM bare-metal toolchain:

mkdir ~/var-mcuxpresso
cd ~/var-mcuxpresso
tar xvf gcc-arm-none-eabi-7-2018-q2-update-linux.tar.bz2

Download MCUXpresso SDK for the SOM:

cd ~/var-mcuxpresso
git clone -b mcuxpresso_sdk_2.5.x-var01
cd freertos-variscite

4 Documentation

Original NXP documentation is available online or in the following folder:


5 Available demos

All of the Variscite examples are located under the following folder


Default M4 pins used by the demos are:

function pin
debug UART (UART2) RX: J12.6 / TX: J12.4
I2C (I2C4) SCL: J12.17 / SDA: J12.19
PWM (PWM2) J14.3

The available demos for DART-MX8M-MINI are:

  • driver_examples/i2c/interrupt_b2b_transfer/slave
  • driver_examples/i2c/interrupt_b2b_transfer/master
  • driver_examples/i2c/polling_b2b_transfer/slave
  • driver_examples/i2c/polling_b2b_transfer/master
  • driver_examples/wdog
  • driver_examples/sdma/scatter_gather
  • driver_examples/sdma/memory_to_memory
  • driver_examples/gpio/led_output
  • driver_examples/pwm
  • driver_examples/uart/auto_baudrate_detect
  • driver_examples/uart/interrupt
  • driver_examples/uart/idle_detect_sdma_transfer
  • driver_examples/uart/interrupt_rb_transfer
  • driver_examples/uart/sdma_transfer
  • driver_examples/uart/polling
  • driver_examples/uart/interrupt_transfer
  • driver_examples/gpt/timer
  • driver_examples/gpt/capture
  • driver_examples/ecspi/ecspi_loopback
  • driver_examples/ecspi/interrupt_b2b_transfer/slave
  • driver_examples/ecspi/interrupt_b2b_transfer/master
  • driver_examples/ecspi/polling_b2b_transfer/slave
  • driver_examples/ecspi/polling_b2b_transfer/master
  • driver_examples/rdc
  • driver_examples/tmu_1/monitor_threshold
  • driver_examples/tmu_1/temperature_polling
  • driver_examples/sema4/uboot
  • rtos_examples/freertos_ecspi/ecspi_loopback
  • rtos_examples/freertos_hello
  • rtos_examples/freertos_queue
  • rtos_examples/freertos_sem
  • rtos_examples/freertos_generic
  • rtos_examples/freertos_uart
  • rtos_examples/freertos_tickless
  • rtos_examples/freertos_mutex
  • rtos_examples/freertos_event
  • rtos_examples/freertos_swtimer
  • rtos_examples/freertos_i2c
  • cmsis_driver_examples/i2c/int_b2b_transfer/slave
  • cmsis_driver_examples/i2c/int_b2b_transfer/master
  • cmsis_driver_examples/uart/sdma_transfer
  • cmsis_driver_examples/uart/interrupt_transfer
  • cmsis_driver_examples/ecspi/int_loopback_transfer
  • cmsis_driver_examples/ecspi/sdma_loopback_transfer
  • multicore_examples/rpmsg_lite_str_echo_rtos
  • multicore_examples/rpmsg_lite_pingpong_rtos/linux_remote
  • demo_apps/hello_world

Almost all of the above demos are also available for EVK-MIMX8MM.

You can build and run the demos following official NXP documentation for EVK-MIMX8MM, available online or in the following document:

~/var-mcuxpresso/freertos-variscite/docs/Getting Started with MCUXpresso SDK for i.MX 8M Mini.pdf

6 Building a demo

For any demo just follow this steps:

cd ~/var-mcuxpresso/freertos-variscite/boards/dart_mx8mm
cd <demo_folder>
cd armgcc
export ARMGCC_DIR=~/var-mcuxpresso/gcc-arm-none-eabi-7-2018-q2-update
./ > /dev/null

You can choose any <demo_folder> from the list available in the previous section.

Then copy the ".bin" to the boot media (either the SD or eMMC) in the /boot folder already hosting the Linux device trees.

7 Memory types

The SDK allow linking using 2 different memory types: DDR, TCM.

Here is available a short summary of memory areas used by Cortex-M4 as described in related linker file.

memory type M4 memory area A53 memory area memory lentgh linker file
DDR 0x7E000000-0x7E1FFFFF (code)
0x7E200000-0x7E3FFFFF (data)
0x7E400000-0x7EFFFFFF (data2)
0x7E000000-0x7E1FFFFF (code)
0x7E200000-0x7E3FFFFF (data)
0x7E400000-0x7EFFFFFF (data2)
16MB (DDR) MIMX8MM6xxxxx_cm4_ddr_ram.ld
TCM 0x1FFE0000-0x1FFFFFFF (code)
0x20000000-0x2001FFFF (data)
0x7E000000-0x7EFFFFFF (data2)
0x007E0000-0x007FFFFF (code)
0x00800000-0x0081FFFF (data)
0x7E000000-0x7EFFFFFF (data2)
256kB (TCM) + 16MB (DDR) MIMX8MM6xxxxx_cm4_ram.ld

All linker files are locate in the armgcc folder of each demo.

The DDR reserved area must much the one declared in the kernel device tree: at least 1 GB of RAM is required on the SoM to allow Cortex-M4 accessing the range 0x7E000000 - 0x7EFFFFFF. For some reason, Cortex-M4 is not able to access RAM locations below 0x60000000: SoMs with 512 MB of RAM are not suitable to use Cortex-M4.

The RPMSG area is located at 0x40000000: all SoMs allow Cortex-M4 accessing the RPMSG area.

After launching the command the following folder will be created in the armgcc folder

  • ddr_debug: containing DDR binaries compiled in debug mode (not stripped: symbols available)
  • ddr_release: containing DDR binaries compiled in release mode (stripped: no symbols available)
  • debug: containing TCM binaries compiled in debug mode (not stripped: symbols available)
  • release: containing TCM binaries compiled in release mode (stripped: no symbols available)

Further details about memory mapping are available in i.MX 8M-Mini Applications Processors Reference Manual paragraphs:

  • 2.1.2 Cortex-A53 Memory Map
  • 2.1.3 Cortex-M4 Memory Map

8 Running a demo

To allow Cortex-M accessing shared resources without experiencing Linux kernel conflicts, a dedicated device tree must be loaded.

To enable Cortex-M:

setenv use_m4 yes; saveenv

To disable Cortex-M:

setenv use_m4 no; saveenv

Binary demos must be loaded to the memory type used for linking.

To use TCM:

setenv m4_addr 0x7e0000; saveenv

To use DDR:

setenv m4_addr 0x7E000000; saveenv

To set the name of the Cortex-M binary

setenv m4_bin myapp.bin; saveenv

The .bin file is expected in the folder /boot of the booting media.

The uboot boot command will take care to correctly load the Cortex-M firmware and start Linux for DART-MX8M-MINI

Additional details and step by step procedure to run each of the demos is available online or in the following document:

~/var-mcuxpresso/freertos-variscite/docs/Getting Started with MCUXpresso SDK for i.MX 8M Mini.pdf

9 Debugging a demo

9.1 JTAG interface

Cortex-M debugging may require JTAG.

The VAR-DT8MCustomBoard exports the DART-MX8M JTAG signals through J29, a standard 1.27" 10 pin header.

Here the pinout

pin signal description pin signal description
1 JTAG_VREF JTAG IO reference voltage,
connects to SOM_NVCC_3V3.
2 JTAG_TMS JTAG Mode Select signal
3 GND Digital Ground 4 JTAG_TCK JTAG Clock signal,
requires 10K pull down.
5 GND Digital Ground 6 JTAG_TDO JTAG Data Out signal
7 GND Digital Ground 8 JTAG_TDI JTAG Data In signal
9 JTAG_NTRST_C JTAG Reset signal 10 NRST_CON Programmer Reset,
used to put the SOC in reset state.

Please refer to board schematics for further details.

9.2 Debugging GUI

A detailed step by step procedure to debug using SEGGER J-Link is available online or in the following document:

~/var-mcuxpresso/freertos-variscite/docs/Getting Started with MCUXpresso SDK for i.MX 8M Mini.pdf