STMicroelectronics Nucleo boards are another way of prototyping with ARM Cortex-M microcontrollers. The idea was to get closer to Arduino interface, but still have ARM power and versatility. The shape of Nucleo board is somewhat close to Arduino Uno, just a bit wider so it could carry two types of connectors. Lets look at Nucleo-F401RE – one of four boards available now.
First of all it features ARM Cortex-M4 STM32F401RET6 microcontroller which of course have FPU module and DSP instructions. There are 512KB of flash and 96KB of SRAM on chip and can be clocked up to 84MHz. Any Nucleo board have Arduino UNO compatible headers where most of Arduino shields can be plugged and used for fast prototyping. Other pins are brought out by using Morpho headers:
There is one user programmable LED and one button (+ Reset button) to get first blinky program working in no time.
The Nucleo board is split in to two parts – The Nucleo part with headers and core and Stlink part which can be used to program and debug target using USB cable. USB can be selected to be as virtual COM port, mass storage or debug interface. One thing you cannot do (at least yet) is program with Arduino IDE. But this doesn’t seem necessary as there are many tools available starting with bare metal programming with IAR, KEIL, GCC or even better you can use mbed.org platform to write and compile your programs online. Nucleo boards are fully supported by mbed and can be programmed by using online IDE, tons of available libraries. Check out Newark website about other Nucleo boards or other great electronics.