Code Composer Studio – Surprisingly Free

Part of making a product is selecting the right Microcontroller to do the job. There is a lot to consider, price, availability, features and the cost of the toolchain. Some compilers, IDEs & Jtags can cost thousands.

We have chosen the LM3S6100 (Didn’t have enough RAM) LM3S6432 for the SplashLight. TI (Texas Instruments) offer Code Composer Studio an eclipse based IDE which supports their entire range of microcontrollers. A quick look at the product page shows you can get a 30 day evaluation version but otherwise you will need to spend $495 per seat. Well that is unless you have a XDS100 based jtag which almost all TI’s LM3S dev kits come with! You simply activate the “Free Limited License” it’s only limit is that it will only work with XDS100 jtags, so no code or time limit. I guess they don’t like to shout about it so bigger businesses will just pay the per seat fee’s. But for Makers, Enthusiasts or people with no money it’s great! TI’s wiki page for the XDS100 lists all the suppliers for standalone XDS100 jtags, circuits to make your own or just pick up the cheapest TI LM3S dev kit you can find.

Personally I think every large manufacturer should give away free IDEs to their users, it lowers the barriers to entry and gets people using your devices.

TI have also recently released a stable version of CCS 5.1.1 which so far seems slightly quicker than v4. Theres many other changes, may favorite is that they have tidied up the massive project settings dialog which previously was a bit daunting to use.

SplashLight Development is going well, I’m working on the boot loader so for those of you who don’t want to mess around with code or Jtags can just update it simply with firmware we will provide over the network or via the serial interface. If your interested in buying a SplashLight when they are ready register your interest here, there’s no commitment to actually buying one, we just want to see how many people would want one and where in the world you are. We have already had a few, so thanks for those they help keep us motivated!

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2 Responses to “Code Composer Studio – Surprisingly Free”

  1. I. Cserny February 23, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    Texas Instrumeents says about the downloadable DVD version of CCS 4:

    – DVD image that comes on the CCS DVD when you buy CCS
    – Supports all device families: ARM, C28x, C54x, C55x, C6000, DaVinci, MSP430, Stellaris, TMS470, TMS570, Sitara and OMAP
    – 1.1GB download
    – Supports all license types (except the code size limited tools, for that download the code size limited image)
    – FREE Licenses supported:
    – 30 day evaluation license option (can be extended)
    – Use with XDS100 emulators, EVMs, DSKs, Stellaris IDKs (not RDKs) and eZdsp boards that have on-board emulation as well as simulators.
    – Important! MSP430 eZ430 and Chronos kits should use the 30 day license or the code size limited tools.
    – Can be upgraded to a full license.
    – Includes DSP/BIOS.

    Doesn’t this mean, that the CCS 4 is free oficially for the XD100 emulator supported hardware? It seems to me, that the 30 days limit is valid only for the other platforms.

  2. Carl February 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

    I’ve used CCS4 for many months for free. It was the version that came on the CD with the LM3S Development board I brought. Which I think you can get from the product pages for the development kits. Pick a recently updated kit from this list

    that includes code composer and you will get a version that is free for use with an XDS100

    Or ..

    With Code composer 5 they have made it easier, just download the normal version, once installed go to the license manager/activation wizard and choose the “Free Limited License”

    Let me know how you get on!

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