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ST recently launched the B-L4S5I-IOT01A, a Discovery Kit that houses an STM32L4+ and that targets cloud connectivity. It also includes Bluetooth low energy, NFC, Wi-Fi, a STSAFE secure element, and a myriad of sensors. It is our second Discovery Kit IoT Node. The first one, the B-L475E-IOT01A, first made an appearance at the 2016 ST Developers Conference. The first generation was at the center of multiple X-CUBE packages that helped developers connect to various cloud platforms. ST also offers software solutions that take advantage of sensors or implement secure boot and secure firmware install.
Why Come Out with a New Discovery Kit IoT Node in the First Place?
Engineers that saw the rise of cloud applications are facing a critical dilemma. The early days when simple programs just sent a few values to a platform on the Internet are over. To save energy and be more competitive, edge devices must do increasingly more. Decision-makers are often asking developers to add more features, more security, and more connectivity. And due to the nature of embedded systems, many teams face a difficult choice. They must either rewrite their entire application for a more robust platform or use existing code and struggle with their superiors’ expectations. With the launch of the B-L4S5I-IOT01A, ST is offering a way out of this conundrum.
Using the B-L4S5I-IOT01A to Add Features
More Memory and No Major Rewrite
Engineers at a company rarely start from a blank piece of paper. For instance, many used our first Discovery Kit IoT Node to build proofs-of-concept that connect to AWS, Azure, Watson, and other platforms. Now that machine learning at the edge is increasingly popular, engineers want to run inference operations but face memory limitations. The new B-L4S5I-IOT01A enables developers to build more powerful and feature-rich applications without having to start from scratch. The STM32L4+ houses twice the Flash (2 MB) and five times the RAM (640 KB) compared to the previous model. Yet, it’s still an STM32L4 at heart. Hence, whatever ran on the first board will still run on this platform.
All X-CUBE Packages From the Previous Generation
In fact, all X-CUBE packages that ran on the first board already run on the new Discovery Kit IoT node. Design teams looking to start a new industrial application don’t prioritize the sensors. Ensuring that ST packages all run on the new platform is far more valuable because it helps jumpstart projects. Many use different sensors on their final designs anyway. As a result, the MEMS are identical between the previous and newer generations. It was the best way for ST to guarantee that developers could rely on the existing ecosystem to start their new projects faster.
Using the B-L4S5I-IOT01A to Add Security
A STSAFE-A110 by Default
Engineers that wanted to implement a secure element on the previous generation could add a STSAFE-A100. They would order the part and solder it onto the B-L475E-IOT01A. When teams wished to experiment with security on the cloud, it gave them a path to authenticate remote and local hosts to be ahead of the game. After a while, we also updated our X-CUBE-SBSFU package for the B-L475E-IOT01A , which now supports a new embedded Secure Key Storage software module to protect secure credentials storage into the internal Flash of the STM32L4. This software package also extends security levels by storing such secure credentials externally within a STSAFE-A110 by default. Teams will thus have a much faster path to a proof-of-concept that implements important security features.
The X-CUBE-AWS 2.0 for Multi-Account Registration
Professionals must also deal with security issues that govern deployment operations. Securely registering a board on an online platform can be time-consuming. Administrators are also reluctant to ask the end-user to do it if it means sharing cryptographic keys and certificates. Developers can now turn to X-CUBE-AWS 2.0 as a solution to this issue. Thanks to the STSAFE-A110 of the B-L4S5I-IOT01A, the software package enables Multi-Account Registration. Put simply, the secure element of the new board stores pre-provisioned credentials. Hence, users can immediately and securely register their system with AWS. Users don’t have to juggle private keys and certificates, making the registration process safer and more straightforward.
Using B-L4S5I-IOT01A to Add Connectivity
An NFC Dynamic Tag
Industrial IoT is another trend that is changing smart factories, among other things. Unfortunately, the challenges of such systems are often unique. Finding the right tools for a piece of particular equipment sometimes demands a new approach to connectivity. For example, the new B-L4S5I-IOT01A uses a different NFC module compared to the previous model. Its ST25DV04K brings full NFC compliance, enhanced RF performance, and enables features that will help developers meet the challenges that arise from Industrial IoT applications. The dynamic tag allows the MCU to communicate with NFC-enabled phones or with infrastructure RFID readers, as we saw with TapNLink. Users can conveniently configure IoT devices in a controlled way, even when the device is unpowered or still in its box.