Control Center Serial Software Series: Control Center vs Flash Center for Programming

The Control Center Serial Software and Flash Center Software are free software platforms offered by Total Phase that allow users to interface with Total Phase programming tools such as our I2C and SPI host adapters.

While these software platforms offer unique ways to access the features on the Promira Serial Platform, Aardvark I2C/SPI Host Adapter, and Cheetah SPI Host Adapter, both programs allow the user to read and write to memory devices. So which one is best for programming requirements? In this article, we’ll provide a briefing of each of these software platforms and provide insight into which one is most fitting for certain applications.

About the Control Center Serial Software

The Control Center Serial Software can be used to interface tools including the Promira Serial Platform, Aardvark I2C/SPI Host Adapter, and Cheetah SPI Host Adapter and eliminates the need to write custom software to control these adapters. It allows users to perform a variety of different functions, including reading and writing to memory devices and executing XML batch scripting to perform more repetitive commands.

Control Center Serial Software

Just like the Control Center Serial Software name suggests, this software is great for easily controlling devices, allowing users to prototype and test certain systems during the development stages.

Features within the Control Center Serial Software include:

  • I2C Module to emulate I2C Master or I2C Slave devices
  • SPI Module to emulate SPI Master or SPI Slave devices
  • GPIO Module to allow users to substitute I2C/SPI pins to send and receive signals.
  • Configurations such as: I2C+SPI, I2C+GPIO, SPI+GPIO, and GPIO only
  • Reading/writing/verifying I2C-, SPI-based EEPROM and Flash memory chips
  • XML batch scripting
  • Transaction log of all data transactions that come in and out of the host adapter.
I2C and SPI modules in Control Center Serial Software I2C and SPI modules in Control Center Serial Software

 

About the Flash Center Software

The Flash Center Software can also be used to interface with the Promira Serial Platform, Aardvark I2C/SPI Host Adapter, and Cheetah SPI Host Adapter and allows users to quickly erase, program, and verify I2C- and SPI-based EEPROM and Flash memory chips.

The Flash Center Software is focused on providing users a streamlined way to interact with their Flash memory devices, whether it be quickly verifying a memory device’s contents or gang-programming multiple target devices in parallel using multiple host adapters.

Flash Center Software

Using the Flash Center Software, users can perform the following:

  • Program + Verify- Writes data to one or more attached memory devices and then reads back the data to verify it for correctness. If the device is an SPI Flash, an erase cycle will be performed first. The erase will cover only those sectors, which will be written. (Note that it is possible to erase more data than is written if a write ends in the middle of a sector. A warning will be logged if this is the case.) Also, if the data to be written is large enough to require the entire device to be erase, and the memory device has an “erase all” instruction, the software will use the “erase all” instruction.
  • Program- Writes data to the device, but does not perform the verification step. If the device is an SPI Flash, an erase cycle will be performed first, with the same caveats as Program + Verify.
  • Program (No Erase)- A special mode for SPI Flash devices. It writes data to the device, but does not perform an erase cycle. This is useful if multiple memory images are to be programmed to the device. Use FF as the pad value when loading each memory image to avoid corrupting previously written data. Because the device may have been programmed prior to this operation, it does not perform the verification step.
  • Read Device- Reads the contents of the selected device and replaces it in the current contents in the data buffer.
  • Verify- Verifies the contents of the selected devices against the contents of the data buffer.
  • Erase- Allows the user to erase the entire memory device or allows the erasure of portion of it. For partial erasure, users can specify the start addresses and length in the erase parameters dialog as either a decimal value or as a hexadecimal value.
Flash Center Software Flash programming Writing to an SPI Flash memory device in Flash Center Software

 

Which Software is Best for your Programming Requirements?

Both the Control Center Serial Software and Flash Center Software support programming I2C- and SPI-based EEPROM and Flash memory, but do so in different way depending on the user’s objective.

Programing Using Control Center Serial Software

When programming EEPROM devices using the Control Center Serial Software, users are essentially programming their devices with certain instructions to allow the I2C or SPI master or slave device to carry out or respond to certain commands. Programming an EEPROM device using a host adapter can allow users to emulate a master or slave device. Some examples as to how to control I2C and SPI devices include:

  • Using the host adapter as a master to interface with sensors, memory chips, and other peripherals; emulate an MCU and actively poll sensors, read/write BIOS memory and control the bus.
  • Using the host adapter as a slave to test commands sent from MCUs; simulate sensors and validate the commands sent by the master device.

Users can write instructions using the command line in Control Center or by importing XML batch instructions in Batch Mode.

While the Control Center Serial Software can communicate with Flash devices, it is not as well-suited for performing commands that are used to read and write to Flash memory – however, users can still configure the software to do so if needed. For users looking to strictly program their Flash memory devices, using the Flash Center Software would be the right choice.

Programing Using the Flash Center Software

Using the Flash Center Software is appropriate when users require an interface to quickly and easily erase, program, and verify their I2C- and SPI-based EEPROM and Flash memory devices.

Instead of having the ability to control I2C or SPI master/slave devices like in the Control Center Software, this GUI is especially useful for quickly reading/writing to devices for the sole purpose of loading them with information. This software was specifically created to know the right commands to efficiently read and write to Flash memory and includes a large number of part files to define how to control the parts.

One of the more common applications for using the Flash Center Software is mass programming. Many customers use Total Phase host adapters in conjunction with this software to mass program their devices on a production line. With the gang programming capability, users can work with multiple chips and multiple adapters in parallel making it very effective for production environments.

To create a seamless programming experience for developers, the Flash Center Software includes built-in support for a large number of memory devices. Plus, the software allows users to easily add support for any I2C or SPI EEPROM or flash device by loading new XML-based part descriptor files.

For more information on how to program your EEPROM or Flash memory device using the Flash Center Software, visit our page: Fast and Easy Flash and EEPROM Programming.

If you still have any questions on which software is best for your programming requirements, please contact us at sales@totalphase.com