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Free compiler for Kinetis K series devices

Question asked by Jan Rychter on Oct 23, 2013
Latest reply on Oct 24, 2013 by Jan Rychter

I'm looking into switching from MSP430 devices to Kinetis K series — I've outgrown the tiny (cheap) MSP430 chips, and the pricing for USB-capable F55xx series is comparable to Kinetis K series.


But I've spent the past hour or so looking around and I can't find the answer: can I start working with the Kinetis Freedom platform and K series devices without spending $1000 on CodeWarrior (or another paid tool)? I looked at CodeWarrior pricing, and it makes no sense: if I stick to the free version, I'll limit myself to 64k — but why switch to 128kB Kinetis K devices, then? Plus, I'm working myself into a trap: after I invest lots of time and effort to learn the new platform, I'll be locked in and have to pay significant fees.


I'm not looking for a bells-and-whistles IDE. I just need a compiler, a complete set of headers, and a way to load the software (via USB) onto a target device. With the MSP430 I can get that with their Code Composer (limited to 32kB) or gcc-msp430, which is now getting adopted by TI and should be much better supported. I don't need graphical configuration tools and the like — but I *would* like to start developing right away, without spending weeks on debugging toolchain problems.


I have to admit, seeing >$1k pricing doesn't do much to encourage hobbyists to switch to Kinetis microcontrollers, and I'm having a hard time understanding where the "Freedom" in the "Freedom Platform" comes from. I applaud vendors for launching cheap development platforms (TI Launchpad and Freescale Freedom), but it seems that a component is still missing.


So — am I missing something? Can I download a gcc-based toolchain, drop in Kinetis libs/headers, and produce a binary that can be dropped onto a Kinetis K-based device?