Application Development Requirements

Last modified by Microchip on 2023/11/10 11:03

This page contains information for the Graphics Library found in Microchip Libraries for Applications (MLA). It is not relevant for the MPLAB® Harmony Graphics Library.

Requirements to Run

An MLA graphics-enabled application requires four essential functions:

  1. 16-bit PIC® MCU running your application program and MLA graphics software (PIC32 devices use the MPLAB Harmony Graphics Library). Under CPU control the graphics software renders the screen image for output.
  2. Frame Buffer Memory – this dual port memory receives the image from the processor and holds it for display.
  3. Graphics Controller – takes the content of the frame buffer memory and sends it to the graphics display. The speed at which the graphics controller works depends upon the resolution of the display and the refresh rate required by the display.
  4. Graphics Display – Displays the information received from the graphics controller.
Four Essential Functions

Figure 1

The accompanying image shows each of the four graphics functions being performed by separate devices. While these four functions are required, it may not be necessary to separate the functions into four different devices. Microchip supports several products and configurations which allow some of these functions to be combined into single devices. Below are some of these possible combinations:

Possible combinations of essential functions

Figure 2

Graphics Subsystem (Display, Frame Buffer, and Controller) sold as a separate module connected directly to a PIC MCU's parallel master bus

Graphics Subsystem

Figure 3

Frame Buffer and Graphics Controller on a module with the module directly connected to the display.

Frame Buffer and Graphics Controller Module

Figure 4

Frame buffer contained within the Graphics Controller

Frame buffer contained within the Graphics Controller

Figure 5

Low-cost solution with the Graphics controller functions and some frame buffer memory contained within the CPU. The PIC24FxxxDA family contains a graphics controller and some frame buffer memory on board.

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Requirements to Develop

Demo Board with Display

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Development Board and Display

To develop PIC MCU-based graphics applications, you will need a set of development platforms from Microchip which perform the above four functions and are capable of running under Microchip’s MLA graphics library. Microchip offers a variety of platforms supporting various MCUs, graphics controllers, and displays. The list and combination of currently available boards/displays are subject to change. Please check The Graphics Development Tools page to get an up-to-date list of available tools.

The examples and software used in this tutorial are designed to work on any Microchip-supported platform.

Real ICE and ICD 3

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You will need to obtain a programmer/debugger to download your application to the development board. Since MLA applications can be quite large, it is recommended that you select either an MPLAB REAL ICE™ or MPLAB ICD due to their fast programming capability. If you have selected a starter kit as your development board, you do not have to obtain a programmer/debugger. Starter kits contain onboard programming and debugging capabilities.

The PICkit™ programmer/debugger is capable of programming and debugging graphics applications but is not recommended due to its slower programming speed.

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You will need to download the following software to develop an MLA graphics application:

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Learn More

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