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A while ago, Hackaday highlighted a new chip, the HC32L110. This chip was one of the many ARM-based microcontrollers that sprung up in China, but this one was remarkable because its diminuitive size: it came in an 16-pin WCSP package of a miniscule 1.6x1.4mm. Aside from that, it seems to be a chip that is somewhat obtainable; I could get them for RMB5 or about 0.5 US$. It's also not an unreasonable proposition wrt power: it's a 32MHz ARM Cortex M0+, with 32K flash, 4K of RAM, and the usual smattering of SPI, I2C, UART, ADC etc peripherals.

It wasn't all good. The manufacturer making the chip (HSDC, or Huada Semiconductor Co Ltd) is a very Chinese manufacturer producing for a Chinese market. As an indication: they have an 'English' language option for their website... which simply redirects you back to the Chinese site. As such, the datasheets, user manual and SDK were available, but all in Chinese. Also, for some reason they decided to make the SDK compatible with the Keil and IAR compilers, but not with the freely-available GCC.

I decided to investigate; it's always fun to grab an obscure processor and see if I can make it work, and the added challenge of trying to solder WCSP chips combined with the low cost of failure would make for an interesting hobby project.

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