EFM32™ Zero Gecko Starter Kit w/ Sensor Card - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: EFM32™ Zero Gecko Starter Kit w/ Sensor Card

Author: dwinhold

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Independent Products

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: I would like to try the sound board

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Simplicity Studio consistently crashing.

Detailed Review:

First I want to thank Silicon Labs for the opportunity to test this great kit and Element14 for making it possible for me.


First Impressions:


Upon opening the box I was met with a compact development board and the weather station adaptor board. The main EFM32 board is very well laid out, for its compact design there is room to control the touch sensitive buttons and the push buttons at the same time. The weather station board fits nicely on the right side into the right-angle 20-pin expansion header. The display is small, but is very clear which makes it easy to read. There is a slot for a coin size (CR2032) battery for use without the USB connection. There is no Micro SD card reader on the board so flashing through J-link is the way I uploaded the programs. The weather station is 2/3 the size and is laid out very effectively.




First issue I encountered was trying to get Simplicity Studio to consistently work. The first time I loaded the program I worked for flashing the board once, then crashed and wouldn't work after that. I uninstalled and the same happened again, the third time all went well and no issued since. I did register the software right from the start.


Below is the board itself with the details pointed out:



As you can see, the EFM32 is compact with a very usable design.


Flashing the board with the demo programs is fairly easy, I am not one for reading pages of instructions but like to learn as I go, I did this without difficulty. The demo programs below are very good to learn your way around the board.



The first one I had to use was the weather station, there are 3 screens to scroll through (Temperature, Humidity and UV index). Every screen display used the same voltage, you can see the slight fluctuation when the sensor is being used to change screen information.


Below is the Space Invaders game:



As you can see the average power difference is 5.48mW and current difference is 1.77mA.


EFM32 Zero Gecko has very low power consumption, extremely-low standby current. Listed below are conclusions about the power saved by using the EFM32 Zero Gecko:


  1. Very low active power consumption: EFM32 Zero Gecko significantly reduced power consumption. At 32 MHz and 3V the MCU consumes 180 μA/MHz.
  2. Low energy usage in standby modes is useful for low power applications.
  3. It is possible to connect one board to another without interfering with the CPU.
  4. There are different energy modes for better performance and longer battery life.
  5. Low power systems continually switch between active and sleep modes. Minimal energy is used before the CPU starts processing its tasks.
  6. The EFM32 peripherals can operate in low energy modes without using the CPU.


Technical information:



Zero Gecko - the EFM32ZG series

  • ARM Cortex-M0+ processor core
  • Up to 32 MHz operation
  • 4-32 kB program memory, 2-4 kB RAM


The Zero Gecko devices are also the only Cortex-M0+ MCUs containing a 128bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) hardware block. The Zero Gecko MCUs provide an ideal companion for RF transmitters and transceivers used in connected device applications for the Internet of Things.


Dale Winhold