I am new to electronics and have been seeing a lot of so-called "evaluation kits" for certain MCUs. For example this Atmel SAM R21 Xplained Pro kit claims to be: "a hardware platform to evaluate the ATSAMR21G18A microcontroller".
As a newcomer, I'm not entirely sure what this means, but I'm guessing that the ATSAMR21G18A is just a microchip, and not a full bore MCU. And perhaps, in order to write applications for it (that will interact with all sorts of devices and peripherals) you need a way to test the chip on a microcontroller that has memory, typical computing parts and GPIO ports on it?
So I'm guessing that the typical flow here is:
- Buy one of these "evaluation kits" for your targeted microchip
- Write and test your application using this kit/MCU, and hook it up to all the devices and I/O peripherals that will be there in production, and get it working correctly
- Now you're ready to start figuring out what your production board (containing the targeted microchip) will look like, and you can have reasonable confidence the application will perform as expected on the production board
So first, if any of my guesses/assumptions above is incorrect (even slightly), please begin by providing some course correction for me!
Assuming I'm more or less correct here...
I assume that the reason why you wouldn't just put an evaluation kit board into production is because of cost and unnecessary waste, right? If these evaluation kits have GPIO pins/ports on them, they are too generic for you specific application at hand, and so the real difference between the evaluation board and your production board is: your production board is optimized and specific to your product and the specific application(s) running on it, yes?