Author Topic: How to program\flash old NXP (Philips) XA-G37 (80C51) uC OTP chips?  (Read 472 times)

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Offline lukes

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I was wondering if anyone knew how to program\flash a program file onto an old NXP XA-G37 microcontrollers which use extended 80C51 architecture?  I have some old industrial equipment that uses these chips for firmware and the manufacture wants $1500 per chip to send the latest firmware.  I am willing to buy one chip with the latest firmware and copy the program (if the security bits are not set) and program it to old surplus of other chips but I not willing to buy a bunch at that price.

I am somewhat familiar with programming newer microcontrollers that support JTAG or ISP but it appears these chips don't support that.  Page 33 of the datasheet says
Quote
The XA-G37 is programmed by using a modified Improved
Quick-Pulse Programming algorithm. This algorithm is essentially
the same as that used by the later 80C51 family EPROM parts.
However different pins are used for many programming functions.

Detailed EPROM programming information may be obtained from
the internet at www.philipsmcu.com/ftp.html

The XA-G37 contains three signature bytes that can be read and
used by an EPROM programming system to identify the device. The
signature bytes identify the device as an XA-Gx manufactured by
Philips.

This is not very helpful as that URL is gone to history.  I could experiment with making my own programmer with an arduino but since these are one time program I feel like it will be wasting more chips learning how to do it then I am willing to do.  I found this document (page 33) which shows the waveform to program older 80C51 chips but is there something off the shelf or already figured out I can buy to do this?
 

Online mindcrime

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Does the Internet Archive capture of that page have anything useful?

https://web.archive.org/web/19970416020800/http://www.philipsmcu.com/ftp.html
 
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Offline lukes

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Mindcrime, I looked at this but I didn't find much on programming and seems to old for the XA chips.  The XA would probably be in the 1998 and later stuff which all is not archived unfortunately.
 

Offline amyk

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What are the chances they won't set the security bits, if they're charging $1500 for it...?
There are services that can break the protection (and for such an old family is probably easy), but they are not cheap (I guess 1-2k$)
There are programmers available. They aren't cheap either.
 

Online PCB.Wiz

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I was wondering if anyone knew how to program\flash a program file onto an old NXP XA-G37 microcontrollers which use extended 80C51 architecture?  I have some old industrial equipment that uses these chips for firmware and the manufacture wants $1500 per chip to send the latest firmware.  I am willing to buy one chip with the latest firmware and copy the program (if the security bits are not set) and program it to old surplus of other chips but I not willing to buy a bunch at that price.

Of course, the security bits will be set, so a simple copy will not work.
How many is 'a bunch' ? - you may be better to negotiate with the supplier for a quantity price ?
 

Offline nctnico

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I was wondering if anyone knew how to program\flash a program file onto an old NXP XA-G37 microcontrollers which use extended 80C51 architecture?  I have some old industrial equipment that uses these chips for firmware and the manufacture wants $1500 per chip to send the latest firmware.  I am willing to buy one chip with the latest firmware and copy the program (if the security bits are not set) and program it to old surplus of other chips but I not willing to buy a bunch at that price.
This sounds a bit shady; you basically want us to help circumvent / violate the manufacturer's copyright.

As other said it is likely that the security bits are set so reading the chip is likely a futile attempt (if you are even able to source blank chips; you can only write these chips once so the existing chips are no use). IMHO you need to do a cost versus benefit analysis: how much do you gain from running the latest firmware version. If your gain is less than the price of the chips you can contact the manufacturer and simple state: at this price it makes sense for me to upgrade. Can we make a deal or not? If they don't budge and you need 10 or more of these chips then rewriting the firmware and replacing the entire processor with a more modern microcontroller is not outside the realm of possibilities (=it could be financially viable). The chip you linked to is not particulary big/complex so likely the functionality isn't that complicated. The advantage of rewriting the firmware is that you can add your own features and maybe team up with other users of this equipment to share the costs.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2021, 05:05:26 pm by nctnico »
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Online PCB.Wiz

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... If they don't budge and you need 10 or more of these chips then rewriting the firmware and replacing the entire processor with a more modern microcontroller is not outside the realm of possibilities (=it could be financially viable). The chip you linked to is not particulary big/complex so likely the functionality isn't that complicated.
This was "some old industrial equipment" so the part needs to be a drop-in replacement.
An exact pin-match for the XA in PLCC44 is going to be a challenge.
There are modern 8 bit MCUs similar-or-better to XA resource, but the PLCC44 in a very old package and no new MCUs are made in that.
 

Offline technix

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IIRC there are board-to-board connectors intended to mate with a PLCC44 socket. If you can track those down maybe you can just spin a replacement PCB with a modern MCU plus all the modern amenities (USB interface, W5500 based Ethernet, ESP8266-based Wi-Fi, etc) while still being compatible with the old rig.
 

Offline nctnico

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... If they don't budge and you need 10 or more of these chips then rewriting the firmware and replacing the entire processor with a more modern microcontroller is not outside the realm of possibilities (=it could be financially viable). The chip you linked to is not particulary big/complex so likely the functionality isn't that complicated.
This was "some old industrial equipment" so the part needs to be a drop-in replacement.
An exact pin-match for the XA in PLCC44 is going to be a challenge.
There are modern 8 bit MCUs similar-or-better to XA resource, but the PLCC44 in a very old package and no new MCUs are made in that.
If the original microcontroller can be replaced then it is in a socket (which probably is the case because it is a one-time-programmable microcontroller). Remove the socket and solder in a header connector. Likely this is a two layer, through hole board so easy to rework. From there you can use any modern ARM microcontroller.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2021, 08:24:25 am by nctnico »
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline technix

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... If they don't budge and you need 10 or more of these chips then rewriting the firmware and replacing the entire processor with a more modern microcontroller is not outside the realm of possibilities (=it could be financially viable). The chip you linked to is not particulary big/complex so likely the functionality isn't that complicated.
This was "some old industrial equipment" so the part needs to be a drop-in replacement.
An exact pin-match for the XA in PLCC44 is going to be a challenge.
There are modern 8 bit MCUs similar-or-better to XA resource, but the PLCC44 in a very old package and no new MCUs are made in that.
If the original microcontroller can be replaced then it is in a socket (which probably is the case because it is a one-time-programmable microcontroller). Remove the socket and solder in a header connector. Likely this is a two layer, through hole board so easy to rework. From there you can use any modern ARM microcontroller.
Actually I'd suggest solder in round-pin PGA socket, which can accept either an extension PCB or a PLCC44 socket, so you can go a lot of different ways. Those are also a lot easier to find than the PLCC44 mating connector I mentioned above.
 


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