For the last month or so I’ve been migrating projects from HEW to e2studio 2.0 and learning the numerous bells and whistles of that program. So I was slow off the mark to follow up on Renesas’ announcement that it’s expanded its highly popular Power of Two program to include a free license for IAR Embedded Workbench for RX and RL78 MCUs. You’d think the word free would have gotten my attention.

Renesas has long provided free IAR Embedded Workbench tools in its evaluation and development kits, though the KickStart Edition is limited to 16 KB code size—generally just enough to compile and run a modest size demo program. You can upgrade for free to a time-limited full commercial version, but when the clock runs out it’s time to have a serious talk with the Purchasing Department.

Now if you’re serious about developing an RX- or RL78-based product using the Micrium RTOS you can now avoid that talk altogether. IAR Systems is offering Power of Two developers a free license of IAR Embedded Workbench for RX or RL78, plus a year of software upgrades and technical support. There’s that word again.

Financial considerations aside, if you’ve been using GNU-based tools there’s good reason to look seriously at what Embedded Workbench has to offer. For starters the Embedded Workbench generates code that is on average 30% smaller than GCC-based compilers, enabling you to go to market with smaller, less expensive MCUs. The code is also fast, generating record EEMBC Coremark benchmark results for both RX and RL78 MCUs. Another key feature is kernel-aware debugging, letting you see at a glance what’s going on inside an RTOS task.

Adding considerable value is visualSTATE, IAR’s state machine generation, verification, and validation tool. With visualSTATE you can design a UML-based state chart and then verify and validate your design before implementing it in hardware. Testing is done on a script basis, so you can go back as needed, edit your UML design, and retest it in visualSTATE. VisualSTATE integrates tightly into Embedded Workbench, enabling you to do graphical state-level debugging within the Embedded Workbench environment. If your project—or any significant part of it—can be implemented as a state machine, then visualSTATE could prove to be an invaluable tool.

To download a free copy of IAR Embedded Workbench for RX and RL78 MCUs go to; for a copy of IAR visualSTATE go to To receive a full license for Embedded Workbench you need to be accepted into the Power of Two program, which means you’re developing a commercial product using an RX or RL78 MCU and Micrium’s µC/OS-II or µC/OS-III and middleware, plus you live in the Americas.

With the addition of IAR’s Embedded Workbench, the reasons for joining the Power of Two program have become even more compelling. After a year of calling the program The Power of Two, shouldn’t they now start calling it The Power of Three? Maybe not—but that is what it is. And however you slice it, it’s an outstanding value proposition.