Library that allows for higher resolution and speed than standard mbed PWM library using same syntax (drop-in replacement).

Dependents:   PwmOscillator FastStepDriver TLC5940 CameraTest ... more

FastPWM is a library that unlocks alot more of the potential of the mbed's PWM units than the normal PWM library. It is currently available for the LPC1768, LPC11u24, KLxxZ, K20D50M and most STM32 targets (those lacking are fairly easy to add). (Since I generally forget to update this list, if you want to know if your target is supported see if it compiles).

The two main points it allows for compared to the regular PwmOut library is clock cycle precision PWM and (automated) changing prescalers. It isn't perfect yet, but for now it will have to do ;). For those familiar with version 1, version 2 is almost completely rewritten to add more functions.


FastPWM is largely a drop-in replacement for the normal PwmOut library. All the same functions are available, with some extras.



All prescaler options are disabled for 32-bit PWM units currently, the prescaler is fixed at 1


With this function you can set the value of the prescaler. Aditionally the second argument of the constructor is used for the same to directly set it from the constructor. It returns the actual prescaler which is set. If the requested one isn't available it is always rounded up (unless it is larger than the maximum prescaler).

There are three options for this function. Any value larger than zero will simply be set. (Yes it is signed, so yes you cannot use the full 32-bit prescaler if your device supports it, I cannot imagine why you possibly would want that). If the value is zero dynamic prescaling is disabled and the current prescaler is returned. If the value is -1 dynamic prescaling is enabled and the current prescaler is returned.

So what is dynamic prescaling? This is the default option for FastPWM, don't use any prescaler option and it is enabled. To start with the negative, it adds quite some processing cycles, so changing the period takes longer. Luckily generally the PWM period is constant. The good part is that it automatically adapts the prescaler unit to give as much accuracy as possible: It gives highest accuracy for the duty-cycle, and also allows you to generate a wide range of periods. For example you can now create a LED blinking at 1Hz with FastPWM on the LPC11u24/Nucleo 16-bit PWM units. (On the KL25Z this isn't possible due to limitted value of the prescaler).

As the nice warning message above says, this is currently only implemented for 16-bit PWM units, simply because normally you won't need it for 32-bit PWM units. For those it is automatically disabled, and you cannot enable it. However for example the majority of the PWM units of the LPC11u24 can't be used to make servo signals with PwmOut, with FastPWM they can.

TL;DR, by default it uses dynamic prescaling. Unless period is changed very often just keep it on default and enjoy your larger range of possible periods and higher accuracy.



These two functions allow you to directly write the pwm period and pulsewidth in clock ticks. This is useful if you need to have very little overhead. It is dependent on which device you use, since they have different clock rates. You can get the current clock speed of your device with SystemCoreClock.


PwmOut uses floats for setting the time in seconds, and ints for milliseconds and microseconds. All three of those don't give enough accuracy to fully use the PWM units. Which is why FastPWM uses besides int for milliseconds and microseconds, it uses doubles for seconds and also for microseconds. Generally it is adviced to use these doubles, sometimes you might need to explicitly cast your variables to doubles.

Currently setting pulsewidth in microseconds with an int is a risk with some prescaler values (not on the 32-bit timers). See known-issues.

Adding other microcontrollers

Look at the other device files on how to add other microcontrollers. Functions that need to be implemented:

Known Issues

Here the TL;DR is: Preferably set the period/prescaler once at the beginning before setting the duty-cycle/pulsewidth. If that isn't possible, take into account duty cyles need to be set again. And preferably use doubles.


Some of the ideas are 'loaned' from Jochen Krapf's fork of the original FastPWM:

Files at this revision

API Documentation at this revision

Sun Sep 03 19:40:01 2017 +0000
Commit message:
Removed wait statement which was for debug

Changed in this revision

FastPWM_common.cpp Show annotated file Show diff for this revision Revisions of this file
--- a/FastPWM_common.cpp	Sun Sep 03 16:26:07 2017 +0000
+++ b/FastPWM_common.cpp	Sun Sep 03 19:40:01 2017 +0000
@@ -63,7 +63,6 @@
 void FastPWM::write(double duty) {
-    wait_ms(100);