Atmel’s SAM4S – powering smart watches and more

Based on ARM’s powerful Cortex-M4 core, the Atmel SAM4S lineup offers increased performance and power efficiency, higher memory densities (up to 2MB of Flash and 160KB of SRAM), along with an extensive peripheral set for connectivity, system control and analog interfacing.

The SAM4S operates at 120MHz and integrates Atmel’s Flash read accelerator, along with optional cache memory to increase system performance. The SAM4S also features a multi-layer bus matrix, multi-channel direct memory access (DMA) and distributed memory to support high data rate communication.

As previously reported on Bits & Pieces, Atmel’s SAM4S microcontroller took center stage earlier this week when it tipped up in the Agent smart watch, a Kickstarter project that has already managed to raise over $413,000 with an impressive 3,000 backers.

Indeed, the Agent smart watch effectively combines the above-mentioned SAM4S and tinyAVR MCUs to provide longer battery life – consuming less than half the power of competing silicon.

“Extremely low power consumption is achieved through Atmel’s picoPower
with the low-power RAM retention capabilities of the SAM4S microcontroller. Essentially, the tinyAVR MCU handles maintenance tasks and events while the SAM4S ARM deals with the operating system and related apps,” an Atmel rep explained.

“This combination optimizes power use and enables the larger SAM4S microcontroller to remain in sleep mode for as long as possible. Additionally, the smart watch intelligently switches into airplane mode when remaining battery life reaches 10 percent, enabling
traditional watch functionality even in low-battery conditions.”

So how low is low in terms of power consumption? Well, the SAM4S lineup manages to achieve 200µA/MHz in dynamic mode at a low operating frequency; 30mA at 120MHz; and 1µA at 1.8V in back-up mode with the real-time clock (RTC) running. In short, it offers some of the best power consumption/performance rates on the market for standby mode, achieving 120MHz+ operating frequency with a RAM retention mode below 25µA.

On the security side, the SAM4S prevents unauthorized access to on-chip memory, supports secure device reconditioning (chip erase) for reprogramming – while a 128-bit ID and scrambled external bus interface ensures software confidentiality as the hardware cyclic redundancy check (CRC) checks memory integrity.

And last, but certainly not least, fitting a device with a SAM4S means easy access to Atmel Studio 6, which offers hundreds of ARM project examples with source code to streamline the design process.

Key data about the SAM4S can be found here, while additional information about the Agent smart watch is available here on Kickstarter.

8 thoughts on “Atmel’s SAM4S – powering smart watches and more

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