Atmel’s SAM D20 microcontroller (MCU) was recently spotted on EDN’s 2013 Hot 100 Products list. Based on ARM’s powerful Cortex M0+ core, the SAM D20 builds on decades of innovation and experience in embedded Flash microcontroller (MCU) technology. Indeed, Atmel’s SAM D20 lineup sets a new benchmark for flexibility and ease-of-use, while combining the performance and energy efficiency of the ARM Cortex-M0+ core with an optimized architecture and peripheral set.
“We’ve learned a lot about microcontrollers (MCUs) since Atmel launched the first 8051 micro in 1995 and the first AVR in 1996,” Atmel Sr. Product Marketing Manager Andreas Eieland (@AndreasMCUguy) told ARM’s Andrew Frame in July.
“A lot of this know-how is included in the new SAM D20 family: from simple things that make the devices easy to develop with like making the devices pin and code compatible, to more advanced system integration technologies.”
According to Eieland, there are a number of reasons why Atmel decided to move forward and bring a Cortex-M0+ based family to the market.
“First of all, we are a dedicated ARM partner and already have Cortex-M3, Cortex-M4 and Cortex-A5 products available, as well as products based on the ARM9 and ARM7 cores, so ensuring a complete ARM portfolio for our customers by extending the product offering downwards with a Cortex-M0+ was a natural thing to do,” he said.
“Secondly, the Cortex-M0+ market space is growing and we want to make sure that those developers who need more computational power than what you find in an 8 or 16-bit solution can find a product fit with Atmel. And last, but certainly not least, we are confident that mixing our AVR knowledge with an industry standard core allows us to bring a really good, unique and easy to use product to the market.”
As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel’s SAM D20 family is ideal for a wide range of low-power, cost-sensitive industrial and consumer applications including board management controllers, GPS trackers, optical transceivers, appliance UI control units and intelligent remotes.
According to Atmel engineering manager Bob Martin, the SAM D20′s power-saving techniques include an event system that allows peripherals to communicate directly with each other without involving the CPU – with SleepWalking peripherals waking the CPU only upon a pre-qualified event.
“In terms of peripheral flexibility, a serial communication module (SERCOM) is fully software configurable to handle I2C, USART/UART and SPI communications,” he explained. “Meaning, with multiple SERCOM modules on a device, designers can precisely tailor the peripheral mix to their applications.”
Meanwhile, the SAM D20′s QTouch Peripheral Touch Controller offers integrated hardware support for buttons, sliders, wheels and proximity – as well as supporting both mutual and self-capacitive touch (without the need for external components), along with noise tolerance and self-calibration.
Additional key hardware specs include high-precision, 12-bit analog and internal oscillators; 8 16-bit timer/counters; 32-bit real time clock and calendar; real-time performance; peripheral event system, as well as flexible clocking options and sleep modes.
As noted above, the SAM D20 lineup boasts 6 serial communication modules (SERCOM) that can be configured to act as an USART, UART, SPI or I2C. On the scalability side, Flash memory densities range from 16KB to 256KB, with devices available in 32-, 48- and 64-pin QFP and QFN package options.
“In a nutshell, the SAM D20 family extends the lower end Atmel Cortex portfolio, closing the gap between the AVR XMEGA and the Cortex-M3 and Cortex-M4 products,” Martin continued. “The SAM D20 – the first series in this new family – offers 48MHz operation (1.77 CoreMark/MHz), single-cycle IO access and supports a pin-toggling frequency up to 24MHz along with an 8-channel event system. In terms of low-power sipping, we’re looking at <150µA/MHz, ~2µA RAM retention and RTC as well as options between internal and external oscillators and on-the-fly clock switching.”
Interested in learning more? Additional information about Atmels’ s SAMD20 MCU series can be found here.