The SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout is an Arduino-sized breakout board for the Atmel ATSAMD21G18.
If you’re ready to step your Arduino game up from 8-bit MCUs, the newly-unveiled SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout is a great way to start. The Arduino-sized breakout for the Atmel | SMART ATSAMD21G18 — a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0+ processor with 256KB of Flash, 32KB SRAM and an operating speed of up to 48MHz — provides you with an Arduino hardware option that solves the problems of low storage limits and dynamic memory stack overflows that have plagued the previous iterations of the Arduino family. Even better, the SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout is fully supported in the Arduino IDE and libraries for the Arduino Zero.
The SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout has been equipped with a USB interface for programming and power, surrounded with an RTC crystal, and a 600mA 3.3V regulator. By utilizing the Pro R3’s extra PCB real-estate, SparkFun has been able to leave room for a few extra GPIO pins and an integrated LiPo charger. To power this board, simply plug it into a USB port on your computer via its micro-B port.
Not near a USB port? Don’t fret, the SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout is also equipped with a LiPo Battery connector and unpopluated supply input to solder on your own PTH Barrel Jack. If you’ve used any Arduino before, this pinout shouldn’t surprise you – the layout meets the Arduino 1.0 footprint standard, including a separate SPI header and additional I2C header.
One of the most unique features of the SAM D21 is SERCOM — a set of six configurable serial interfaces that can be turned into either a UART, I2C master, I2C slave, SPI master, or SPI slave. Each SERCOM provides for a lot of flexibility: the ports can be multiplexed, giving you a choice of which task each pin is assigned.
SparkFun has made a SAM D21 Mini/Dev Breakout Hookup Guide available online, which includes step by step instructions of how to connect your board as well as a few circuit examples to test out. Intrigued? Head over to its official page here to get yours!
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: modularity is king when it comes to the Maker Movement. Dating back to the earliest days of Tinkertoys and LEGO, DIYers have always loved piecing things together to construct new projects. Fast forward several decades and this passion, when combined with modern-day smart technology, has transcended well beyond just plastic and wood to encompass more exciting, next-generational building blocks like littleBits, Modulo, Microduino and even Genuino’s Eslov.
And that’s not all. While walking the grounds of Maker Faire Rome, we had the pleasure of spotting Flip & click, which upon first glance appeared to be Arduino’s two-sided cousin. While it may share many of the same attributes as the popular, open source platform including the 32-bit AT91SAM3X8E core of a Due, the pinout of an Uno and the ability to be programmed in the Arduino IDE via microUSB, what really sets this new dev board from MikroElektronika apart is when you turn it over.
Sure, it has Arduino-compatible headers on top. But on the other side, you’ll find four open mikroBUS sockets for what the company calls “click boards.” Essentially, these are add-on modules that resemble Arduino shields, but shrunken down so that you can fit a few at the same time on the Flip & click without any trouble. With more than 160 to choose from, Makers can prototype their next gizmo or gadget effortlessly by simply adding new functionality — ranging from OLED displays to relays to sensors — to their dev boards. As to what you can create with Flip & click, MikroElectronika lists various examples like a sous-vide controller, a bad breath detector and a weather reporting device, but the possibilities are endless.
Talon is a smart ring that allows you to play games and control apps with simple gestures.
25 years ago, Nintendo unveiled the Power Glove. While the wearable accessory never lived up to its hype, one San Jose startup has developed something a bit less bulky and much more intuitive: a controller in the form of a smart ring.
No more than four millimeters thick, Titanium Falcon’s Talon is equipped with a 32-bit MCU at its core, a nine-axis motion sensor and connects to all smart devices over Bluetooth. When paired with a gaming console, computer, smart TV or mobile device, the wearable is able to convert a player’s finger gestures into actual commands. This can range from steering an invisible wheel for racing games, swinging an imaginary racquet for a Wii-like tennis match, or waving through a main menu in an application.
“Utilizing a real-time three-dimensional space, the Talon simply outperforms the on-screen two-dimensional controller and allows users to use quick and easy waves and gestures to control the application,” its creators explain.
Talon provides a hands-free user experience like no other, enabling wearers to play games from just about anywhere and on-the-go. What’s more, the ring is equipped with two action buttons (similar to the AB buttons found on more traditional consoles) that provide additional control options, such as jumping, firing and what not. Aside from using motion for input, the latest prototype boasts a battery life of around 12 hours before needing to be recharged.
While this may not be first so-called smart ring we’ve come across, it’s pretty awesome nevertheless. Not only is it sleek and stylish, its inner portion of is fitted with soft skin-feel silicone gels that makes for a comfortable yet snug fit. Once available, Talon will come in four different sizes (small, medium, large and extra large). Until then, head over to its Indiegogo page to learn more. Delivery is slated for June 2016.
SteadXP allows you to capture action shots without the bulk or hassle of a Steadicam or gimbal.
Unless you’re going for that “The Blair Witch Project” shaky cam look, keeping a camera steady has always been a chore for professional and leisure videographers alike. And while numerous ways to stabilize video have been introduced, they’re often too inaccessible for independent projects or the hobbyist. This is a problem that one French startup is hoping to solve with a drastically new approach.
Introducing SteadXP, a three-axis stabilization system housed in a small, affordable box. Not only does it offer a lightweight, easy-to-use package, the add-on is compatible with nearly every digital camera on the market, including your GoPro and DSLR.
By combining custom hardware with a unique software algorithm, SteadXP allows you to capture action shots without a Steadicam, gimbal or shoulder rig. Instead, the device’s built-in accelerometer and gyroscope record the camera’s movements accurately as you shoot. When finished, SteadXP connects to your PC while its software stabilizes and reduces all of the unwanted jitters, movements and noise in the footage.
SteadXP will also let you choose between different trajectories optimized for your shot, and the results are looks from various angles. Beyond that, those seeking a particular rendering effect can take total control of framing with a complete set of semi-automatic features as well.
For its Kickstarter launch, SteadXP is available in two versions: one made specifically for GoPros, the other designed to fit on practically any other video camera. The former weighs just 34 grams, can be plugged directly into the expansion port of your GoPro camera and is powered by the host battery. Whereas the latter is a bit heavier (60 grams) and requires an accessible flash mount, a stereo microphone unit and a clean video output (AV out or HDMI). Nevertheless, both models share many of the same key components, including a powerful 32-bit ARM MCU, a three-axis gyroscope and accelerometer, a microSD slot and USB port.
Looking ahead, the team hopes to release a mobile app that will enable users to complete their workflow with a quick preview solution that validates a shot on the spot, even if that means at a lower res. What’s more, SteadXP wants to become the first gadget to automatically keep horizon stable when filming immersive virtual reality footage. Adding this to its native rolling shutter correction technology means you’ll never get sick again watching VR videos!
Boy, where has the time gone? Today, December 5, 2014, marks an extremely special day for us here at Atmel — it is the day we turn 30 as a semiconductor company. Founded in 1984, Atmel began as a company focusing on non-volatile memories. At this time, Atmel’s founder George Perlegos made a breakthrough with the invention of electrically erasable programable read-only memory, or EEPROM.
After 30 years of innovation, Atmel has emerged as a leading solutions-based company delivering secure, connected devices in the era of the Internet of Things. Guess you can say we’ve gotten ‘smarter’ with age! While the company’s influence can’t be underestimated when it comes to enabling Makers, designers and engineers alike, how much of its history do you actually know?
Here are a few interesting facts to get you up to speed on Atmel’s backstory!
Atmel = “Advanced Technology for Memory and Logic.”
Atmel changed headquarters and its logo in 2012. (Previous logo shown below.)
Atmel’s leadership in EEPROM and Flash was put to good use when it developed the first-ever Flash-based MCU in 1993, the AT89LP.
Atmel complemented the ARM7TDMI CPU with a unique set of system peripherals to create the world’s first ARM-based MCU.
Atmel’s SAM9 became the world’s first ARM9-based controllers.
The mXT768E was the industry’s first 32-bit single-chip controller for touchscreens up to 12-inches.
Atmel is also credited for creating the automotive industry’s first touchscreen controller supporting shieldless sensors and gloved operation.
The incredibly-popular AVR 8-bit architecture was introduced in 1997. By 2003, Atmel had already shipped over 500 million of the MCUs.
Atmel can be found at the heart of the the first Arduino prototype.
… And in the earliest MakerBot 3D printers.
… Oh, and some of the first DIY drones, too.
Atmel remains at the forefront of the Maker Movement, having been an avid participant in Maker Faires since their onset.
… Including an appearance at this year’s inaugural White House Maker Faire.
At the moment, there are over 160 Kickstarter projects built around Atmel AVR, not to mention its versatile Atmel | SMART ARM-based MCUs. Specifically, more than 60% have been successfully funded, garnering well over $7 million in pledges.
Atmel brought flexy back with the debut of its XSense touch sensors.
Atmel unveiled the first futuristic touch-centric curved automotive console back at CES 2014.
Oh. My. God. Becky, look… Atmel has even rap-battled with Sir Mix-A-Lot.
Atmel’s ATmega32U4 has transformed a number of ordinary objects into touch interfaces.
The ATtiny20 is so small that it can almost fit inside the ball of a ballpoint pen, or balance precariously on the tip of a matchstick.
Talk about driving the IoT! Earlier this year, Atmel packed its latest solutions onto a 40′ x 85′ mobile trailer and hit the open road. To date, the big rig has traveled over 55,000 miles with 10,000 visitors hopping onboard.
So, as we reminisce about our past, we can’t help but look ahead to the next 30 years! In celebration of this joyous occasion, we’re asking our fans, friends and loyal customers to share their favorite memories and show off their Atmel pride! Learn how to get started here!
Well, low power just got lower. The Atmel team is excited to announce that it has reached a new low-power standard for its ARM Cortex-M0+ based MCUs with power consumption down to 40 µA/MHz in active mode and 200nA in sleep mode. In addition to ultra-low power, the new platform features full-speed USB host and device, Event System and Sleepwalking,12-bit analog, AES, capacitive touch sensing and much more.
With billions of devices predicted for the Internet of Things (IoT) market by 2020, there is a need for lower power MCUs that will power these applications without adding load to utility grids or requiring frequent battery changes. Atmel’s latest Atmel | SMART platform is designed specifically for these applications, expanding battery life from years to decades.
Consuming just one-third the power of comparable products in the market today, the new low-power SAM L21 family is the first on the new platform expanding the Atmel | SMART 32-bit ARM-based products using Atmel’s proprietary picoPower technology.
While running the EEMBC CoreMark benchmark, Atmel’s SAM L21 family delivers ultra-low power running down to 40µA/MHz in active mode, consuming less than 900nA with full 32kB RAM retention and real-time clock and calendar, and 200nA in the deepest sleep mode. With rapid wake-up times, Event System, Sleepwalking and the innovative picoPower peripherals, the SAM L21 ultra-low power family is ideal for handheld and battery-operated devices in a variety of markets including IoT, consumer, industrial and portable medical applications.
Architectural innovations in the new platform enables low-power peripherals including timers, serial communications and capacitive touch sensing to remain powered and running while the rest of the system is in a lower power mode, further reducing power consumption for many always-on applications.
The Atmel SAM L21 family has amazingly low current consumption ratings for both the active and sleep mode operation which will be a great benefit in targeting the growing battery-powered device market,” said Markus Levy, president and co-founder, EEMBC. “With billions of devices to be brought to market during the era of the Internet of Things, designers can utilize Atmel’s ultra-low power SAM L family to ensure an increased life in these battery-powered devices. To instantiate this power data from Atmel, I’m looking forward to seeing the results from this new platform running our newly established ULPBench, aimed at the ultra-low power microcontroller industry.”
“Atmel is committed to providing the industry’s lowest power technologies for the rapidly growing IoT market and beyond for battery-powered devices,” expained Reza Kazerounian, Atmel SVP and GM, MCU business unit. “Developers for IoT edge nodes are no longer just interested in expanding the life of a battery to one year, but are looking for technologies that will increase the life of a battery to a decade or longer. Doing just that, the new 32-bit MCU platform in the Atmel | SMART family integrating our proprietary picoPower technologies are the perfect MCUs for IoT edge nodes.”
Engineering samples of the SAM L21, along with development tools and datasheet will be available in February 2015. Meanwhile, the SAM L21 can be found all this week in Hall A5, Booth 542 at Electronica.
“We are proud to be a lead partner in the Cortex-M7 product. We think it’s a great device and really like the performance of it. It actually sits really well between the M4 and A5/A7 portfolios, ” Sullivan told Pajak. “I see this as a really nice filler for us. It allows our customers working in both areas to have a bridge product and a really nice roadmap moving forward.”
As to which IoT segments the Atmel Cortex-M7 processors will be used, “We see it in mid-range wearable applications, as well as healthcare devices in that area,” Sullivan notes.
Shortly thereafter, Sullivan joined fellow industry heavyweights (ST Micro and Freescale) for a standing-room only panel on the microcontroller. During the session, Sullivan said he sees the Cortex-M7 also succeeding in networking and gateway arenas.
“We see it addressing a lot of the system integration, performance issues, and power issues that we have. We also see it working in networking, Internet of Things and smart energy. We think this particular core is well suited for the areas where we see the highest growth rate.”
“Consistent architecture with high-performance is one of the most important things we see in ARM Cortex-M7.” He later added, “Huge data is driving a connected home and it’s coming sooner than we think.”
Sullivan concluded, “We’re all going to be in a more connected world in the future, good and bad. We may not even recognize it.”
Today, in the midst of ARM TechCon, Atmel has announced the development of a new family of Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs that are sampling to select customers now. Broadening Atmel’s current MCU/MPU portfolio, the family is well positioned between Atmel’s ARM Cortex-M-based MCUs and Cortex-A-based MPUs enabling designers to select from a greater range of processing solutions. The new devices will address high-growth markets including the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables, as well as automotive and industrial applications that require both high performance and power efficiency.
The Atmel | SMART Cortex-M-based MCUs allow customers to scale-up performance, SRAM and system functionality, while keeping the Cortex-M class ease-of-use and maximizing software reuse. The first devices will run up to 300MHz, with up to 384kByte SRAM configurable as Tightly Coupled Memory (TCM) or System Memory, and up to 2Mbyte on-chip Flash. They will be comprised of three series: general purpose, connectivity and automotive-qualified.
“As one of the first ARM licensees, we are excited to add the Cortex-M7 core to our already broad portfolio of MCUs and MPUs,” explained Jacko Wilbrink, Atmel Senior Marketing Director. “The new Cortex-M7-based MCUs leverage our advanced peripherals and flexible SRAM architecture for higher performance applications, while keeping the Cortex-M class ease-of-use. This new addition enables our customers to select from an even larger portfolio of Atmel | SMART ARM-based MCUs to optimize system designs from consumer IoT devices to automotive applications.”
“Atmel’s new family of microcontrollers helps to bridge the gap between existing microprocessors and highly-efficient microcontrollers on the market,” shared Noel Hurley, General Manager, CPU Group. “The ARM Cortex-M7 core drives innovation and pushes the performance envelope for embedded devices.”
All devices come standard with high-speed USB On-the-Go (OTG) and on-chip high-speed USB PHY, the connectivity series offers 10/100 TBase Ethernet MAC and Dual CAN-FD from Bosch. The automotive series offers Ethernet AVB support and Media LB, which when combined with the Cortex-M7 DSP extensions, make the series ideal for infotainment connectivity and audio applications.
Atmel is working closely with the ARM ecosystem partners on development tool support and RTOS BSPs for the new Atmel | SMART Cortex-M7-based MCUs. In addition, Atmel will offer complete support for this new MCU family on Atmel Studio and Atmel ICE. A comprehensive set of peripheral drivers and examples will be provided, as well as Xplained evaluation kits.
“The Cortex-M7 is well positioned between Atmel’s Cortex-M based MCUs and Cortex-A based MPUs enabling Atmel to offer an even greater range of processing solutions,” Reza Kazerounian, Atmel Senior Vice President and General Manager, recently revealed. “Customers using the Cortex-M-based MCU will be able to scale up performance and system functionality, while keeping the Cortex-M class ease- of-use and maximizing software reuse.”
While sampling to select customers is currently underway, general sampling and availability of the Xplained kit is expected in early 2015. Those interested in learning more can come visit us at ARM TechCon in Santa Clara, California October 1-3, 2014 at booth #205.
What platform has become the most sophisticated and intimate personal electronic environment ever? The car. To paraphrase a famous automotive company’s top executive, car companies are transforming the car into a powerful smartphone that allows drivers to carry around, customize, and interact with their digital world. Automotive electronics are currently centered around people (infotainment and communications) and the machine itself (to run the car and provide safety and convenience). Now a third element is emerging; namely, Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communications.
Just like that sounds, cars will soon “talk and listen” to one another — automatically. They will share information like proximity, speed, direction, road conditions, as well as other things that have yet to been imagined. The chief driver of V2V is signaling impending collisions so that the cars can automatically take countermeasures. That, of course, means the V2V network will become a critical technology for self- and assisted-driving cars.
While it may seem revolutionary, V2V is really an evolutionary branch of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, which are creating a world where smart, secure, and communicating, sensors will become ubiquitous in planes, trains, and automobiles; inside homes; inside commercial buildings; on highways; in cities and towns; in agriculture; in factories; in retail spaces; and worn by and implanted in humans and animals. The Internet of Things could eventually connect everything from cars to cats.
A term that is being used to describe the technologies making such a smart, sensor saturated world is “sensor dust,” which captures the Zeitgeist that super tiny, smart, communicating sensors will be everywhere — like dust. Sensors, of course, are never just sensors. They are always connected to other things–mainly microcontrollers (MCUs). With the advent of ultra-low power and energy harvesting technology, the sensor-MCU combination has become an ideal, clear, and present foundation for widespread sensor roll out. Sensing often implies by its very nature detection and communication from a distance, and that is where wireless communication comes into play.
The dark side is that remote sensing and communication open the door very wide for bad actors who want to intercept, spoof, and misuse the data streaming freely through the air. So, security (encryption and/or authentication) becomes the final piece of the picture, and arguably the element that makes IoT even possible to be widely adopted. Huge amounts of information are already being collected every day about traffic flow from phone users worldwide (without their knowing it). Such storehouses of data can be mined real time and used to provide personal traffic reports to subscribers while driving. At least that is the story. As the car moves from one place to the other, social networking can be effectuated in real time to locate friends or certain activities and happenings (automotive flash-mob, anyone?). But, what consumers really want their whereabouts and other information out in the open in a completely uncontrolled way? No one. People are becoming extremely sensitive to data insecurity and there is a growing need to trust how the information that is being collected will be used. Without some type of trust, the IoT could be doomed. Maybe the term “Internet of Trust” should be coined to make that point obvious.
V2V & IoT
The evolution of V2V and IoT are intimately related because they both will be composed of the very same technological blocks. The overlap is easy to see. The foundational components of each are miniaturized MCUs, sensors, wireless technology, and security devices that operate using ultra low power. Describing IoT and V2V as equations, they could be expressed in the following way:
Equation one might imply that companies that can integrate the factors will lead in the build-out of the IoT market. Equation two effectively states that V2V is the IoT on wheels. In any case, there are certain basic blocks that must be integrated, and they must be integrated in the right way for the particular use-case. IoT and V2V design flexibility and time to market will matter, a lot. (But that is a topic for another time.) The growth of the connected car platform is expected to be remarkable. That makes sense since the car is the one place that GPS/NAV systems, smart phones, tablets, DVDs, CDs, MP3s, Bluetooth, satellite radio, high power stereo amps, speakers, voice control, and the Internet can all come together and interact with each other.
Such convergence is making the car into an advanced personal hub. Market researchers have estimated that revenue for the connected car market will grow from $17 billion in 2012 to $54.5 billion in 2018 for hardware and services (telematics, telecom, and in-vehicle). Unit sales of embedded, tethered, and smartphone equipped cars are expected to grow from around 10 million units in 2012 to 67 million by 2018, with over 50% of that volume being embedded systems that are controlled by media and sensor control systems.
Media control systems are not only becoming a standard feature in new cars, but according to consumer electronics and auto industry researchers, a chief reason that people are selecting certain cars over others. Electronics are becoming a main forethought rather than a minor afterthought for car buyers. Sophisticated electronic systems are becoming mandatory, and this powerful dynamic will only accelerate as more electronics products, features, and services are sped to the market by the car makers, consumer electronics companies, smartphone makers, and software providers.
However, all this electronic stuff has presented a huge challenge, which is safety. Using products such as the cell phone in the car actually interferes badly with driving. Anyone who has placed a call, or even worse tried to text while driving (and who hasn’t), can testify to the fact that dial-driving is a bad idea. So, what can be done to get cars electronics, phones, and humans to play well together in a safe way? The solution has been summed up succinctly by the CEO of a major auto maker who refers to in-car control systems as being able to free the user from the tyrannies and dangers of messing with that little phone while you drive. Rather than a car and phone (and other electronics) being at odds with each other, the car is transforming into the newest electronic platform: one that is highly integrated, easy to use, and distinct from anything else to date. It is easy to see that the emerging alloyed car-plus-consumer platform is primed for cars to talk to one another without the need of human intervention.
The list of electronics functions in cars is evolving fast and will likely include multi-person gaming; GPS with location-based services such as real time traffic and road condition updates; vehicle monitoring for maintenance status, performance, and eco-friendliness; vehicle and personal security; connection to home control/security systems; social networking opportunities related to location, and especially safety. In fact, the US Deportment and Transportation (DoT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are partnering with research institutions and auto companies to collaborate on technology development and interoperability of V2V to promote traffic safety. V2V can transform the automotive experience more than anything since Henry Ford’s assembly line made cars available to the working class. The notion of a car driving itself still sounds like pure science fiction, but prototypes are already driving themselves. So, it is just a question of time before we have auto-automobiles. (auto2mobiles) where you simply have to tell your personal digital assistant where you want to go, then take a seat in your personal infotainment pod until you get there.
But, well before that happens we will see significant improvements in safety due to V2V. It is clear that the lucrative auto electronics platform is already right in the sights of all car makers, and they clearly plan to take it to the next level and the next level after that, with no end in sight. As noted, electronic things sell cars, and more advanced electronics will show up in the more advanced cars. Then, last year’s advanced systems will naturally move down-market, so even more advanced systems will be needed for next year’s up-market cars. This endless cycle of innovation will drive automotive companies to create V2V and self-driving ecosystems sooner rather than later. As we move towards the self-driving omega-point we will see V2V and IoT showing up very early in the journey.
V2V (the IoT on wheels) will make it hard to tell where the car ends and the phone, tablet, computer, and sensors begin.
32-bit microcontrollers are getting designed into pretty much every electronic product. Until recently they were used primarily in industrial and automotive applications, but with improved architectures leading to significantly lower power consumption, MCUs are now being adopted in a broad range of portable and battery-powered applications. The folks at Atmel have introduced a new, ultra low power family of ARM® Cortex™-M4 processor-based MCUs that consume just one-third the power of currently available solutions. Various sleep modes that enable the MCU to shut down unused modules along with software-controlled clock gating are used to tailor the power consumption based on the application’s requirement. In addition, unused peripherals can also be fully shut down individually and enabled again during runtime, further lowering power consumption without compromising system operation. Learn more about SAM4L devices.