Tag Archives: ARM Cortex-M

ARM Keil ecosystem integrates the Atmel SAM ESV7


Keil is part of the ARM wide ecosystem, enabling developers to speed up system release to the market. 


Even the best System-on-Chip (SoC) is useless without software, as well as the best designed S/W needs H/W to flourish. The “old” embedded world has exploded into many emergent markets like the  IoT, wearables, and even automotive, which is no more restricted to motor control or airbags as innovative products from entertainment to ADAS are being developed. What is the common denominator with these emergent products? Each of these require more software functionality and fast memory algorithm with deterministic code execution, and consequently innovative hardware to support these requirements, such as the ARM Cortex-M7-based Atmel | SMART SAM ESV7.

AtmelChipLib Overview

ARM has released a complete software development environment for a range of ARM Cortex-M based MCU devices: Keil MDK. Keil is part of ARM wide ecosystem, enabling developers to speed up system release to the market. MDK includes the µVision IDE/Debugger and ARM C/C++ Compiler, along with the essential middleware components and software packs. If you’re familiar with Run-Time Environment stacked description, you’ll recognize the various stacks. Let’s focus on “CMSIS-Driver”. CMSIS is the standard software framework for Cortex-M MCUs, extending the SAM-ESV7 Chip Library with standardized drivers for middleware and generic component interfaces.

By definition, an MCU is designed to address multiple applications and the SAM ESV7 is dedicated to support performance demanding and DSP intensive systems. Thanks to its 300MHz clock, SAM ESV7 delivers up to 640 DMIPS and its DSP performance is double that available in the Cortex-M4. A double-precision floating-point unit and a double-issue instruction pipeline further position the Cortex-M7 for speed.

Atmel Cortex M7 based Dev board

Let’s review some of these applications where SAM ESV7 is the best choice…

Finger Printer Module

The goal is to provide human bio authentication module for office or house access control. The key design requirements are:

  • +300 MHz CPU performance to process recognition algorithms
  • Image sensor interface to read raw finger image data from finger sensor array
  • Low cost and smaller module size
  • Flash/memory to reduce BOM cost and module size
  • Memory interface to expand model with memory extension just in case.

The requirement for superior performance and an image sensor interface can be seen as essential needs, but which will make the difference will be to offer both cheaper BOM cost and smaller module size than the competitor? The SAM S70 integrates up to 2MB embedded Flash, which is twice more than the direct competitor and may allow reducing BOM and module size.

SAM S70 Finger Print

Automotive Radio System

Every cent counts in automotive design, and OEMs prefer using a MCU rather than MPU, at first for cost reasons. Building an attractive radio for tomorrow’s car requires developing very performing DSP algorithms. Such algorithms used to be developed on expansive DSP standard part, leading to large module size, including external Flash and MCU leading obviously to a heavy BOM. In a 65nm embedded Flash process device, the Cortex-M7 can achieve a 1500 CoreMark score while running at 300 MHz, and its DSP performance is double that available in the Cortex-M4. This DSP power can be used to manage eight channels of speaker processing, including six stages of biquads, delay, scaler, limiter and mute functions. The SAM S71 workload is only 63% of the CPU, leaving enough room to support Ethernet AVB stack — very popular in automotive.

One of the secret sauces of the Cortex-M7 architecture is to provide a way to bypass the standard execution mechanism using “tightly coupled memories,” or TCM. There is an excellent white paper describing TCM implementation in the SAM S70/E70 series, entitled “Run Blazingly Fast Algorithms with Cortex-M7 Tightly Coupled Memories” from Lionel Perdigon and Jacko Wilbrink, which you can find here.


This post has been republished with permission from SemiWiki.com, where Eric Esteve is a principle blogger as well as one of the four founding members of the site. This blog first appeared on SemiWiki on October 23, 2015.

How to prevent execution surprises for Cortex-M7 MCU


We know the heavy weight linked with software development, in the 60% to 70% of the overall project cost.


The ARM Cortex-A series processor core (A57, A53) is well known in the high performance market segments, like application processing for smartphone, set-top-box and networking. If you look at the electronic market, you realize that multiple applications are cost sensitive and don’t need such high performance processor core. We may call it the embedded market, even if this definition is vague. The ARM Cortex-M family has been developed to address these numerous market segments, starting with the Cortex-M0 for lowest cost, the Cortex-M3 for best power/performance balance, and the Cortex-M4 for applications requiring digital signal processing (DSP) capabilities.

For the audio, voice control, object recognition, and complex sensor fusion of automotive and higher-end Internet of Things sensing, where complex algorithms for audio and video are needed for rich audio and visual capabilities, Cortex-M7 is required. ARM offers the processor core as well as the Tightly Coupled Memory (TCM) architecture, but ARM licensees like Atmel have to implement memories in such a way that the user can take full benefit from the M7 core to meet system performance and latency goals.

Figure 1. The TCM interface provides a single 64-bit instruction port and two 32-bit data ports.

The TCM interface provides a single 64-bit instruction port and two 32-bit data ports.

In a 65nm embedded Flash process device, the Cortex-M7 can achieve a 1500 CoreMark score while running at 300 MHz, offering top class DSP performance: double-precision floating-point unit and a double-issue instruction pipeline. But algorithms like FIR, FFT or Biquad need to run as deterministically as possible for real-time response or seamless audio and video performance. How do you best select and implement the memories needed to support such performance? If you choose Flash, this will require caching (as Flash is too slow) leading to cache miss risk. Whereas SRAM technology is a better choice since it can be easily embedded on-chip and permits random access at the speed of processor.

Peripheral data buffers implemented in general-purpose system SRAM are typically loaded by DMA transfers from system peripherals. The ability to load from a number of possible sources, however, raises the possibility of unnecessary delays and conflicts by multiple DMAs trying to access the memory at the same time. In a typical example, we might have three different entities vying for DMA access to the SRAM: the processor (64-bit access, requesting 128 bits for this example) and two separate peripheral DMA requests (DMA0 and DMA1, 32-bit access each). Atmel has get round this issue by organizing the SRAM into several banks as described in this picture:

Figure 2. By organizing the SRAM into banks, multiple DMA bursts can occur simultaneously with minimal latency.

By organizing the SRAM into banks, multiple DMA bursts can occur simultaneously with minimal latency.

For a chip maker designing microcontrollers, licensing ARM Cortex-M processor core provides numerous advantages. The very first is the ubiquity of the ARM core architecture, being adopted in multiple market segments to support variety of applications. If this chip maker wants to design-in a new customer, the probability that such OEM has already used ARM-based MCU is very high, and it’s very important for this OEM to be able to reuse existing code (we know the heavy weight linked with software development, in the 60% to 70% of the overall project cost). But this ubiquity generates a challenge: how do you differentiate from the competition when competitors can license exactly the same processor core?

Selecting a more aggressive technology node and providing better performance at lower cost are an option, but we understand that this advantage can disappear as soon as the competition also move to this node. Integrating larger amount of Flash is another option, which is very efficient if the product is designed on a technology that enables it to keep the pricing low enough.

If the chip maker has designed on an aggressive technology node for higher performance and offers a larger amount of Flash than the competition, it may be enough differentiation. Completing with the design of a smarter memory architecture unencumbered by cache misses, interrupts, context swaps, and other execution surprises that work against deterministic timing allow bringing strong differentiation.

Pic

If you want to more completely understand how Atmel has designed this SMART memory architecture for the Cortex-M7, I encourage you to read this white paper from Jacko Wilbrink and Lionel Perdigon entitled “Run Blazingly Fast Algorithms with Cortex-M7 Tightly Coupled Memories.” (You will have to register.) This paper describes MCUs integrating SRAM organized into four banks that can be used as general SRAM and for TCM, showing one example of a Cortex-M7 MCU being implemented in the Atmel | SMART SAM S70, SAM E70 and SAM V70/V71 families.


This post has been republished with permission from SemiWiki.com, where Eric Esteve is a principle blogger, as well as one of the four founding members of the site. This blog was originally shared on August 6, 2015.

SmartRim adds an intelligent parking system to any car


To ‘curb’ a common parking problem, this smart system can protect your vehicle’s sides and save your wheels.


When parallel parking, there’s nothing worse than the sound of your wheel scraping against the curb as a result of misjudging the distance between your car and the sidewalk. Not only does it scuff up your tricked out rims, the damage to your Vossens or Asantis can be quite pricey as well. In an effort to help prevent this costly mistake from happening, one Waltham, Massachusetts-based startup has developed the world’s first parking assistance system that protects your vehicle.

smartrim-wheel-sensor-1

The aptly-dubbed SmartRim wireless sensor system uses advanced technology to automatically detect unsighted obstacles along the side of car as the wheels near the curb. This is done through a sensor, which analyzes the time that it takes for ultrasonic waves to reflect off nearby objects. Using an embedded temperature sensor and calibration parameters, SmartRim can gauge the distance between the car and the sidewalk, and then send an alert to the driver using its accompanying iOS mobile app.

smartrim-wheel-sensor-0

Inside each SmartRim is also a micro-electromechanical sensor tasked with constantly measuring acceleration and detecting vibrations, like when a driver opens the door or hits the pedal to the metal. The system even tracks objects to ensure that surrounding noise does not trigger false measurements. It periodically wakes up to send radio beacons and remains in deep sleep most of the time when the car is not in use, thus saving energy — thanks to an ultra-low ARM Cortex-M MCU.

smartrim-wheel-sensor-2

Installation of the SmartRim seems to be pretty straightforward: Simply attach the module to the inside of a wheel well using the high bond adhesive (or self-tapping screws) and removable clip base-plate provided. Meanwhile, the device is powered by a single AA battery that is said to last for more than 1,000 parking cycles.

What’s more, SmartRim is compatible with any car or SUV and is not brand specific — works with everything from your Cadillac Escalade’s 28” dubs and your Honda Civic’s 15” alloys. Want to ‘curb’ your rim-scraping problem? Hurry over to its official Indiegogo campaign, where the team is currently seeking $50,000. Shipment is expected to begin in January 2016.

4 reasons why Atmel is ready to ride the IoT wave


The IoT recipe comprises of three key technology components: Sensing, computing and communications.


In 2014, a Goldman Sachs’ report took many people by surprise when it picked Atmel Corporation as the company best positioned to take advantage of the rising Internet of Things (IoT) tsunami. At the same time, the report omitted tech industry giants like Apple and Google from the list of companies that could make a significant impact on the rapidly expanding IoT business. So what makes Atmel so special in the IoT arena?

The San Jose, California–based chipmaker has been proactively building its ‘SMART’ brand of 32-bit ARM-based microcontrollers that boasts an end-to-end design platform for connected devices in the IoT realm. The company with two decades of experience in the MCU business was among the first to license ARM’s low-power processors for IoT chips that target smart home, industrial automation, wearable electronics and more.

Atmel and IoT (Internet of Things)

Goldman Sachs named Atmel a leader in the Internet of Things (IoT) market.

Goldman Sachs named Atmel a leader in the Internet of Things (IoT) market

A closer look at the IoT ingredients and Atmel’s product portfolio shows why Goldman Sachs called Atmel a leader in the IoT space. For starters, Atmel is among the handful of chipmakers that cover all the bases in IoT hardware value chain: MCUs, sensors and wireless connectivity.

1. A Complete IoT Recipe

The IoT recipe comprises of three key technology components: Sensing, computing and communications. Atmel offers sensor products and is a market leader in MCU-centric sensor fusion solutions than encompass context awareness, embedded vision, biometric recognition, etc.

For computation—handling tasks related to signal processing, bit manipulation, encryption, etc.—the chipmaker from Silicon Valley has been offering a diverse array of ARM-based microcontrollers for connected devices in the IoT space.

Atmel-IoT-Low-Power-wearable

Atmel has reaffirmed its IoT commitment through a number of acquisitions.

Finally, for wireless connectivity, Atmel has cobbled a broad portfolio made up of low-power Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee radio technologies. Atmel’s $140 million acquisition of Newport Media in 2014 was a bid to accelerate the development of low-power Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips for IoT applications. Moreover, Atmel could use Newport’s product expertise in Wi-Fi communications for TV tuners to make TV an integral part of the smart home solutions.

Furthermore, communications across the Internet depends on the TCP/IP stack, which is a 32-bit protocol for transmitting packets on the Internet. Atmel’s microcontrollers are based on 32-bit ARM cores and are well suited for TCP/IP-centric Internet communications fabric.

2. Low Power Leadership

In February 2014, Atmel announced the entry-level ARM Cortex M0+-based microcontrollers for the IoT market. The SAM D series of low-power MCUs—comprising of D21, D10 and D11 versions—featured Atmel’s signature high-end features like peripheral touch controller, USB interface and SERCOM module. The connected peripherals work flawlessly with Cortex M0+ CPU through the Event System that allows system developers to chain events in software and use an event to trigger a peripheral without CPU involvement.

According to Andreas Eieland, Director of Product Marketing for Atmel’s MCU Business Unit, the IoT design is largely about three things: Battery life, cost and ease-of-use. The SAM D microcontrollers aim to bring the ease-of-use and price-to-performance ratio to the IoT products like smartwatches where energy efficiency is crucial. Atmel’s SAM D family of microcontrollers was steadily building a case for IoT market when the company’s SAM L21 microcontroller rocked the semiconductor industry in March 2015 by claiming the leadership in low-power Cortex-M IoT design.

Atmel’s SAM L21 became the lowest power ARM Cortex-M microcontroller when it topped the EEMBC benchmark measurements. It’s plausible that another MCU maker takes over the EEMBC benchmarks in the coming months. However, according to Atmel’s Eieland, what’s important is the range of power-saving options that an MCU can bring to product developers.

“There are many avenues to go down on the low path, but they are getting complex,” Eieland added. He quoted features like multiple clock domains, event management system and sleepwalking that provide additional levels of configurability for IoT product developers. Such a set of low-power technologies that evolves in successive MCU families can provide product developers with a common platform and a control on their initiatives to lower power consumption.

3. Coping with Digital Insecurity

In the IoT environment, multiple device types communicate with each other over a multitude of wireless interfaces like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy. And IoT product developers are largely on their own when it comes to securing the system. The IoT security is a new domain with few standards and IoT product developers heavily rely on the security expertise of chip suppliers.

Atmel offers embedded security solutions for IoT designs.

Atmel, with many years of experience in crypto hardware and Trusted Platform Modules, is among the first to offer specialized security hardware for the IoT market. It has recently shipped a crypto authentication device that has integrated the Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH) security protocol. Atmel’s ATECC508A chip provides confidentiality, data integrity and authentication in systems with MCUs or MPUs running encryption/decryption algorithms like AES in software.

4. Power of the Platform

The popularity of 8-bit AVR microcontrollers is a testament to the power of the platform; once you learn to work on one MCU, you can work on any of the AVR family microcontrollers. And same goes for Atmel’s Smart family of microcontrollers aimed for the IoT market. While ARM shows a similarity among its processors, Atmel exhibits the same trait in the use of its peripherals.

Low-power SAM L21 builds on features of SAM D MCUs.

A design engineer can conveniently work on Cortex-M3 and Cortex -M0+ processor after having learned the instruction set for Cortex-M4. Likewise, Atmel’s set of peripherals for low-power IoT applications complements the ARM core benefits. Atmel’s standard features like sleep modes, sleepwalking and event system are optimized for ultra-low-power use, and they can extend IoT battery lifetime from years to decades.

Atmel, a semiconductor outfit once focused on memory and standard products, began its transformation toward becoming an MCU company about eight years ago. That’s when it also started to build a broad portfolio of wireless connectivity solutions. In retrospect, those were all the right moves. Fast forward to 2015, Atmel seems ready to ride on the market wave created by the IoT technology juggernaut.

Interested? You may also want to read:

Atmel’s L21 MCU for IoT Tops Low Power Benchmark

Atmel’s New Car MCU Tips Imminent SoC Journey

Atmel’s Sensor Hub Ready to Wear


Majeed Ahmad is author of books Smartphone: Mobile Revolution at the Crossroads of Communications, Computing and Consumer Electronics and The Next Web of 50 Billion Devices: Mobile Internet’s Past, Present and Future.

Video: Taking a closer look at the Atmel | SMART SAM S70 and E70 MCUs


ARMDevices.net explores the “world’s fastest ARM Cortex-M.”


Earlier this year, Atmel expanded upon its Atmel | SMART ARM-based microcontroller family with the launch of four new series of Cortex-M7 based devices, including the SAM S70 and E70 MCUs.

maxresdefault

The new devices enable users to scale-up performance and deliver SRAM and system functionality, while keeping the Cortex-M family ease-of-use and maximizing software reuse. The MCUs contain advanced memory architectures with up to 384KB of multi-port SRAM memory, out of which 256KB can be configured as tightly coupled memory delivering zero wait state access at 300MHz. With over four times the performance of current Atmel ARM Cortex-M based MCUs running up to 300MHz, larger configurable SRAM up to 384kB and higher bandwidth peripherals, the new processors give designers the right connectivity, SRAM and performance mix for their industrial, connectivity and automotive designs.

In particular, the SAM S70 series is based on the Cortex-M7 core plus a floating point unit (FPU) extending the general purpose product portfolio with maximum operating speeds up to 300MHz, up to 2MB of Flash, dual 16KB of cache memory and up to 384KB of SRAM with an extensive peripheral set including high-speed USB host and device plus high-speed PHY, up to 8 UARTs, I2S, SD/MMC interface, a CMOS camera interface, system control and analog interfaces.

SAM70

Aside from the S70 series features, the recently-revealed SAM E70 also includes a 10/100 Ethernet MAC and Dual Bosch CAN-FD interfaces with advanced analog features making them ideal for connectivity applications. The SAM E70 is upwards compatible with Atmel’s SAM4E series.

“All the series offer two Advanced Analog Frontend (AFE) with dual sample and hold capability and Up to 16-bit resolution with hardware oversampling. They also have programmable gain for small signal input. All series offer real-time event management through direct connection between PWM, Timer and ADC for motor control application,” ARMDevices.net writes. “Both series are based on the same feature set, the only difference is coming from the Ethernet, CAN support (SAME70 integrates Ethernet and CAN). Atmel offers all series in BGA and QFP from 64 to 144 pins. Small 64-pin pin count option offers an entry level form factor high performance MCU. All series support the extended Industrial temperature range from -40 to 105°C.”

Watch below as ARMDevices.net catches up with Lionel Perdigon, Atmel Product Marketing Manager, to discuss the latest addition to the Atmel | SMART family.

Video: Debugging with Atmel-ICE

In the latest episode of Atmel Edge, Analog Aficionado Paul Rako discusses our newest debugger, the Atmel-ICE.

As Rako notes, the Atmel-ICE is a powerful development tool for debugging and programming Atmel ARM Cortex-M based Atmel SAM and AVR microcontrollers.

Key features include:

  • Support for JTAG, SWD, PDI, TPI, aWire, SPI and debugWIRE interfaces
  • Full source-level debugging in Atmel Studio
  • 
Support for all built-in hardware breakpoints in the target microcontroller (number depends on the OCD module in the target)
  • 
Up to 128 software breakpoints
  • 1.62 to 5.5V target operation
  • USB powered
  • Offers both ARM Cortex Debug Connector (10-pin) pin-out and AVR JTAG connector pin-out

atmel-ice

Atmel-ICE is currently available from the official Atmel store for $85 here.

New AVR devices bolster Atmel’s MCU lineup



Atmel has confirmed that it will be launching 6 new 4k-16k Flash devices in its flagship AVR Mega MCU family during the second quarter of 2014.

“With over two decades of MCU experience and leadership, Atmel is investing in innovative technologies and ideas to enable product differentiation for 8- and 32-bit embedded MCU designers,” said Reza Kazerounian, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Microcontroller Business Unit, Atmel Corporation

.

“[We] deliver highly sophisticated, yet easy-to-use 8-bit AVR MCUs allowing everyone from professionals, hobbyists, students and makers to develop embedded designs that could lead to the next ‘killer app’ in the dawn of the Internet of Things (IoT).”

As Reza notes, Atmel has a long tradition of investing in the Maker community, with the vast majority of Arduino boards on the market powered by Atmel’s versatile AVR MCUs.

“As a leader in microcontrollers, we are committed to providing differentiated MCUs that are easily accessible and easy-to-use for all communities,” Reza explained.

“With over 200,000 loyalists in our AVR Freaks community and 1.2 million Arduino development boards in the Maker community, our AVRs have definitely made a significant impact in today’s Maker and hobbyist circles. With over 65,000 active users in our Studio 6 integrated development environment, we are making it easier for all designers to access our tools.”

The new AVR MCUs – manufactured using advanced 130-nm CMOS technology – will be fully supported by Atmel Studio 6.2, the integrated development platform for developing and debugging Atmel ARM Cortex-M and AVR MCU-based applications.

“The new devices will deliver a unique combination of performance, power efficiency and design flexibility. Optimized to expedite time-to-market, they are based on the industry’s most code-efficient architecture for C and assembly programming,” Reza added.

“[Our] extensive AVR portfolio, combined with the seamlessly integrated Atmel Studio development platform, makes it easy to reuse knowledge when improving designers’ products and expanding to new markets.”

Interested in learning more about AVR? You can check out our comprehensive device breakdown here.