Tag Archives: ARM

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.

Profile of an IoT processor for the industrial and consumer markets


 If there’s a single major stumbling block that is hindering the IoT take-off at the larger industrial scale, it’s security.


The intersection of data with intelligent machines is creating new possibilities in industrial automation, and this new frontier is now being increasingly known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). However, if there is a single major stumbling block that is hindering the IoT take-off at the larger industrial scale, it’s security.

It’s imperative to have reliable data in the industrial automation environment, and here, the additional security layers in the IoT hardware often lead to compromises in performance. Then, there is counterfeiting of products and application software, which is becoming a growing concern in the rapidly expanding IoT market.

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Atmel’s answer to security concerns in the IIoT infrastructure: a microprocessor (MPU) that can deliver the security while maintaining the level of performance that Internet-connected systems require. The company’s Cortex A5 chip — the Atmel | SMART SAMA5D4 — securely stores and transfers data, as well as safeguards software assets to prevent cloning of IoT applications.

The SAMA5D4 series of MPUs enables on-the-fly encryption and decryption of software code from the external DRAM. Moreover, it boasts security features such as secure boot, tamper detection pins and safe erasure of security-critical data. The A5D4 processor also incorporates ARM’s system-wide security approach, TrustZone, which is used to secure peripherals such as memory and crypto blocks. TrustZone —comprising of security extensions that can be implemented in a number of ARM cores — is tightly integrated into ARM’s Cortex-A processors. It runs the processor in two different modes: First, a secure environment executes critical security and safety software, and secondly, a normal environment runs the rich OS software applications such as Linux. This lets embedded designers isolate critical software from OS software.

The system approach allows control access to CPU, memories, DMA and peripherals with programmable secure regions. That, in turn, ensures that on-chip parts like CPU and off-chip parts like peripherals are protected from software attacks.

Trust

Performance Uplift

The Atmel SMART | SAMA5D4 processor is based on the Cortex-A5, the smallest and simplest of the Cortex-A series cores that support the 32-bit ARMv7 instruction set. It’s targeted at applications requiring high-precision computing and fast signal processing — that includes industrial and consumer applications such as control panels, communication gateways and imaging terminals.

The use cases for SAMA5D4 span from kiosks, vending machines and barcode scanners, to smart grid, communications gateways and control panels for security, home automation, thermostats, etc. Atmel’s MPU features peripherals for connectivity and user interface applications. For instance, it offers a TFT LCD controller for human-machine interface (HMI) and control panel applications and a dual Ethernet MAC for networking and gateway solutions.

Apart from providing high-grade security, SAMA5D4 adds two other crucial features to address the limitations of its predecessor, SAMA5D3 processor. First, it uplifts performance through ARM’s NEON DSP engine and 128kB L2 cache. The NEON DSP with 128-bit single instruction, multiple data (SIMD) architecture accelerates signal processing for more effective handling of multimedia and graphics. Likewise, L2 cache enhances data processing capability for imaging applications.

The second prominent feature of the SAMA5D4 is video playback that boasts 720p resolution hardware video decoder with post-image processing capability. Atmel’s embedded processor offers video playback for H.264, VP8 and MPEG4 formats at 30fps.

A Quick Overview of the SAMA5D4

The SAMA5D4 processor, which got a 14 percent performance boost from its predecessor MPU, increasing operating speed to 528 MHz, is a testament of the changing microprocessor market in the IoT arena. Atmel’s microprocessor for IoT markets delivers 840 DMIPS that can facilitate imaging-centric applications hungry for processing power. Aside from that, the SAMA5D4 is equipped with a 32-bit wide DDR controller running up to 176 MHz, which can deliver up to 1408MB/s of bandwidth. That’s a critical element for high-speed peripherals common in the industrial environments where microprocessors are required to process large amounts of data.

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Finally, the SAMA5D4 is configurable in either a 16- or 32-bit bus interface allowing developers a trade-off between performance and memory cost. There are four distinct chips in the SAMA5D4 family: SAMA5D41 (16-bit DDR), SAMA5D42 (32-bit DDR), SAMA5D43 (16-bit DDR along with H.264 video decoder)and SAMA5D44 (32-bit DDR along with H.264 video decoder).

The SoC-specific hardware security and embedded vision capabilities are a stark reminder of specific requirements of different facets of IoT, in this case, industrial and consumers markets. And Atmel’s specific focus on security and rich media just shows how the semiconductor industry is getting around the key IoT stumbling blocks.


Majeed Ahmad is the 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.

Secured SAMA5D4 for industrial, fitness or IoT display


To target applications like home automation, surveillance camera, control panels for security, or industrial and residential gateways, high DMIPS computing is not enough.


The new SAMA5D4 expands the Atmel | SMART Cortex-A5-based family, adding a 720p resolution hardware video decoder to target Human Machine Interface (HMI), control panel and IoT applications when high performance display capability is required. Cortex-A5 offers raw performance of 945 DMIPS (@ 600 MHz) completed by ARM NEON 128-bit SIMD (single instruction, multiple data) DSP architecture extension. To target applications like home automation, surveillance camera, control panels for security, or industrial and residential gateways, high DMIPS computing is not enough. In order to really make a difference, on top of the hardware’s dedicated video decoder (H264, VP8, MPEG4), you need the most complete set of security features.

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Whether for home automation purpose or industrial HMI, you want your system to be safeguarded from hackers, and protect your investment against counterfeiting. You have the option to select 16-b DDR2 interface, or 32-b if you need better performance, but security is no longer just an option. Designing with Atmel | SMART SAMA5D4 will guarantee secure boot, including ARM Trust Zone, encrypted DDR bus, tamper detection pins and secure data storage. This MPU also integrates hardware encryption engines supporting AES (Advanced Encryption Standard)/3DES (Triple Data Encryption Standard), RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman), ECC (Elliptic Curves Cryptography), as well as SHA (Secure Hash Algorithm) and TRNG (True Random Number Generator).

If you design fitness equipment, such as treadmills and exercise machines, you may be more sensitive to connectivity and user interface functions than to security elements — even if it’s important to feel safe in respect with counterfeiting. Connectivity includes gigabit and 10/100 Ethernet and up to two High-Speed USB ports (configurable as two hosts or one host and one device port) and one High Speed Inter-Chip Interface (HSIC) port, several SDIO/SD/MMC, dual CAN, etc. Because the SAMA5D4 is intended to support industrial, consumer or IoT applications requiring efficient display capabilities, it integrates LCD controllers with a graphics accelerator, resistive touchscreen controller, camera interface and the aforementioned 720p 30fps video decoder.

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The MCU market is highly competitive, especially when you consider that most of the products are developed around the same ARM-based family of cores (from the Cortex-M to Cortex-A5 series). Performance is an important differentiation factor, and the SAMA5D4 is the highest performing MPUs in the Atmel ARM Cortex-A5 based MPU family, offering up to 945 DMIPS (@ 600 MHz) completed by DSP extension ARM NEON 128-bit SIMD (single instruction, multiple data). Using safety and security on top of performance to augment differentiation is certainly an efficient architecture choice. As you can see in the block diagram below, the part features the ARM TrustZone system-wide approach to security, completed by advanced security features to protect the application software from counterfeiting, like encrypted DDR bus, tamper detection pins and secure data storage. But that’s not enough. Fortunately, this microprocessor integrates hardware encryption engines supporting AES/3DES, RSA, ECC, as well as SHA and TRNG.

The SAMA5 series targets industrial or fitness applications where safety is a key differentiating factor. If security helps protecting the software asset and makes the system robust against hacking, safety directly protects the user. The user can be the woman on the treadmill, or the various machines connected to the display that SAMA5 MCU pilots. This series is equipped with functions that ease the implementation of safety standards like IEC61508, including a main crystal oscillator clock with failure detector, POR (power-on reset), independent watchdog timers, write protection register, etc.

Atmel-SMART-SAMA5D4-ARM-Cortex-MPU-AtmelThe SAMA5D4 is a medium-heavier processor and well suited for IoT, control panels, HMI, and the like, differentiating from other Atmel MCUs by the means of performance and security (not to mention, safety). The ARM Cortex-A5 based device delivers up to 945 DMIPS when running at 600 MHz, completed by DSP architecture extension ARM NEON 128-bit SIMD. The most important factor that sets the SAMA5D4 apart from the rest is probably its implemented security capabilities. These will protect OEM software investments from counterfeiting, user privacy against hacking, and its safety features make the SAMA5D4 ideal for industrial, fitness or IoT applications.


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 6, 2015.

Design, build and race your own 3D-printed cars with Cannybots


The next generation of toys is here! Cannybots can be assembled like LEGO and programmed from your mobile device.


Since their inception back in the 1950s, Matchbox cars have become an iconic accessory that can be found atop any child’s holiday wish list and in just about every playroom. However, in this day and age, kids are overexposed to the latest and greatest smart devices, which have seemingly replaced those good ol’ toys of the past. This is an issue that the one London-based startup is looking to solve, realizing that the toys that we have today are not engaging enough compared to the media accessible through our mobile gadgets. And so, Cannybot was born.

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The creators of Cannybot are hoping to better bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds with their smartphone-controlled toy that enables kids to build and program their own race car sets. The DIY kit contains all of the parts necessary for someone to bring their car to life, such as a base, a top, a spoiler, motors and motor brackets, wheels, a switch, a rechargeable battery, a USB cable and a screwdriver. Aside from all that, Cannybot will come with stickers that let users personalize their vehicle along with a six-foot-long track to ride it on.

Geared towards the young Maker community, each Cannybot can be assembled in LEGO-like fashion and boasts several capabilities, which range from color detection and line following to autonomous navigation. Impressively, the kit’s default motors allow a vehicle to reach a straight line speed of up to 1.2m/sec (4ft/sec), and the robot has independently powered wheels that give it the agility to spin on the spot and quickly accelerate.

Pla

And that’s just the beginning. Billed as the next generation of toys, Cannybot gives children the opportunity to design and 3D print their own plaything, and then engage with them in ways like never before. There are different ways to interact with the robot. Using its accompanying joypad mobile app, users can race against others, throw it into freestyle mode and drive it around the living room like an RC car, as well as do battle in sumo and jousting fights. It even features a Bluetooth interface that enables Cannybot to be controlled from almost any BLE device, including a Pebble watch. Plus, users can chat with Cannybot via its own CannyTalk app, which is based on a proprietary Natural Language Processing interface.

“CannyTalk is really clever; it understands the commands irrespective of the way they are written. For example, if you want to instruct the robot to move forward, you can use any of the following commands: Move forward, step forward, go forward, etc. All these result in the same action of Cannybot moving forward,” the team explains.” It is even robust to typos – Mvoe Forwards, Mov Forward, Move fkrwad will also result in the same action. You can use CannyTalk to control all high level aspects of Cannybots and even use it to create the Logic to solve a complex maze.”

In terms of electronics, each Cannybot is driven by a small yet powerful Arduino-compatible ARM Cortex-M0+ core, and is packed with BLE, a dual channel motor controller, LEDs, IR and RGB sensors. The robot’s hardware supports a number of programming options from the more simple CannyTalk to more advanced languages like Python and Java using either a Raspberry Pi, a smartphone, a tablet or PC. Each Cannybot design can be customized through Autodesk’s browser-based TinkerCAD software, and employ a 3D printer to produce the chassis of the robot in various shapes and colors.

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If you think about it, Matchbox was invented in the UK and went on to revolutionize toy cars. Coincidence that Cannybot originates from there as well? The future of playtime has arrived! Interested? Race over to its Kickstarter page, where the team is currently seeking $40,000. Delivery is slated for February 2016.

EXCLUSIVE: Ladyada shows off Adafruit’s brand-spankin’ new Feather board


The yet-to-be-unveiled Feather board features an Atmel | SMART SAM D21, built-in USB LiPoly charging and a stackable header system.


You know what’s so great about Maker Faire? Not just the showcase of pure ingenuity. Not the life-size game of Mouse Trap. Not the 30-foot-tall, fire-breathing robot. It’s the unpredictability of it all! You never truly know what’s going to happen next. Case in point: As we were biting into a few burgers on Sunday afternoon, we happened to bump into Limor Fried, who coincidentally was carrying Adafruit’s soon-to-be-launched Feather board.

“What’s the Feather?,” you ask. Top secret information, that’s what. The SAM D21 based unit features built-in USB LiPoly charging and a stackable header system that enables you to throw on various modules like an OLED display, Wi-Fi and GPS, to name a few.

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Watch our exclusive interview with Ladyada as she enthusiastically shows off a few of her latest prototypes, which include a BLE version for IoT projects, a data logger and an ATmega32U4 powered GSM device. Don’t take our word for it, see it for yourself below!

MixStik will help you make the perfect cocktail in seconds


MixStik is an interactive wand that guides you through cocktail recipes using color-coded LEDs.


Admittedly, some of us are just not cut out to be bartenders. The idea of having to mix various ingredients, let alone measure the right amounts, can be overwhelming. But what if there was a simple tool that could help ease this pain and have you whip up the perfect cocktail every time? Thanks to Magnified Self, that may soon be a reality. Meet MixStik.

Mix

From the creators of the B4RM4N smart cocktail shaker, this lightsaber-like device works by guiding you through the mixology process with variously-colored LEDs that light up to the level which you need to pour. Essentially a less bulky, more user-friendly iteration of its predecessor, MixStik goes inside a glass and connects with its accompanying smartphone app via Bluetooth. From there, you can choose your desired drink, calibrate it from a selection of different glass sizes, and then proceed to follow the instructions on your phone and the wand.

Beginning at the bottom and working your way up, the MixStik’s LEDs will illuminate instructing you to add the right amount of each ingredient, respectively. For instance, it will glow yellow for an ounce of tequila, green for a lime juice, blue for ice and red for some grenadine, until you’ve completed your delicious concoction, whether that’s a Tom Collins, a Mojito or a Bloody Mary. MixStik will even suggest which cocktails you can make based on the bottles of alcohol you have handy.

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Aside from its 24 embedded RBG LEDs, the gadget features with an ARM Cortex-M0+ core, Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and a USB port for recharging its Li-ion battery. Impressively, one smartphone can drive up to five sticks — certainly great news for the sociable sort who likes to throw parties. MixStik even also has small rubber spikes at its bottom tip to provide you with a a better grip and act as a muddler to squish mint and other soft ingredients. It can, of course, be used to stir the mix as well.

Streamlining a drink’s recipe is only one of MixStik’s capabilities, though. The developers have created an open API, which will enable users to tinker around with the wand’s light functions and motions sensors. Equipped with a three-axis accelerometer, this opens up endless possibilities from interactive lightsabers to drinking games to fashion accessories. Not to mention, simply enter text and use the in-app camera settings to capture some beautiful light painting.

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Sound like your cup of (Long Island Iced) tea? Head over to Kickstarter, where the Magnified Self team is seeking $39,000. From the look of things, MixStik has already experienced much greater success than B4RM4N and is well on its way to surpassing its pledge goal. Delivery is expected to begin March 2016.

Angee is an autonomous home security system


This smart system doubles as both your security guard and personal assistant.


Did you know that every 13 seconds, a home is broken into in the United States? In fact, 41% of burglaries happen when a system isn’t armed. Although it’d be nice to have guards protecting our homes, not all of us have that luxury or the convenience.

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Angee is an advanced security and communication system that changes how you protect and connect to your humble abode. The device provides a 360-degree view of your household and is loaded with several valuable features, including voice recognition, at-the-door identification, motion-detecting rotation, advanced learning and cordless portability. By learning the daily habits of your family members, Angee can autonomously arm and disarm herself.

Setting up Angee is easy — you simply connect the device with your smartphone and add security points around throughout your rooms to secure your home. The unit provides full perimeter protection by using security tags on your doors and windows so the system knows exactly who comes and goes. In fact, it can determine suspicious activity such as movement by someone it doesn’t recognize through detecting entry and exit patterns, changes in background noise, Bluetooth signal in phones and voice differentiation. If Angee happens to sense suspicious activity, a notification is sent to your smartphone (or smartwatch) via its accompanying app so you can stream video in real-time. Plus, you can receive updates on temperature, humidity or just take a look around, if you so choose.

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At roughly five by three inches, Angee boasts an ARM processor at its core and weighs about 1.3 pounds. Angee’s camera rotates to provide full coverage of a room and employs an array of six passive infrared sensors for 360-degree motion detection. The security tags are powered by two AAA-batteries and feature Bluetooth connectivity, which is not only used to wirelessly communicate with Angee, but also sense nearby phones to identify who is home. And should the power go out, not to worry. The gadget’s built-in battery enables it to sustain energy, and more importantly, continue monitoring. Similarly, if your Wi-Fi goes offline, Angee will alert you while still recording any activity and saving the footage to its local storage.

The makers of Angee built the system by learning from people’s experience with early versions of smart security systems. The team has focused on creating the smartest home security system ever — one that is useful, convenient, and tailored to each individual’s needs. And that’s not all. It can double as a personal assistant by recording all-too-often missed moments for a family member who is away, answering calls, checking the calendar and even reminding you to close the windows if rain is in the forecast.

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“In the future, smart hardware and technologies will be omnipresent. They will be easy to use and perfectly integrated into our environment. These systems will understand and predict what we need, saving us time and energy, and making our lives easier and more productive. Angee is a big step toward this future,” explains CEO and co-founder Tomas Turek.

Sound like the system you’ve been looking for? Head over to Angee’s Kickstarter campaign, where the team is currently seeking $250,000. Delivery is estimated for October 2016.