Tag Archives: Atmel | SMART

The smallest, lowest power Bluetooth Smart solution has arrived


The Atmel SmartConnect Bluetooth platform delivers the industry’s lowest power, smallest footprint and most integrated system solution on the market. 


Earlier this year, we unveiled an ultra-low power Bluetooth Smart solution for the burgeoning Internet of Things. And now, we’re excited to announce that the Atmel SmartConnect BTLC1000 is shipping in production quantities.

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Consuming less than 4mA in RX and less than 3mA TX at 3.6V, the industry’s lowest power, smallest footprint Bluetooth Smart solution is capable of increasing battery life by as much as one year or more for certain applications. Pushing the limits of space constrained areas, the BTLC1000 boasts an unprecedented 2.2mm x 2.1mm Wafer Level Chipscale Package (WLCSP) — significantly smaller than any other on the market today. This, of course, makes it ideal for the rapidly growing IoT and wearables spaces, including portable medical equipment, activity trackers, human Interface devices and gaming controllers. What’s more, the tiny solution supports beacons and other application standards for leading smartphone operating systems.

For those unfamiliar with the BTLC1000, the ultra-low power Bluetooth Smart SoC features an integrated Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M0 MCU and Bluetooth transceiver. The device can be used as a BLE link controller that connects as a companion to any Atmel AVR or Atmel | SMART MCU. Plus, it can even be employed as a standalone apps processor with embedded BLE connectivity and external memory.

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In addition to all that, the BTLC1000 can come as a production-ready and fully-certified module for FCC ETSI/CE and IC regulations, thereby facilitating product design and reducing overall time-to-market.

Atmel’s BTLC1000 can be powered by a number of different battery types, ranging from coin cell, AA and AAA to Lithium polymer, without the need for external power management circuitry. The SoC utilizes an innovative radio and DSP architecture that delivers extremely low power consumption along with high performance, as well as provides a cost-effective solution for many Bluetooth Smart-based applications by integrating the BLE Radio and Baseband with an ARM Cortex-M0 MCU. The need for very few external components minimizes the total system solution cost.

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To accelerate a designer’s development, an all-inclusive BTLC1000 XSTK starter kit is now available ($99) to evaluate the Atmel BTLC1000 with the Atmel | SMART SAM L21 Xplained PRO host MCU evaluation board. Beyond that, the BTLC1000 XPRO extension board ($25) can be ordered individually and can be plugged into any of the supported Atmel host MCU Xplained boards to easily add Bluetooth Smart connectivity.

Introducing the all-new Atmel | SMART SAMA5D2 series


The latest Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-A5-based MPU is pushing the boundaries of performance and power for industrial IoT and wearable applications.


Exciting news — a new family of Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-A5-based microprocessors have arrived! These MPUs deliver sub 200µA in retention mode with context preserved, 30µs ultra-fast wake-up and a new backup mode with DDR in self-refresh at only 50µA. The Atmel | SMART SAMA5D2 series provides great system integration with the addition of a complete audio subsystem, lower pin-count and ultra-small package for space constraints applications, and built-in PCI-level security targeting industrial Internet of Things, wearables and point of sale applications.

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Expanding the Atmel SAMA5 family, the SAMA5D2 offers just the right price-to-performance ratio for applications requiring an entry-level MPU and extended industrial temperature range (-40 to 105°C ambient temperature). These MPUs are also a great migration path for designers using ARM926-based MPUs looking for higher performance and additional features including low power, higher security, DDR3 support, smaller footprint, audio, USB HSIC and Atmel’s patented SleepWalking technology.

“As a leader in ultra-low power MCU and MPU IoT solutions, we are excited to launch the new Atmel | SMART SAMA5D2 series for designers requiring a general, entry-level MPU,” explained Jacko Wilbrink, Atmel Senior Director of MPUs. “Designers for industrial IoT, wearables and POS applications are demanding more performance, lower power, smaller form factors and additional security for their next-generation applications. The Atmel SAMA5D2 is well positioned for these demanding requirements, delivering the world’s lowest power MPU, along with low-system cost and PCI level security.”

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Featuring an ARM NEON engine, the new SAMA5D2 boasts 500MHz and 166MHz of system clocking. The memory system includes a configurable 16- or 32-bit DDR interface controller, 16-bit external bus interface (EBI), QSPI Flash interface, ROM with secure and non-secure boot solution, 128kB of SRAM plus 128kB of L2Cache configurable as SRAM extension. The user interface system for the SAMA5D2 is comprised of a 24-bit TFT LCD controller, an audio subsystem with fractional PLL, multiple I2S and SSC/TDM channels, a stereo class D amplifier, as well as digital microphone support.

The robust security system in the new SAMA5D2 is even equipped with the ARM TrustZone technology, along with secure boot, hardware cryptography, RSA/ECC, on-the-fly encryption/decryption on DDR and QSPI memories, tamper resistance, memory scrambling, independent watchdog, temperature, voltage and frequency monitoring and a unique ID in each device.

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To support the SAMA5D2 MPUs, a free Linux distribution has been developed and published in the mainline kernel. For non-operating system users, Atmel delivers more than 40 peripheral drivers in C. Moreover, the company also collaborates with a global network of partners, including IAR, ARM, Free Electrons, Active-Semi, Micron, ISSI, Winbond, Segger, Lauterbach, FreeRTOS, Express Logic, NuttX and Sequitur Labs, that provide development tools, PMIC, memories and software solutions.

Interested? The SAMA5 Xplained Ultra kit is currently available for just $79. The board packs an embedded debugger and programmer and a wide range of compatible extensions boards. Standalone programmer debugger solutions supporting the SAMA5 family are available, too. Early samples of the SAMA5D2 are now ready, while those wishing for an ATSAMA5D2-XULT Xplained Ultra boards will have to wait until October. First production quantities of the SAMA5D2 series will ship in December 2015.

A look at the 2015 Hackaday Prize semi-finalists


Hackaday reveals the 100 semi-finalists who are one step closer to a trip into space. 


After nine months of tinkering, developing and building, submissions for the 2015 Hackaday Prize have come to a close. In total, there were just shy of 1,000 entries from Makers all across the world, each sharing the common goal of moving humanity forward.

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And now, Hackaday has narrowed the pool down to 100 projects who will be moving on to the next round — one step closer to the grand prize of a trip into space (or $196,883). These designs will continue to be refined by the contestants through the September 21st deadline, where 10 finalists will be selected.

Congratulations to all of the 2015 Hackaday Prize semi-finalists, but especially those using our chips! With approximately 60% of the entries below embedded with an AVR or Atmel | SMART MCU, it looks like there’s a good chance that this year’s winner will once again be powered by Atmel! (You can find them highlighted in bold.)

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The SAM L22 is a Cortex-M0+ MCU with a segment LCD controller


The Atmel | SMART SAM L22 delivers down to 39uA/MHz running CoreMark and features a segment LCD controller, peripheral touch controller and tamper detection. 


Atmel has expanded its popular lineup of secure, ARM Cortex M0+-based MCUs with the new SAM L22 series. The Atmel | SMART SAM L family is the highest scoring product family in the EEMBC ULPBench and offers an ultra-low power capacitive touch with a segment LCD controller that can deliver up to 320 segments, making the devices ideal for low-power applications such as thermostats, electric/gas/water meters, home control, medical and access systems.

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The Internet of Things is driving connectivity in various battery-powered devices making security and ultra-low power critical features in these devices. With this in mind, the SAM L22 series boasts 256-bit AES encryption, cyclic redundancy check (CRC), a true random number generator, Flash protection and tamper detection to ensure information is securely stored, delivered and accessible. To get the lowest possible power consumption, the devices use Atmel’s proprietary picoPower technologies and smart low-power peripherals that work independently of the CPU in sleep modes. The latest MCU can run down to 39µA/MHz in active mode, consuming only 490nA with RTC in backup-mode.

“As more devices in the consumer, industrial and home automation segments are becoming smarter and connected, these devices require a number of unique features including ultra-low power, security, touch capability with an LCD — all features that are currently provided in the SAM L22,” explained Oyvind Strom, Atmel Senior Director of MCUs. “Atmel is already engaged with a number of alpha customers developing metering, thermostat and industrial automation solutions based on the new Atmel | SMART SAM L22 series.”

In addition to segment LCD supporting up to eight communication lines, capacitive touch sensing and built-in security measures, the SAM L22 includes up to 256KB of Flash and 32KB of SRAM, crystal-less USB device, programmable Serial Communication modules (SERCOM) and Atmel’s patented Event System and Sleepwalking technologies.

Those wishing to accelerate their designs will be happy to learn that the new SAM L22 Atmel Xplained Pro is now available. This professional evaluation board with an on-board debugger and standardized extension connectors is also fully supported by Atmel Studio. While the Atmel SAM L22 series is currently sampling, production release is slated for December 2015.

The world’s highest-performing Cortex-M7 MCUs are now shipping


Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs deliver 50% more performance than the closest competitor.


Back in January, we unveiled the brand new Atmel | SMART SAM S70 and E70 families. And if you’ve been waiting to get your hands on the new ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs, you’re in luck. That’s because both are now shipping in mass production.

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With 50% higher performance than the closest competitor, larger configurable SRAM, more embedded Flash and high-bandwidth peripherals, these devices offer the ideal mix of connectivity, memory and performance. The SAM S70 and E70 series allow users to scale-up performance and deliver SRAM and system functionality, all while keeping the Cortex-M processor family ease-of-use and maximizing software reuse.

“As a lead partner for the ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs, we are excited to ship volume units of our SAM E70 and S70 MCUs to worldwide customers,” explains Jacko Wilbrink, Atmel Senior Marketing Director. “Our SAM E70 and SAM S70 series deliver a robust memory and connectivity feature set, along with extensive software and third party support, enabling next-generation industrial, consumer and IoT designers the ability to differentiate their applications in a demanding market. We are working with hundreds of customers worldwide on a variety of applications using the new ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs and look forward to mass adoption of these devices.”

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These boards pack more than four times the performance of current Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M based MCUs. Running at speeds up to 300 MHz and embedding larger configurable SRAM up to 384 KB and higher bandwidth peripherals, the new series offer designers the right connectivity, SRAM and peripheral mix for industrial and connectivity designs. Additionally, the SAM S70 and E70 boast 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. All devices come with high-speed USB Host and Device with on-chip high-speed USB PHY and Flash memory densities of 512kB, 1MB and 2MB.

What’s more, the Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs are supported by ARM ecosystem partners on development tools and real-time operating system (RTOS) board support packages (BSPs) accelerating time-to-market. Software development tools are available on Atmel Studio, the ARM Keil MDK-ARM and IAR Embedded Workbench. Operating system support include Express Logic ThreadX, FreeRTOS, Keil RTX, NuttX and Segger embOS. A comprehensive set of peripheral driver examples and open source middleware is also provided in Atmel’s Software Package.

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“Atmel has developed a global network of ecosystem partners that deliver hardware and software solutions for the Atmel SMART Cortex-M7 MCU,” adds Steve Pancoast, Atmel Vice President of Software Applications, Tools and Development. “Atmel’s robust, easy-to-use development platform along with our partners’ advanced development platforms offer developers the opportunity to use the best tools and services to bring their designs quickly to market. Atmel continues to expand our partner program to bring the best tools and solutions to our customers.”

Interested? Production quantities of both the SAM E70 and S70 are now available. In order to help accelerate design and to support these devices, an Atmel Xplained development kit is shipping today as well. Pricing for the SAM S70 starts at $5.34 in 64-pin LQFP package and 512KB on-chip flash for 10k-piece quantities while the Atmel Xplained board will run you $136.25. Meanwhile, be sure to read up on the new MCU families here.

Atmel launches IoT Cloud Ecosystem Partner Program


Atmel’s Cloud Ecosystem Partner Program accelerates time-to-market for developers creating next-generation IoT solutions.


Good news, IoT developers! Atmel has just announced its Internet of Things Cloud Ecosystem Partner Program, providing those using Atmel | SMART MCUs and Atmel SmartConnect wireless solutions with access to a wide range of market-leading ecosystem cloud partners for device management, data analytics and visualization in order to experience end-to-end, out-of-the-box IoT solution development.

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With the ever-increasing need to collect, visualize and analyze data from IoT edge nodes and to manage the associated services, cloud connectivity is becoming an essential element for product development. Aside from that, device management has also emerged as an important aspect of cloud services as more gizmos and gadgets are performing functions through remote management. Take a connected thermostat, for example, that is programmed remotely and sends climate information back to the user’s RC device reducing overall power consumption while providing a better user experience.

Each cloud partner in this program not only brings a unique, distinct feature to the IoT ecosystem for developers using Atmel solutions but offers production-ready software stacks ported on Atmel wireless platforms to help accelerate time-to-market as well. Developers can now easily connect to the cloud through various software as a service (SaaS) options, based on their use-case requirements early in the development cycle. Additionally, Atmel is in the process of onboarding multiple cloud service partners providing regional and vertical expertise where required. Among the names on the growing list are PubNub, Proximetry, Exosite and Arrayent.

“We are excited to team with Atmel to deliver to their customers a highly secure solution for bi-directional device communication and control,” says Todd Greene, PubNub CEO. “Our highly reliable and massively scalable Data Stream Network provides companies with real-time infrastructure and a robust feature set for architecting their IoT solutions. Our partnership with Atmel offers the only ‘out of the box’ solution for IoT developers to create secure IoT products, reducing risk and accelerating time-to-market.”

With the anticipated growth of billions of devices by 2020 in the IoT market, secure cloud services will be a critical element to ensure Internet accessibility connectivity of these smart devices. The partner program ensures developers have the opportunity to design with Atmel’s pre-certified Wi-Fi, 802.15.4, and multimode modules and Atmel | SMART MCUs to provide a seamless end-to-end solution from the edge node to the cloud with a simple, plug-and-play connection that works out of the box.

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“Our cloud services are integrated into several leading Atmel | SMART MCUs, SmartConnect and security modules,” adds Tracy Trent, Proximetry CEO. “We provide leading software solutions that enable the management of the most critical of things in the IoT including remote access and secure data management. With our services integrated into Atmel’s leading products, IoT developers now have a true end-to-end solution from the edge node to the cloud.”

What’s more, IoT developers can simply use any of the compatible Atmel development boards for access to the application programming interface (API) to qualified cloud partners. In order to expire the design process, several development kits are available with access to Atmel Cloud Partners like the WINC1500-XSTK, the SAMW25-XPRO, the SAMR21-XPRO and the Arduino Zero.

“Launching this highly anticipated IoT ecosystem partner program, we are now one of the few suppliers that delivers solutions from the edge node to the cloud, along with full software support. We are excited to team with these unique cloud service companies and look forward to adding many more,” explains Reza Kazerounian, SVP and GM of Microcontroller Business Unit at Atmel.

Why should you care about securing your IoT devices?


In this blog, Zymbit’s Scott Miller reviews some of the security features of Zymbit.Orange, how they work, and more importantly, why they matter.


Internet of Things (IoT) devices are, by nature, light on resources, diverse, widely proliferated and often at the ‘edge’ of the network beyond the control of any network administration; perfect ingredients for digital chaos and anarchy!

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Cloud and big data applications depend on the quality of the data they ingest and key factors in quality are the authenticity, integrity and privacy of data they collect from the edge for the network. For the IoT to get real sustainable traction, the data coming from such edge devices must be “trusted” — from the core silicon all the way to the data services.

Fortunately, the Zymbit platform addresses many of the common security threats found in real world applications, whether using embedded ARM CPUs or Maker development boards. For Raspberry Pi and Arduino developers, Zymbit.Orange IoT motherboard makes it easy for developers to implement applications with secure access to communications interfaces as well as cryptographic services. What’s more, Zymbit.Orange can also be used standalone.

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In this blog, Zymbit VP of Embedded Scott Miller reviews some of the key security features of Zymbit.Orange, how they work, and more importantly, why they matter.

Who Should Read This Blog?

  • Anyone building IoT devices who is not a security expert, and doesn’t have the time or budget to become one;
  • Anyone who has deployed a connected embedded design;
  • Any Maker using Raspberry Pi or Arduino at the edge of the network… and now needs to add security.

Security Considerations for IoT Edge Devices

Securing IoT devices requires a system architecture that addresses some fundamental needs. Let’s take a look at them:

Data Privacy

Generally speaking, data should be kept private if it is integral to a proprietary process or if it is personal in nature. In each case, the data must be protected from prying eyes using encryption techniques that extend from the publishing source — the IoT edge device — to the cloud and onwards to subscribers. Additionally, the administrator of the data should be able to select who or what is able to subscribe to the data stream.

Data Authentication

Most data transactions/interactions are based upon the assumption that you know that the data really came from the presumed edge device. But how can you be sure? And, how can you be sure that your subscribers are receiving that authentic data?

In order for data to be trusted, it must be proven that it originated from a given edge device at the time that it was reported to have been recorded. Data authentication can be accomplished in many ways, but a digital signature is generally regarded as one of the most secure. One application of a digital signature applied to a timestamped block of data involves computing a one-way hash (e.g. SHA-256) of the timestamped data block and then asymmetrically encrypting the hash using a private key. When the data is received at the cloud, the hash of the data is computed and is compared to the hash that accompanied the data block after it is decrypted using the public key. If the hashes are the same, the data is optionally stored on the Zymbit cloud server along with the signature and transferred to the subscribers in a manner similar to the way the edge device transferred it to the cloud.

IP Protection & Threats from Counterfeits

Counterfeit products have an adverse economic impact on businesses and they also introduce serious vulnerability into enterprise systems. In the industrial sectors there have been numerous examples of ‘black market’ spares and generic devices that have introduced back doors into large scale enterprise systems, so much so that the U.S. Government has its own hotline for reporting such breaches.

Zymbit.Orange employs a number of architectural strategies with the goal of protecting software IP:

  • Isolate embedded services in special purpose hardware (e.g. dedicated embedded CPUs) so that it becomes harder to “hack & crack” an application running on an app CPU:

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  • Some of these embedded services include:
    • Securely transacting data through otherwise unsecured channels:
      • Ethernet
      • Wi-Fi
      • Cellphone modem
      • Low-power radio
    • Interacting with and controlling attached user interfaces
    • Collecting physical data from sensors that are serviced by the embedded services hardware cluster
    • Generic encryption/decryption and data authentication/validation
    • Application image update and application health monitoring
  • These isolated embedded services require valid credentials in order to authenticate the users (e.g. applications running on Arduino or Raspberry Pi) of those services.
  • The special purpose CPUs must have their hard programming paths (e.g. JTAG or SWD) disabled so that the firmware that runs on them cannot be hijacked, replaced or corrupted.
  • Tamper event detection (e.g. attempts to open the case or manipulate the real time clock) — when a tamper event is detected various actions can be taken. Some of these actions might include:
    • Recording the tamper event
    • Deliberately “bricking” the system by erasing critical firmware
    • Erasing critical data which would take the system offline
    • The above actions can be configured by the system administrator
  • Application designers must have the means to encrypt and attach digital signatures for the application images they produce. Image decryption and signature validation are accomplished using the embedded services mentioned above.
  • Software updates can be exclusively disseminated via a secure cloud network utilizing encryption and image authentication.

Malicious Attack Defense

Although we aren’t hearing too much about it yet in the press, malicious attacks will soon be launched on IoT devices in a manner similar to PC viruses and cell phones today. Motivations will range from ‘hackers because they can’ to corporate espionage to cyber terrorism. And the the consequences of such attacks can be much more serious than data loss; many IoT devices interact with the physical world and that can cause bodily harm even loss of life. If you think this is sensationalist then wait until the first examples begin to surface.

The good news is that the serious innovators amongst us are thinking about this and looking for solid and practical solutions. Malicious attacks can be prevented or made very difficult to achieve using the same countermeasures we reviewed earlier in IP protection.

Securing Your Edge Devices – Raspberry Pi and Arduino, Too

We love the accessibility and affordability of open source devices and support the communities that are building amazing applications using Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Yet neither was designed with core security in mind and consequently, before applications can be scaled, their vulnerabilities need to be addressed. So let’s first explain their security shortcomings:

Security Vulnerabilities – Raspberry Pi:

  • No built in cryptographic engine
    • While the Pi can perform encryption in software, overall performance suffers as a result.
  • Removable SD card – no physical security
    • This means that an attacker with direct access to a Raspberry Pi based device can steal and clone the software and data on the card or deliberately corrupt the contents of the card.
  • No secure key store
    • Because the SD card is removable and the SD card is the only means of storing anything on the Pi, shared static keys and private certificates are now completely viewable and modifiable. Even if one chooses to encrypt a data volume for key and certificate storage, the key for decrypting the data volume must be exposed at some point. This fact makes data authentication on the Pi infeasible.
  • Susceptibility to power cycling exploits
    • Because there is frequently no intrusion detection or monitoring, simple repeated power cycling of the device may lead to failure and thus denial of service.
  • Lack of real-time clock
    • Prevents the system from responding properly in case of communications outage.

Security Vulnerabilities – Arduino:

  • No built in cryptographic engine
    • Crypto shields are available for purchase, but packaging Arduino shields tends to be very clumsy and difficult to deploy, not just due to the physical size issues associated with stacking shields but also because the Arduino shield framework suffers from resource bus (SPI/I2C) and GPIO pin allocation issues, so simply stacking a new shield on an Arduino may prove to be impossible when other shields are stacked.
  • No way to validate or secure the Arduino executable image if the debugging/programming interface is available. Even if an Arduino based “thing” had a crypto shield attached, an attacker with direct access could potentially:
    • Corrupt or erase the executable image.
    • Gain access to shared keys stored in RAM or flash.
    • “Patch” in their own code which would allow them to take control of the system.
  • Many Arduinos have very limited amounts of RAM and flash, making it extremely difficult to implement robust, secure communications solutions.

Zymbit has solved these problems for Raspberry Pi and Arduino developers by implementing an isolated security framework on the Zymbit.Orange IoT motherboard.

Adding Security With the Zymbit.Orange IoT Motherboard

At the heart for the Zymbit.Orange architecture is a Secure Services Cluster that isolates edge facing application CPUs from each other and from the outbound network connection. Isolation is achieved using a combination of data security (authenticate and encrypt), power security (turn off the CPU) and physical security (tamper proof and enclosure intrusion detection).

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We use Atmel silicon for all three aspects of security because their solutions are well thought out, affordable and have good performance characteristics.

Secure Silicon Review

The security services cluster within Zymbit.Orange is comprised of three blocks:

Secure Communications Hub

  • Atmel | SMART SAM E70 – high performance advanced connectivity CPU
  • Primary purpose:
    • Provides secure access to communications and UI interfaces
    • Performs tamper detection
    • Provides secure software updates for applications processors via the Zymbit cloud
  • CPU features:
    • 300MHz Cortex-M7
    • AES encryption engine
    • Low latency TRNG (True Random Number Generator)
    • Integrity Check Monitor (ICM) for generating and comparing digests of certain memory areas

Supervisory MPU

  • Atmel | SMART SAML21J17A – ultra low-power microcontroller unit
  • Primary purpose:
    • Power supervision and monitoring
    • Real-time clock
    • Secure programming and debugging interface for the on-board Arduino Zero application CPU
  • CPU features:
    • 48MHz Cortex-M0+
    • AES encryption engine
    • Low latency True Random Number Generator (TRNG)

Secure Key Generation and Storage

  • Atmel ATECC508
  • Primary purpose:
    • Asymmetric (public key) crypto
    • Digital signature generation/validation
    • Password validation
  • Features:
    • Secure key storage
    • Asymmetric encryption
    • Ephemeral key generation

Using these components, Zymbit.Orange provides a secure interface to all essential services for user applications running on the on-board Arduino Zero and/or Raspberry Pi. The dedicated on-board hardware significantly increases the overall security of these platforms without interfering with user applications. It is just as easy to develop an Arduino or Linux project on Zymbit.Orange from scratch or to adapt an existing application to take advantage of the on-board services because they do not interfere with the application CPU programmability.