Tag Archives: Cortex-A5

IAR Systems provides tools for new Atmel | SMART SAMA5D2 series


IAR Embedded Workbench supports latest series of Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-A5-based microprocessors with low power consumption and advanced security features.


Our friends over at IAR Systems have shared that the IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM now supports the Atmel | SMART SAMA5D2 series. With its highly optimizing build tools and comprehensive debugging capabilities, their popular development toolchain enables developers to fully leverage the high performance of the recently revealed MPU family.

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The Atmel | SMART SAMA5D2 is based on the high-end ARM Cortex-A5 core and features an ARM NEON engine. ARM NEON is a Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) architecture extension providing the top performance that is crucial to developers working for example with multimedia and signal processing applications. With the IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM, users will be able to benefit from this technology thanks to the automatic NEON vectorization available in the tools. By vectorizing their code, they can achieve faster application response time, improve application battery lifetime and further meet the market demands for low cost and low power.

What’s more, the SAMA5D2 boasts a robust security system including 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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The complete development toolchain IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM features the powerful IAR C/C++ Compiler and the comprehensive C-SPY Debugger in a user-friendly integrated development environment. The toolchain offers extensive debugging and profiling possibilities such as complex code and data breakpoints, runtime stack analysis, call stack visualization, code coverage analysis and integrated monitoring of power consumption. For complete code control, IAR Systems provides integrated add-on tools for static and runtime analysis.

“We are excited to see early support for our latest low-power MPUs in IAR Systems’ leading development toolchain,” explains Jacko Wilbrink, Atmel Senior Director of MPUs. “In order to be able to develop next-generation industrial IoT and wearables applications, developers require more performance, lower power and additional security. The Atmel | SMART SAMA5D2 series and IAR Embedded Workbench deliver excellent performance and a wide range of features to fulfill these requirements and deliver truly differentiating products to help bring products faster to market.”

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Interested? You can head over to the IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM, as well as read up on the industry’s lowest power Cortex-A5-based MPU here.

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.

SecureAxcess is a secure and encrypted USB token


This cybersecurity solution will keep the bad guys away from your personal information. 


With each week seemingly bringing news of another data breach, it’s no wonder a vast majority of people are gripped by anxiety. Fortunately, one Clearwater, Florida startup has developed a new way to put that uneasiness to rest, by ensuring that their most sensitive information is protected from malicious hacking, phishing, snooping, mining and any other form of cyber crimes. Vir-Sec’s solution? The aptly named SecureAxcess

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The company has created and patented what they are billing as “the world’s first, and only, method of secure communication.” Designed with speed and simplicity in mind, a user plugs the flash drive-like token into the USB port of any computer, enters their password and launches a “browser-less” platform called SecureCommuniquea closed messaging, file transfer and chat application that operates inside of SecureAxcess. This limited distribution tool enables users to send emails and documents, as well as engage in other forms of communication in a secure environment, without the threat of intruders. What’s more, the individual’s data and login page cannot be accessed by anyone other than them, and their token.

“It has the look and feel of a browser, but it’s not one! Browsers are bad for accessing secure data. Most major vulnerabilities and methods of attack come from browsers. Eliminating the browser eliminates that threat,” its creator Chris Murphy explains. “The IP address is constantly shifting and is unique to your token so hackers can’t find where to try and break in. It’s like your front door keeps moving around and you can only find it if you have the correct key.”

SecureAxcess also promises true two-factor authentication, requiring both something physical (their token) and something a user knows (their password) in order to access the confidential data.

“When you physically go to the bank, do you just give a name and password to withdraw cash? Of course not, but then why have we allowed it to be so online? Our token acts like you online, physically showing you are who you say while accessing important data,” Murphy adds.

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Another nice feature is that the program runs entirely from RAM on the token itself, not the computer. Reason being, hackers can compromise browsers and other installed software quite easily. As for its hardware, the pocket-sized device is based on an Atmel | SMART SAMA5 Cortex-A5 MPU and boasts built-in cryptographic security (AES).

“The best way to secure data is to allow authentication to happen at a secure, off-site location, free from software and browsers. Also you can’t open the token and access the parts. The token is a solid fused piece of plastic that cannot be opened without destroying the data.”

Looking for a peace of mind when it comes to safeguarding your online information? Head over to SecureAxcess’ official Kickstarter page, where Vir-Sec is currently seeking $250,000. 

Rolling MCUs, connectivity, security and software into one wearable package


This Android-based, Bluetooth-enabled wearable badge can act as a compass, watch, slideshow app, battery gauge and more.


Did you know that 45.7 million wearable devices are expected to ship this year, up 133.4% from the 19.6 million units shipped in 2014? And by 2019, reports are calling for shipment volumes to reach 126.1 million units, resulting in a five-year CAGR of 45.1. Given this emergence of body-adorned technology, the need for a hardware and software-based turnkey solution has never been so paramount. With this in mind, Atmel has unveiled the first-ever wearable solution that integrates its broad solutions offering all rolled into one.

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Just in time for Computex 2015, the company has designed a 7cm x 9cm demonstrator around a smart badge concept, which combines low-power embedded processing, wireless, touch and sensor technologies to form an unparalleled turnkey system for virtually any type of wearable application.

This demonstrator converges hardware and software technologies, from Atmel and its partners, into a highly optimized and comprehensive out-of-the-box solution that addresses the complex requirements for the burgeoning wearable market, all while bringing their designs quickly to market. Users can wear it around their neck and display different applications (compass, watch, spirit level, slide show, battery gauge) specialized for the Andriod operating system (OS) and made by Adeneo Embedded.

“Adeneo Embedded has a long standing partnership with Atmel on Linux, Windows Embedded and more recently Android porting activities for AT91SAM ARM based MPUs,” said Yannick Chammings, Adeneo Embedded CEO. “With the collaboration on the Smart Badge concept, implementing Android-based wearable scenarios, Adeneo Embedded will scale OS and SW support to OEMs developing smart, connected, wearable devices.”

Based on Atmel’s embedded connectivity, the demonstrator can interact with other Android mobile phones. The badge uses a 3.5-inch display from Precision Design Associates and embeds MEMS and sensor technology from Bosch Sensortec, as well as memory multi-chip package from Micron combining 4Gb of LPDDR2 + 4GB of eMMC in a single package demonstrator running on the Android KitKat OS. Beyond that, Atmel is also developing a software framework that will allow various software partners to plug in their software and seamlessly work together.

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With the anticipated growth of the wearable space, designers are continually seeking solutions that combine all the necessary and complex technologies into a simple, ready-to-use solution, enabling designers to focus on differentiating their products. The Smart Badge is the first demonstrator to bring together the company’s ultra-low power Atmel | SMART SAMA5D31 MPU, the Atmel | SMART SAM G54 sensor hub solution, a maXTouch mXT112S controller and a SmartConnect WILC3000 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth integrated solution.

“Atmel possesses the most complete, lowest power technology portfolio for wearable devices worldwide,” explains Vince Murdica, who is responsible for Atmel’s sensor-centric business unit. “Atmel’s Smart Badge is the first of many wearable reference designs and platforms to come as we want to ensure when customers think wearables, they think Atmel. We are very focused and excited to help accelerate the growth of the wearable market with turnkey, low power, complete hardware and software solutions.”

Watch the badge in action below!

Atmel announces ARM Cortex-A5-based MPUs

Atmel has announced that it has expanded its Atmel® | SMART portfolio with the SAMA5D4, a new series of high-performance microprocessors (MPUs) based on the ARM®Cortex-A5 processor. The SAMA5D4 offers OEMs seamless technology for Internet of Things (IoT), consumer and industrial applications including control panels, communication gateways, imaging terminals and more.

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Atmel’s SAMA5D4 series expand on the SAMA5 family by offering H264, VP8 and MPEG4 720p video playback capability at 30fps for an enhanced user interface experience, bringing significant increases in processing and system performance. Additionally, the series also provides higher security leveraging ARM® TrustZone® technology to protect the system against counterfeiting, remote firmware updates and allow safe storage of critical data.

“With the large market acceptance of the Atmel SAMA5D3 Cortex®-A5-based MPUs, we are continuing to shape experiences surrounding the user interface for industrial and consumer applications. The SAMA5D4 enables the addition of video playback to control panels and displays at an unrivalled cost point,” explained Jacko Wilbrink, Atmel Senior Director of MPUs. “Security and counterfeiting are becoming growing concerns within the rapidly growing IoT market. These applications require MPUs with advanced encryption while maintaining the same level of high performance. Atmel® | SMART™ SAMA5D4 is positioned to deliver the security and performance many Internet-connected systems require.”

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Featuring an ARM NEON™ engine for accelerated signal processing for multimedia and graphics, the SAMA5D4 runs up to 528MHz and includes a 720p hardware video decoder, along with 128kB L2 cache for improved system performance. The MPU integrates powerful peripherals for connectivity and user interface applications including a TFT LCD display controller and dual EMAC.

The SAMA5D4 series offer advanced security functions to protect customer systems against counterfeiting by running authentic software and secure data. These include on-the-fly execution of encrypted code stored in external memory, tamper detection with erasure of critical data, and hardware encryption engines supporting private and public keys algorithms.

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To support the new series of SAMA5D4 MPUs, Atmel® has developed a free Linux® distribution available on linux4sam.com and published on a mainline kernel. A free Android KitKat port will also be available in December 2014 on http://www.AT91.com/android4sam. Atmel offers a free graphics software development kit (SDK) based on Qt5 including demos, widgets, background images, icons, and useful graphical elements to ease a designer’s interface development and customization. For non-operating system (OS) users, Atmel delivers more than 40 peripheral drivers in C. Atmel collaborates with an expanded global network of partners, including IAR, Timesys, Free Electrons, Active Semi, Micron, ISSI, Segger, FreeRTOS, Express Logic, eForce and NuttX that deliver development tools, PMIC, memories, Systems-On-Module (SOM) and software solutions.

To evaluate and prototype your application, Atmel provides a kit covering all SAMA5D4 devices, including a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen. A Linux distribution and a graphic user interface demo with video playback based on Qt5 are made available for initial demonstration.

For those interested, SAMA5D4 samples are now available while production is ramping. Evaluation kits are available using order code ATSAMA5D4-EK for $695 each.

The SAMA5D4 series is comprised of four devices and is shipping in BGA289 and BGA361 packages. Pricing for the SAMA5D43 with the 720p hardware video decoding option starts at $8.95 USD for 1,000-piece quantities.

The newly-unveiled MPU will be on display this week at the Atmel booth (#205) at the ARM TechCon. Visitors will have a chance to explore a number of additional hands-on demos including:

 

Inside the SAMA5D3 Xplained Development Board

It arrived. The postman came and said there was a parcel for me, and I signed for it. I knew what it was, it was covered in Atmel tape, with a beautiful Atmel logo on the side. A while ago, a friend from Atmel asked me if I would like to write something on the SAMA5D3 evaluation board. Of course I said yes, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it!

I’ve been using Atmel components for some time now, and I’ve also got some other Atmel evaluation boards at home. I used the SAM D20 Xplained Pro boards as an example for my book, both because of their professional design and ease of use, so I know the brand fairly well. I was already impressed with the SAM D20s, so I was expecting something good from Atmel. I wasn’t disappointed.

A few minutes later, a smaller box was on my desk. The SAMA5D3 Xplained. Opening it up revealed the card. It is bigger than what I had previously, but at the tame time, so is the configuration. The SAMA5D3 is Atmel’s conception of the Cortex-A5. Running at 536MHz, it provides excellent processor power for a very low power usage. This isn’t a simple microcontroller, it has everything needed to run a complete operating system. It opens up a whole new world; powerful applications with extensive graphics, advanced control and monitoring application were heavy calculations are needed… I can see one of these in my car controlling the entertainment system, but also the car’s vital systems. I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first.

The board. It is beautiful. That isn’t a criterion for choosing systems, I will admit that, but this is also all about first impressions. The board looks great, and it feels extremely professional. Has anyone here had one of those evaluation boards where you are extra careful because you get the feeling that it will fall apart? You won’t have that feeling with Atmel’s SAMA5D3 Xplained board. I wouldn’t have any issues handling it in a lab, or even placing it inside an industrial system. It looks and feels solid, the exact quality you expect from Atmel. The next time I train people in the art of bootloaders, I’ll be using this board.

First, a talk about the processor itself. As I said, it is a Cortex-A5 device, but Atmel rarely makes “basic” processors. They prefer to create rich designs, with enhanced I/O and communication, and the SAMA5D3 goes even further than that. I’ve worked on a lot of industrial designs, and we have often been limited by the communication peripherals. One particular design forced us to change some peripherals from UART to SPI simply because there weren’t enough ports. No, it wasn’t an Atmel design.

The SAMA5D3 has 7 UART ports, making me wish we had this MPU on that particular project. Of course, if you prefer SPI, then you have 6 SPI ports. Other serial communication devices haven’t been forgotten either, this device has 3 I2C controllers, 2 CAN ports, and one of the many reasons why I can see this particular processor used in automobile applications, it also has 4 LIN ports. If you thought that all of those ports reduces the amount of I/O, you would be mistaken; the SAMA5D3 still has 160 I/O ports, all with interrupts.

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Atmel’s ARM Based Cortex A5 SAMA5D3 Xplained Development Board

Enough of the processor, now the board itself. It comes with three USB connectors; two host and one device. There is a 10-pin JTAG connector, an SSD slot and a header for a micro-SD slot. And those connectors around the board? They are for Arduino shields, and are R3 compatible. The only Arduino shield that I have readily available is an Ethernet shield, but I won’t need that; the SAMA5D3 Xplained Pro has two Ethernet connectors, one 10/100 and one 10/100/1000. Both have a PHY and connector.

Slightly harder to see are the internals. Atmel’s SAMA5D3 has 256MBytes of NAND flash, and 256MBytes of DDR-II memory. When I said that this board could run an entire operating system, I wasn’t joking. This has enough power to run just about any OS; Linux and Android both work exceptionally well on this design, and the board can support just about any application, both from a software point of view and hardware. I’ve already talked about the impressive amount of serial communication ports, but I haven’t talked about the 12, 12-bit ADC channels, the LCD and camera interface, the resistive touch-screen interface, and the embedded crypto-engine. This is only about first impressions, and the word that comes to mind is “Wow”. Just, wow.

Windows Compact 7 started on Atmel SAMA5D3

Left: Windows Compact 7 started on Atmel SAMA5D3
Right:  SAMA5D3 Xplained kit has connectors for Arduino Shields and dual Ethernet ports

Usually, when buying a board, people asked “What can I use it for?”. Today, that question seems to be “What can’t I do with this?”, and to be honest, I can’t answer that right now.

I can see this device powering IoT, wearable devices, automotive designs and industrial equipment.

Of course, devices cost money, and the more complicated they are, the more they cost. Add to that the exceptional build quality, and you might expect this evaluation board to be prohibitively expensive, but it isn’t. The board itself is available for under 70€.

A friend at Atmel asked me to write something on this board. Well, that’s what I’m doing. No, really. I have a full Linux distribution on an SD card. I’ve connected it to my home network through an Ethernet cable and I’m connected via SSH. The board itself is sitting on my lap, powered by a 9V battery. He wanted me to write an article on the board? That’s what I’m doing; I’m writing this review on the board, through SSH. I’ve been playing about with Atmel’s SAMA5D3 Xplained for a few days now, and I love it. Decades ago, I dreamed of having a small-factor computer, and that is when I got into the original Maker scene; we created home electronics, and controlled them from desktop computers. This board, sitting on my lap, is more powerful than that machine by an order of magnitude. The evaluation board itself has impressive potential, but that only reflects a fraction of what the processor itself can do. I’ll be having a lot of fun with this.

Video: ARM interviews Atmel’s Jacko Wilbrink

Earlier today, the ARM crew interviewed Atmel exec Jacko Wilbrink on the sidelines of Embedded World 2014 in Nuremberg, Germany.

Wilbrink discussed Atmel’s popular ARM-based SAMA5D3 microprocessor, confirming that the MPU has been a “tremendous success for Atmel.”

Wilbrink also said Atmel will continue to offer scalable ARM-based MPUs, with an eye on introducing more dual-core implementations in the future. 

Last, but certainly not least, Wilbrink showcased Newark’s (element14) new $79 Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained evaluation kit – a low-cost, fast prototyping and evaluation platform for microprocessor-based design.

The board, which is powered by Atmel’s SAMA5D3 ARM Cortex-A5 processor-based MPU, is packed with a rich set of ready-to-use connectivity and storage peripherals, along with Arduino shield-compatible expansion headers for easy customization. In addition, the platform is a perfect target for headless Android projects, while a Linux distribution and software package facilitates rapid software development.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the SAMA5D3 series is ideal for wearable computing and mobile applications where low power and a small footprint are critical. Key SAMA5D3 Xplained features include:

  • Fully documented and readily available Cortex-A5 based MPU solution
  • Rich set of peripherals, specifically on connectivity
  • USB power (no need for power adaptor)
  • Flexibility – Arduino-compatible connectors, enabling the user to leverage the extensive Arduino shields ecosystem
  • Open Source hardware – All design files available; easy to reuse in customer projects
Software package with drivers and examples for bare metal developers
  • Qt developers kit and Linux distribution free of charge

The new SAMA5D3 Xplained evaluation kit – priced at $79 – is slated to ship in mid-March 2014 from Farnell element14 in Europe, Newark element14 in North America and element14 in APAC. You can pre-register for the board here.