Tag Archives: Cortex-A5

Newark debuts new Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained board

Newark element14 has debuted a new Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained evaluation kit – a low-cost, fast prototyping and evaluation platform for microprocessor-based design.

The board, which is built around 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.

“Our partnership with Newark element14 on the development and manufacturing of this kit and its first set of expansion boards enables engineers from all communities to build applications requiring rapid prototyping and evaluation for their MPU designs,” said Jacko Wilbrink, Sr. Marketing Director of Microprocessors, Atmel Corporation.

“The new board offers features such as mid-range graphical user interfaces, capacitive touch capability, wired and wireless communication, free of charge Linux distribution and QT developer’s kit.”

Meanwhile, David Shen, Chief Technology Officer at Premier Farnell, noted that Atmel’s versatile ARM Cortex-A5 processor-based MPUs neatly balance performance with ultra low power consumption.

“This new Atmel Xplained kit, in addition to our soon-to-be-available expansion boards which will add more capabilities to the SAMA5D3 platform, will be very helpful to professional engineers as well as Makers, hobbyists, educators and students, both within and outside their main employment.”

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 SAMA5D3 Xplained – 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 new Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained board here.

MCU maestro talks ARM and Atmel’s SAM D20

Atmel Sr. Product Marketing Manager Andreas Eieland (@AndreasMCUguy) recently sat down with ARM’s Andrew Frame to discuss the recently launched SAM D20 family of products.

As Eieland notes, the first ARM Cortex-M0+ powered lineup from Atmel is the general purpose SAM D20 family – ranging all the way from 32 pin devices with 16KB of embedded Flash to 64 pin 256KB devices.

“We have learnt a lot about microcontrollers (MCUs) since Atmel launched the first 8051 micro in 1995 and the first AVR in 1996,” Eieland explained. “A lot of this know-how is included in the new SAM D20 family: from simple things that make the devices easy to develop with like making the devices pin and code compatible, to more advanced system integration technologies.”

According to Eieland, there are a number of reasons why Atmel decided to move forward and bring a Cortex-M0+ based family to the market.

“First of all, we are a dedicated ARM partner and already have Cortex-M3, Cortex-M4 and Cortex-A5 products available, as well as products based on the ARM9 and ARM7 cores, so ensuring a complete ARM portfolio for our customers by extending the product offering downwards with a Cortex-M0+ was a natural thing to do,” he said.

“Secondly, the Cortex-M0+  market space is growing and we want to make sure that those developers who need more computational power than what you find in an 8 or 16-bit solution can find a product fit with Atmel. And last, but certainly not least, we are confident that mixing our AVR knowledge with an industry standard core allows us to bring a really good, unique and easy to use product to the market.”

The full text of the latest ARM-Atmel interview can be read here.

Designing a multi-purpose thermal label printer with Atmel’s SAMA5D3 eMPU

A thermal label printer produces fixed size labels (barcodes) for product identification and asset tracking. These printers are specifically designed for markets such as logistics, gaming, vehicle rental, pharmaceuticals and retail.

Primary design considerations of such a device include fast start-up printing, high resolution output and optimized printing speeds. A thermal label printer is also likely to feature Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet, as well as a Flash disk, SDCard, RFID and various ports.


Atmel’s SAMA5D3 (ARM) Cortex-A5 based eMPU, along with the AT30TSE Serial EEPROM (+temp sensor) and ATtiny/AT42QT Touch ICs, can be used to build a multi-purpose thermal label printer that fulfills the above-mentioned design requirements.

“Atmel’s ATSAMA5D3 eMPU offers powerful CPU operating performance and a high level of integration to address the needs of high-end thermal label printers,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces.

“First off, the Cortex-A5 can be clocked up to 536MHz (850DMIPS). There is also 32KBytes D-Cache, 32KBytes I-Cache, 32-bit DDR2/LPDDR2, as well as a NAND Flash memory interface that facilitates fast boot times and high speed data storage. Meanwhile, an (additional) external 16-bit interface is available for external FPGA-based print engines, along with a high-speed SPI/UART/I2C to support high-speed thermal printer heads.”

The engineering rep noted that Atmel’s SAMA5D3-based platform boasts three fully independent HS USB Host/Device with on chip transceivers, along with three independent SDIO controllers supporting Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and SDCard/Flash disk storage. There is also an embedded Ethernet MAC 10/100 and Gigabit Ethernet MAC 10/100/1000.

“In terms of integration capabilities, we offer integrated SPI, TWI, USART, SSC, 10-bit ADC, SDIO and EBI – all of which facilitate connections to a number of components including a thermal printer head, RFID module, RS232, LCD module, multiple external Micro SD cards, external SDIO wireless modules, serial flash and temperature sensor,” the engineering rep added.

“Lastly, a 160 programmable I/O line supports multiple system peripherals and tasks, such as motors, ribbon, cutter, rewind, backlight, buzzer and sensors.”

On the software side of things, Atmel’s SAMA5D3 supports an extensive development ecosystem and offers Linux 3.6.6 OS support including sources, pre-built demos with installation scripts, build instructions, as well as a plethora of tips and tricks. Plus, the ATSAMA5D3x-EK offers free packages to enable rapid evaluation and coding.

Additional information about Atmel’s ATSAMA5D3 Cortex-A5 based eMPU can be found here.