Tag Archives: empu

Active-Semi goes turnkey with Atmel’s eMPUs

Active-Semi has debuted a number of reference design solutions for Atmel’s ARM Cortex A5 and ARM9-based eMPUs (Embedded Micro Processor Units) using Active-Semi’s ACT8865 and ACT8945A PMICs (Power Management Integrated Circuits).


According to Jacko Wilbrink, Senior Product Marketing Director of ARM eMPU & Secure at Atmel, the above-mentioned embedded solutions offer high differentiation, specifically for low-power applications such as smartwatches, wearables, POS (Point-of-Sale) and HMI (Human Machine Interface).

“These turnkey, highly integrated power IC solutions from Active-Semi fit well with Atmel’s eMPU platform approach by reducing design cycle-time up to 80% and enabling the lowest standby power (under 2mW), critical in conserving battery life in portable applications,” Wilbrink explained. “Working with Active-Semi to develop the ACT8865 and ACT8945A Family of PMICs has helped to further simplify our customer’s system design and reduce the number of power components by as much as 80 percent.”

As Mark Cieri, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Active-Semi notes, the ACT8865 and ACT8945A PMICs integrate the complete voltage regulator requirements of Atmel eMPU-based systems, including three step-down DC-DC converters and two low-dropout (LDO) linear regulators – all while leaving free two additional LDO for auxiliary customer-specific functions.

The devices also include pre-configured power rail sequencing that removes the associated design complexity of discrete solution alternatives. In addition, the ACT8945A offers an integrated battery charger and ActivePath power path management to efficiently regulate battery charging. Both products offer serial communication interfaces to configure and control the operation of the PMICs.

“We see tremendous market opportunity for high density and energy efficient microprocessors such as Atmel’s SAMA5 and SAM9 that are enabling a new class of consumer and industrial embedded applications,” Cieri added. “Our ACT8865 and ACT8945A devices have proven valuable, as they enable up to a 50% reduction in both size and total cost of the power solution but at higher performance than the discrete alternatives.”

The ACT8865 and ACT8945A are in production today. For more information and to order samples, evaluation kits or Atmel reference design information, readers can visit www.active-semi.com/AtmelPMU.

Maintaining a stable process control with Atmel’s SAMA5D3 eMPU

The concept of process control is typically associated with industry, as it enables mass production and regulation of multiple activities and facilities including oil refining, paper manufacturing, chemicals and power plants. Specifically, process control facilitates automation, allowing a relatively small staff of personnel to operate a complex process from a central control room.

The controller itself is tasked with ensuring predictable operation of functions such as logic, sequencing, timing, counting and algorithms. As such, design considerations must take a number of critical variables into account, including secure and reliable communication to ensure data integrity and encryption. In terms of connectivity, a broad range of interfaces are required to communicate with end nodes, a user interface (UI) and other control blocks.


Atmel’s SAMA5D3 (ARM) Cortex-A5 based eMPU can be used to power such a controller along with additional Atmel components including the AT86RF231/232/233 RF Transceiver, ATZigBit RF Module and ATPL100A FSK PLC Controller.

“SAMA5D3 eMPUs boast high-bandwidth, hardware security and rich connectivity to address key design considerations for a process controller. First off, it offers high-bandwidth architecture for real-time and reliable operation, along with a fully integrated MMU and Floating Point Unit (VFP) for accelerated graphics processing,” an Atmel engineer told Bits & Pieces.

“The SAMA5D3 also features 64-bit internal bus architecture, 32-bit external bus interface (EBI) and supports up to 39 DMA channels to enhance real-time performance. Meanwhile, Secure Boot supports encrypted code storage – allowing authenticated start-up and secure field upgrades. Additional security features include Integrated Hardware Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA), True Random Number Generator (TRNG) and AES/DES Encryption Engines.”

On the connectivity side, Atmel’s SAMA5D3 (ARM) Cortex-A5 based eMPU lineup supports Fieldbus to End Nodes, Ethernet to Smaller PLC or I/O Devices, or Ethernet to HMI or Higher-Level Control. Additional key hardware specs include Gigabit EMAC with real-time stamping (IEEE 1588), 10/100 EMAC, three HS USB Ports, Dual CAN, three SDIO/SD/MMC, 7 UARTs and 6 SPIs.

In terms of software, Atmel’s SAMA5D3 offers an extensive development ecosystem with Linux 3.6.6 OS support, including sources, pre-built demos with installation scripts, build
instructions, as well as tips & tricks.

There are also in-house and third-party suppliers of modules, kits, UI solutions and OS/RTOS/Middleware, along with an ATSAMA5D3-EK Evaluation Kit that facilitates rapid evaluation and code development.

Additional information about Atmel’s SAMA5D3 eMPUs can be found here.

Designing an industrial control panel with Atmel’s SAMA5D3

An industrial control panel or terminal provides a visual interface for operators to monitor and control equipment, typically in a factory setting.

Clearly, industrial control panels must support high-end graphics without negatively impacting system communication. And in today’s connected world, the panels must also be capable of linking and seamlessly interfacing with a wide variety of external peripherals as well as accessories.

Atmel’s SAMA5D3 (ARM) Cortex-A5 eMPU, paired with a maXTouch-powered display, is an industrial control panel platform that is more than capable of fulfilling the above-mentioned requirements.


“Atmel’s platform offers high processing power and bandwidth for optimized graphics performance with the ARM Cortex-A5 based SAMA5D3 – which boasts a fully integrated MMU and a floating point unit to accelerate graphics processing. Meanwhile, our 32-bit DDR-2 memory interface provides high bandwidth to support high resolution screen displays and render complex animation,” an Atmel engineer told us.

“We also offer three high-speed USB Ports with integrated PHY, providing simultaneous support for three USB clients – which removes the need for an external hub. Plus, there are multiple interfaces available, including Gigabit EMAC with full IEEE 1588 support.”

In terms of graphics, the SAMA5D3 offers integrated resistive touch screen support, along with a direct interface to an external (maXTouch) capacitive touch screen module. On the software side, support for Linux 3.6.6 includes sources, pre-built demos with installation scripts, build instructions, along with various tips and tricks.

Atmel’s extensive development system also includes in-house and third-party modules, kits, OS/RTOS/Middleware and UI options, with the SAMA5D3-EK Evaluation Kit enabling rapid code development.

Additional information about the SAMA5D3 can be found here.

Designing portable fitness devices with Atmel’s SAMA5D3 eMPU lineup

Atmel’s lineup of ARM Cortex-A5 processor-based eMPUs (embedded microprocessor units) do not compromise when it comes to performance, power and ease of use.


Operating at 850DMIPS at under 200mW, the SAMA5D3 eMPU is ideal for a wide range of high-performance, low-power and cost-sensitive industrial applications, including control panels, smart grid devices and bar code scanners.

Of course, the SAMA5D3 eMPU lineup can also power fitness and outdoor portable electronic equipment, which are often used to measure performance (or provide navigation) for various outdoor activities, including running, cycling, hiking and golf.

Such devices offer low active and standby power consumption, while reducing battery size and extending time between charges and offering fast wake up to respond to user commands.


Key (supported) features include direct support for TFT displays, capacitive touch,
camera sensors and audio. On the software side, designers can look forward to Atmel’s extensive SAMA5D3 dev ecosystem, which offers up in-house as well as third-party suppliers in modules, kits, OS, RTOS, Middleware and UI solutions. Atmel also provides and supports Linux 3.6.6 as well as Android 4.0 (ICS) packages, while the SAMA5D3x-EK evaluation kit facilitates quick evaluation and development.

Interested? Additional information can be found on Atmel’s SAMA5D3 ARM Cortex-A5 eMPU homepage.