Tag Archives: floating point unit

Designing a gateway with Atmel’s SAMA5D35 eMPU

A gateway can best be described as a device that enables communication between various classes of networks using multiple communication protocols and technologies. A concentrator performs an identical function as a gateway, although it is also capable of acting as an aggregation point for data in smart energy networks.

Key design considerations when building a gateway or concentrator include connectivity (both wired and wireless) to communicate between the different protocols and networks concurrently, as well as integration, high performance and security.


Both concentrator and gateway can be designed using a number of Atmel components, including the SAMA5D35 Cortex-A5 (ARM) eMPU, AT86RF212 900MHz RF transceiver, AT86RF231/233 2.4GHz RF transceivers, ATPL220A Prime PLC controller, ATPL100A FSK PLC controller, ATSHA204 authentication IC and AT30TS temperature sensor.

“Atmel’s SAMA5D35-powered platform offers a highly integrated device with optimized performance and extensive connectivity peripherals to simplify product design and BOM. Connectivity is ensured via a number of integrated comm peripherals including SDIO, CAN, 10/100 Ethernet MAC Controller and a 10/100/1000 Gigabyte Ethernet MAC Controller with IEEE1588 support,” an Atmel engineer told Bits and Pieces.

“There is also an integrated External Bus Interface (EBI) for DDR2 support, a MLC/SLC NAND Controller (including ECC) for NAND Flash, a low-power Real Time Clock (RTC) that can be battery operated during outages and a Floating Point Unit (FPU) for energy calculations and data statistics. Last, but certainly not least, the above-mentioned Atmel platform – which is equipped with 160-Bits of OTP Fuses for secret storage and secure boot – supports a number hardware security functions, including TRNG, AES-256, TDES and SHA256.”

As expected, Atmel also provides Linux support for the ATSAMA5D35 eMPU, along with a full range of development tools, such as RTOS, middleware and support services, as well as free software packages like TCP/IP stacks and Wi-Fi drivers. Meanwhile, an Evaluation Kit facilitates code development of applications running on a ATSAMA5D35-based device.

Additional information about Atmel’s ATSAMA5D35 Cortex-A5 eMPU can be found here.

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.

Building a high-end barcode scanner with Atmel’s SAMA5D31

High-end barcode scanners are typically designed to read 1-D, 2-D, matrix or QR barcodes. Such devices must be capable of achieving high performance with low power sipping – as well as rapidly processing and decoding large amounts of data.

Similarly, a high-end barcode scanner must ensure low latency and boast high-throughput architecture to minimize image capture time – all with a large buffer memory tasked with storing multiple images at the highest frame rate.

Atmel offers a number of versatile components that can be used as a platform for building a reliable high-end barcode scanner, including the SAMA5D31 Cortex-A5 based eMPU.


“The SAMA5D31 brings high processing power, data throughput, and integration to address current barcode scanner design trends. This includes high performance with low power, less than 200mW at 536MHz operation, less than 0.5mW in low-power operating modes, and less than 2uA in backup mode for extended battery life,” an Atmel engineer told Bits & Pieces.

“There is also a Floating Point Unit (FPU) for accelerated image processing, integrated External Bus Interface (EBI) for DDR2/LPDDR2, along with support for up to 39 DMA channels (double buffering) to minimize CPU load and reduce real-time constraints. In addition, the SAMA5D31 boasts integrated serial peripherals – SPI, SDIO, I2C, USB and USARTS – for interfacing to communications modules, as well as an Image Sensor Interface (ISI) for direct connection to CCD modules.”

In terms of software, Atmel’s SAMA5D3 lineup supports a rather expansive development ecosystem, such as Linux 3.6.6, Windows and Android 4.0. Support for the above-mentioned operating systems include sources, pre-built demos with installation scripts, build instructions, as well as various tips and tricks.

Additional support includes third-party suppliers for module kits, OS/RTOS/Middleware and UIs. And last, but certainly not least, the SAMA5D31-EK offers free S/W packages to facilitate rapid evaluation and code development.

More key data related to Atmel’s SAMA5D3 can be found here

The ARM-Atmel Churchill Club connection

Early this morning, journalists, analysts and industry watchers gathered at the Churchill Club in San Francisco to discuss cross-industry collaboration between ARM and its extensive network of partners.

Collaboration is often easier to talk about than achieve in Silicon Valley, yet ARM has been incredibly successful with its licensing model, generating an ecosystem that spans multiple industries and spaces – including the incredibly lucrative mobile market.


“ARM is in a fantastic state of health. Of course there are lots of challenges ahead, but we are confident our open partnership model is the way forward,” said incoming CEO Simon Segars.

“We have always thrived on a culture of collaboration from the very beginning, an attitude which has only increased with the rise of the Internet and social networking.”

Segars also noted that ARM had begun as a small start-up in a converted farmhouse with a limited budget.

“From the start, we knew we couldn’t do everything ourselves, and needed partners to make it work,” he said. “So we have always worked very closely with people from various industries.”

Clearly, ARM’s strategy has paid off over the years, as the Cambridge-based company has built up an impressive portfolio of collaborative IP projects with a number of industry heavyweights.

One example of close collaboration with ARM is the use of the company’s architecture in a number of Atmel microcontrollers, including the recently launched SAM4E and SAMA5D3.

As previously discussed on Bits and Pieces, the SAM4E is based on ARM’s high-performance 32-bit Cortex-M4 RISC processor with a floating point unit (FPU). It runs at a maximum speed of 120MHz and features up to 1024KB of Flash, 2KB of cache memory and up to 128KB of SRAM. Meanwhile, the SAMA5D3 is built around ARM’s Cortex-A5 processor, operating at up to 536MHz (850DMIPS) at under 200mW.

There are obviously many more examples of collaboration between Atmel and ARM which can be found here.

New ARM Cortex-M4 Flash MCU: Advanced Connectivity, Floating Point Unit

Industrial applications–from home and building control to machine-to-machine (M2M) communications to energy management–call for underlying technology with abundant connectivity peripherals, processing power and analog capabilities. Atmel’s newest ARM Cortex-M4 processor-based Flash microcontroller, the SAM4E, delivers on all of these fronts.

  • 10/100Mbps Ethernet MAC supporting IEEE 1588, full-speed USB 2.0 device and dual CAN
  • More processing power with a maximum operating frequency of 120MHz
  • Floating point unit
  • Two independent 16-bit ADCs with dual sample and hold, offset and gain error correction, programmable gain amplifier

As with Atmel’s other ARM Cortex-M as well as AVR microcontrollers, the SAM4E devices are supported by the Atmel Studio 6 integrated development platform. A free download, Atmel Studio 6 comes with more than 1,600 project examples that minimize much of the low-level coding for designs. With its integrated Atmel Gallery apps store, you can access a variety of Atmel and third-party embedded software, tools and extensions to support your design process.

Learn how SAM4E microcontrollers can support your next design.