Tag Archives: MPU

Atmel looks back at Q1 2014 wins and launches

Yesterday, Atmel execs detailed the company’s Q1 2014 highlights. Key launches, collaborative projects and product wins spanned multiple markets, including:

Winning with maXTouch (smartphones) – LG’s G Pro 2, G2 Mini and L Series 3 L90; Verizon’s Lucid 3, Xiaomi’s RedRice 5.5″, Gionee’s Elife S5.5 and ZTE’s Grand S Lite.

Winning with maXTouch (Android and Windows 8 tablets) – Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 10.1,” Galaxy Tab 12.2,” Galaxy Note 12.2″ and HP’s EliteBook 1000 G2.

Collaborating with Corning – Developing ultra-thin, next-generation capacitive touchscreens using Gorilla Glass and XSense.

Working with Mentor GraphicsAccelerating development of next-gen IoT devices using Atmel’s ARM-based Cortex M3 and M4 based microcontrollers under the auspices of the Embedded Nucleus Innovate Program.

Launching maXTouch 1066T and 1068T – Extending product leadership in the large screen capacitive touch market with devices targeted at 7″ – 8.9″ high performance tablets.

Introducing the new automotive maXTouch S lineup – Targeting touchscreens up to 14″ in center consoles, navigation systems, radio interfaces and rear-seat entertainment systems.

Debuting the SmartConnect platform – Integrating Atmel’s ultra-low power microcontrollers (MCUs) and wireless connectivity solutions into turnkey solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Introducing new low-power ARM Cortex M0+ microcontrollers (SAM D21, D10 and D11) – Offering Atmel’s peripheral event system, support for capacitive touch button, slider and wheel user interfaces, multiple serial communications modules, along with a full-speed USB interface, as well as additional pin and memory combinations.

Unveiling new $79 SAMA5D3 Xplained evaluation kit – Providing a low-cost, fast prototyping and evaluation platform for microprocessor-based design built around Atmel’s SAMA5D3 ARM Cortex-A5 processor-based MPU.

Xplaining 8-bit development– Offering a development board for Makers and engineers based on Atmel’s 8-bit AVR technology.

Launching the ATPL230A – Introducing a Power Line Communications (PLC) modem designed to implement the physical layer of the PRIME standard (Power Line Intelligent Metrology Evolution).

Rolling out Atmel Studio 6.2 – Upgrading the popular integrated development environment for Atmel AVR and ARM based microcontrollers.

Ramping up with LIN – Extending Atmel’s automotive in-vehicle networking leadership position with the launch of next-generation, low-power local interconnect networking (LIN) systems.

Atmel celebrates 50 billion with ARM

ARM – which employs over 2,000 people around the globe – has billions of RISC-based processors in the wild and powers approximately 95% of the world’s smartphones. Recently, the British company marked a major milestone: 50 billion ARM-powered chips shipped.

Commenting on the milestone, Reza Kazerounian, Senior Vice President of Microcontrollers at Atmel, noted that ARM helps embedded developers significantly accelerate the development cycle by offering access to standard cores and an extensive ecosystem, including software and reference designs.

Kazerounian also said the next 100 billion chips will likely be led by intelligent connectivity, primarily in the context of the Internet of Things (IoT).

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel offers an extensive portfolio of microcontrollers (MCUs) and microprocessors (MPUs) based on the world’s most popular 8- and 32-bit architectures: Atmel AVR and ARM. Indeed, Atmel’s two decades of microcontroller leadership and innovation include many industry-firsts:

  • The first Flash microcontroller, the first ARM7-based 32-bit Flash microcontroller
  • The first 100nA microcontroller with RAM retention
  • The first ARM9-based Flash microcontroller

“In order to simplify the embedded design process, we’ve meticulously built a robust ecosystem around our ARM microcontrollers,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces. ”Meaning, Atmel offers a wide range of software tools and embedded software that support leading operating systems, along with low-cost evaluation kits.”

In addition, Atmel’s flexible and highly integrated ARM-based MCUs are designed to optimize system control, user interface (UI) management and ease of use. That’s why our ARM Cortex-M3 and M4 based architectures share a single integrated development platform (IDP): Atmel Studio 6. This platform offers time-saving source code with more than 1,600 example projects, access to debuggers/simulators, integration with Atmel QTouchtools for capacitive touch applications and the Atmel Gallery online apps store where embedded software extensions can be downloaded.

Meanwhile, Atmel ARM-based MPUs range from entry-level devices to advanced highly-integrated devices with extensive connectivity, refined interfaces and ironclad security.

“Whether you are working on new, existing or legacy designs, a wide range of Atmel ARM-based devices provides the latest features and functionality. These devices also feature the lowest power consumption, a comprehensive set of integrated peripherals and high-speed connectivity,” the engineering rep added.

Interested in learning more about Atmel’s extensive ARM portfolio? You can check out our ARM MCUs here and our ARM MPUs here.

SAMA5 and SAM9: Atmel’s big iron microprocessors

Atmel is rightly famous for its AVR line of 8-bit Flash microcontrollers. But we also have “big iron” chips like the SAMA5 and SAM9 ARM-core microprocessors. A microcontroller has its own internal Flash memory. A microprocessor uses external memory, as much or as little as your application might need.

Hardware engineers have two big worries with any “big iron” microprocessor. First, they are in big packages, hundreds of pins in a ball-grid array. That can be hard to prototype with, since it needs a fine-line PCB that costs a lot to spin. The other big concern is laying out the DDR memory interface. These are wickedly fast and require best layout practices and some register tweaking to get them up to full speed.

SAMA5D3_Xplained_angle

The SAMA5D3 Xplained kit has connectors for Arduino Shields and dual Ethernet ports.

Thankfully, Atmel has solved both problems with a series of evaluation systems. For the SAMA5, you can start with a 79-dollar SAMA5D3 Xplained Kit. It has solved your DDR memory problem since it’s got 256MB on-board. One of the coolest things is that it has connectors where you can plug in any Arduino Shield. Now you can’t use the Arduino libraries, those are based on Atmel’s 8-bit AVR, but it’s not hard to re-write the open source code libraries into something that will run on ARM, if someone hasn’t done it already. The eval board has Atmel’s SAMA5D36 Cortex-A5 Microprocessor, 256Mbytes of NAND Flash, LCD connectors, dual Ethernet (GMAC + EMAC) with PHY and connectors, three USB connectors (2 Host + 1 Device), one SD/eMMC and one MicroSD slots, expansions headers, and power measurement straps.

SAM9N12-EK_SAM5D3x-MB

Atmel makes eval kits for the SAM9N12 (left) and SAM5D3x ARM-based microprocessors.

For those that are doing higher-level applications, the fact that you can run Linux brings all the advantages of open-source development to the SAMA5 and SAM9 microprocessors. And best yet, you get a powerful CPU that uses very little power thanks to Atmel’s architecture. The SAMA5 uses 150mW when running at full speed. It has a DDR controller that give you 1328MB/s of bandwidth. It comes with for gigabit Ethernet, 3 USB ports, dual CAN, UARTs, SPI, and an LCD controller with a graphics accelerator. There is a camera interface, a 12-bit analog to digital converter (ADC) and 32-bit timers.

A SAMA5 chip can run Linux and even has the power to run Android in a “headless” application, that is, where there is not a high-resolution display to eat up your CPU cycles. With an ARM core it’s ideal if you want to do “bare metal” development, where you are writing native ARM code.

SAM9N12-block-diagram

The SAM9N12 architecture gives you low power and a great peripheral set.

Looking at the SAM9, the SAM9CN runs at 400MHz. They have security built in with a cryptographic engine and a secure boot. There is an LCD controller with touchscreen interface, USB, MLC NAND memory support, along with multiple UARTs and I2C. It sips 103mW at 400MHz.

You can get separate LCD panels made to work with the SAMA5 Xplained kit. But if you want to get a SAMA5 kit with the LCD already included, look at the 595-dollar SAMA5D31, SAMA5D33, SAMA5D34 and SAMA5D36 kits. There is also the 445-dollar SAMA5D35 kit, which is cheaper since it does not have an LCD system. These kits cost more but they come ready to go. These are a small working computer that you can immediately start programming in high-level languages or Linux scripts. The kits come with installed applications for its Qt-based GUI.

SAMA5D3-EK_launch-screen

The SAM5A5Dx-EK demo kit comes with Linux and some demo applications pre-installed.

And if you dread laying out a PCB with a working DDR memory interface, but don’t need the whole $595 kit, you can get help there as well. You will notice that the microprocessor and memory are on a little mezzanine PCB in the SAMA5D3 demo kits. This PCB will be available from Embest and other partners. The SAM9 is also available as a tiny SBC (single-board computer).

SAMA5D3-EK_mezzinine_PCB

The SAMA5D3-EK series are designed with a mezzanine card holding the CPU and DDR memory. You can use this card in your high-volume designs.

So now you can develop your custom hardware starting with the SAMA5D3 kit, and then make your own custom hardware that still uses the same exact CPU+memory mezzanine card. While you are perfecting and troubleshooting that hardware, your software team can be working on the Atmel eval kit. This paralleled development will substantially speed up your time to market. And best yet, you won’t be bogged down trying to troubleshoot the DDR memory interface, since it is already working on the mezzanine card.

So don’t just think of 8-bit AVRs when you consider Atmel. We make some really high-power MPU products for everything from IoT (Internet of Things) servers to routers and industrial automation. With Atmel’s kits and our extensive partner network, we can get you up and running in no time, for very little cost, and you can have confidence you designs will work on that final hardware spin.

A closer look at Atmel’s new SAMA5D3 Xplained board

Earlier this week, Bits & Pieces got up close and personal with Atmel’s SAM R21 Xplained Pro, an evaluation kit that allows developers to more easily design connected lighting, smart metering and wireless sensor network systems based on true Internet-connectivity and open standards such as IPv6 and 6lowpan.

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at Atmel’s new SAMA5D3 Xplained board – a low-cost, fast prototyping and evaluation platform for microprocessor-based design.

The board, which recently debuted at Embedded World 2014, is built around Atmel’s SAMA5D3 ARM Cortex-A5 processor-based MPU and packed with a rich set of ready-to-use connectivity and storage peripherals, along with Arduino shield-compatible expansion headers for easy customization. 

The platform is also a perfect target for headless Android projects, while a Linux distribution and software package facilitates rapid software development.

Aside from Atmel’s ARM-based SAMA5D36 Cortex-A5 microprocessor (MPU), key specs include:

  • 2GBit DDR2 – Micron
  • 2GBit Flash – Micron
  • 1- Ethernet 10/100/1000 (- Phy + connector)
  • 1- Ethernet 10/100 (-Phy + connector)
1- USB Device connector, 2- USB Host connectors
  • Active Semi PMIC
  • Power measurement straps
  • SD/MMCPlus 8-bit Card slot
  • 1- Micro SDCard 4-bit slot footprint
  • 1- 6-lead 3V3-level serial port
  • 10-pin J-TAG connector
  • 2- push buttons, reset and startup
  • 1- general purpose push button
  • 2- general purpose LEDs
  • Arduino R3-compatible header plus LCD connectors mounted
  • Linux distribution
  • Bare Metal C code example
  • Headless Android support

Simply put, 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 a QT developer’s kit.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the ARM-based 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 board is available from Newark element 14 at a $79 price point.

Video: The connected IoT ‘fridge concept



Timesys is a Pittsburgh-based company that helps software developers build and maintain custom Linux platforms for embedded processors.

Recently, Timesys showcased its futuristic IoT fridge concept at Embedded World 2014. The prototype platform is powered by an ARM-based Atmel microprocessor (MPU).

As you can see in the video above, the next-gen ‘fridge concept is designed to keep track of food, reporting both missing and expired items. 

It also offers a live link to an Epicurious app, allowing users to quickly check what can be cooked with the ingredients available in the ‘fridge.

Last, but certainly not least, users can also leave messages to each other on a built-in whiteboard.

In related news, the folks at Berg recently debuted Cloudwatch, an Arduino Mega-based (ATmega1280) prototype Zanussi washing machine connected to a web platform.

The futuristic washing machine allows users to remotely program wash loads and even purchase detergent – all with a simple mobile app. Currently, Cloudwash offers three basic customizable options, which can be configured using the smartphone app. Although Cloudwatch is still only a prototype, it does show both the industry and the masses a glimpse at how the Internet of Things (IoT) is capable of significantly changing our daily routine.

Indeed, as we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the IoT comprises a combination of multiple market segments, tens of thousands of OEMs and hundreds of thousands of products. To be sure, the IoT is seen by many as the next wave of dramatic market growth for semiconductors and is expected to be worth trillions of dollars for a wide range of industries.

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.

Open Yooquik: Home automation the Atmel and ARM way

Open Yooquik – a home automation system powered by Acme’s Acqua A5 System on Module (SoM) – is built around Atmel’s ARM-based SAMA5D3 microprocessor (MPU).

Aside from the SAMA5D3 MPU, key hardware features include:

  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (AP or client mode)
  • 868MHz RF transceiver module FSK modulation
  • One USB host port
  • Three filtered inputs (24V max)
  • 
Two opto isolated outputs (open drain)
  • Relay output
  • Tamper switch
  • MEMS sensors: temperature/humidity, barometer, three-axis accelerometer
  • On board buzzer
  • LiPo 1C battery charger
  • 9-24V DC input power supply
  • 6 expansion connectors for additional modules: UMTS, XBee, MBus radio, RS232, RS485, RS422, NFC/RFID, audio, industrial I/O, A/D converter, custom modules (UART / I2C / SPI)

“Other automation systems connect remote devices [via] wires or WiFi connection,” an Open Yooquik rep explained on the product’s official page.

“[However], we have chosen a different way: the main controller behaves as an access point or as a WiFi client connected to your home network, whereas all remote devices are connected to the main controller with a RF radio. About 700 meters are covered without repeaters.”

On the software-server side, the Yooquik crew has deployed Node.js, while the RF modules arrive preloaded with firmware to facilitate a true plug-and-play experience. Yooquik also offers easy access to cloud, allowing users to manage multiple devices with a simple API.

“To develop your iOS or Android native app, you can use our Javascript libraries and the amazing Cordova/PhoneGap project,” the rep added. 

”Nothing could be easier to control your home automation system from your smartphone. Forget router NAT configurations: connect your app to our cloud and you manage all your Yooquik devices.”

Interested in learning more about Open Yooquik? You can check out the product’s official page here.

Atmel’s AT91SAM9X25 powers iPAC-9X25 SBC

EMAC has debuted the iPAC-9X25, an embedded single board computer (SBC) powered by Atmel’s ARM-based AT91SAM9X25 microprocessor (MPU).

The iPAC-9X25 is targeted at a number of applications, including industrial temperature operations, embedded data acquisition and control.

Key specs include an industrial temperature range of -40C to 85C, 4GB of eMMC Flash, 16MB of serial data Flash (for boot) and 128 MB of DDR RAM.

“The iPac-9X25 is a web enabled [platform] with the ability to run an embedded server and display the current monitored or logged data,” an EMAC rep explained in a recent blog post.

“The web connection is available via two 10/100 Base T Ethernet ports, or 802.11 wireless WiFi networking when using [specific] Linux modules and adapters. All connectors [are] brought out as headers on [the] board, [with] the same footprint of a standard PC/104 module at 3.77″ x 3.54″.”

Additional features include:

  • One RS232 serial port with full handshake (RTS/CTS/DTR/DSR/RI)
  • 
Two RS232 serial ports (TX and RX only)
  • One RS232/422/485 serial port with RTS/CTS handshake
  • Two 10/100 Base T Ethernet ports
  • Two USB 2.0 Host ports
  • One USB device port
  • 7 channels of 12 bit A/D (0-3.3 volt)
  • 
Internal real time clock/calendar with battery backup
  • 21 GPIO (3.3 V) lines on header
  • 
8 high drive open collector dedicated digital output lines with configurable voltage tolerance
  • 
16 GPIO (3.3V) on header
  • 2 PWM I/O lines with additional 4 PWN lines shared with A/D
  • 
5 Synchronous Serial I/O lines (I2S)
  • 
5 SPI lines (2 SPI CS), I2C Bus and CAN Bus
  • Micro SD socket and an external reset button
  • Red power and green status LEDs

The iPac-9X25 is currently priced at $198, while additional information about the product is available here.

Celebrating 50 billion chips with ARM



ARM – which employs over 2,000 people around the globe – has billions of RISC-based processors in the wild and powers approximately 95% of the world’s smartphones. Recently, the British company marked a major milestone: 50 billion ARM-powered chips shipped.

As you can see in the infographic above, 20% of the ARM chips are slated for embedded applications, including automotive, touch-screen controllers, industrial equipment, connectivity and smartcards.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel offers an extensive portfolio of microcontrollers (MCUs) and microprocessors (MPUs) based on the world’s most popular 8- and 32-bit architectures: Atmel AVR and ARM. Indeed, Atmel’s two decades of microcontroller leadership and innovation include many industry-firsts:

  • The first Flash microcontroller, the first ARM7-based 32-bit Flash microcontroller
  • The first 100nA microcontroller with RAM retention
  • The first ARM9-based Flash microcontroller

“In order to simplify the embedded design process, we’ve meticulously built a robust ecosystem around our ARM microcontrollers,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces. ”Meaning, Atmel offers a wide range of software tools and embedded software that support leading operating systems, along with low-cost evaluation kits.”

In addition, Atmel’s flexible and highly integrated ARM-based MCUs are designed to optimize system control, user interface (UI) management and ease of use. That’s why our ARM Cortex-M3 and M4 based architectures share a single integrated development platform (IDP): Atmel Studio 6. This platform offers time-saving source code with more than 1,600 example projects, access to debuggers/simulators, integration with Atmel QTouchtools for capacitive touch applications and the Atmel Gallery online apps store where embedded software extensions can be downloaded.

Meanwhile, Atmel ARM-based MPUs range from entry-level devices to advanced highly-integrated devices with extensive connectivity, refined interfaces and ironclad security.

“Whether you are working on new, existing or legacy designs, a wide range of Atmel ARM-based devices provides the latest features and functionality. These devices also feature the lowest power consumption, a comprehensive set of integrated peripherals and high-speed connectivity,” the engineering rep added.

Interested in learning more about Atmel’s extensive ARM portfolio? You can check out our ARM MCUs here and our ARM MPUs here.

AT91SAM9X35 powers SBC with touchscreen display



Premier Farnell has launched the EDM6070AR-01, a fully-integrated embedded display module (EDM) that pairs an ARM9-based single board computer (SBC) with a 7” LCD and touch-screen assembly. According to Premier Farnell CTO David Shen, the multi-function embedded EDM is powered by Atmel’s  AT91SAM9X35 industrial microprocessor (MPU).

armsbcdisplay3

“The EDM6070AR-01, designed as an all-in-one solution, is ideally suited for a variety of embedded control HMI (human machine interface) applications including industrial control terminals, intelligent instruments, medical products, network terminals as well as data acquisition and analysis,” he explained.

armsbcdisplay1

“The module has a plate with display, connectors and place for the Mini6935 module with ARM microcontroller.”

The module also includes a pre-loaded Smart-Home demo app with an intuitive smart-LED controller that allows users to set independent light levels in each room, regulate temperature and humidity, play streamed audio files and manage surveillance cameras.

armsbcdisplay2

Aside from Atmel’s ARM-based MPU, key EDM6070AR-01 specs include:

  • 128MB DDR2 SDRAM
  • 256MB NAND Flash
  • 4MB Data Flash
  • 24-bit TFT LCD module, 7” (800 x 480, 24-bit color depth)
  • four-wire resistive touch-screen
  • SD card interface
  • Power supply: +12V@1.25A

On the software side, the EDM6070AR-01 is packaged with Linux BSP, offering support for Linux QT GUI (Graphical User Interface) and multiple file systems such as FAT and NTFS. 

As noted above, the SBC is also supplied with a Smart Home demo app and a number of example applications for developers.

armsbcdisplay4

The EDM6070AR-01 is available for $179 with the 7” LCD, although a standalone CPU module can be picked up for $69. Both are live on Farnell element14 in Europe, Newark element14 in North America and element14 in APAC.