Tag Archives: SAMA5D3 Xplained board

SAMA5D3 Xplained gets unboxed

Atmel’s recently launched SAMA5D3 Xplained board is a low-cost, fast prototyping and evaluation platform for microprocessor-based design.

The $79 board, which made its debut 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, with a Linux distribution and software package facilitating rapid software development.

Earlier this week, CNXSoft of CNX Software unboxed the $79 board and documented the experience with pictures and detailed observations.

So, let’s get started. CNXSoft kicks off the unboxing by describing the items accompanying the board, including a micro USB to USB cable for power and programming, along with a small card titled “Overview and Compliance Information” which details EU compliance information regarding RoHS2 and EMC (the board is compliant with both CE and FCC standards).

“On the top of the board, we’ll find the 2 USB host connectors, and 2 Ethernet connectors (GMAC and EMAC). On the right, the micro USB port, as well as pads to solder an external power supply and a micro SD slot on the left, reset, wake up and user buttons, as well as JTAG, LCD, and debug (serial) connectors at the bottom, and around the MPU and memories, the Arduino UNO R3 compatible headers with the names of the different pins,” he writes.

“On the back we’ll find the SD card slot, and again, the markings for the Arduino compatible connectors.”

As CNXSoft notes, the board arrrives pre-loaded with a Linux distribution (poky) built with the Yocto Project, comprising bootloaders (AT91Bootstrap and U-boot), the Linux kernel and a custom lightweight rootfs. To get started, simply connect the micro USB to USB cable to a PC to boot the system.

“You should see a blue LED lit up and blink. There’s no display, but there are three ways to access the board from Linux or Windows computers: PC USB, USB to serial and SSH,” he writes.

“You can login with the board using the root account without password. The USB and SSH methods are the most convenient since you don’t need to connect extra hardware, but you won’t be able to access the bootloader that way, debugging the Linux kernel, if needed, will be difficult, and each time, the board is rebooted, the connection will be lost. So for development, you should really get a serial to USB debug board.”

Next, CNXSoft takes a quick look at the kernel version and memory usage, noting 136M free on the rootfs and 21MB used out of 246 MB RAM. He then follows the build procedure found on GitHub, initializing the build directory, adding meta-atmel layers conf/bblayer config files, editing conf/local.conf to specify the SAMA5D3 Xplained board, building and finally, installing the demo image.

 Subsequently, CNXSoft describes the flash procedure, which comprises the following steps:

  • Making sure the board is connected to a PC via the micro USB port
  • Removing JP5 (NAND CS, upper left of Atmel MPU) jumper to disable NAND Flash memory access
  • Pressing BP2 reset button (bottom left) to boot from on-chip Boot ROM
  • Closing JP5 to enable NAND Flash memory access
  • Changing the name of copy the device tree blob file
  • Running the flash script: chmod +x demo_linux_nandflash.sh

“It will take a little while, and once completed you can login to the board and verify you’ve got a brand new kernel and rootfs. You can also check the flashing log in logfile.log in case something went wrong,” he added.

Interested in learning more? You can check out the CNX Software’s full unoboxing write up here or buy the SAMA5D3 Xplained from Atmel’s official store here.

Atmel’s commitment to students and Makers

MCU Applications Manager Bob Martin reiterated Atmel’s long-standing commitment to the international Maker Movement during an EELive! 2014 Tech Talk.


“The DIY Maker Movement is dynamic and particularly active on sites like Kickstarter and spaces such as 3D printing,” Martin explained. “We recognize that coming up with the next major innovation is no longer limited to industry heavyweights, but rather, is likely to be prototyped and developed in garages and Makerspaces.”

Martin also noted that Atmel was at the heart of most Arduino boards on the market today and highlighted Atmel’s new SAMA5D3 Xplained board – a low-cost, fast prototyping and evaluation platform for microprocessor-based design.

According to Martin, the board is targeted at both veteran developers and Makers. Indeed, the $79 SAMA5D3 Xplained – 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.

The platform is also perfect for headless Android projects, with a Linux distribution and software package helping to facilitate rapid software development.

On the software side, Martin briefly discussed the Arduino plug-in for Visual Studio (via Visual Micro), which offers a more detailed and complex environment for developers and Makers looking to supercharge their sketches.

Last, but certainly not least, Martin talked about Atmel’s popular University Program which helps familiarize both students and instructors with the embedded space, while facilitating migration from 8-bit to 32-bit development.

“Atmel offers a full day course for universities, split in two primary sessions. Both are free of charge. The morning session focuses on basic robotics using an Atmel AVR XMegaA3BU Xplained board,” said Martin.

“Course participants are taught pulse and width modulation techniques, as well as how to configure a collision avoidance program with basic algorithms. Attendees of the morning session get to take home their XMegaA3BU Xplained Board and a JTAGICE 3 hardware debugger.”

Meanwhile, afternoon session attendees can keep their SAM D20 Xplained Pro, which are used to implement a simple light and temperature meter along with two additional wing boards.

Interested in learning more about Atmel’s commitment to Makers and students? You can check out Atmel’s University Program here and coverage of Atmel-based Maker projects here.

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.

Atmel announces Embedded World lineup

Next week, Atmel will be launching a number of new products to drive smart, connected devices in the era of the Internet of Things (IoT) at Embedded World 2014 in Nuremberg, Germany.

Some of the new products, along with interactive demos, will be showcased at the official Atmel booth located in Hall 4A / #4A-220 and include:

Solutions in Embedded Processing

Solutions in Connectivity

  • World’s first highly integrated, ultra-low power Wi-Fi IoT module powered by Atmel’s Cortex M0+ MCUs.
  • Atmel’s SAMR21, a new family of Cortex M0+ based ultra-low power wireless microcontrollers targeting ZigBee and 6LoWPAN.
  • A new series of automotive LIN (local interconnect networking) SBC (system basis chip) solutions to better connect in-vehicle systems.

Solutions in Software and Tools

Atmel will also be launching the new Studio 6.2 integrated development platform (in beta), which features a new debug probe with advanced debugging to accelerate time-to-market. In addition, Atmel is slated to showcase various demos in the embedded processing, connectivity and software/tools segments, including:

  • Capacitive touch capability with Atmel’s QTouch technologies – Highlights various home appliances to demonstrate conductive immunity and moisture tolerance, along with an Xplained Pro board and capacitive touch extension board.
  • New ARM MCU solutions – A SAM4E data logger with signal processing based on Atmel’s ARM Cortex-M4 MCUs and a SAM D20 global positioning system tracker based on Atmel’s ARM Cortex-M0+ MCUs.
  • SAM A5 MPU applications – A new SAMA5D3 Xplained board, a low-cost ARM Cortex A5 processor kit, a smart thermostat, a home automation and smart fridge demo with a 7” capacitive touch panel.

Other notable demos include Ivee Sleek Wi-Fi, a voice-activated assistance for the home that helps manage and control connected devices without hands; a finger print, voice-search, secure Bluetooth / USB drive that displays passwords; a tiny automatic camera and app that boasts a searchable and shareable photographic memory and a 5mm x 5mm Cortex-A5 System on Module card. 

A polyphase smart e-metering board based on a dual ARM Cortex-M4 core system-on-chip with an integrated metrology AFE will also be on display in the booth.

For Connectivity


Atmel’s Wi-Fi connectivity solutions – A Turtle Beach i60 headset and Roku 3 box used on a Vizio M-Series flat panel on display.
  • Upcoming ultra-low power IoT module – Integrates the company’s Wi-Fi technology with a Cortex M0+ core. We will be showcasing the latest Xplained PRO Starter demo kit using this soon-to-be-announced Wi-Fi IoT module.

The new SAMR21 family of wireless MCUs (supported by the new SAMR21 Xplained PRO evaluation kits) – Ideal as a platform for evaluating and developing the SAMR21 wireless MCUs.
  • ZigBee and open-source 6LoWPAN solutions with cloud services.

For Software and Tools

Along with the new Atmel Studio 6.2 and Atmel-ICE, we will be demoing our latest integrated development platform and advanced debug probe. We will also be highlighting a new SAMA5D3 Xplained cost-effective kit based on the ARM Cortex-A5 processor MPU, as well as the new Xplained Mini ultra-low cost evaluation kit with an Atmel 8-bit AVR, low pin-count MCU for less than USD $10. 

In addition, we plan on hosting several Arduino board demonstrations based on Atmel MCUs for our Maker community. And, by popular demand, Atmel will also be showcasing its advanced AvantCar demo, a next-generation automotive center console concept with curved touchscreens that illustrates the combined use of Atmel’s XSense, maXTouch, QTouch, and 8-bit AVR MCU technologies.

Meanwhile, Atmel’s low-power MCU Expert Bob Martin is scheduled to present “Differentiating and Optimizing for Static and Active Microcontroller Modes” during the hands-on workshop: “Applying Optimizing Techniques for Ultra-low Power Microcontrollers” (Class 07) on Wednesday, February 26. In this 9:00 am – 5:00 pm CET day-long session, Martin will be presenting at 9:15 am CET. Last, but certainly not least, Atmel will be announcing winners from its AVR Hero Design contest at the show.