Tag Archives: SAMA5D3

Rolling MCUs, connectivity, security and software into one wearable package


This Android-based, Bluetooth-enabled wearable badge can act as a compass, watch, slideshow app, battery gauge and more.


Did you know that 45.7 million wearable devices are expected to ship this year, up 133.4% from the 19.6 million units shipped in 2014? And by 2019, reports are calling for shipment volumes to reach 126.1 million units, resulting in a five-year CAGR of 45.1. Given this emergence of body-adorned technology, the need for a hardware and software-based turnkey solution has never been so paramount. With this in mind, Atmel has unveiled the first-ever wearable solution that integrates its broad solutions offering all rolled into one.

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Just in time for Computex 2015, the company has designed a 7cm x 9cm demonstrator around a smart badge concept, which combines low-power embedded processing, wireless, touch and sensor technologies to form an unparalleled turnkey system for virtually any type of wearable application.

This demonstrator converges hardware and software technologies, from Atmel and its partners, into a highly optimized and comprehensive out-of-the-box solution that addresses the complex requirements for the burgeoning wearable market, all while bringing their designs quickly to market. Users can wear it around their neck and display different applications (compass, watch, spirit level, slide show, battery gauge) specialized for the Andriod operating system (OS) and made by Adeneo Embedded.

“Adeneo Embedded has a long standing partnership with Atmel on Linux, Windows Embedded and more recently Android porting activities for AT91SAM ARM based MPUs,” said Yannick Chammings, Adeneo Embedded CEO. “With the collaboration on the Smart Badge concept, implementing Android-based wearable scenarios, Adeneo Embedded will scale OS and SW support to OEMs developing smart, connected, wearable devices.”

Based on Atmel’s embedded connectivity, the demonstrator can interact with other Android mobile phones. The badge uses a 3.5-inch display from Precision Design Associates and embeds MEMS and sensor technology from Bosch Sensortec, as well as memory multi-chip package from Micron combining 4Gb of LPDDR2 + 4GB of eMMC in a single package demonstrator running on the Android KitKat OS. Beyond that, Atmel is also developing a software framework that will allow various software partners to plug in their software and seamlessly work together.

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With the anticipated growth of the wearable space, designers are continually seeking solutions that combine all the necessary and complex technologies into a simple, ready-to-use solution, enabling designers to focus on differentiating their products. The Smart Badge is the first demonstrator to bring together the company’s ultra-low power Atmel | SMART SAMA5D31 MPU, the Atmel | SMART SAM G54 sensor hub solution, a maXTouch mXT112S controller and a SmartConnect WILC3000 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth integrated solution.

“Atmel possesses the most complete, lowest power technology portfolio for wearable devices worldwide,” explains Vince Murdica, who is responsible for Atmel’s sensor-centric business unit. “Atmel’s Smart Badge is the first of many wearable reference designs and platforms to come as we want to ensure when customers think wearables, they think Atmel. We are very focused and excited to help accelerate the growth of the wearable market with turnkey, low power, complete hardware and software solutions.”

Watch the badge in action below!

Cosino Enigma is an SAMA5D3 based CPU module

Powered by the Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-A5 based SAMA5D3HCE Engineering has introduced the latest development in its Cosino Project: the Cosino Enigma CPU module.

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As previously discussed on Bits & Piecesthe Cosino Project is an embedded prototyping system that combines the functionality of a mini-computer with those of a professional automation system. Cosino includes a comprehensive lineup of CPU boards, carrier boards and multiple peripherals that support industrial applications, as well as countless DIY projects by Makers.

With the recent launch of the Cosino Enigma, the team will now enrich their offering of Atmel based MPU modules. This new CPU module supports secure boot, which allows a user to store all of their software in an encrypted form on the system’s mass memory, therefore making it inaccessible to unauthorized intrusions!

How the secure boot works

Enigma’s CPU has two way of functioning: normal mode and secure mode. In the former mode, the CPU is no different than all other CPUs; however, once the secure mode is activated, it will execute ONLY encrypted code.

In normal mode, the boot stages consist of:

  1. The on-chip ROM bootloader loads the pre-bootloader from an external mass storage into the internal RAM, then
  2. The pre-bootloader sets up the external RAM and loads the bootloader from an external mass storage into external RAM, then
  3. The bootloader can setup some peripherals in order to prepare the system for the kernel and loads the kernel from an external mass storage into external RAM, then
  4. The kernel activates all system’s peripherals and mounts the rootfs from an external mass storage and starts the user’s processes executions.

enigma_boot_stages.jpg.html

Starting from stage 2, all the software that is not coded in ROM can be potentially subjected to attempts to replace the original firmware with a malicious one, simply by altering the code images stored into the system’s mass storage memory.

In industry applications this can lead to several issues related to system security. For instance, let’s consider a biomedical application where the system MUST not work continuously for more than 2 hours. The manufacturer can program the software in order to respect this directive; however, a malicious user may gain access to the system’s mass storage, copy it and then modify it in such a way that the machine can now work for more than 2 hours!

How can the manufacturer protect itself? It can simply use the secure mode!

Once the secure mode is activated, the Enigma’s CPU will execute ONLY encrypted code. In fact, when in secure mode, the internal ROM boot loader (during stage 1), will load the pre-bootloader image and it will then decrypt it by using the AES algorithm with the secret key deeply stored into the CPU.

Note that the AES key is not readable by using any CPU instruction nor the JTAG which is disabled too!

It’s obvious that without knowing the secret key is quite difficult to alter the pre-bootloader code! While, we have just shown that the second stage is secure, by using the same trick for both stage 3 and 4, all the booting chain is secure as well.

But, what about the root file system? Several solutions may be used; however, the SAMA5D3 based Cosino Enigma solution is used as an embedded file system into the kernel, and in the event that large data storage is needed, to mount an encrypted partition.

What the secure boot cannot do

Despite the secure mode, your system is not protected against backdoors and programming bugs, but these issues are NOT due the secure mode but due weak programmers! The secure mode can assure that your code cannot be altered and/or read so, if your code is well-written, the system is strongly protected against malicious attacks.

The secure boot and the Libre Software

Since Cosino Enigma runs a complete GNU/Linux system, how can it fit within the open source/free software licences? The answer: the unlock track.

enigma_unlock_path-300x166

By damaging this track on the board, the user can unlock the system; that is, even in secure mode the CPU can run unencrypted code, so every open source/free software licence is respected! Of course, the manufacturer can release the open source/free software code but NOT its protected code.

In addition, the integrity of the unlock track can be used to assert the warranty integrity; once damaged, the unlock path can assert that the warranty is now void. The open source/free software licence is saved and the manufacturer can decline all responsibility against any software modifications.

Hardware overview

The newly-unveiled board features a vast range of I/O peripherals and communication ports. Along with the TFT touchscreen LCD panels driver capable of resolutions up to 1024×768 pixels, it makes the Cosino Engima quite suitable for human/machine interfaces, gateways, and industrial controllers.

Aside from the ARM Cortex-A5 based SAMA5D3, other key specs include:

  • Internal hardware floating-point unit
  • 256MB (optional 512) SDRAM DDR2
  • 256MB NAND
  • 1x Ethernet 10/100 (optional 1000)
  • 2x USB Host 2.0
  • 1x USB Host/Device 2.0
  • 2x microSD
  • 7x UART
  • 1x LCD
  • 1x real-time clock1
  • 1x I2C
  • 2x SPI
  • 1x crypto engine
  • 1x true number generator

Interested in learning more? You can check out Cosino’s official page here.

Preview: Atmel to enhance the IoT experience at ESC Brazil 2014

The World Cup and RoboCup have both come to an end. The Summer Olympics are still another two years away. So why are we heading to Brazil next week? The Embedded Systems Conference, of course! Held August 26-27th in São Paulo, Atmel is excited to be an exhibiting sponsor of this year’s ESC, which will bring together over 5,000 engineers from the vibrant Latin American embedded community.

Whether you live nearby or plan on swinging over to the Transamerica Expo Center, be sure to mark “stopping at Booth E 20” on your daily planner. There, you’ll have a chance to ask Atmel’s Tech Experts your toughest design questions, learn about industry trends, and see live demos of the newly-unveiled Atmel® | SMART™ product line. Experience firsthand how our latest solutions can help achieve high-performance standards, while meeting your power consumption expectations. With our configuration options, you’ll be able to implement our chips in all sorts of applications, ranging from smart metering to wearables. Atmel products are driving a vast majority of IoT and Maker devices in the market today, all of which will be on display during the two-day show.

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We’ll be showcasing our complete offering of microcontrollers and microprocessors together with the all-important adjacent technologies like connectivity, sensor solutions, capacitive touch sensing and Atmel CryptoAuthentication devices. Here are several of the smart and secure ‘things’ you can expect to see this week:

Atmel AVR for IoT

Atmel AVR® MCUs are superior in terms of power consumption and are a better suited battery-powered application than any 32-bit MCU. The demo shows the AVR with a wireless connection running of battery. A graphical display also shows power consumption data.

avr_chip_small

Atmel | SMART SAM D20 QTouch Robustness

The Atmel | SMART SAM D20 QTouch® Robustness showcases not only the high touch performance of this device but also best-in-class conducted immunity and moisture tolerance required in home appliance and industrial applications.

Atmel SmartConnect

The Atmel SAM W23 includes the industry’s lowest-power Wi-Fi tailored for IoT use cases. It is positioned as an add-on turnkey solution for retrofit or new development with a highly scalable MCU approach that leverages the Atmel portfolio.

SAMde

Thingsquare Open Source 6LoWPAN using Atmel | SMART SAM R21

The Atmel | SMART SAM R21 shows the latest generation of ultra-low-power ARM Cortex® M0+ based wireless MCU combined with an open source IPv6/6LoWPAN embedded communication stack provided by Thingsquare. The application targets ultra-low power-applications in home and building automation. The solution is also ideal for gas and water meters, which demand years of maintenance-free operation on a single battery cell.

SAMR21_XPlained_PRO

Atmel | SMART SAM D20 GPS Tracker

The GPS asset tracker reference design with GSM connectivity is controlled through SMS messages and can support features like geo fencing, automated alarms, panic button and position tracking to SD card. It uses an accelerometer to determine if the GPS should be enabled or not, allowing lower power consumption. The high number of serial communication interfaces on a small, low power device makes the Atmel | SMART SAM D20 a perfect fit for asset tracking applications.

Atmel | SMART SAMA5D3 Qt-based Applications

The Atmel | SMART SAMA5D3 is a versatile, high-performance, low-power embedded MPU shown here in home automation and smart fridge applications. The demo also shows the SAMA5D3’s UI capability and system performance on a WVGA screen resolution.

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Atmel QTouch

Atmel | SMART SAM D21+ QT1 Xplained Pro demonstrates high-performance Atmel QTouch button, slider and wheel use for easy integration in any application requiring human control. The SAM D20 + QT2 Xplained Pro demonstrates QTouch Surface ideal for any consumer or wearable application.

Atmel CryptoAuthentication Devices

The Atmel CryptoAuthentication ATSHA204A is an easy to use, low-power hardware key storage device. The demo shows symmetric authentication between the drill (host) and client (battery). Each contains an ATSHA204A with identical stored secret keys. The drill sends a random number“challenge”to the battery, which processes that with its secret key to send a coded response back to the host to verify if the stored secret keys indeed match.

Also, don’t miss Sander Arts, Atmel VP of Corporate Marketing, present on how Atmel is fueling the Maker Movement. Arts will share insights into Atmel-based Arduino boards, the growth of the worldwide Maker community, as well as how Atmel microcontrollers were there from the outset, providing simple but powerful MCUs as the hardware side of the equation. Discover why a countless number of artists, designers, inventors, engineers, musicians and even students are turning to Arduino boards designed around Atmel AVR® or Atmel | SMART MCUs to transform their ideas into fully-functional “things.” Details on the session can be found below!

Title: Atmel and the Maker Movement
Presenter: Sander Arts, VP of Corporate Marketing, Atmel Corporation
Date / Time: Tuesday, August 26th @ 5:00 pm
Location: Makers Club

So there you have it, folks! Don’t forget to visit Booth E 20, pick up your Atmel Xplained Mini Kit, chat with a tech expert and of course, partake in a number of hands-on demos!

Inside the SAMA5D3 Xplained Development Board

It arrived. The postman came and said there was a parcel for me, and I signed for it. I knew what it was, it was covered in Atmel tape, with a beautiful Atmel logo on the side. A while ago, a friend from Atmel asked me if I would like to write something on the SAMA5D3 evaluation board. Of course I said yes, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it!

I’ve been using Atmel components for some time now, and I’ve also got some other Atmel evaluation boards at home. I used the SAM D20 Xplained Pro boards as an example for my book, both because of their professional design and ease of use, so I know the brand fairly well. I was already impressed with the SAM D20s, so I was expecting something good from Atmel. I wasn’t disappointed.

A few minutes later, a smaller box was on my desk. The SAMA5D3 Xplained. Opening it up revealed the card. It is bigger than what I had previously, but at the tame time, so is the configuration. The SAMA5D3 is Atmel’s conception of the Cortex-A5. Running at 536MHz, it provides excellent processor power for a very low power usage. This isn’t a simple microcontroller, it has everything needed to run a complete operating system. It opens up a whole new world; powerful applications with extensive graphics, advanced control and monitoring application were heavy calculations are needed… I can see one of these in my car controlling the entertainment system, but also the car’s vital systems. I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first.

The board. It is beautiful. That isn’t a criterion for choosing systems, I will admit that, but this is also all about first impressions. The board looks great, and it feels extremely professional. Has anyone here had one of those evaluation boards where you are extra careful because you get the feeling that it will fall apart? You won’t have that feeling with Atmel’s SAMA5D3 Xplained board. I wouldn’t have any issues handling it in a lab, or even placing it inside an industrial system. It looks and feels solid, the exact quality you expect from Atmel. The next time I train people in the art of bootloaders, I’ll be using this board.

First, a talk about the processor itself. As I said, it is a Cortex-A5 device, but Atmel rarely makes “basic” processors. They prefer to create rich designs, with enhanced I/O and communication, and the SAMA5D3 goes even further than that. I’ve worked on a lot of industrial designs, and we have often been limited by the communication peripherals. One particular design forced us to change some peripherals from UART to SPI simply because there weren’t enough ports. No, it wasn’t an Atmel design.

The SAMA5D3 has 7 UART ports, making me wish we had this MPU on that particular project. Of course, if you prefer SPI, then you have 6 SPI ports. Other serial communication devices haven’t been forgotten either, this device has 3 I2C controllers, 2 CAN ports, and one of the many reasons why I can see this particular processor used in automobile applications, it also has 4 LIN ports. If you thought that all of those ports reduces the amount of I/O, you would be mistaken; the SAMA5D3 still has 160 I/O ports, all with interrupts.

ATSAMA5D3XPLD

Atmel’s ARM Based Cortex A5 SAMA5D3 Xplained Development Board

Enough of the processor, now the board itself. It comes with three USB connectors; two host and one device. There is a 10-pin JTAG connector, an SSD slot and a header for a micro-SD slot. And those connectors around the board? They are for Arduino shields, and are R3 compatible. The only Arduino shield that I have readily available is an Ethernet shield, but I won’t need that; the SAMA5D3 Xplained Pro has two Ethernet connectors, one 10/100 and one 10/100/1000. Both have a PHY and connector.

Slightly harder to see are the internals. Atmel’s SAMA5D3 has 256MBytes of NAND flash, and 256MBytes of DDR-II memory. When I said that this board could run an entire operating system, I wasn’t joking. This has enough power to run just about any OS; Linux and Android both work exceptionally well on this design, and the board can support just about any application, both from a software point of view and hardware. I’ve already talked about the impressive amount of serial communication ports, but I haven’t talked about the 12, 12-bit ADC channels, the LCD and camera interface, the resistive touch-screen interface, and the embedded crypto-engine. This is only about first impressions, and the word that comes to mind is “Wow”. Just, wow.

Windows Compact 7 started on Atmel SAMA5D3

Left: Windows Compact 7 started on Atmel SAMA5D3
Right:  SAMA5D3 Xplained kit has connectors for Arduino Shields and dual Ethernet ports

Usually, when buying a board, people asked “What can I use it for?”. Today, that question seems to be “What can’t I do with this?”, and to be honest, I can’t answer that right now.

I can see this device powering IoT, wearable devices, automotive designs and industrial equipment.

Of course, devices cost money, and the more complicated they are, the more they cost. Add to that the exceptional build quality, and you might expect this evaluation board to be prohibitively expensive, but it isn’t. The board itself is available for under 70€.

A friend at Atmel asked me to write something on this board. Well, that’s what I’m doing. No, really. I have a full Linux distribution on an SD card. I’ve connected it to my home network through an Ethernet cable and I’m connected via SSH. The board itself is sitting on my lap, powered by a 9V battery. He wanted me to write an article on the board? That’s what I’m doing; I’m writing this review on the board, through SSH. I’ve been playing about with Atmel’s SAMA5D3 Xplained for a few days now, and I love it. Decades ago, I dreamed of having a small-factor computer, and that is when I got into the original Maker scene; we created home electronics, and controlled them from desktop computers. This board, sitting on my lap, is more powerful than that machine by an order of magnitude. The evaluation board itself has impressive potential, but that only reflects a fraction of what the processor itself can do. I’ll be having a lot of fun with this.

GridVortex talks Atmel on LinkedIn

Jonny Doin, the founder and CEO of GridVortex Systems, recently explained why and how his company uses Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs) in a series of LinkedIn posts.

First off, Doin said he was quite pleased with the support he’s received from global Atmel staff in various locations, including San Jose, France, Spain and Germany.

gridvortex

“We needed support for the crypto core details for the CPKCL and promptly [kicked-off] a teleconference with the crypto guys in France,” he wrote. “I now try to use Atmel parts in all my projects.”

In terms of specific silicon, Doin said:

“If you need a Cortex-M that does serious crypto operations, consider using an [ARM-powered] SAM4C16 from Atmel. It is a dual Cortex-M4 with 1MB/2MB Flash, 128K/256K RAM and very strong crypto support. The chip is targeted [at] Legal Metrology and offers secure hardware crypto to support TLS/SSL.

“It [also boasts] hardware support for ECC512, RSA1024, independent circuitry for AES and a subsystem that monitors memory areas and generates exception when the hash of the area changes. From what I saw, [this] is the fastest ECC512 engine in a microcontroller, [although it does not] tax the MCU cores. [Yes], you will need a crypto NDA to get access to the crypto hardware documentation, but the ECC crypto API is really complete. The timings are impressive and outperform [other microcontrollers].”

Doin also noted that he is currently testing an Energy Meter that includes an ARM-based SAM4C.

“Atmel has won almost all chips on my design. I am using the SAM4C, ATM90E25, AT86RF212B and the LED controllers from mSilica, MSL20xx. I try to use Atmel parts in all my projects. The IPv6 router for my mesh networking is being designed around the SAMA5D3. The intelligent nodes in the mesh are SAM4C16+AT86RF212B. My software defined LED power driver is being built around the SAMD10/MSL20xx and our intelligent smart vision cameras will also use Atmel processors.”

In addition, Doin confirmed that his company was in the process of designing its endpoint hardware with the SAM4C16.

“The documentation is really good, and so far we just got everything we needed directly from the datasheet,” he added. “Maybe we’ll [also] decide to use a SAM4C32 in one of our designs, so I am looking forward to the updated datasheet.”

Last, but certainly not least, Doin said he successfully designed a high-precision servo-DAC using delta demodulation and one of the center-aligned PWMs of the SAM4C16.

“Using just one digital output and one ADC input I achieved a very stable, precision DAC, at under 19cents of external discrete components. I [recently showcased] the DAC prototype at a recent meeting in Atmel San Jose. I plan to publish the design as an AppNote for the SAM4C16 (and also for the ATmega, which also has the same PWM) and present it as a lecture at the next Embedded Systems Conference,” he concluded.

Interested in learning more about Atmel’s portfolio for your next project? You can check out a detailed breakdown of our microcontrollers here.

The new Atmel-ICE debugger is here

I ordered the new Atmel ICE debugger as soon as it appeared on the company store. I see there is still stock so feel free to put in an order with us or your favorite distributor. Don’t get this new one confused with our JTAGICE3,  sometimes called JTAGICE markIII or mk3. It looks similar, but this new one has two debugging connectors. One is for the AVR microcontrollers, and one is for ARM MCU devices. There is a nice slide-show and explanation on our Norway site.

Atmel-ICE+JTAGICE3

The new Atmel-ICE is white and has two connectors for debugging. The old JTAGICE3 (inset) is silver and only has one connector, although you can upgrade the firmware so it can debug SAM D20 ARM-based MCUs.

Best yet, just like we lowered the priced between the JTAGICE2 and JTAGICE3, we lowered it again for the Atmel ICE. You can get the fancy high-zoot version for 85 bucks. It has the pretty box and all the cables. Then there is a stripper version with just one debug cable for $49. Finally, you can get a bare-board version with no case or cables for a measly $32. This is a great deal when you think that a JTAGICE2 was $399.

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This new Atmel-ICE replaces both the Dragon and the JTAGICE3. The only other ARV debugger you might need is the AVRONE! debugger that has trace capability. It’s 600 bucks, but that is worth every penny if you are trying to figure out where your program went or how it entered a subroutine or interrupt vector.

For the “big iron” ARM MPU (microprocessor units) with external memory you can use the SAM ICE. The SAM-ICE is in our store for 100 dollars. This works with Atmel’s MPU chips like the ARM Cortex A5-based chips like the SAMA5D series, and the ARM9-based SAM9x parts.

I unboxed my new Atmel-ICE today, here are the pictures:

Atmel-ICE_overall

The box has a Norse warrior on it, as tribute to the brilliant Norwegian engineers that invented the AVR chip.

Atmel-ICE_inside-box

Open the box and you see the Atmel-ICE on the left, safely snuggles in anti-static foam, and a box on the right with the three cables and breakout PCB.

Atmel-ICE_connectors

Here is a close-up of the debug connectors. Identical, but the one on the right is for AVR and the one on the left is for ARM-based MCUs.

Atmel-ICE_USB

The Atmel ICE uses the micro USB connector. The two more expensive versions come with the cable, the bare PCB does not.

Atmel-ICE_small

To keep costs down we didn’t paint the logo on, you can see it is nicely inset, as are the “AVR” and “SAM” indicators to tell you which debug connector is which. Check out how nice and small the unit is. This is another improvement over the JTAGICE2, and a real benefit on a crowded desk or lab bench.

Atmel-ICE_cables

Here is the cables that come in the 85-dollar unit. You also get the USB cable. Note the one cable comes with that cool breakout board.

Atmel-ICE_breakout-PCB

The breakout board has a silkscreen on both sides to help you figure out what it plugs into.

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.