Tag Archives: SAMA5D36

The smart router is ready for IoT play

The evolution of router has reached the IoT’s doorsteps, and it raises some interesting prospects for industrial and smart home markets.

The router used to be largely a dumb device. Not anymore in the Internet of Things arena where node intelligence is imperative to make a play of the sheer amount of data acquired from sensors, machines and other ‘things.’ The IoT router marks a new era of network intelligence — but what makes a router smart?


For starters, it employs embedded hardware platforms with DIY capabilities while balancing the performance and power consumption requirements. Next, an IoT router provides the operational status on an LCD screen while manipulating the data from different interfaces. In human machine interface (HMI) applications, for example, a smart router offers LCD and touch screen interfaces on expansion I/Os.

Take the case of the DAB-OWRT-53 smart router, which is developed by the Belgian design house DAB-Embedded. The sub-100 euro device — based on Atmel’s SAMA5D36 processor and OpenWRT router hardware platform — is mainly targeted at smart home and industrial IoT applications.

The smart router of DAB-Embedded

The IoT router supports popular wireless interfaces such as Wi-Fi, ZigBee and Z-Wave, as well as a diverse number of wired interfaces including Ethernet, USB, CAN 2.0A/B, KNX and RS-232. And all the data from these interfaces can be stored in either microSD card or NAND flash.

Anatomy of Smart Router

The Atmel | SMART SAMA5D36 is at the heart of the smart router design. First and foremost, it optimizes power consumption in the battery-operated router that features 3.7V lithium polymer battery support with charging capability over a microUSB connector. The router boasts eight hours of battery lifetime while being in full ON mode with Wi-Fi communications.

Second, the ARM Cortex-A5 processor shows a robust performance in the communications domain. For instance, the SAMA5D36 implements routing functionality to transfer data from one Ethernet port to another in a way that router designers don’t require an external hardware hub or switch. Moreover, Atmel’s MPU offers greater flexibility to run a lot of embedded software packages such as OpenZWave and LinuxMCE.

Third, the SAMA5D36-based IoT router offers users the ability to manipulate firewall settings, Disable PING, Telnet, SSH and UPnP features. Furthermore, the hardware security block in SAMA5D3 processor allows the use of CryptoDev Linux drivers to speed up the OpenSSL implementation. The Wi-Fi module — powered by Atmel’s WILC3000 single-chip solution — also supports the IEEE 802.11 WEP, WPA and WPA2 security mechanisms.

The smart router of DAB-Embedded employs Active-Semi’s ACT8945AQJ305-T power management IC, but the real surprise is Altera’s MAX 10 FPGA with an integrated analog-to-digital converter (ADC). That brings the additional flexibility for the main CPU: Atmel’s SAMA5D36.

The FPGA is connected to the 16-bit external bus interface (EBI) so that IoT developers can put any IP core in FPGA for communication with external sensors. All data is converted inside the FPGA to a specific format by using NIOS II’s soft CPU in FPGA. Next, the SAMA5D36 processor reads this data by employing DMA channel over the high-speed mezzanine card (HSMC) bus.

An FPGA has enough cells to start even two soft cores for data preprocessing. Case in point: A weather station with 8-channel external ADC managing light sensors, temperature sensors, pressure sensors and more. It’s connected to the FPGA together with PPS signal from GPS for correct time synchronization of each measurement.


OpenWRT Framework

The SAMA5D36 embedded processor enables DAB’s smart router design to customize free OpenWRT Linux firmware according to the specific IoT application needs. The OpenWRT framework facilitates an easy way to set up router-like devices equipped with communications interfaces such as dual-port Ethernet and Wi-Fi connection.

What’s more, by using the OpenWRT framework, an IoT developer can add now his or her own application (C/C++) to exchange data with a KNX or Z-Wave transceiver. OpenWRT even supports the Lua embedded interpreter.

Next, while DAB-Embedded has built its smart router using the embedded Linux with OpenWRT framework, Belgium’s design house also offers a board support package (BSP) based on the Windows Embedded Compact 2013 software. That’s for IoT developers who have invested in Windows applications and want to use them on the new hardware: the DAB-OWRT-53 smart router.

Later, the embedded design firm plans to release smart router hardware based on the Windows 10 IoT software and Atmel’s SAMA5D family of embedded processors. The Belgian developer of IoT products has vowed to release the second version of its router board based on Atmel’s SAMA5D4 embedded processor and WILC3000 chipset that comes integrated with power amplifier, LNA, switch and power management. Atmel’s WILC3000 single-chip solution boasts IEEE 802.11 b/g/n RF/baseband/MAC link controller and Bluetooth 4.0 connection.

Majeed Ahmad is the author of books Smartphone: Mobile Revolution at the Crossroads of Communications, Computing and Consumer Electronics and The Next Web of 50 Billion Devices: Mobile Internet’s Past, Present and Future.

EMAC releases a SODIMM-based take on the Atmel | SMART SAMA5D3

As its name implies, the ‘A5D36 is a SoM based on the Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-A5 SAMA5D36.

EMAC has launched the SoM-A5D36, a system-on-module that runs Linux on a Cortex-A5-based Atmel SAMA5D3 processor, and offers up to 4GB of Flash, industrial temperature, and an optional carrier board. The wide temperature, fanless ARM 536 MHz SoM features 10/100/1000 BaseT Ethernet along with up to six serial ports. Beyond that, the board boasts up to 16MB of serial data flash and up to 512MB of LP DDR2 RAM, as well as supports LCD and resistive touch interfaces.


This isn’t the first time the Atmel | SMART SAMA5D3 has experienced some love from computer-on-module (COM) vendors. In fact, the Cortex-A5-based SoC has shown up on the ShiraTech AT-501, the Acme Systems Acqua A5, and the MYIR MYC-SAMA5D3X — all of which except the Acqua A5 use SODIMM connectors.

Using the same small 200-pin SODIMM form factor utilized by other EMAC SoM modules, the SoM-A5D36 packs all the core ARM processor functionality, including Flash, memory, serial ports, Ethernet, I2S audio, PWMs, timer/counters, A/D, digital I/O lines, clock/calendar, and more. The SoM-A5D36 is also designed to plug into a carrier board that contains all the connectors and any custom I/O required for an application. This approach enables a user to design a custom carrier board that meets for I/O, dimensional and connector requirements without having to worry about the processor, memory and standard I/O functionality.

Key specs of the SoM-A5D36 include:

  • Processor: Atmel | SMART SAMA5D36
  • Memory:
    • Up to 512MB LP DDR2 SDRAM
    • 16MB serial data flash
    • Up to 4MB eMMC flash
  • Networking: Gigabit Ethernet PHY; optional 2x GbE
  • Primary I/O:
    • 3x USB 2.0 host (1x includes device support)
    • 6x serial (4x defined) — 1x full, 3x RTS/CTS, 2x no handshake
    • 2x I2C
    • 2x CAN
    • I2S audio
    • 2x SD
    • 22x GPIO
  • Secondary I/O:
    • 24-bit LCD controller
    • 12-bit, 4-wire, analog resistive touch controller
    • 2x CAN
    • 2x SPI (“3 SPI CS”)
    • 2x I2C
    • 4x PWM
    • 6x ADC (12-bit)
    • 5x timer/counters, 3x prog. clock, RTC, reset, LEDs
    • External address data bus
  • Operating temperature: -40 to 85°C
  • Power: +3.3V
  • Dimensions: 67 x 60mm (200-pin SODIMM)
  • Operating system: EMAC OE Linux

Interested in learning more? Head over to EMAC’s official page here.

SAMA5D3 Xplained for the IoT in India

element14 has introduced Atmel’s new SAMA5D3 Xplained evaluation kit for Internet of Things (IoT) development in India.

“The Internet of Things is one of the most important trends globally that will boost the electronics industry in India. Within these few years it will impact nearly every segment of the economy and society,” said element14 exec Ravi Pagar. 

”[We are] excited to be bringing such a wide range of ground-breaking IoT-enabling solutions to India geared towards inspiring engineers with the ideas and building blocks to turn the Internet of Things into a reality.”

The board – 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 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.

Atmel’s new SAMA5D3 Xplained eval kit can be snapped up for Rs.6,719.00 here.

Atmel expands Cortex-A5 MPU lineup

Atmel has expanded its ARM Cortex-A5 microprocessor (MPU) portfolio with new SAMA5D3 devices that deliver smaller packaging, extended temperature support and an alternative peripheral mix. The latest SAMA5D3 devices – designed to neatly balance high performance and low-power operation – also offer an expanded ecosystem with new software and hardware.


As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel’s Cortex-A5 processor-based MPUs are capable of achieving 850DMIPS at 536MHz and hitting 1328MB/s at 166MHz bus speed. Indeed, the devices facilitate fast connectivity along with advanced user interfaces for home automation and control panels. Meanwhile, ultra-low power consumption comes in under 200mW in active mode at maximum speed – slipping below 0.5mW in low-power mode for wearables such as smart watches.

“To better meet wearable, portable computing and medical application requirements, we have added a smaller package option to the SAMA5D31 to include a tiny, fine-pitch 12x12mm BGA324 0.5mm ball pitch package,” Jacko Wilbrink, Sr. Director of ARM Products, Atmel Corporation, explained.

“For volumes starting at 100,000 pieces, Atmel offers the SAMA5D3 in-die, facilitating the development of Silicon in Package (SiP) solutions for even smaller form factor designs. Incremental support for the industrial and automotive aftermarket is provided by the new SAMA5D36, a superset device providing a unique combination of user interface (UI) and connectivity features including an LCD, 2x Ethernet ports and dual CAN support. The SAMA5D36 – along with the SAMA5D35 – also supports an ambient temperature range of -40 degrees to 105 degree C.”

According to Wilbrink, Atmel has been shipping its Cortex-A5 processor-based MPUs for over 10 months to customers in a number vertical markets.

“We’ve listened closely to our customers, implementing additional features and functionality to our Cortex A5 processor-based MPUs to ensure we improve their designs or make it possible,” he said. “Simply put, Atmel’s diverse portfolio offers customers all the right features, from high performance and low power to expanded temperature ranges, smaller packaging and a more robust ecosystem environment.”

In addition, says Wilbrink, Atmel’s already robust SAMA5D3 MPU ecosystem has been expanded to include close collaboration with various partners. For example, the free Atmel Linux distribution is now available on the Yocto build system, along with a free Android 4.2 port here.

Meanwhile, more C-language examples are available in the Atmel software package (aka softpack) for non-OS users, with Atmel significantly bolstering its SAMA5D3 ecosystem to include Windows Compact 7 BSP, QNX, NuttX BSP, Micrium uC-OS/III operating system support, Rowley Crossworks or ATollic True Studio development tool support, as well as active-semi power management ICs.

Interested in learning more about Atmel’s expanded Cortex-A5 MPU lineup? You can check out our extensive device portfolio here.