Tag Archives: UAV

This giant drone lifted a record-setting weight of 134 pounds


One team of students from Norway built a massive Megacopter that set the record for the heaviest payload lifted by a remote-controlled drone.


The University of Oslo’s Department of Informatics has aspirations of one day using drones to transport people. (Not unlike the Ehang team, which debuted its person-carrying, helicopter-ish aerial vehicle at CES 2016.) Taking a step closer to a Jetsons-like future, one team of students led by Henning Pedersen has developed a giant aircraft which has set a new Guinness World Record for lifting the heaviest payload by a remote-controlled ‘copter.

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The aptly named Megacopter is essentially a series of several small drones attached to a larger frame comprised of aluminum and plywood. There are a total of 48 motors and 13 propellers arranged in eight groups, as well as 24 LiPo batteries. A separate onboard controller kicks in if signal from the pilot is lost in order to help it float back down to the ground.

As you can see in the video below, large exercise balls were used as landing feet. Meanwhile, gyroscopes and accelerometers were employed as motor control and horizontal stabilizers.

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A limited battery capacity gave the team five attempts to lift the weight, with the first two tries unsuccessful in achieving the 30-second minimum. Eventually, the Megacopter was able to raise its 134-pounds and 7.6-ounce load in the air for 37 seconds to claim its stake in the record books.

According to its creators, the drone only flies for three to six minutes but they hope to extend that time by adding more batteries in the near future. Currently, the Megacopter is registered to heft up to 330.5 pounds, but it is unknown for how long or how high.

 

Parrot unveils the Bebop 2 drone


Parrot’s new Bebop 2 drone boasts longer battery life and up to 25 minutes in the sky. 


Last year, Parrot launched the Bebop Drone. This low-cost device features a 180-degree 14MP camera, four three-blade propellers and the capability of streaming video footage to a smartphone or tablet. Plus, a ‘return home’ function enables the drone to easily head back to its takeoff point with the help of its built-in GPS system.

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The original Bebop is able to remain in the air for 12 minutes on a single charge, which is pretty darn good considering the fact that it weighs 400g. However, Parrot has taken their game to new heights by unveiling the next generation of the ‘copter, which promises to double the flight time and enhance performance with more thrust and speed. Most notably, the aptly named Bebop 2 can soar through the sky for 25 minutes.

The recently-revealed drone is expected to cost $550 and is more of a consumer gadget than toy, Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux says. Not unlike its predecessor, it relies on GPS, proximity sensors and cameras to hover in place when you take your hands off the controls, regardless of where you are. The Bebop 2 will also maintain its compact, robust and lightweight frame, weighing in at just 500g.

What’s more, the drone can be piloted over Wi-Fi using its accompanying mobile app, and is compatible with the XMEGA32 powered Skycontroller which is an optional standalone remote that extends flight range up to 2 kilometers (1.2 miles).

The unit’s lithium battery has been upsized from 1,200mAh to 2,700mAh, which boosted its flight time from 11 to 25 minutes. Not only can it stay in the sky longer, the latest model can fly faster achieving a top speed of 37 mph horizontally (up from the Bebop’s 24 mph) and 13 mph vertically. In order make up for the weight differential of a larger battery, Parrot has extended the diameter of its three-blade propellers from 5.5” to 6″ in diameter.

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Similar to is earlier version, the Bebop 2 still boasts a 14-megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens, as well as a 180-degree field of view and 1080p video recording support. Another basic spec worth mentioning is 8GB storage space for holding your video content.

When you’re done, simply press the “landing” button and the Bebop 2 will automatically come down, despite its altitude. And thanks to its autopilot system, the drone will be relatively easy to maneuver in less-than-ideal conditions. But that’s not all. An improved propeller system will autonomously turn off if and when it comes in contact with an obstacle.

With an incredible flight time, expect hobbyists, photographers and videographers looking to get their hands on this bad boy. Want one for yourself this holiday season? You’re in luck. Bebop 2 drone will be available for purchase on December 14th. Until then, fly over to Parrot’s page for more.

[Images: Parrot]

Turning drones into a hologram you can physically touch


Queens University researchers developing a real-life AR system that will enable users to physically interact with data through different types of drones.


Get ready to file this recent project from researchers at Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab under the “What the…” category. That’s because the team is developing a human-computer interface that employs a swarm of tiny drones as flying pixels in an immersive 3D display. The hope is that BitDrones one day can revolutionize the way people interact with virtual reality. These itsy bitsy flying apparatuses will enable users to explore virtual 3D information by engaging with physical self-levitating building blocks. In other words, they’re turning drones into holograms that people can actually touch.

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According to Queen’s professor Roel Vertegaal and his team, BitDrones will be the first step towards creating interactive self-levitating programmable matter — materials capable of changing their 3D shape in a programmable fashion — using swarms of nano quadcopters. The work highlights many possible applications for the new technology, including real-reality 3D modeling, gaming, molecular modeling, medical imaging, robotics and online information visualization.

“BitDrones brings flying programmable matter, such as featured in the futuristic Disney movie Big Hero 6, closer to reality. It is a first step towards allowing people to interact with virtual 3D objects as real physical objects,” Dr. Vertegaal explains.

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The team has already built three types of BitDrones: First, PixelDrones are equipped with one LED and a small dot matrix display. Next, ShapeDrones are augmented with a lightweight mesh and a 3D-printed geometric frame and serve as building blocks for complex 3D models. Meanwhile, DisplayDrones are fitted with a curved flexible high resolution touchscreen, a forward-facing video camera and Android smartphone board. All three models have reflective markers, which allow them to be individually tracked and positioned in real-time via motion capture technology. The system can detect a user’s hand motion and touch, which lets them manipulate the pixels in midair as if they were standing inside a 3D display.

But that’s not all — it gets even cooler. Since the program that commands the drones knows where each drone is, it can tell when someone has moved the tiny drone around in space. So what can the technology be used for, you ask? Thus far, the team has been able to demonstrate using the system to browse through files by simply swiping drones left and right to show their contents. The operator of the drone was able to open an architectural drawing, and the ShapeDrones then formed the basic positioning of the building in 3D. From there, users can drag drones to adjust the orientation of the building, and even modify parameters of the ShapeDrone using the touchscreen.

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Aside from that, the BitDrone platform can be used for telepresence by letting remote users move around locally through a DisplayDrone with Skype. In this scenario, the DisplayDrone can automatically track and replicate all of the remote user’s head movements, giving a remote person the ability to virtually inspect a location and make it easier for the local user to understand the other individual’s actions.

While the platform currently only supports a dozen of comparatively large 2.5” – 5” sized drones, the team at the Human Media Lab is working hard to scale BitDrones so that it could thousands of other ‘copters. These future flying machines would measure no more than a half inch in size, and provide users the opportunity to render more high-res, programmable holograms. More importantly, it opens the doors to countess new interactions. Until then, you can check out the project on its official page, or see it all in action below!

Meet Easy Drone XL Pro, the quadcopter that can fly for 45 minutes


This modular, plug-and-fly drone is said to last three times longer in the air than any other quadcopter.


Looking to take the UAV experience to new heights, Brooklyn-based startup Easy Aerial has developed a lightweight, modular quadcopter that can last three times longer in the air than others on the market today. Not to mention, its price tag and simplicity will make Easy Drone XL Pro accessible to just about everyone.

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Following a successful Kickstarter launch for their Easy Drone, its creators have spent the last year listening to customer feedback and designing a new addition to the lineup. Arguably its greatest selling point is that Easy Drone XL Pro can stay in the sky for 45 minutes on a single battery charge. What’s more, the ‘copter boasts a 28-inch span from motor to motor, diagonally, and with its size can effortlessly lift a combined weight of up to three pounds — particularly great if you’d like to attach a GoPro to it.

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The flying device features the same modular, plug-and-fly design as its predecessor, along with the same control unit and travel backpack. Easy Drone XL Pro comes in kit form, which includes a sturdy frame, powerful 400KV motors and foldable 15-inch propellers, a proprietary modular command unit with a built-in video transmitter, a remote, a video receiver, a USB telemetry module, an 8,000mAh battery, a charger, and a convenient bag that makes storage a cinch. And not unlike others, a set of versatile AVR MCUs can be found at the heart of this remarkable UAV — in both the video and RC signal receiver boards.

Impressively, Easy Drone XL Pro is capable of carrying a GoPro and a FPV camera for 45 and 50 minutes, respectively, while streaming video to the screen on the ground. However, it should be noted that the weight and flight time are directly correlated — as the weight increases, the flight time shortens.

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Sound like a drone you’d love to have? Fly over to its Kickstarter campaign, where Easy Aerial is closing in on its $30,000 goal.

Why do drones love the Atmel SAM E70?


Eric Esteve explains why the latest Cortex-M7 MCU series will open up countless capabilities for drones other than just flying. 


By nature, avionics is a mature market requiring the use of validated system solution: safety is an absolute requirement, while innovative systems require a stringent qualification phase. That’s why the very fast adoption of drones as an alternative solution for human piloted planes is impressive. It took 10 or so years for drones to become widely developed and employed for various applications, ranging from war to entertainment, with prices spanning a hundreds of dollars to several hundreds of thousands. But, even if we consider consumer-oriented, inexpensive drones, the required processing capabilities not only call for high performance but versatile MCU as well, capable of managing its built-in gyroscope, accelerator, geomagnetic sensor, GPS, rotational station, four to six-axis control, optical flow and so on.

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When I was designing for avionics, namely the electronic CFM56 motor control (this reactor being jointly developed by GE in the U.S. and Snecma in France, equipping Boeing and Airbus planes), the CPU was a multi-hundred dollar Motorola 68020, leading to a $20 per MIPS cost! While I may not know the Atmel | SMART SAM E70 price precisely — I would guess that it cost a few dollars — what I do I know is that the MCU is offering an excess of 600 DMIPS. Aside from its high performance, this series boasts a rather large on-chip memory size of up to 384KB SRAM and 2MB Flash — just one of many pivotal reasons that this MCU has been selected to support the “drone with integrated navigation control to avoid obstacle and improve stability.”

In fact, the key design requirements for this application were: +600 DMIPS, camera sensor interface, dual ADC and PWM for motor control and dual CAN, all bundled up in a small package. Looking at the block diagram below helps link the MCU features with the various application capabilities: gyroscope (SPI), accelerator (SPI x2), geomagnetic sensor (I2C x2), GPS (UART), one or two-channel rotational station (UART x2), four or six-axis control communication (CAN x2), voltage/current (ADC), analog sensor (ADC), optical flow sensor (through image sensor Interface or ISI) and pulse width modulation (PWM x8) to support the rotational station and four or six-axis speed PWM control.

For those of you who may not know, the SAM E70 is based on the ARM-Cortex M7 — a principle and multi-verse handling MCU that combines superior performance with extensive peripheral sets supporting multi-threaded processes. It’s this multi-thread support that will surely open up countless capabilities for drones other than simply flying.

Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex M7 SAM E70

Today’s drones already possess the ability to soar through the air or stay stationary, snapping pictures or capturing HD footage. That’s already very impressive to see sub-kilogram devices offering such capabilities! However, the drone market is already looking ahead, preparing for the future, with the desire to get more application stacks into the UAVs so they can take in automation, routing, cloud connectivity (when available), 4G/5G, and other wireless functionalities to enhance data pulling and posting.

For instance, imagine a small town tallying a few thousand habitants, except a couple of days or weeks per year because of a special event or holiday, a hundred thousand people come storming into the area. These folks want to feed their smartphone with multimedia or share live experiences by sending movies or photos, most of them at the same time. The 4G/5G and cloud infrastructure is not tailored for such an amount of people, so the communication system may break. Yet, this problem could be fixed by simply calling in drone backup to reinforce the communication infrastructure for that period of time.

While this may be just one example of what could be achieved with the advanced usage of drones, each of the innovative applications will be characterized by a common set of requirements: high processing performance, large SRAM and flash memory capability, and extensive peripheral sets supporting multi-threaded processes. In this case, the Cortex M7 ARM-based SAM E70 MCU is an ideal choice with processing power in excess of 640 DMIPS, large on-chip SRAM (up to 384 KB) and Flash (up to 2MB) capabilities managing all sorts of sensors, navigation, automation, servos, motor, routing, adjustments, video/audio and more.

Intrigued? You’ll want to check out some of the products and design kits below:


This post has been republished with permission from SemiWiki.com, where Eric Esteve is a principle blogger as well as one of the four founding members of SemiWiki.com. This blog first appeared on SemiWiki on July 18, 2015.

This palm-sized drone streams live footage right to your smartphone


Micro Drone 3.0 can livestream video for your Meerkat followers.


Like many types of electronics, quadcopters these days are becoming increasingly smaller and smaller. And rightfully so, as pint-sized drones are super portable and generally come at a much cheaper price tag for novices looking to start out. Developed by UK-based Extreme Fliers, Micro Drone 3.0 is a mini UAV capable of capturing and streaming HD footage right to a smartphone.

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Extreme Fliers is no stranger to the drone industry, as their recent Indiegogo campaign is the third iteration of the flying gadget. While its earlier take on the device was able to snap images in 640p, their latest on-board camera promises video resolution of 1280 x 720 at 30fps, and is stabilized by what is said to be the world’s smallest gimbal. This tiny robotic arm, though optional, retracts for takeoff and landing. What’s more, the company has developed special algorithms aimed at allowing the 1.96” x 5.7”, 2.5 oz. drone to take on rough winds of up to 45mph.

Based on an ARM Cortex processor, the Micro Drone 3.0 is equipped with a six-axis gyroscope, an accelerometer, an electronic compass, contra-rotational motors and Wi-Fi compatibility. It can be controlled with a radio controller or an iOS or Android device by way of its accompanying app, and uses a combination of motion sensor enabling it to hover and fly in straight lines. In addition to that, the UAV boasts first-person view flying capabilities and is designed to work with Google Cardboard VR. This means, users can slap on a headset to better immerse themselves in the flight experience.

Fight time is currently eight minutes, while the apparatus also packs a rechargeable lithium battery through USB and an on-board micro SD card stores the footage. Beyond simply maneuvering the UAV with its smartphone app, Micro Drone 3.0 has several integrated social plug-ins, most notably Meerkat livestreaming.

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Another nice feature is that the Extreme Fliers crew has included expandability in the drone’s design. In other words, users can easily transform their hummingbirdish ‘copter into a much larger, more powerful drone. According to its creators, the firmware is programmed with three different settings to allow for simple adjustments between sizes.

And with the Maker crowd in mind, Micro Drone offers enhanced customization through 3D-printed frames. Backers will receive a selection of ready-to-print CAD files, ranging from wasps to drags, and more accessories are expected to be unveiled in the near future.

Intrigued? Soar on over to its official Indiegogo page, where the Extreme Fliers team has already well surpassed its initial $75,000 goal. Delivery is expected to get going in November 2015.

Single chip MCU + DSP architecture for automotive = SAM V71


Automotive apps are running in production by million units per year, and cost is a crucial factor when deciding on an integrated solution.


It’s all about Cost of Ownership (CoO) and system level integration. If you target automotive related application, like audio or video processing or control of systems (Motor control, inverter, etc.), you need to integrate strong performance capable MCU with a DSP. In fact, if you expect your system to support Audio Video Bridging (AVB) MAC on top of the targeted application and to get the automotive qualification, the ARM Cortex-M7 processor-based Atmel SAMV70/71 should be your selection: offering the fastest clock speed of his kind (300 MHz), integrating a DSP Floating Point Unit (FPU), supporting AVB and qualified for automotive.

Let’s have a closer look at the SAM V71 internal architecture, shall we?

A closer look at Atmel | SMART ARM based Cortex M7 - SAMV71 internal architecture.

A closer look at Atmel | SMART ARM based Cortex M7 – SAMV71 internal architecture.

When developing a system around a microcontroller unit, you expect this single chip to support as many peripherals as needed in your application to minimize the global cost of ownership. That’s why you can see the long list of system peripherals (top left of the block diagram). Meanwhile, the Atmel | SMART SAM V71 is dedicated to support automotive infotainment application, e.g. Dual CAN and Ethernet MAC (bottom right). If we delve deeper into these functions, we can list these supported features:

  • 10/100 Mbps, IEEE1588 support
  • MII (144-pin), RMII (64-, 100, 144-pin)
  • 12 KB SRAM plus DMA
  • AVB support with Qav & Qas HW support for Audio traffic support
  • 802.3az Energy efficiency support
  • Dual CAN-FD
  • Up to 64 SRAM-based mailboxes
  • Wake up from sleep or wake up modes on RX/TX

The automotive-qualified SAM V70 and V71 series also offers high-speed USB with integrated PHY and Media LB, which when combined with the Cortex-M7 DSP extensions, make the family ideal for infotainment connectivity and audio applications. Let’s take a look at this DSP benchmark:

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ARM CM7 Performance normalized relative to SHARC (Higher numbers are better).

If you are not limited by budget consideration and can afford integrating one standard DSP along with a MCU, you will probably select the SHARC 21489 DSP (from Analog Devices) offering the best-in-class benchmark results for FIR, Biquad and real FFT. However, such performance has a cost, not only monetarily but also in terms of power consumption and board footprint — we can call that “Cost of Ownership.” Automotive apps are running in production by million units per year, and cost is absolutely crucial in this market segment, especially when quickly deciding to go with an integrated solution.

To support audio or video infotainment application, you expect the DSP integrated in the Cortex-M7 to be “good enough” and you can see from this benchmark results that it’s the case for Biquad for example, as ARM CM7 is equal or better than any other DSP (TI C28, Blackfin 50x or 70x) except the SHARC 21489… but much cheaper! Good enough means that the SAMV70 will support automotive audio (Biquad in this case) and keep enough DSP power for Ethernet MAC (10/100 Mbps, IEEE1588) support.

Ethernet AVB via Atmel Cortex M7

Ethernet AVB Architectures (SAM V71)

In the picture above, you can see the logical SAM V71 architectures for Ethernet AVB support and how to use the DSP capabilities for Telematics Control Unit (TCU) or audio amplifier.

Integrating a DSP means that you need to develop the related DSP code. Because the DSP is tightly integrated into the ARM CM7 core, you may use the MCU development tools (and not specific DSP tools) for developing your code. Since February, the ATSAMV71-XULT (full-featured Xplained board, SAM V71 Xplained Ultra Evaluation Kit with software package drivers supporting basic drivers, software services, libraries for Atmel SAMV71, V70, E70, S70 Cortex-M7 based microcontrollers) is available from Atmel. As this board has been built around the feature-rich SAM V71, you can develop your automotive application on the same exact MCU architecture as the part going into production.

SAMV71 Ultra Xplained - Atmel ARM Cortex M7

Versatility and Integrated DSP built into the ARM CM7 core allows for MCU development tools to be used instead of having to revert to specific DSP tools. You can develop your automotive application on exactly the same MCU architecture than the part going into production.

Interested? More information on this eval/dev board can found here.


This post has been republished with permission from SemiWiki.com, where Eric Esteve is a principle blogger as well as one of the four founding members of SemiWiki.com. This blog first appeared on SemiWiki on April 29, 2015.

CyPhy LVL 1 is an easy-to-use, swipe-to-fly drone


LVL 1 is hoping to become the first drone for everyone. 


Several years ago, the mere idea of having a robotic cleaning device make its way around the floors of your home seemed well beyond our time. But since its debut in 2002, Roomba has gone on to sell well over 10 million units worldwide with new and improved functionality introduced with every iteration. Similarly, who would have ever thought of the day where users would replace kites with unmanned aerial vehicles in their backyard? In line with the burgeoning Maker Movement, the market for DIY consumer-grade drones will only, in fact, continue to soar over the next couple of years.

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Enter the CyPhy LVL 1, an easy-to-use, affordable drone with aspirations of becoming the first widely accessible UAV for users of all ages and levels. CyPhy Works — who happens to be led by CEO and iRobot co-founder Helen Greienr — is no stranger to aerial vehicles, albeit not for the hobbyist crowd. That was until now.

Recently launched on Kickstarter, the LVL 1 features a smartphone-based, swipe-to-fly remote interface, instant sharing of captured footage to social networks and geofencing. Impressively, the drone can remain in flight for at least 20 minutes on a full charge, all while weighing less than two pounds.

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Luckily, the CyPhy Works crew has dreamt of devising a fully-packed aerial vehicle at a price point that consumers — from children to grandparents — could afford. The team explains, “Other drones claim all sorts of impressive capabilities, but typically their most expensive parts like cameras are exposed and flights all too often result in expensive damage.”

Aside from its price tag, its creators also reveal that the LVL 1 will differ from others on the market today thanks to its revolutionary Level-Up technology. This allows the drone to remain stable so that users can capture the perfect photos and videos every time it takes to the sky. By eliminating tilting, users can handle the airborne gadget intuitively, with an unrivaled out-of-the-box experience.

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One of its other advantages, Greiner explains, is that the LVL 1 will simplify the flying process through geofencing. In other words, users can define a designated area and minimum/maximum height in which the drone can roam via smartphone with the swipe of a finger. What’s also nice, especially for those prone to crashing their drones, is that LVL 1 is equipped with a protected camera and boasts the ability to share footage in real-time. LVL 1 even features a second downward facing camera.

Other notable components of the drone include a USB 3.1 charger, built-in GPS and onboard image storage. Beyond that, Makers can take comfort in knowing that the open-source LVL 1 can be hacked for specific uses, manually flown by connecting a hobby transmitter and even used to transmit data over Wi-Fi.

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Sound like a drone you’d like to have? Hurry over to CyPhy Works’ recently launched Kickstarter campaign, where the team is currently seeking $250,000. Shipment is expected to begin in February 2016.

Simply the highest performing Cortex-M MCU


Why develop a new MCU instead of using a high-performance MPU? Eric Esteve says “simplicity.”


By Eric Esteve

If you target high growth markets like wearable (sport watches, fitness bands, medical), industrial (mPOS, telematics, etc.) or smart appliances, you expect using a power efficient MCU delivering high DMIPs count. We are talking about systems requiring a low bill of material (BoM) both in terms of cost and devices count. Using a MCU (microController) and not a MPU (microProcessor) allows for the minimizing of power consumption as such device like the SAM S70 runs at the 300 MHz range, not the GigaHertz, while delivering 1500 CoreMark. In fact, it’s the industry’s highest performing Cortex-M MCUs, but the device is still a microcontroller, offering multiple interface peripherals and the related control capabilities, like 10/100 Ethernet MAC, HS USB port (including PHY), up to 8 UARTs, two SPI, three I2C, SDIOs and even interfaces with Atmel Wi-Fi and ZigBee companion IC.

Atmel has a wide MCU offering from the lower end 8-bit MCU to the higher end Cortex-A5 MPU.

The Cortex-M7 family fits within the SAM4 Cortex-M4 and the SAM9 ARM9 products.
The Cortex-M7 family offers high performance up to 645 Dhrystone MIPS but as there is no Memory Management Unit, we can not run Operating System such as Linux. This family targets applications with high performance requirements and running RTOS or bare metal solution.

This brand new SAM S/E/V 70 32-bit MCU is just filling the gap between the 32-bit MPU families based on Cortex-A5 ARM processor core delivering up to 850 DMIPS and the other 32-bit MCU based on ARM Cortex-M. Why develop a new MCU instead of using one of this high performance MPU? Simplicity is the first reason, as the MCU does not require using an operating system (OS) like Linux or else. Using a simple RTOS or even a scheduler will be enough. A powerful MCU will help to match increasing application requirements, like:

  • Network Layers processing (gateway IoT)
  • Higher Data Transfer Rates
  • Better Audio and Image Processing to support standard evolution
  • Graphical User Interface
  • Last but not least: Security with AES-256, Integrity Check Monitor (SHA), TRNG and Memory Scrambling

Building MCU architecture probably requires more human intelligence to fulfill all these needs in a smaller and cheaper piece of silicon than for a MPU! Just look at the SAM S70 block diagram below, for instance.

SAM S70 Block diagram

SAM S70 Block diagram

The memory configuration is a good example. Close to the CPU, implementing 16k Bytes Instruction and 16k Bytes Data caches is a well-known practice. On top of the cache, the MCU can access Tightly Coupled Memories (TCM) through a controller running at MPU speed, or 300 MHz. These TCM are part of (up to) 384 Kbytes of SRAM, implemented by 16 Kbytes blocks and this SRAM can also be accessed through a 150 MHz bus matrix by most of the peripheral functions, either directly through a DMA (HS USB or Camera interface), either through a peripheral bridge. The best MCU architecture should provide the maximum flexibility: a MCU is not an ASSP but a general purpose device, targeting a wide range of applications. The customer benefits from flexibility when partitioning the SRAM into System RAM, Instruction TCM and Data TCM.

SRAM Partition Atmel Cortex M7
As you can see, the raw CPU performance efficiency can be increased by smart memory architecture. However, in terms of embedded Flash memory, we come back to a basic rule: the most eFlash is available on-chip, the easier and the safer will be the programming. The SAM S70 (or E70) family offers 512 Kbytes, 1 MB or 2 MB of eFlash… and this is a strong differentiator with the direct competitor offering only up to 1 MB of eFlash. Nothing magical here as the SAM S70 is processed on 65nm when the competition is lagging on 90nm. Targeting a most advanced node is not only good for embedding more Flash, it’s also good for CPU performance (300 MHz delivering 1500 DMIPS, obviously better than 200 MHz) — and it’s finally very positive in power consumption.

Indeed, Atmel has built a four mode strategy to minimize overall power consumption:

  • Backup mode (VDDIO only) with low power regulators for SRAM retention
  • Wait mode: all clocks and functions are stopped except some peripherals can be configured to wake up the system and Flash can be put in deep power down mode
  • Sleep mode: the processor is stopped while all other functions can be kept running
  • Active mode
Atmel's SMART | ARM Cortex M7 SAM S Series Target Applications

Target Applications depicted above for Atmel’s SMART | ARM based Cortex M7 SAM S Series. The SAM S series are general-purpose Flash MCUs based on the high-performance 32-bit ARM based Cortex-M7 RISC processors with floating point unit (FPU).

If you think about IoT, the SAM S70 is suited to support gateway applications, among many other potential uses, ranging from wearable (medical or sport), industrial or automotive (in this case it will be the SAM V70 MCU, offering EMAC and dual CAN capability on top of S70).


This post has been republished with permission from SemiWiki.com, where Eric Esteve is a principle blogger as well as one of the four founding members of SemiWiki.com. This blog first appeared on SemiWiki on February 22, 2015.

Students create a rubber band-flinging drone with AVR


When shooting a single rubber band just won’t do, its time to build a UAV to do it for you!


For those who may not know, PennApps is the granddaddy of college hackathons converging over 1,200 hobbyists and tinkerers from all over the globe onto the campus of University of Pennsylvania. Students work in teams of up to four people for thirty-six hours to create a web, mobile, wearable or hardware project, and show if off at the final expo, which is open to the public.

A Carnegie Mellon University team — going by the name “Bodyguard” — comprised of Makers Kumail Jaffer, Angel Zhou, Kyle Guske and John Lore recently decided to create a rubber band-flinging drone for their PennApps project last fall. In order to do so, the team affixed an Arduino Yún (ATmega32U4) to a servo motor that would power the rubber band cannon. To do this, they connected the Arduino to the drone’s own Wi-Fi network and relayed signals to shoot.

You can watch it in action below!