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New Atmel ARM Cortex-A5 MPUs for Embedded Industrial and Consumer Applications

Delivering 850DMIPS, Lower Power Consumption, Under 200mW in Active Mode, and Robust Security Features,
SAMA5D3 Series Are Backed by Rich Peripherals and Easy-to-use Design Tools

Atmel have just released the new SAMA5D3 series based on the ARM Cortex-A5 Core. These low-power MPUs are designed for embedded applications in the industrial space, including factory and building automation, smart grid, medical and handheld terminals, along with consumer applications such as smart watches, outdoor GPS, DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecommunications) phones.

For industrial applications in particular, there is an ongoing requirement for higher processing power and faster connectivity. In the consumer space, battery-powered applications and wearable products are driving the requirements for lower power consumption, while smartphone and tablets are setting new, more advanced standards for user interfaces as the shift moves beyond mobile to home automation and control panels for white goods. In both market segments, security threats such as hacking and cloning are growing concerns. Finally, regardless of the application area, all designers are under pressure to shorten their design cycles with smaller development teams.

Understanding these demands, Atmel has developed the new series of SAMA5D3 MPUs using a 65nm low-power process technology to deliver up to 850DMIPS at 536MHz while offering 1328MB/s at 166MHz bus speed. The floating point unit (FPU) also provides additional high-precision processing power for image, audio and sensor data. The SAMA5D3 series delivers market-leading low-power consumption under 200mW in active mode at maximum speed and below 0.5mW in low-power mode when retaining context and offering fast wake-up. All these features make the SAMA5 series ideal for high-performance industrial applications requiring high-precision computing and low power, including interfaces, control panels, networking, gateways, programmable logic controllers, barcode scanners or printers, terminals and battery-operated applications.

Rich Peripherals
To serve a broad range of applications, the Atmel SAMA5D3 series embeds a comprehensive peripheral set. This includes a dual Ethernet port (one Gigabit), 3x high-speed USB ports, dual CAN, TFT LCD controller with graphics accelerator for image composition, camera interface, SDIO/SD/MMC, UARTs, SPIs, TWIs, soft modem, 12-bit ADC and 32-bit timers. Shipping in a 324-ball BGA package, the four versions with a different peripheral mix are available to best match the end system requirements. The powerful peripherals in the devices enable connectivity and user interface applications for home and commercial building automation, smart grid, point of sale, medical and other industrial applications.

The SAMA5D3 series also integrates state-of-the-art security capabilities that address piracy, counterfeiting and other risks. With a secure boot loader, the SAMA5D3 ensures the integrity and authenticity of the program stored in the boot memory, protecting customers against cloning. The series also includes a hardware encryption engine with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), Triple Data Encryption Standard (3DES) and Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA) support to encrypt/decrypt data or communications while a true random number generator (TRNG) can be used to generate or diversify unique keys.

Easy-to-Use, Easy Migration
A large majority of Cortex-A core-based devices on the market today are very complex to use. Atmel has leveraged the success of the preceding SAM9 series and architected the SAMA5D3 series for ultra ease-of-use including power management at minimal system cost, from a hardware and software perspective. By maximizing software reuse, the SAMA5D3 series provides an easy migration path for Atmel SAM9 customers requiring more performance.

Reduced System Cost
To lower overall system cost, the devices feature a simple power management scheme and includes over three embedded USB ports, eliminating the costs of an external USB hub. The impedance control on the DDR IOS eliminates the need for external serial resistors, and the 0.8mm pitch package supports a simpler and lower cost PCB design.

Designers can access free Atmel Linux distributions, and a free Android 4.0 port will be available in March. A C-language software package (softpack) is available for non-operating system (OS) use. There is also a worldwide ecosystem of industry-leading suppliers for development tools, OS, protocol stacks, along with system-on-modules and kits. More information available on our eco-system suppliers.

“With so many vertical applications in the industrial sector, it's important to offer the right mix of MPUs to satisfy every customer's requirements,” said Jacko Wilbrink, Sr. Director of ARM Products, Atmel Corporation. “Our new Cortex-A5 processor-based devices address all these requirements, from battery-operated wearable products to high-performance applications requiring high-precision processing and secure connection to the Internet. We'll continue to grow our ARM portfolio, developing new state-of-the-art products to meet the unique design criteria of a broad range of customers.”

“The launch of the Atmel next-generation MPUs, based on the Cortex-A5 processor, extends the company's strong support for the ARM architecture,” said Gary Atkinson, Director, Embedded Segment, ARM. “These products enable industrial designers to select an ARM processor-based chip with low power consumption and robust security, supported by easy-to-use design tools. We are pleased that Atmel continues to bring solutions to market that utilize the ARM architecture and help designers create a wide range of exciting new products for consumers.”

More information on the ATSAMA5D36 ARM Cortex-A5 Microcontroller, can be found on the Microchip Web site at Microchip ATSAMA5D36 product page

The company's Web site address is www.microchip.com
[Reprinted with kind permission from Atmel]