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Atmel's SAMA5D3 MCUs run up to 850DMIPS

07 Feb 2013  | Stephen Evanczuk

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Microcontroller specialists Atmel has recently unveiled its SAMA5D3 series MCUs designed to meet demand for low power and high performance in embedded applications requiring multiple on-chip peripheral options. The new 65nm MCUs are based on the ARM Cortex-A5 core, delivering up to 850DMIPS at 536MHz while offering 1328MB/s at 166MHz bus speed while consuming under 200 mW in active mode at full speed and with all peripherals activated.�

The SAMA5D3 series of devices target a range of industrial and consumer applications and features an extensive array of on-chip peripherals as well as multiple power modes and security features. The devices also support DDR2/LPDDR/LPDDR2 and MLC NAND Flash memory with 24bit ECC.

Atmel packages different combinations of peripherals in four versions of the SAMA5D3 targeting separate application areas including control panels, networking, terminals, and battery-operated designs.

Figure: The Atmel SAMA5D3 series integrate multiple peripherals with a full complement of features including security and power management needed for embedded applications.

On-chip peripherals include a dual Ethernet port (one Gigabit), 3x high-speed USB ports, dual CAN, camera interface, SDIO/SD/MMC, UARTs, SPIs, TWIs, soft modem, 12bit ADC, and 32bit timers. In addition, the devices include a TFT LCD controller with graphics accelerator for image composition. With its hardware support for overlays, the TFT controller helps reduce processing requirements while speeding graphics performance.

Along with its 200 mW active mode, the family features a low-power mode that conserves SRAM and registers while consuming about 0.5mW. For power sensitive applications, engineers can sacrifice speed of wakeup time for lower power—consuming less than 0.5 mW with a wakeup time of 200 ms—or boost wakeup time to 60 us at a small cost in power consumption to slightly more than 0.5 mW. A backup mode reduces active circuitry to a small portion of the device to offer substantially lower power consumption. Engineers can selectively power down on-chip peripherals to minimise power consumption during normal operations.

To enhance security and reduce counterfeiting, the new family features a secure boot loader to ensure use of a trusted source for boot code. The series also includes a hardware encryption engine with AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), 3DES (Triple Data Encryption Standard) and SHA (Secure Hash Algorithm) support to encrypt/decrypt data. The devices also include a TRNG (true random number generator)to generate or diversify unique keys.

Along with its diverse on-chip peripherals and feature sets, the device offers additional capabilities intended to reduce system costs and simplify integration of embedded designs. The SAMA5D3 series features on-chip impedance control on DDR lines, eliminating the need for serial registers required in earlier devices to achieve impedance matching between DDR and the MCU. In addition, engineers can configure the devices' on-chip USB functionality as USB hosts, eliminating the need for an external hub. Finally, on-chip features all designers to implement a complete power supply for the device for as little as $0.95 in volume.

Atmel offers free Linux distributions at, and a free Android 4.0 port will be available in March at A C-language software package (softpack) is available for non-operating system (OS) use. SAMA5D3 evaluation kits are available for each SAMA5D3 derivative. Each kit includes a Linux demonstration software and a graphical user interface (GUI) based on Qt. The softpack is also compatible with the evaluation kit.

The Atmel SAMA5D3 is shipping in a 324-ball BGA package and is in mass production now. Pricing starts below USD $7.00 for 1,000-piece quantities.

Datasheet for the SAMA5D3 can be found here.

- Stephen Evanczuk

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