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Atmel ARM7-based flash MCUs priced below $3

Posted: 25 Oct 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:atmel? arm7? flash microcontroller? at91sam7s32? at91sam7s64?

Atmel Corp. introduced what it claims as the world's first family of ARM7-based flash microcontrollers (MCUs) with prices starting at less then $3.

Targeted at 8bit applications, the AT91SAM7S32 and the AT91SAM7S64 are the first members of a series of small pincount Smart ARM7 microcontrollers (SAM7S-series) with Flash densities of 32KB and 64KB, respectively. A 128KB and 256KB version, the AT91SAM7S128 and AT91SAM7S256, are planned for availability at the end of this year.

Besides a jump in real-time performance over 8bit MCUs, Atmel said, the new products are the world's first 32bit MCUs to integrate a complete set of secure operation functions, including a watchdog clocked by an on-chip RC oscillator, power supply monitors and hardware protection of the flash memory. The AT91SAM7 is supported by low-cost development tools, bringing 32bit real-time processing power to a wide range of cost-sensitive applications that have until now been limited to 8bit performance, the company added.

The AT91SAM7S series focuses on the drivers for change from 8 to 32bits, in particular improved deterministic performance for real-time applications. It achieves single-cycle instruction access from embedded flash at 27MIPS, and its Advanced Interrupt Controller enhances the basic interrupt facilities of the ARM7 processor to give vectored priority interrupt handling in a minimum number of instruction cycles. Additionally, its hardware bit set and reset registers enable single-cycle bit manipulation, eliminating the need for masked read-modify-write sequences.

The porting and qualification of legacy code is a significant task for 8bit MCU users migrating to a 32bit MCU, the company stated. To facilitate application development, the AT91SAM7S products embeds powerful debug capabilities centered around a JTAG In-Circuit-Emulation interface and complemented with on-chip hardware like misaligned address detection and watchdog deactivation during debug. Atmel also supplies a kit including an evaluation board, JTAG-ICE interface, project examples and development tools identical to those for 8bit MCUs, reducing the learning curve.

Integration and connectivity

Members of the new family of MCUs include a USB 2.0 full-speed device port for PC connectivity, and a wide variety of communication and control interfaces, including an 8-channel 10bit ADC. Peripheral data controllers provide a DMA function that reduces processor overhead during data transfers between external I/O channels and memory, while a parallel I/O controller multiplexes the peripheral I/Os with a set of 32 programmable general-purpose I/O lines, reducing the external pin count while providing additional flexibility of access. The on-chip voltage regulator enables single-supply operation at 3.3V.

The embedded flash memory can be programmed in-system via the JTAG-ICE interface or via a parallel interface on a production programmer just prior to installation. According to Atmel, this enables software development to continue until the final phase of hardware assembly, and software updates to be incorporated with no disruption to production. The flash memory contains a hardware security bit that disables its external visibility, and sixteen lock bits that secure each of its 4KB lock regions. Its integrated brownout detector coupled with power-on-reset guards against accidental or deliberate code corruption during power-down.

The AT91SAM7S32 is housed in a 48-lead LQFP package and has a suggested resell price of $2.90. Offered in a 64-lead LQFP package, the AT91SAM7S64 is available for $4.05. Both pricing is for 10,000-unit quantities.

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